About Productivity, Social Networks and everything else I'm interested in

Tag: Gabe

Three Third Party Evernote Apps for iOS


Evernote is constantly improving and it is one of the first things I recommend to anyone looking for a general capture tool. I use it enough that I’m always interested in making it do more. Here are some apps that add some unique features to the mix.

EverClip does one job: It runs in the background and grabs anything put on the pasteboard and uploads it to Evernote. Given that Evernote is available everywhere, EverClip actually makes a pretty good multi-platform clipboard tool. Unfortunately, I think $9 is a little much for such a basic set of apps.

EverClip for iPhone | $3

EverClip for iPad | $6

Clever for Evernote is an attractive alternative to the Evernote iOS application. There are some nice visual effects and well done sounds effects. I really love the timeline indicator during scrolling. Best of all, it’s much fast to get in and add a photo note than the Evernote app.

Clever has other top-notch features, like multiple accounts, customizable time stamps, an option to not save camera snaps to the iOS camera roll and a very thorough URL Scheme with built in documentation.1

Clever is certainly a good competitor for the default Evernote iOS app. It’s fast and elegant. I like the interface better too. But it comes at a pretty steep price point. $9 total to get Clever on the iPhone and iPad. That’s a tough sell against the free Evernote offering. Personally, I think it’s worth it if you use Evernote a lot.

Clever for iPhone | $4

Clever HD for iPad | $5

QuickEver is a quick entry note app for Evernote. There are a couple of nice features like swipe to move cursor, TextExpander support, custom time stamp format. It’s similar to the terrific Drafts app but more deeply integrated with Evernote. For example, access to Evernote tags and notebooks.

There’s also an interesting little feature that posts to notification center at a set duration. Tapping on the notification opens QuickEver. It’s using Notification Center as a launcher. Feels weird. The developer page is in a language I can’t read and the app hasn’t been updated in many months. It’s still nice.

QuickEver | Universal | $2

  1. Seriously, why don’t more developers put their URL Scheme in their apps. Clever even allows you to tap and copy the URL for each action in the documentation. Genius. 

via Macdrifter http://www.macdrifter.com/2013/04/three-third-party-evernote-apps-for-ios.html

BetterTouch Tool Remote Tips


For the uninitiated, BetterTouch Tool (BTT) is a donation-ware system enhancement application. BTT started out simply providing some additional functionality for the trackpad and mouse and has slowly grown into a serious hacker’s delight. BTT is a window manager, application launcher and much more.

Now, there is a companion iOS app, BTT Remote, that turns any iOS device into a remote control and track pad for a Mac. I took the app for a spin and it’s working very well. Check out Brett’s review for more info on what this new app can do.

Here’s a brief look at how I’ve configured the app on my iPad. I’m not using at as a remote control. I use it as a companion keyboard palette for my Mac. I generally have at least one iOS device sitting on my desk anyway. In this way, I can easily reach over and trigger a simple macro without needing to remember a keyboard shortcut or configure a new Keyboard Maestro palette.

Actions are triggered almost instantly. Occasionally there is a fraction of a second delay but in general, the actions work as if they were keyboard shortcuts.

Actions are configured on the Mac side and instantly sync to a connected iOS device. Icons are customized through drag and drop into the action on the Mac or by selecting one from the included library. I’m using some of the included icons as well as a few WooCons.

Launch Checkvist

This action opens my Fluid app for Checkvist. BTT provides an action to open any application.

New Mail

I created an Automator application that does one thing. It creates a new email using my Macdrifter account. BTT launches that app and a new email draft appears in front of me.

Rode Mic

This action uses the trick I wrote about previously. It sets my audio input and output to my Rode Podcaster microphone.

The real trick here, is that BTT is actually just triggering a Keyboard Maestro macro through an AppleScript application.

From within Keyboard Maestro, I created a new group called “BTT”. This group should always be active if the macros are to be accessed by AppleScript. Each macro in the group is setup to be triggered by an AppleScript. When this setting is enabled, the macro will provide the script text to use. Just copy that out.

