The iOS "@@" Shortcut As A Text Expander For Emails

September 05, 2014

The iOS "@@" Shortcut As A Text Expander For Emails → via @_patrickwelker

Rene Ritchie recently posted his »How to setup and use text shortcuts on iPhone and iPad« on iMore. This inspired me to share a quick tip with you how I’ve setup shortcuts for all of my email addresses.

Ladies and gents, I present to you the @@ shortcut. Go to > General > Keyboard > Shortcuts and configure them by using the following pattern:

@@ =====> main email address
@@@ ====> secondary email address
@@@@ ===> third email address
@@@@@ ==> and so on

Here’s a GIF so you can see it in action.


This setup is easy to work with since you can browse through your addresses without needing to remember different shortcuts for different email address – the next one is always just one tap away.

In case you don’t know how to setup shortcuts on iOS have a closer look at the next GIF or watch Rene’s tutorial.


1Password for Fluid with Keyboard Maestro

August 25, 2014

1Password for Fluid with Keyboard Maestro → via @_patrickwelker

Introduction 1:

This post shows you what the title promises.

Introduction 2:

You now what… way too often I’m really overtired. I wake up at 3 am in the morning for no reason1 for the 3 days straight getting only 3 hours of sleep. Let this sentence resonate through your cochlea… because it’s an awfully sleek transition to our topic (well… not really).

Lately I’m kicking into high gear and plow through Brett Terpstra’s and fellow Dropshare2 (beta tester/) user Christina Warren’s brillant new podcast Overtired. To be precise, episode 7 is my target today since Christina brought-up Choosy. For me it’s a key-player on my system and I wouldn’t want to miss it.

But one thing after another.

Why To Use Fluid For Certain Web Apps?

Fluid can make any web apps look and feel more like a native app. You can setup your Gmail account and access it as an app.

It’s a free app, but for $4.99 you can unlock these four features:

  1. Create Fluid Apps with Separate Cookie Storage. (Preferences → Security → Cookie Storage)
    • This is my favorite feature since your now doesn’t care anymore when you clean out Safari’s cache. It saves your login data and what-nut. You’ll explicitly have to select this option in your newly generated Fluid app and then restart it again.
  2. Pin Fluid Apps to the Mac OS X Status Bar. (Fluid App Menu → Pin to Status Bar…)
    • I don’t use this feature, but if opening apps with a click on the menubar is your thing, you gonna love this.
  3. Use Userscripts or Userstyles in your Fluid Apps. (Window → Userscripts)
    • This is really cool if you what to pimp out Gmail with no-ads scripts and the other things that float around on & Co.
  4. Use Lion Full Screen mode in your Fluid Apps. (View → Enter Full Screen)
    • I’m not a big fan of the full screen mode in general. If I could I would deactivate it completely.

Fluid is cool, because when browsing with Safari, Chrome and the rest of the hord you constantly have to worry if your’re logged out of Facebook and Co.

With Fluid, not anymore. Every time another website/web app tries to access your Facebook login data it comes home empty handed, because you’re a smart cookie and keep things separate (see feature number 1).

This is also cool for online banking. It’s the only way I do such sensitive transaction tasks on my Mac since this way, my bank account is completely sealed off from all the nonsense that is stored in the browser (I’m looking at you devilish cookies… and you, filthy cache). In short: it’s a security plus point.

The 1Password-less Fluid App

Well, now you’re using Fluid, feeling great and all… until you discover that there is no 1Password extension for Fluid. What a bummer. Luckily, as any good Mac user, you have Keyboard Maestro installed on your Mac.

Storing your password securely:

If you never have used Keyboard Maestro’s in conjunction with the Max OS X keychain to store passwords, let me walk your through this process.

(1) Open the Macro Library.


(2) Scroll to the library until you find and entry named “Secure Passwords” and click insert in the bottom left of the screen.


(3) In your groups section you will find a new folder named “Secure Passwords”.


Adjust the first macro until it looks like this:


I added another variable in the prompt so that you can set the keychain name without it defaulting to “examplepass”. In addition, I deleted the keychain name variable (just to keep my library of variables cleaner).

To start the macro, trigger it in Keyboard Maestro’s menu:


… or hit ⌘A to select all actions of the macro and click on “Try” at the bottom.

Now enter your password for the banking website (from 1Password, because surely you use this awesome app).

Next enter the keychain name. I suggest to keep it simple and rememberable (in this example I used “finanzblick”).

