Get 50% off TextExpander this weekend

Happy Black Friday! For my readers outside the US Black Friday is the biggest retail shopping day in the US.

I just noticed in my inbox a great deal from Smile Software on their killer application Text Expander. From now until the December 2nd, you can get TextExpander for 50% off.

What is Text Expander? It’s one of the most essential Mac productivity tools you can own. Wow, that’s a pretty big claim but what does it really do?

Simply put, it allows you to create keyboard shortcuts for things that you type everyday. Type the short cut and it *expands* to replace the shortcut with the text.

What can you use it for?

I’ve written a couple of articles on Learning OS X that talk about Text Expander. Check them out

http://www.learningosx.com/navigate-your-files-faster-with-textexpander/
http://www.learningosx.com/paperless-digital-file-cabinet-scanner-workflow/

If you want to pickup a copy of Text Expander before the sale ends, click the link below.

http://sites.fastspring.com/smile/product/te?coupon=TE2013BFF

Enjoy and Happy Holidays!

Restrict Google Searches by Date Range using TextExpander

When I search for things with Google I often need to limit the date on the query to within the last week, month or year. If you have ever done this you know it’s a bit of a pain because you need to click through to the “Search Tools” menu and use the drop down list to restrict your search.

I found out that it is possible to set the date range using the daterange operator directly in a search. The problem is the date format must be in Julian not Gregorian. I don’t know about you but I can’t convert Gregorian to Julian in my head.

Enter TextExpander.

One of the cool things about TextExpander is the ability to use shell scripts in your snippets. So I created a TextExpander snippet that will convert a Gregorian date range to a Julian date range. It then prints that date range to the console. TextExpander will expand whatever text is returned by a shell script.

You can see my script below. Note that the first line of this script should point to your python instance. For most people it is /usr/bin/python. Also note that this script depends on jdcal. You can install jdcal by following the instructions here.

#!/usr/local/bin/python
from jdcal import gcal2jd
from datetime import date
from datetime import timedelta

SPAN = 30
#get today's date
today = date.today()

span_days = today-timedelta(days=SPAN)

#convert those two dates to julian
j_today = gcal2jd(today.year,today.month,today.day)
j_span = gcal2jd(span_days.year,span_days.month,span_days.day)

#return the results as a string
print "daterange:%s-%s" %(j_span[0]+j_span[1],j_today[0]+j_today[1])

Create a new TextExpander snippet and paste in this block of code. Change the snippet “Content” from plain text to Shell Script. Give your snippet a name, I call mine glast30 and you’re good to go.

I then duplicated the shell script changed SPAN = 30 to cover additional date ranges. I created snippets for 7, 30, 90, and 365 days.

It’s your turn!
TextExpander is a really powerful way to get things done more efficiently on your Mac. Every day I come up with new ways to use it. Do you have any interesting ways that you use TextExpander? If so please added to the comments.

Never Forget Another Mac Keyboard Shortcut Again!

No sooner does the electronic ink dry on an article about Mac keyboard shortcuts do I come across a killer app that eliminates the need to ever post another Keyboard shortcut list.

The app I’m talking about is called Cheatsheet. With Cheatsheet you no longer have to hunt around for a list of keyboard shortcuts. All you need to do is hold down the Cmd key for two seconds. After two seconds you will see a window similar to the image below.

Cheatsheet for Mac application window

See the keyboard shortcuts for your currently running app.

Cheatsheet uses a little software wizardry to peek inside the running application to extract all of the keyboard shortcuts. It works like magic.

Not only is Cheatsheet great, it’s free!

Learning the keyboard shortcuts is a great way to boost your productivity on your Mac. This app makes it simple. Enjoy!

Do you know about any cool Mac productivity applications? Tell me about them in the comments.

 

Essential Mac OS X Applications

Every year I look back at the applications I use on my Mac in order to improve my productivity.

I present to you here, a list of the Mac applications I use everyday. I love putting these lists together, I love even more hearing about what other Mac users like to use on a day to day basis. It’s a great way of discovering new stuff and boost your productivity.

Omnifocus

If it isn’t written down it never happened. My life before Omnifocus was a disorganized mess. I’ve tried other task management systems but nothing tops Omnifocus for it’s sheer power and flexibility.

There is a bit of a learning curve but with the great book Creating Flow with Omnifocus you’ll get the hang of it in no time.

LaunchBar

Oh LaunchBar, how I <3 thee.

LaunchBar is an application launcher. To call it a mere application launcher is a gross injustice. It’s a swiss army knife that let’s you do a ton of things on your Mac without every having to lift your hands up off of the keyboard.

It is probably my #1 essential productivity tool

Text Expander

TextExpander is a close second. TextExpander allows you to create text snippets which are tied to some shorthand text. It’s hard to realize how useful this application is until you start using it.

