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

Mac OS X

HOWTO generate a kGTD Project list for your weekly review

While OmniFocus is under development (and yes, friends, I have seen it: it is actual software that does things), we Kinkless users will have to make do as we can for now. And while I still find my own kGTD setup oddly stable given its byzantine under-the-hood workings (think: innards of Cylon Raider meets Brazil's pneumatic tubes), there are definitely times when I crave just a bit more canonical GTD functionality.

One of the most vexing shortcomings in kGTD (God bless it) is the lack of a formal Project list -- one easy location to glance just all of the obligations and desirable outcomes that are on your horizon, without reference to the tasks that comprise them. David Allen has repeatedly said that the project list is critical (as I recall, his quote in our interviews was "...the Project list is king."), and, honestly, lacking an all-in-one Project list for your weekly review is kind of like sitting down to the SATs without your two sharpened #2 pencils.

My solution for this has two components -- one mostly behavioral and one mildly technical. Both are squirrely and lofi and your mileage may vary. As ever.

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Collection of our MacBreak Weekly application links

Oh, man, I'm so glad someone is doing this. If you want to see the apps we recommend each week on MacBreak Weekly, now you're good to go:

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Revenge of the Smart Playlist: 5 tricks for packrats & power users

The success of yesterday's post on the basics of Smart Playlists makes me think you might enjoy seeing a few more. So, today I want to show you how to get control of a very large iTunes library -- to save space by getting rid of stuff you're not enjoying or listening to, as well as bubble up stuff you may not even realize you like.

If you are an iTunes packrat but feel overwhelmed by your collection (or are simply running out of drive space), try these recipes for Smart Playlists to help you get it together.

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"Music Only" for your iTunes playlists

New for Friday 11/10:
Revenge of the Smart Playlist: 5 tricks for packrats & power users »

In my MacBreak Weekly capacity as Vice-President in Charge of Digging Pointless Ratholes™, I recently mentioned some tricks that I use to create better playlists in iTunes. One of these tricks -- which is an oldie, and which I'm certain I yoinked from some uncredited smarter person out in the blogtropolis -- is to create a "Music Only" list.

So you know how you have increasing buttloads of non-music (podcasts, audio books, etc.) in your iTunes library? It's really annoying to throw on one of your sexy Smart Playlists or the Party Shuffle, only to have a 20 minute nap or a Noam Chomsky lecture kick in.

I get around this by basing almost all my Smart Playlists on my one canonical "Music Only" list, which currently looks like this:

Music Only

Yes, it's very hacky, and yes there's probably a more elegant way to accomplish this effect, but so far it's been a handy jumping off point for my favorite Smart Playlists. This helps me build stuff like...

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43F Discount: 30% off DEVONthink Pro and other DEVONtechnologies apps

From now through November 15, you can get a 30% discount on any of the DEVON apps (excluding PhotoStickies) -- that includes DEVONthink Personal, DEVONthink Pro, DEVONagent, DEVONnote as well as the Infoworker's Pro Bundle and the DEVONthink/PhotoStickies bundle.

Just use the code "en-promo-43f-200610" when you checkout to receive your discount.

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MacBreak Weekly 12: “Smokin’”

MacBreak Weekly 12: Smokin’

Hosts: Leo Laporte, Merlin Mann, Alex Lindsay, and Scott Bourne

Apple updates the MacBook Pro, and Scott buys one. No wonder they've got such a great bottom line. And our application picks including Disco and Tangerine.

Running time: 1:03:36

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Vox Populi: Best practices for file naming

If it wasn't apparent from my pathetic cry for help the other day, even I -- one of your more theoretically productive persons in North America -- struggle with what to call things.

Tags, files, and -- dear Lord -- the innumerable assets associated with making web sites, graphics, audio, and video projects; it's all a hopeless jumble unless you have some kind of mature system in place for what you call your stuff and its various iterations. Of course, if you're like me -- and I hope that you are not -- you still have lots of things on your desktop with names like "thing-2 finalFinal! v3 (with new changes) 05b.psd".

For prior art, I still treasure this Jurassic thread on What Do I Know where people share their thoughts on this age-old problem, but, frankly I haven't seen many good resources out there on best practices for naming.

Anyhow, during a recent MacBreak shoot, I noticed that Alex and his team seem to have a pretty fly system for naming the video files that eventually get turned into their big-time IPTV shows. Thus, I turned to Pixel Corps' Research Division Lead, Ben Durbin (co-star of Phone Guy #5) for insight and sane help. And, brother, did he ever give it to me (see below the cut for Ben's detailed awesomeness).

But, just so I don't lose you, do give me your best tips in comments: What are your favorite current conventions for naming files? How does your team show iterations and versions? Do you rely more on Folder organization than file names in your work? How have Spotlight, Quicksilver, and the like changed the way you think about this stuff?

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Text Expander for automagic typo correction

TextExpander AutoCorrect Snippet File

Recently, I was emailing with our friends over at Smile on My Mac about how I use Text Expander as an automatic spelling and typo corrector, and I realized that there wasn't a canonical location for the user-created "snippets" file you need to import in order to get this feature working.

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Vox Populi: How are you using Mail Tags?

I open the floor to all of you on a question of particular personal interest to me: How are you using Mail Tags?

While my uses of it to date have been helpful, I keep getting the feeling I'm not getting all that I can out of it -- especially since the ability to associate Projects, Priorities, etc. to a message could make for some really enticing Smart Folders.

I wonder if my question is ultimately more taxonomic in nature -- ultimately more about Spotlight in general or Tags in very very general: When tagging items on your Mac, what kind '-onomy' are using? How strictly do you enforce your vocabulary? What are the best practices for someone who's new to this?

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MacBreak Weekly: "iPhone Home"

MacBreak Weekly 11: iPhone Home

Hosts: Leo Laporte, Amber MacArthur, Scott Bourne, and Merlin Mann

The iPhone starts to look like the real thing, and Scott Rejoices. iPod celebrated five years... with a Windows Virus. And dating tips from Steve Jobs.

Running time: 1:22:45

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An Oblique Strategy:
Honor thy error as a hidden intention


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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. »