My 2019 Plan To Explore Software I Don’t Use Enough

So I had an idea. A lot of us have downloaded and spent money on apps thanks to MPU. I myself am thrilled with how much I’ve learned but can know more. For instance I find I don’t think I’m using Hazel to its potential at the moment. Also maybe I can find more uses for TextExpander. Hence this will be a thread that for me is a personal journal/account of sorts of what I’m learning and implementing in my workflow for various apps.

At the moment I’m thinking about TextExpander, Alfred, Keyboard Maestro, Bartender, Drafts, DevonThink, Shortcuts, Launch Center Pro, Omnifocus. Think of this as a blend between stuff covered on the Automators podcast and my own needs and use cases. If anyone wants to follow along, submit resources, etc you are more then welcome to. Also if you have a better post title suggestion let me know too.

This was inspired by this Omnifocus thread of mine that has served as a way to document the ways I have changed my workflow.

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What are you trying to accomplish? What are the task that slow you down during the course of your work? That’s a long list and you could spend hours on any of them just spinning your wheels without overarching objectives.

(Just looked at your Omnifocus thread and realized I wrote the first reply there…:scream_cat:)

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Gosh that was a while ago! So I think for me it’s deciding use cases for various software along with automating aspects and being more efficient. Would that be sufficient? I suppose it’s trying to get my money’s worth on stuff spent on the software. Also to decide if I need or have use of it anymore either.

Well the low-hanging fruit here is Bartender - just install it, pick the stuff in your menu bar that you don’t use frequently and hide it, then you’re done.

I have visible in my menu bar:

  • Alfred
  • HazeOver
  • 1Password
  • Copied
  • Dropbox
  • Cardhop
  • Fantastical
  • Yoink
  • VPN (built-in)
  • The Clock
  • FruitJuice
  • Bluetooth
  • Wifi
  • Siri
  • Spotlight

Everything else is hidden.

I’ve concluded that any app I don’t use “enough” I probably don’t really need at all. It’s only worth learning an app if it’s going to save you more time than it costs in learning it!

Considering what I’ve seen on MPU:

  1. I’ve got TextExpander (perpetual license, older version) but frankly don’t use it beyond expansions I could have just as easily done using System Preferences–>Keyboard–>Text. So I won’t be buying it again.
  2. Hazel – saves a ton of time. I’ve learned it thoroughly, and it paid off.
  3. Alfred – it’s as easy to access from the keyboard as Spotlight, and I’ve ended up using Alfred 100% of the time. I don’t use all its features by any means (I do use it’s workflows), but it’s still saved me much more than I spent learning it.
  4. Keyboard Maestro – looks intriguing from a geek point of view. But I know it would be a rabbit hole and I’d spend far too much time playing with it. So haven’t purchased.
  5. Omnifocus – even being retired this app has paid for itself. Too easy these days to just forget about doing something! But I wish I had it back when I was working.
  6. Bartender – the best app I ever got as part of a package. What’s nice is you can set it up and forget it.
  7. Better-Touch-Tool – not on the MPU list but I was an early adopter of this one but don’t use it any more (I’ve dropped back to Better-Snap-Tool for window snapping) because I now feel all those fancy a touchpad actions are more trouble than they are worth.
  8. 1-Password – required. Period.

I’ll also say that I’ve never written a Mac (or IOS) program using XCode. I’ve written programs in the past 50 years and have had a Mac for about 15 of them. But for me the effort of learning Objective-C and/or Swift wasn’t worth the payoff and I’ve stuck with what I know (Java when I need to target my Mac).

Just edited Bartender, now my menu bar is good. Wish I could reorder stuff though instead of it being alphabetical.

I use TextExpander quite a bit for little stuff. I know when I was applying for jobs I had an advanced expansion that was useful. I don’t use it on iOS, I just for a couple things made keyboard text replacements. I think really my big ones will be Hazel as well as working to automate filing stuff into DevonThink. I need to also see about stuff in Alfred that’s useful. I use it daily to replace the spotlight search. For OmniFocus I’m going to get more into templates to help things in my work life. Love 1Password though I’m sure i could clean some stuff out.

The listing inside the app may be alphabetical, but you can reorder any menubar item in your menubar via Command+select/move


Didn’t know that, worked like a charm

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I don’t use enough “expansions” any more to warrant TextExpander’s excellent implementation. I just use snippets in Alfred. But if you need iOS support, Alfred doesn’t offer that.

There are ways to get around this - I use Hazel to monitor Alfred’s snippets folders and sync to TextExpander for iOS and to Copied (since I often prefer the latter to TE on iOS).

Hey that’s slick! Would you mind sharing a little more detail, I only have limited experience with Hazel, but I do have it.

Will do - it’s gonna take a bit to present it in a way that will be replicable…

Basically Hazel watches the Alfred snippets directory then runs a python script that generates & runs an Applescript that tells TE to create a snippet which Dropbox then syncs over to TE for iOS. :sweat_smile:

Thank you, I’ll look forward to it!