I have a number of friends and family members who have Macs, but basically just use them for the web, email, word processing, photos, and social media. I’ve tried to convince many of them to look into apps like TextExpander, Hazel, Keyboard Maestro, Fantastical, and more recently, DEVONthink. I know how much more efficiency and JOY I get from my computer just from having these apps installed, and I can’t help feeling like everyone else is missing out.
So, the question is, am I just brainwashed from listening to MPU for so many years? Or was I enlightened in some way and others need to be led into the light? I’ve had people tell me that I sound like a commercial for MacSparky, MPU, or these software companies. Sometimes, I even feel like I’m a member of some kind of cult. But on the other hand, the logical part of me sees the value in all of this stuff, and I just wish other people could see it too!
So, how do you all convince others to get on board, or do you just not bother? It seems like even David Sparks’ family members are not nearly as interested in MPU topics as he is, so if he can’t convince his family, how can I expect to convince mine?
My approach to such things is being enthusiastic about what I’m enjoying. If people roll their eyes I move onto something they want to talk about. If they’re interested it’s pretty obvious pretty quick. We’re a pretty rare breed that end up on these forums and that’s ok
Excellent approach! Unfortunately, I’m probably a bit “on the spectrum” and I don’t always look for those social cues (or maybe I don’t care to?), but maybe that’s why people avoid these conversations with me. Hmmm. But I can’t help but feel like they’re all MISSING SOMETHING!
When I was a kid, my mom used to try to get me to try foods that SHE liked, not because they were necessarily good for me, but more because she felt like I was missing something if I didn’t try them. The funny example in my family was always artichoke. She used to harass me endlessly to try artichokes, but as a child, I always thought they looked gross, and I didn’t get the whole eating the end of the leaf thing. But she would make them almost every week along with little bowls of melted butter to dip the leaves, and ultimately, the heart in. Eventually, my sisters and I tried them and loved them, but my father never liked them, so they would just be for me and my mom. But she never let up on my dad and would constantly remind him, “You don’t know what you’re missing!” One day, he said to her, “I’m going to write a book and call it ‘Not Everyone Likes Artichokes.’ You need to understand that just because you like something, it doesn’t mean everyone else is going to feel the same way.”
So, maybe this is an artichoke situation and I just have to accept the fact that not everyone likes them!
I don’t think we’re brainwashed or part of a cult “the Sparky Cult?” Perhaps we spend too much time tinkering and thinking about this stuff but for some (many?) of us it is an informal “hobby”. I enjoy this forum–I like tech and I find all of the discussions stimulating. That said, just like any other “hobby” not everyone is going to get excited about what excites us. I’ve learned to take the approach to avoid evangelizing an app or workflow. Instead, I will show them a “neat trick” or “tip” that produces an immediate benefit. That tends to whet their appetite for more information.
It just sounds to me that you are enthusiastic about technology. Most people aren’t. I always tried to make things easier for my users but found a lot of people don’t like to change. For example, when I saw users using copy and paste to create reply emails to customers I showed them TextExpander. They tried it one day then went back to copy and paste.
I found it best to go slow when trying to change behavior. And when you find someone in your circle receptive to change work with them, and let them help “spread the word”.
IMO, if you don’t get a question or a positive response within two minutes, change the subject
Good on you for trying. I’m great at explaining what I’m doing and answering questions, but getting people to proactively change is hard for me. Most success has happened months to years after they first suspect I’m not doing what they’re doing and they finally ask about that app/icon/document/podcast.
I don’t think any of us are brainwashed, but we probably have use cases where automation and better workflows deliver substantial productivity gains and/or quality-of-life improvement, or are just simply interested in tech for its own sake.
We may also be more fortunate than others in that our exposure to technology mostly resulted in positive experience (I presume); like the analogy @MotownDoc referred to, some people may have bad early experiences to technology and that shaped their outlook (e.g. being forced to eat artichoke → associates artichoke with unpleasant experiences; being forced to learn to use apps/tech at work → learning such skills is a grind).
One way I find helpful in introducing the power of productivity/automation apps/workflow is not to force the topic on them or focus on the apps themselves, but how can they solve specific problems for them. For example, instead of talking about how powerful Unix commands are, showing someone the power of
cut | uniq | sort when they want to find out the unique values in a column from a bunch of csv files is very likely to get them interested. For people who encounter such problems frequently enough, it is usually easy to ‘convert’ them. The conversion rate is quite low (probably ~1% in my circle), but it is quite satisfying when it does happen. On the flip side, many people will be happy to just come to you and expect you to supply them with a neat solution!
I had a hard time convincing my colleagues on Alfred vs Spotlight. I showed them Keyboard Maestro and they balked at the things they have to do to get the macro going. But, there are success when the application is easier to understand for instance, Things, SnagIt, Default Folder X. Even Better Touch Tool for more gestures. The other thing is the cost. Many people I know prefers not to pay for apps and would rather do extra work/clicks then having apps made their lives easier
I think the most amazing thing about Mac software is the software that is installed by default when you get the machine.
Other things like Hazel and keyboard maestro and Text Expander are pretty niche in my opinion. I think you have to enjoy the process of working with Hazel and keyboard maestro to really get the benefits from it, or have someone else setting it all up for you.