Note: If at some point in time you forgot the assigned keychain name you can always go on the hunt for it in the Mac OS X (/Applications/Utilities/)Keychain


Retrieving the password to log into an app:

Create a new group in Keyboard Maestro with the name of your Fluid app. Don’t forget to check in the group settings that the macros will only be available in this one app.


This way you can create the macro and assign the same shortcut as the one you use for your 1Password “Fill Login on current web page”. If you set up everything correctly it won’t interfere with 1Password.

Depending on the layout of the website we’re dealing with you need to get more or less tricky with Keyboard Maestro’s UI-scripting capabilities.

The website I want to log into is super simple.


It’s also quite nice that the carrot is automatically positioned on the username field, because that’s the first field we want to auto-populate with our login macro.

I use ⌘§ for the macro:


  1. In the first action insert the name of the keychain entry you created (“finanzblick”).
  2. Since the cursors is already position in the username field, let Keyboard Maestro type out your username with an “Insert Text” action.
  3. To get to the next field - the password field - insert the “Type a Keystroke” action and assign the TAB key to it.
  4. Now it’s time to retrieve the stored password. You can do this with the %Password% variable. I went with a “Insert text by typing” action again because some ‘super-secure’ websites prohibit pasting passwords… those ones also don’t work with 1Password.
  5. Oddly enough I can’t use the TAB trick again to proceed to the login button. So I made a screen shot of the button and used the “Move or Click Mouse” action.3

Pro tip: If your carrot isn’t positioned right from the beginning at the username filed, you can repeat step 5 for this form field.

Bonus: No Pasting Allowed

If you want to use this technique in a browser on website who don’t allow pasting passwords, there are a couple of workarounds.

(1) You can write a macro like this:


… and assign a special hotkey to it just for that one site.

(2) You could even get trickier by assigning a script trigger which looks for a specific page title in your browser. This feels too CPU-intensive for my taste, but here’s a link Vítor Galvão’s AppleScripts to get the frontmost tab’s title, just in case you want to try it (or have another use-case at hand).


(3) You could copy the password via 1Password and use this sophisticated trick by Gabe Weatherhead. I opt for this solution. It’s simple and get’s the job done, plus it’s a super handy macro to have around.

Bonus Points: Use Choosy

Now we arrive at a full circle: Choosy. The app which the whole Overtired crew and I like to endorse because it’s plain aweseom.

For $12 you can buy an app which prevents you from accidentally opening your banking site in the browser. But Choosy has a few more tricks up his sleeve…

Forget the default browser, Choosy opens links in the right browser. When you click on a link Choosy will do the right thing, whether that’s something simple (like using whatever browser is already running) or something complex (like prompting you to pick a browser, but only when you hold down the shift key and click on a link to

You will find the main reason why I bought Choosy when you open its settings panel and navigate to the “Advanced” tab. Here you can go mad and add custom behavior rules like this:


  1. Well, most times it’s because I ate too late, ate something too sweet, exercised too little, had no fresh air for two days straight, etc. I know what I do wrong, but sometimes it still happens.

  2. I cannot mention this gem for the Mac often enough. Basically it’s a CloudApp/Droplr for self-hosters (read: your server, Amazon S3, Rackspace) and there are many more cool features on the way.

  3. I also use ImageOptim to keep the image size extra small. I don’t know if this helps Keyboard Maestro boost the speed of the “Find Image” algorithm, but I do my part and give only a lite version of the file.

Going Analog

August 24, 2014

Going Analog → via @_patrickwelker

0. Prologue

Let me start out by giving you the bigger picture. The last time I extensively used pen and paper was in high school; then again I had a brief pen and paper phase between 2003-2005. I only used analog tools when there was no other chance to gather the content in front of me.

I ditched CD’s in 2004. On the same line, I got rid of DVD’s in 2006. Every CD and DVD I own is filed away into several boxes which collect dust in the cellar. I started early with the exodus and soon realized that I don’t like round shiny discs anymore. I don’t even want to see them.

The only hard (read: physical) thing for me to part with were books. So I didn’t. There is something ancient about books. I get sentimental and easily attached to those worn out old things, so I keep them close and let them live in their habitat (= a bookshelf) in our living room.

With all of the above said/confessed/written down, I have one more thing to get off my chest: I didn’t enjoy writing with pen and paper. It always felt slow und unnecessary to me. I asked myself every time I jot something down: what’s the point? I’m going to digitalize those squiggly lines anyway. More sooner, than later.