I have four macros:

  1. Audio out to Rode
  2. Audio in to Rode
  3. Audio out to Mac
  4. Audo in to Mac

These use the functions I have described previously.

Next, I created an Automator application that executes the AppleScript from above to run the macros. For example, this script sets the audio input and output to my Mac. Notice that it is actually running two macros.

This Automator application is called by BTT when I tap it on my iPad or iPhone. One tap and my audio input switches.

Mac Audio

Same as above but switches my audio input and output to my Mac.

Left and Right Split and Move to Next Monitor

These all use the builtin window management functions of BTT to split my frontmost window across the screen or send it between displays.

Mission Control and Expose

These also use the built in BTT functions to control my Mac.


This action just launches the Terminal app.

Color Picker

In BTT, macros can be configured for a global scope or for within a specific application. I have two versions of the color picker action. One is the global color picker available in the OS and that is triggered using the default BTT action.

The second action is scoped for only within Acorn. This one triggers the Acorn color picker using menu choices. BTT can access nested menu options with a straightforward configuration.

Open iTunes

This is the only action I would use while not sitting in front of my Mac. This is for those times when we sit down on the couch to use the AppleTV and I realize I iTunes is not running on my Mac. This macro just launches iTunes but it saves me a trip downstairs and makes everyone a bit happier.


BTT Remote is a handy little utility app. I like best for the times when I’m sitting right in front of my Mac. And if you’re a Magic Trackpad user, now you can have one the entire size of your iPad, since BTT also provides a full screen trackpad view as well. I’m not sure if I’ll stick with it, but it has some interesting options.

I’d also add, if you are a BetterTouch Tool user, buying the iOS app is a great way to support the developer.

BTT Remote | Universal | $2

via Macdrifter http://www.macdrifter.com/2012/11/bettertouch-tool-remote-tips.html

Two Quick TextExpander Tips


Short but sweet tips:

# 1

When I use tags, I prefix them with the “@” symbol. It’s annoying to use on iOS so I use this TextExpander snippet:

I also have one for project tags, which are prefixed with an underscore. Even though this duplicates some of the functionality of my Markdown collection it’s easy to remember when I am thinking about a “tttag”.

# 2

I don’t delete many snippets. I archive them. I have two inactive snippet groups. One is called “Deactivated” and one is called “_Development”. Just set the “Expand in” setting to “No Applications (Disable)” and uncheck the “Suggest abbreviations”

via Macdrifter http://www.macdrifter.com/2012/10/two-quick-textexpander-tips.html

Rob Trew’s Scripts


If you don’t know Rob Trew (@complexpoint) then let me introduce you to some of his work. He creates gorgeous scripts for making the data in OmniFocus, and many other apps, portable. For example, his latest work allows for export of OmniFocus data to iThoughts HD, indented text, Markdown and more.

He’s now setting his sights on FoldingText and magic is starting to happen.

via Macdrifter http://www.macdrifter.com/2012/10/rob-trews-scripts.html

The Podcaster Macro


Now that I am some sort of “podcaster” I’m realizing how annoying it is to record through Skype on a Mac. Skype is offended by every other application. It’s like a jealous wife insisting on being the the only application in my life. To accommodate Skype’s temper tantrum’s I’ve created several macros to prepare for a recording session. I’ve already written about my Keyboard Maestro macro to toggle the audio input and output devices.

Before I record, I disable the following applications and services1:

Some of these are easy, because they are standard applications. But Hazel and Backblaze are system preferences so they need some strategic AppleScripting.

Hazel was particularly difficult because it has nested object groups and buttons. Here’s a couple of tricks to use for getting at objects. First, read Dr. Drang’s post on the Accessibility Inspector. Next, I reuse some scripts to inspect objects in a window. For example, to figure out the pane id for a preference panel, I use this script:

tell application "System Events"
    tell application "System Preferences"
        get the id of every pane
    end tell
end tell

Which provides a result set containing every id:

That’s simple enough. I wanted to write a script to disable Hazel since it handles a lot of automated scripts that might consume bandwidth, CPU and irritate Skype. I thought it would be easy enough to switch to the “Info” panel of the Hazel window. To inspect all of the anchors I run this script:

tell application "System Events"
    tell application "System Preferences"
        get every anchor of pane id "com.noodlesoft.Hazel"
    end tell
end tell

Unfortunately, the only anchor missing is the one I want.