Once you do, you won’t believe how you lived without it.

TextExpander, along with Hazel has helped me automate my filing and enabled me to go paperless in my home office.

1Password

Too many of us create simple passwords that are used over and over again across websites. This can have disasterous consequences.

With 1Password, you don’t have to worry about creating unique strong passwords for every website you visit because it stores them in an encrypted vault.

Coupled with a rich set of browser plugins, 1Password allows you to save strong passwords and then auto-fills them in when you visit websites.

Google Chrome

Mac Safari is good but for speed and extensibility, nothing really beats Google’s Chrome browser.

Here are the extensions I use, most aren’t available on Safari.

  1. 1Password – this is the companion extension to the awesome 1Password. It allows you to enter passwords from 1Password directly from the browser.
  2. AdBlock Plus – Ads are the lifeblood of many a website, this one included. However, some websites are so overly egregious with ads that it slows down the page. For those sites, I use AdBlock Plus.
  3. Bit.ly – I share a lot of content that I find on the web. The Bit.ly plugin let’s me make short URLs from long ones.
  4. Buffer – Buffer is a great way to create a queue of Twitter or Facebook feed posts and have them slowly drip out over the course of a day.
  5. Reddit Companion – Reddit is an extremely addictive website, this plugin helps you navigate it more easily.
  6. Sabconnect++ – I occasionally download tvshows from USENET newsgroups. This is the companion plugin to SABnzbd+
  7. Instapaper – if you have an iPad, the Instapaper plugin lets you bookmark content and then read it later on your iPad.

Byword

I’m a huge fan of writing in plain text files. The beauty of a plain text file is the portability. You don’t have to worry about proprietary file formats.

A number of applications have cropped up that allow you to enter text in a distraction free, full screen editor. I’ve tried a few and settled on Byword because it looks great an supports the Markdown markup format.

Spotify

I’m a huge music fan and have pretty much abandoned my personal library for Spotify. I pay for the premium service which allows me to listen ad-free plus download music to go on my iPhone.

Tweetbot

Twitter is a first class citizen in Mountain Lion. You can post tweets directly from the Notification Center.  Unfortunately, the official Twitter client is a bit lacking. Luckily there is Tweetbot. It’s a little pricey but if you use Twitter on a regular basis you’ll love how easy it is to organize and manage your Twitter accounts.

Fantastical

I live and die by my calendar but, a calendar is only good if it is kept up to date. Fantastical is the essential tool for keeping it up to date.

Fantastical is, in a word, like magic. With Fantastical, you can type in free text such as “Make a doctor’s appointment tomorrow at noon.” and it will create a calendar entry for you.

What’s really cool about it too is the integration with services. So, if I receive an email that has appointment information in it, I can highlight it, send it to Fantastical and the awesome parser will convert it into a calendar entry.

Dropbox

Dropbox is the glue that holds my system together. Every file I create goes into a Dropbox folder. This allows me to access my files everywhere and on any device.

A typical workflow allows me to edit a text file using Byword on my Mac, save it to Dropbox, and then pickup editing it again on IAWriter on my iPad.

Dropbox is free for up to 2GB, for more storage their pricing plans are really reasonable.

Excel

Meh, I hate that this is on the list but there really is no getting around the fact that if you use your Mac for business you have to use Excel.

Apple has done a decent job with the iWork suite but Excel is the de facto macdaddy of spreadsheets.

How about you?

These aren’t the only Mac applications that I use but they are my most mission critical.

What are some of your essential day to day Mac applications? I’d love to hear about them in the comments.

Navigate Your Files Faster with TextExpander

One of my favorite Mac applications is Text Expander. TextExpander allows you to create keyboard shortcuts for things that you type frequently.

For example, if you find yourself typing your address often you can create a TextExpander snippet assign it the keyword addr and everytime your type addr then your address will magically appear.

Over the course of a year, you can save some real time by not typing things over and over again.

You will find the more you use TextExpander the more you will find ways to save time.

If you find yourself navigating the filesystem often, you can use TextExpander to create a bunch of shortcuts to commonly used folders. These shortcuts work not only in the Terminal, but also in the “Go to” Finder Menu.

Thanks to Brett Terpstra for pointing this out. You can download a bunch of the snippets from his website. Or you can create your own.

I am a heavy Dropbox user, so I created a series of snippets to go to commonly used Dropbox folders.

Here they are:

  • ~dbox goes to ~/Dropbox
  • ~receipts goes to ~/Dropbox/Home/Receipts
  • ~lib goes to ~/Library
  • ~apps goes to ~/Library/Application Support

I can list a bunch more but you get the idea.

TextExpander is one of the essential tools that finds new ways into my workflow each day. If you use TextExpander and have any interesting snippets, please share them in the comments.