Here’s an example from yesterday, when I was trying to get a script to automatically add cover art and lyrics to music after bouncing it from logic pro. I ran into problems and I have been using homebrew and python and all sorts to get it working. I have spent hours on this problem to try and save a few seconds every few days.
Some of the tools you mention can be like this, where the reward may come quickly or may come very very slowly. It’s only worth it because I enjoy the process.
Actually, my main problem is I have failed to convince my mum that getting a Mac would be better than keeping her Windows machine, even though she is endlessly frustrated by Windows.
I personally find a lot of value in apps like Fantastical, Todoist, Day One etc. They’re apps I use every day and whenever I try to go without them, I quickly realize life is better with them.
I do think there’s definitely some times where I’ll listen to an MPU/Focused podcast and think - “wow, I need this too, this is great”. But after a while I just find it doesn’t jive with my brain and I wonder — am I using this because it’s the best for me or because it’s what everyone else uses in the tech communities I follow.
A prime example of this for me is Drafts. I have downloaded the free version many times over the years and I never used it. This year I figured for $30 or so I’d try pro and really go for it. I put the complication front and centre on my watch and I’ve used it maybe twice in 5 months. It just doesn’t jive with how my brain works. To me, if it’s a task I write it in Todoist. If it’s an email, I write it in the email app of choice. I never find myself writing something down thinking “I wonder where this will go when it’s done”. To me it just seems like an unnecessary step in the process, but I get why people like it — it’s just not for me.
On the app recommendations, most people just don’t care. If I tell my friends I pay $50 a year to use a calendar app because it has natural language input, no one knows what that means. When I show them they’re like - who cares, entering it in the calendar app takes 2 seconds, you’re such a nerd”.
I think we need to know our audience. Lol
I’m basically like you regarding this–I seldom use Drafts and when I do the free version is all I need. However, I have found two uses for Drafts in my workflow:
- Drafting a sensitive email, e.g., if I find myself angry upon receiving an inappropriate email from someone I first draft the email in Drafts and wait 24 hours and then edit. This helps to avoid accidentally hitting “send” in a reply before I’ve had time to respond rather than react to the email. For what’s worth, I wrote a blog post about this, see below.
- To quickly strip unwarranted formatting from text to use elsewhere.
Same here. But in addition to emails I frequently write long text messages and MPU posts in Drafts.
And I think I need to add potentially sensitive/controversial MPU posts to that list.
I really appreciate this conversation and the varied opinions. I myself I’ve tried getting people excited about various technologies and tips only to be met by a bland response.
A quick example is, for many years I have a friend who uses the mouse many times per day to locate and click on the little red close button on a Mac window. I told him many times that CMD-W is way faster, which he agreed to, and never used.
Another example is someone who feels the need to endlessly clean up the windows he is currently using. He will go to application one - copy something - then close the application window - then go to application 2 - Paste - then close app 2 - then have to re-open application one etc. I mentioned it would be much easier to leave all your windows open that you are currently navigating to and just go back-and-forth as needed, however he still does it his way.
As AppleGuy mentioned: “It just doesn’t jive with how my brain works.”
I think that might explain a lot of what other people are thinking that are unresponsive to our tips.
So basically I used to find this frustrating. But after getting smashed in the head by this book:
I am better now. LOL
By the way Pro is on sale now:
Most people who don’t enjoy tech are not willing to put in the time to learn how to use the tools properly. I think the harder it is to use the tool, the more you should expect someone who is not naturally tech inclined to want to adopt it. That is, unless the person is complaining about a particular problem that is plaguing them, such that they might think it worth it to try to learn how to use the tool to solve that problem. (Thinking about the question, I would say that in my experience though, owners of Mac machines fall into one of two categories: (1) someone who is tech inclined and would probably be receptive to your suggestions and (2) someone who is not tech inclined but has ample financial resources and buys a Mac because of its reputation for being high quality–it is the latter category about which I am making these remarks).
The ONE app I pushed on my wife with some success is 1Password. Its been very helpful being able to access each other’s vaults when we need access to each other’s various financial and other accounts.
I’ll set the forum into a tizzy with this post LOL….somewhat related.
I left Evernote months ago. I drastically paired down my notes to about 300, moved them into Apple Notes. Since that time I’ve hardly saved a thing for reference because I find Apple Notes less intuitive (again — to MY way of thinking), and if I am researching a trip for example, I find it way easier to just dump web clips, notes, thoughts into Evernote than AN. While rethinking some of what we’ve discussed above over the past week I realized that I personally love Evernote. They have the new M1 app on Mac, it works great on iPad, iPhone — and the layout of Home, scratch pad, and clipping notes works really well for me.
I found a 40% off deal and jumped back in. I still use Obsidian for my own thoughts and notes, but as a “I may need to remember this” locker for all my loose thinking and information — Evernote for me is still the king. Having it back on my devices makes me feel like nothing will get by me again — like my wife’s N95 mask fitting documentation for work she asked me not to lose.
5 yrs ago it would have been in EN. This time around I couldn’t remember if I saved it as a file in iCloud or in Apple Notes and I just couldn’t track it down. Had it been in Evernote I would have found it immediately.
So for all the hate that app gets in the tech community I took a look at myself, my past uses and how my brain works, and I realized I love Evernote.
You’re loud and proud for Evernote. Sadder but wiser. And Evernote took you back! I expect this will be the beginning of a new trend.
Ha! You are perfectly normal … for the population in this group!
Nice blog post @Bmosbacker