It took some investigation but I discovered that the “Info” button is in a radio button group. The next problem I had was clicking the “Stop Hazel” button. This too was awkwardly nested.2 It’s a button inside a group, inside a group in the main window.

Once I figured this out, I had a complete AppleScript for turning Hazel off:

tell application "System Preferences"
    set current pane to pane id "com.noodlesoft.Hazel"
end tell
tell application "System Events"
    tell process "System Preferences"
        set frontmost to true
        click radio button "Info" of radio group of window "Hazel"
        delay 1
        click button "Stop Hazel" of group 0 of group 0 of window "Hazel"
    end tell
end tell

The above discussion should serve as a basis for understanding my complete macro for disabling applications and services.

Here’s a script to turn off Backblaze:

tell application "System Preferences"
end tell
tell application "System Events"
    tell process "System Preferences"
        click menu item "Backblaze Backup" of the menu "View" of menu bar 1
        delay 2
        click button "Pause Backup" of the first group of the window "Backblaze Backup"
    end tell
end tell

I’ve also included a macro action to disable the Mountain Lion notifications with a little Keyboard Maestro magic. There is a new action that can use an image to identify a location on screen to click. Using a simple mouse location fails to register the “option” key during the click. Even this action is very finicky.

The entire macro does the following:

  1. Quit all open applications
  2. Quit Dropbox
  3. Quit TextExpander
  4. Activate Piezo
  5. Activate nvALT
  6. Switch my audio sources to my Rode Podcaster
  7. Disable my Keyboard Maestro scheduled macros
  8. Disable Hazel
  9. Pause Backblaze
  10. Pause Growl
  11. Disable Mountain Lion notifications

This is easy enough to reverse, so I am only showing one macro of a pair. When I get ready to record, I trigger one macro. When I’m done, I trigger the other.

Here’s the macro to setup for a podcast3

Here’s the macro for when I’m done:

  1. These services either create unnecessary network traffic or produce unnecessary noise. 

  2. This is in no way a problem with Hazel. GUI scripting is hacky and most app developers don’t consider ham-handed stuff like this and if they did, it should be pretty low on the list of priorities. 

  3. I’m pretty sure this macro could be considered a hate crime. 

via Macdrifter http://www.macdrifter.com/2012/09/the-podcaster-macro.html

The Generational Podcast — Episode 1 with David Sparks


My, not so secret, side project is out of the bag today. Myke Hurley over at 70Decibels generously offered me a place to talk to awesome and interesting people and you bet your ass I took it.

On this first episode of Generational, David Sparks takes some time out of making cool stuff and chats with me about the challenges of helping people with their technology.

via Macdrifter http://www.macdrifter.com/2012/09/the-generational-podcast-episode-1-with-david-sparks.html

Pythonista Trick: URL to Markdown


Here’s a nice little tool I made in Pythonista for iOS (review). This script is using Brett Terpstra’s awesome heckyesmarkdown web service, which is extremely useful and underrated.

To use this script, I copy a URL to the iOS clipboard and jump into Pythonista. I trigger this script to get the web page in Markdown encoded text.

This URL: http://www.macdrifter.com/2012/09/nfc-is-a-crutch.html

is turned into plain text and put back on the clipboard. The results are displayed in a popup Pythonista browser window:

Here’s the script:

import clipboard
import urllib2
import webbrowser

clipString = clipboard.get()

marky = 'http://heckyesmarkdown.com/go/?u='

queryString = marky + clipString

reqMD = urllib2.Request(queryString)
openMD = urllib2.urlopen(reqMD)
content = (openMD.read().decode('utf-8'))


The script started life with a mess of URL validations steps, but Brett’s service is so awesome that it just fails gracefully with bad URL’s. But I did try out the new Pythonista console.alert() method. I like it.

via Macdrifter http://www.macdrifter.com/2012/09/pythonista-trick-url-to-markdown.html