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

Apple, Macs & OS X

5 apps to rescue the distracted

Has your Mac turned into a shooting gallery full of distractions? Do your eyes spin like pinballs every time you sit down to work? Try a few of these apps to help discourage attention-grabbers and force your sickeningly versatile computer (and yourself) into doing just one thing at a time.

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5 handy Quicksilver triggers

Quicksilver triggers might seem like one more enigma inside of a riddle from the mind of our mysterious benefactor, Alc0r. Although writing documentation appears to be Alc0r's only kryptonite, triggers are actually pretty well described on the Blacktree wiki. Still, it feels like relatively few people I encounter are using them (most of my friends don't seem to even realize they exist). Since triggers have already been nicely introduced in some detail by Dan, I won't duplicate his efforts.

So, what's a trigger and why do I care?

Simply put, triggers let you associate a custom key combination or mouse gesture with any command you'd otherwise access via conventional methods in Quicksilver's paned interface. Once recorded, these triggers can be invoked any time manually or even programmatically (like, by a QS timer or a logical "when THIS happens"-type event).

This, as I've said before, is just huge. QS already gives you instant access to virtually any corner of your Mac with a couple keystrokes; but attaching that power to an intuitive keyboard command just takes things to another (yes! yet! another!) level.

I'll talk about mouse triggers a bit more in a future post, but for now, in the interest of spreading the word on this under-utilized piece of genius, here are a few ways I'm using keyboard triggers to control my Quicksilver world.

(A small favor: please thoroughly read the trigger documentation and Dan's post before asking for help with Trigger setup)

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Gorgeous, Mac-centric Firefox themes

GrApple - Aronnax`s Firefox Themes

Dang, these Mac-o-phillic Firefox themes are yummy. I've actually been using "GrApple Eos Pro" for some time now, but I'd never realized just how many subtle variations were available.

I'm not sure if it's just a Mac thing -- or even whether it's necessarily always a good thing -- but I really believe the chance of a product's wider adoption amongst Mac users is greatly enhanced when it looks like something we're used to using. Thanks to the broad range of talented hands contributing to open source projects these days, we're starting to see more top-notch work like this from people like Aronnax; stuff that keep us snooty 5ish% very happy and visually dazzled. Good on you. (And a tip of the Mac to Jon for supplying their hosting and cool domain name.)

"Send to Quicksilver" returns in 10.4.4

I was doing a little demo of Quicksilver for a few folks at Search Champs last week, when a truly amazing and life-giving thing happened: I realized that one of my favorite features of Quicksilver -- cruelly torn away by a heartless Tiger upgrade a few months back -- has returned following the 10.4.4 update. Best. Day. Ever.

For those of you who haven't seen The Light, you can now (again) select virtually any kind of thing on your Mac -- including text strings, URLs, Finder selections and so on -- and "send" it to Quicksilver by hitting "CMD-Escape". On the face of it, this sounds like a fairly modest functional addition, but, dang, is it ever powerful in practice. It's the primary and easiest way to pass virtually anything into Quicksilver, from where you can then do -- well -- practically anything, as we've seen.

For me this means I can type a bunch of crap in any old text file, select it, hit CMD-Escape (thus passing it off to the first pane in QS) and then TAB to "Prepend to... > 5ives_ideas.txt". Yet another way to push your information into interesting places without ever leaving what you're doing.

Now, it's also worth mentioning that, with the versatility of Proxy Objects, you can do the same thing from within Quicksilver. Get your head around ideas like "Finder Selection," "Current Web Page," and "Selected iTunes Album" and you start to see even more ways to quickly get where you need to be without breaking a sweat.

The more you use and explore Quicksilver, the more you see how its sticky little tendrils can be extended into nearly every corner of your Mac world. And if you missed Dan's excellent overview of the many new Quicksilver features that have sprung up in the last little while, do yourself a favor, and check it out. You may be amazed what all's hiding under Quicksilver's hood these days.

OmniOutliner: Spacebar for mouseless dropdown selection

Speaking of R'ing TFM, OmniGroup's crackerjack techs responded almost immediately to my recent "feature request" that I be able to select items from OmniOutliner dropdown menus without using the mouse.

Already there. Just hit spacebar and start typing the first few letters of the item you want, and there you go. Personally I've set my TAB action to "Go to next cell" (rather than the default "Indent") so my OO efficiency just ticked up several notches with this one.

In other news, the new unofficial motto of 43 Folders is going to be “The only truly obvious things are those things that you already know. (And, regrettably, not everyone is you yet.)”

4-1/2 tiny ways to master Mail.app

Seriously, though, suck it up and just check for new mail as seldom as your job and your patience will possibly permit. Really push the envelope on this, even just for half a day, and see if you don't notice a difference. The world actually can spin without you for a while.

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kGTD Tip: Link to sites, files, and more

This is technically more of an OmniOutliner Pro tip than a strictly kGTD trick, but it's so useful that I wanted to make sure my fellow fans are aware of it.

The beauty of kGTD lies in its single-minded focus on managing your tasks in the context of the projects with which they're associated. Add too much else (or get lazy with your level of commitment to what you've added) and the system starts to fall apart. And yet it's so useful to have easy access to the people, websites, and documents that you'd like associated with your tasks and projects. OS X to the rescue, because OmniOutliner makes it very easy to drag and drop virtually any kind of Mac data object into a given OO document -- and, consequently, to keep the non-task corners of your world never further than a click away.

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Open Thread: Developing for Full Screen Mode?

So my question, for you Mac developers in the house: I'm curious to learn more about Full Screen mode and how hard it is to make it a part of Cocoa applications. I've gotten the impression that Cocoa has "hooks" in place to hide the Menu Bar and claim all the screen space with a given document's front window, so I'm curious whether it's something that's difficult to implement. I'd love to request it in some favorite applications of mine (Hi, again, Allan!). _What do you guys say? Piece of cake or pony? _

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7 things I like about Path Finder for OS X

I've received a minor surfeit of email since yesterday asking me to talk a bit more about Path Finder and why I think it's so swell. Here's a few fast reasons for my own affection.

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Path Finder 4 available

Path Finder 4
Originally uploaded by merlinmann.

Cocoatech: Path Finder 4

I'm very happy to share that PathFinder 4 is now out and available for download at Cocoatech's site. I've been beta-testing this badboy for a couple months now and can happily confer upon it my official okey-dokey. It's one badass Finder replacement that power-users will find pretty foxy.

I may try to do a longer review in the next week or four, but I wanted to be sure and spread the word -- the tabs, the search/filter by string, the improved interface widgets -- dang, there's a lot to like here. Turn on as many or as few of the drawers as you need, and make yourself a happy little MacBatcave. Life inside a single Finder window is closer than ever. Great work, guys.

Be patient if the Cocoatech site is a bit slow -- I predict people are going to be downloading and buying the crap out of this.




An Oblique Strategy:
Honor thy error as a hidden intention


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