43 Folders

Back to Work

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

Join us via RSS, iTunes, or at 5by5.tv.

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

Mac OS X

Slate Magazine on the market for "Zenware"

Sort of an add-on to the New York Times piece Merlin linked the other day about Scrivener and its cohort of new writing applications, Jeffrey MacIntyre at Slate coins a new term for programs that eschew the familiar, bloated twiddliness of Microsoft Office for simplicity:

There's an emerging market for programs that introduce much-needed traffic calming to our massively expanding desktops. The name for this genre of clutter-management software: zenware.

The philosophy behind zenware is to force the desktop back to its Platonic essence. There are several strategies for achieving this, but most rely on suppressing the visual elements you're used to: windows, icons, and toolbars. The applications themselves eschew pull-down menus or hide off-screen while you work. Even if you consider yourself inured to their presence, the theory goes, you'll benefit most from their absence.

read more »

NYT Magazine covers Scrivener, other OS X writing apps

An Interface of One’s Own

I was delighted to see my favorite OS X writing app, Scrivener, turn up in today's "The Medium" column of the New York Times Magazine. I reviewed Scrivener about a year ago, and still use it whenever I have to research, plan, and draft anything more complicated than a blog post. In fact, as luck would have it, I was actually working on my upcoming Macworld talk in Scrivener when I took a break to read the paper and saw this article. Kismet or something.

Columnist, Virginia Heffernan, notes the app's beloved full-screen capability:

To create art, you need peace and quiet. Not only does Scrivener save like a maniac so you needn’t bother, you also get to drop the curtain on life’s prosaic demands with a feature that makes its users swoon: full screen. When you’re working on a Scrivener opus, you’re not surrounded by teetering stacks of Firefox windows showing old Google searches or Citibank reports of suspicious activity. Life’s daily cares slip into the shadows. What emerges instead is one pristine and welcoming scroll: Your clean and focused mind.

High fives to other great apps mentioned in the article, including Ulysses, WriteRoom, and Nisus Writer. Slightly lower fives go to Microsoft Word, which, once again, takes its usual drubbing as The Application Everyone Wants To Get Away From™. Poor Microsoft Word, the mascara-smeared Gloria Swanson of word processors.

read more »

Sciral Consistency update: Remember flexible tasks

Sometimes surprises come from unexpected places. (Um, I guess that’s part of why they’re surprising.) Case in point, yesterday I opened Sciral Consistency as I’ve done several times a day for the last five years. This time, however, something happened that hasn't occurred since sometime in 2005. A notification window announced that a new version of the application was available for downloading.

read more »

An Ass Pocket of iCal

A few posts back, I professed my love for paper. That affection runs deep already, but I stumbled onto a trick this week that makes me lust after the power of a sheet of 8.5" x 11" even more.

As I'm wont to do, I returned to the Lucky Charms, marshmallowy goodness of iCal recently to organize my stuff. I know it isn't perfect, but it's my comfort zone, and after flogging myself publicly over my tendency to switch systems, I decided to stick with the ol' July 17 icon for better or for worse.

In my paper post, I mentioned that I like to jot down a few tasks at the beginning of each day, to focus my energy. It's not GTD orthodoxy, but with a job like mine, I have to make a plan of attack or else it will be lost in a pile of board books and Legos. Normally this does the trick, but on days when I have lots of reminders, or appointments with accompanying notes, it can be tedious copying this all down. So one day this week, when I was in a hurry out the door, I decided to print out an agenda from iCal.

read more »

TaskPaper 1.0 adds new features (and "fiddling" isn't one of them)

Hog Bay Software's TaskPaper was recently released in a completed 1.0 version (previously), and if you're the sort of person who casts about for a simple way to manage projects and tasks from a Mac, this just may be your app.

But, even more significantly, if you're not looking for a simple action management system -- if you're that particularly pathetic sort of character who's convinced that features like tagging, syncing, collaboration, graph paper generation, and the introduction of an onboard artisanal breadmaker are all that stands between you and getting your stuff done -- well, you may need TaskPaper more than anybody. Because, friends, TaskPaper is just about fiddle-proof, and, frankly, I know a lot of people who could benefit from that today.

