43 Folders

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Merlin’s weekly podcast with Dan Benjamin. We talk about creativity, independence, and making things you love.

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43Folders.com is Merlin Mann’s website about finding the time and attention to do your best creative work.

Entourage & txt: In which the farmer and the cowman become friends

I love that Entourage lets you link  files to any item (task, contact, appointment, etc.). I use this feature all the time to point to text files on my Mac.

Why bother? Why not just use the built-in notes capability of Entourage? Ah, if you were a fan of text files you wouldn’t need to ask that, and if you were a fan of Quicksilver, the gears would already be clicking.

Among many features—as we all know by now—Quicksilver lets you append or prepend to any arbitrary text file without changing out of your current app. Once learned and ingrained, this will become one of your favorite things to do on the Mac, bar none; but Entourage doesn't currently support it. Still, this tip helps you get around it in a satisfying way—letting Entourage handle all the busy work, while your beloved text files do all the heavy lifting.

This, obviously, assumes you have Entourage and Quicksilver installed (more on Quicksilver here and much more here)

  1. Open TextEdit.app; type some stuff; and save the document to your Desktop as a file called “frink.txt
  2. Open Entourage and create a new task called “Frink: Agenda”; save it (but leave the task’s window open)
  3. Click the little chain icon () in the task header; select “Link to Existing...”; then select “File...
  4. In the dialog box, surf to your Desktop; select “frink.txt”; and click the “Link” button
  5. You’re done

You now have a way to add items to bring up at your weekly meeting with Professor Frink at any time and from anywhere on your Mac, all without leaving your focal app. The beauty part is that the text file stays associated with the Entourage task even if it’s a recurring task. Note  the quickest way to access your linked file is from any view list; just click on the tiny chain icon on the left and select your document (or any other attached items ) from the flyout menu.

Need some practical ideas for using this trick?

  • How about a “groceries.txt” that’s associated with your weekly “Go to Trader Joe's” task.
  • Associate your “Movies.txt” file with your “2nd Date with Ann” appointment on Saturday.
  • Planning a once-a-year trip to the flea market? Capture 11 months of wishlist items in “fleamarket.txt,” and attach it to next month's reminder for the big day.
  • Maybe start a text file for each member of your family where you can park birthday gift ideas, then associate that file with each of their contacts in Entourage.
  • Attach a text file of professional accomplishments to a task in your “Update Résumé” project.

The possibilities are endless, but the basic point stays the same—we all crave functional glue to keep the pieces of our world together. With a little help from Entourage you can continue to harness the power of text and Quicksilver from wherever you are.

About Merlin

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Merlin Mann is an independent writer, speaker, and broadcaster. He’s best known for being the guy who created the website you’re reading right now. He lives in San Francisco, does lots of public speaking, and helps make cool things like You Look Nice Today, Back to Work, and Kung Fu Grippe. Also? He’s writing this book, he lives with this face, he suffers from this hair, he answers these questions, and he’s had this life. So far.

Merlin’s favorite thing he’s written in the past few years is an essay entitled, “Cranking.”




An Oblique Strategy:
Honor thy error as a hidden intention


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