A friend of mine asked if there were any other gems I could think of besides Keyboard Maestro that helped automate things. Here’s how it all pans out:


Editorial | Link

EditorialThis humble text editor with the power of Python behind it has opened my eyes to how I do text editing. Which sounds boring as hell, but I assure you it’s not. Don’t believe me? Check out some of the ways that Gabe Weatherhead and Federico Viticci are using it and you’ll start to change your mind about the iPad being your go-to computer.
Seriously. Since Markdown I don’t even Word anymore. It’s a relief.

Actions for iPad | Link

04 actions-ipadSomething I’m not using to its full potential yet, but having the ability to run different commands on different computers from one console is a great idea – kind of like using LCP but controlling OS X instead.
If I’m working with sensitive data on my computer and happen to wander away from my office, with a couple of swipes and taps, I can quit an app, lock my computer etc, without the need for VNC.

Hazel | Link

05 hazelHazel is like a gateway drug for automation, and I blame David Sparks and Katie Floyd for getting me hooked. I have different implementations set up on each computer that I use.

  • Sorting media files into the appropriate locations
  • Tagging and archiving daily work off of the Desktop
  • Sorting old and new files in the Downloads folder
  • Moving screenshots into date-related subfolders for Dropbox

IFTTT | Link

06 iftttIf This Then That (IFTTT) ties into your many social and web-based accounts and allows you to create ‘recipes’ from them, piping them together to make them work a little better for you. I use mine more to manage social media, so when I “like” a post or a thing or a tweet or what have you, IFTTT will take care of sharing that information out to my social networks for me, or archiving it for when I eventually leave or they eventually go bust.

Alfred 2 | Link

07 alfredMore of an app launcher than a full fledged automation tool, but some of the workflows I have running with the Powerpack enable things to run a little faster:

  • Quick switch WiFi on/off
  • Quick invoke KM macros
  • Quick search Evernote
  • Quick append Day One journal entries

Slogger | Link

08 sloggerThis custom Ruby script from Brett Terpstra is a great method of taking data from your various online sources and have them write back to your Day One journal using their (and XCode’s) command line tools. I currently have mine set to grab the following:

  • unread Instapaper articles
  • new Instagram photos
  • new flickr photos
  • latest blog posts
  • my tweets
  • last.fm tracks
  • GitHub pull requests
  • RunKeeper events

Drafts | iPhone Link | iPad Link

09 drafts-ipadMy Drafts setups are closely mirrored on both devices. This allows me to have a one-stop-shop that’s relatively consistent across four sections:

  • Frequently used tasks for Fantastical, Day One, Reminders, Evernote, email
  • Posting to social networks
  • Appending to my lists in ITA
  • Custom searches across the usual, plus Wikipedia, WolframAlpha etc.
  • Supports TextExpander snippets
  • MacStories review
  • There’s a regularly updated Action Directory to find inspiration or get ready-made actions.

Launch Center Pro | iPhone Link | iPad Link

10 start-daily-notes-ipadLCP is “like speed dial for everyday tasks“. Instead of just opening apps, you can create actions – such as directly messaging someone from one icon instead of from going into your iMessage app, selecting a contact etc. The possibilities become greater with apps that support URL Schemes and x-callback-url.
It really is the awesomesauce.

  • Supports TextExpander
  • can directly access VNC clients with one-touch thanks to Screens URL scheme support.
  • one of my favourite custom built actions launches a daily file for journal notes in Dropbox, then opens it back up in Editorial on a weekday timer.

It should be noted that my usage of Drafts and LCP has been heavily influenced by Sean Kornzdorfer and Federico Vittici.


Keyboard Maestro | Link

Again, different computers that I use run different commands. What’s nice about KM is that you can assign your macros to groups, and then decide, per computer, whether or not those macros or groups should be enabled or not.

  • Home server runs my Slogger script
  • Laptop has DNS Switcheroo and various other macros that activate upon network and hardware changes
  • Work has automated server mounts

Gmail filters | Link

Love Gmail or hate it, using filters is one of the best ways to get your email working more productively for yourself.

  • Anything that comes through my mailbox with the words ‘receipt’ or ‘bill’ get forwarded on to my Evernote email address and put into the correct notebook.
  • Anything from particular email addresses with ‘FW:’ at the beginning of the subject line get chucked directly in the bin. Do not pass go. You know who you are, serial email offenders.
  • My home webcam has timed motion-detection enabled that sends pictures directly to an email address. With filters, I have them skip the inbox and labelled to a folder for me to peruse later on.

TextExpander | Link (OS X/iOS)

This is another gateway app, and once you’ve bought into it, you’ll never go back. David Sparks is one of the best authorities on it, so if you’re curious, start here. I use it daily. Possibly even hourly.

Bringing it all together

  • Evernote Referral Link. I have a pro account, and everything goes in here. When I upgraded to an iPad with 128GB storage this year, I knew that a part if that would be reserved solely for the notes I keeled synced for offline usage.
  • The glue in the sandwich for a lot of these apps and workflows to work so well together is Dropbox Referral link, which syncs my KM macros, Alfred prefs, Editorial repository, Day One journal etc. I’ve bought a pro account here, too.
  • ITA Link, syncs my lists over iCloud which makes for consistent Drafts entries
  • I’ve recently dropped OmniFocus for iOS Reminders, which also sync via iCloud and to my desktop. Not to say OF doesn’t have the same functionality – I just need some aspects of my day-to-day to be less complex.
  • Fantastical Link – It does one thing very well. For a calendar, it’s pretty fantastic.
  • Day One Link – I journal now. Every day and from every device. Nothing too profound or trite, but keeping it makes me feel better about what I’ve accomplished during my day and being able to reference it has already saved my ass at least once. It’s as close as I’ll get to having a time machine, and I only wish I’d started doing it sooner.
  • iOS URL schemes and x-callback-url are what allow many of these apps to work with each other within iOS. If perchance you’re a developer and come across this post, please consider implementing it into your app. Geeks like me will love you for it.

At the end of the day Laziness, Impatience, Hubris can help you add a layer of automation to how you use your computer and interact with your social networks, leaving you more time to concentrate on the important things. With the barrier to entry so low, what’s keeping you from automating aspects of your computing habits?

Update: I’ve since abandoned ITA and Reminders to put things directly into Evernote.