Here's what a simple document looks like in TaskPaper:

read more »

Clippings intelligently convert "stuff" into OmniFocus tasks

[Disclosure: I'm a volunteer contributor on the development of the OmniFocus app]

You could be forgiven for being exhausted by my harangues about the importance of putting actions into their own special place outside of email, web sites, or other action-bearing media ("Email is just a series of tubes," Senator Ted Stevens, might one day say).

In fact, liberating actions from the email in which they arrived and putting them into a system that you trust is arguably the most important tenet of Inbox Zero. But it's also advice that leaves a lot of people scratching their heads: "OK, big shot, so where do I put this new task, and how exactly is it supposed to get there?"

Well, I'm happy to say that recent sneaky peaks of OmniFocus now have a pretty neat way to help with this problem. It's called "Clippings," and if you're familiar with the similar feature in OmniOutliner, you can imagine how it might work in the context of a task-tracking app and the complementary apps whose contents you want to direct to it.

Alongside the recently-added Perspectives, this is a feature that is making me very happy right now.

read more »

Dansays: Put all your customer service numbers into Address Book

This morning, like a lot of other people, I was locked out of using my PayPal debit card while the site (and apparently its glass-jawed transaction processing network) took a total dirtnap. So it goes. That’s only indirectly the point of this post (although I did kind of feel like opening a “Can of Cory” on The Pal).

Point is, my pal dansays left a great comment on my whiny Flickr post laying out why he's put all the customer service numbers of products and sites he uses right into his Apple Address Book. Great advice that I'll be taking this weekend:

read more »

Becoming a tagging kung-fu master

You’ve heard the hype about tagging. You’ve seen people flocking to sites like Flickr and del.icio.us, where they jump head-first into a pulsing mass of disjointed tags, possibly never to be heard from again. And you’ve wondered: how exactly is tagging worthwhile again?

Any idiot can tag, but you want tags that are useful rather than a disorganized mess. This is not an unreasonable desire, and by completing three simple steps before you start tagging, you too can become a tagging kung-fu master. (Or, if you want more intellectual cred, explicate your personal taxonomy.)

read more »

How do you describe Quicksilver?

Acting without doing SOUNDS good, but... (Ask MetaFilter)

I really liked this AskMe question about Quicksilver, since it's one that comes up a lot for folks who don't get as enthused about the app as I (and many of you) do:

Everywhere I go on the internet, Mac users rave about Quicksilver. I've downloaded it a couple times, and I sort of get that it COULD be really useful, but I am not sure how...

So what am I missing with Quicksilver? I see so many other people who get a lot of use out of it, and I am sure I can fit it in somewhere, too, but I just can't seem to figure it out....

Here's a portion of how I responded in comments:

read more »

Quicksilver proxies for fast, easy printing

Faster Printing with Quicksilver

Mark Fisher shares terrific tips on how to use Quicksilver Proxies for faster printing:

Use this method when you want to print files that are on the Desktop or are all in the same folder.

  1. Select the files that you wish to print by Command clicking them.
  2. >
  3. Invoke Quicksilver (by default, ?–SPACE)
  4. >
  5. Type the name of your printer until QS displays its name e.g. “Lexmark”
  6. >
  7. Hit the TAB key to select the next pane.
  8. >
  9. Type “open” and select “Open File”. >
    • I recommend making “Open File” the default action for when you type “open”. You can do this by Ctrl clicking “Open File” and selecting ‘Set as Default for “OPEN”.’
    • >
  10. >
  11. Hit TAB to select the next pane.
  12. >
  13. Type “current” until QS displays ‘Current Selection’.
  14. >
  15. Hit ENTER.
  16. >
  17. Your files should start printing.
  18. >

Also check out how to use the "comma trick" to print multiple files. Great stuff.

After the jump is the video for the episode of The Merlin Show where I talked about using proxies to access application menus.

read more »



An Oblique Strategy:
Honor thy error as a hidden intention


Subscribe with Google Reader

Subscribe on Netvibes

Add to Technorati Favorites

Subscribe on Pageflakes

Add RSS feed

The Podcast Feed


Merlin used to crank. He’s not cranking any more.

This is an essay about family, priorities, and Shakey’s Pizza, and it’s probably the best thing he’s written. »

Scared Shitless

Merlin’s scared. You’re scared. Everybody is scared.

This is the video of Merlin’s keynote at Webstock 2011. The one where he cried. You should watch it. »