Well… that stanza above is the old-me talking. And this article will tell you why new-me thinks it was time for a change and why the person typing these letters now is glad about it.

1. The Digital Status

To be frank, this is still preamble stuff. But anyway…. For the longest time I was unhappy with my GTD setup. If you followed this blog you probably know that I quit OmniFocus for a whole year in favor of a TaskPaper/FoldingText combo.

With the release of OmniFocus 2 I ended up using it again. One more time it was the trustworthy combination of TaskPaper and OmniFocus that kept me rolling.

What I took away from quitting OmniFocus is that my large running lists have absolutely no place inside my main task manager. OmniFocus serves as a centralized brain for only the most important things. So I grabbed a shovel and everything else was moved out if it (into plain-text lists). I ditched contexts almost completely since they were of no use to me and needed constant maintenance, c.f. when filing tasks from the inbox.

I’m glad to report that the app is now usable again for me but still it is by no means the ideal solution for a fully functional workflow… there’s too much I don’t need on the one side and too much friction on the other.

While I’m waiting for the perfect Task Manager1 - a thing that I’m used to - there is still something missing. Something to fill the void….

2. The Analog Movement

What I experienced might be familiar to any nerd. Like stated above, I ditched everything analog a decade ago. I love maxing out the possibilities of the digital age, but sometimes it can be truly counter-productive. I got too detached from my tasks, like they belonged to someone else whose computer I happen to manage and organize.

Every day I picked the urgent tasks and moved them to my today.taskpaper file, then I added some fun stuff from my running lists to keep me busy. Most times I threw in some extra tasks in the ‘tomorrow’ section of my file to sustain the feeling of being organized. At some point I had to clean up the whole mess and start from scratch with the today file.

Too often tasks felt just like zeros and ones I shuffled from one place to another. That was the point when the last drop of joy got sucked out of them.

So, two months ago I went shopping and bought a handful of notebooks and a great pen. I started working analog… with all the drawbacks and benefits.

To say the least, starting to hold a pen again and letting it freely march its destined path felt odd and refreshing at the same time.


2.1 The Benefits

Writing with pen and paper helps me to remember things that need to get done better. This way I deal with my important tasks several times, using different methods under changing conditions. It’s the equivalent of having a good backup - the 3-2-1 backup rule - only that I backup to my brain.

  1. I write things down digitally or dictate them with text-to-speech.
  2. I transfer them with a pen to a physical list.

The other way around is now equally likely. Inspiration strikes in the middle of the metro and instead of turning on my iPhone I pull out my notebook and write down my thoughts. Later on I add the digital equivalent to my Mac.

Being new to paper, I follow the practice of giving every day its dedicated page. So I’ll have to write down some tasks twice or more. Past me would have been annoyed but now it’s okay with me. Matter of fact it trains my mind and the scatterbrain gets more exercise.

The way I used to think in former times of writing down and remembering tasks was that I don’t have to care about it because a robot is managing these things for me. I considered writing things down physically is the same thing as “stealing away limited space” of my minds RAM. But no, it isn’t. It’s exactly the opposite. I train the ol’ thinker and he can remember more than before.

The Hit List has the following slogan:

Forget what you need to do. With confidence.

This sentence loosed its impact on me. There are still tons of stuff in my task manager that I don’t know of and that I’m thankful of being reminded for, but the lesson for me was that I don’t have to completely give up the steering way and leave everything to the auto-pilot. Sometimes it’s nice to let the chauffeur take a day off and drive to town by yourself.

Lastly, writing with a pen more often has helped my RSI a bit.

2.2 The Obvious

Well, people told me this for ages and I didn’t believe them since they were using old technology, but checking off a task by hand is a game changer. It’s just super satisfying. Since I can take a peek at my old lists and occasionally browse through them in my notebook, I also get some mental shoulder padding. I never did visit the completed projects perspective in OmniFocus. But seeing checkmarks right in front of me and knowing what I did achieve the last week is deeply satisfying from time to time.

In addition, when in a conversation with someone where I have to take notes I don’t feel like a total ass who doesn’t pay attention anymore. For centuries people made notes while listening to others. No one bothered. I think this has some kind of semi-primal roots. But, when we use that glowing thing where all the Facebook and Twitter is happening on, whilst in mid-conversation, just to write down a sentence, it still feels rude to others. My best guess is that this feeling won’t simply shake of in a couple of years.

2.3 The Drawbacks

  • You have some extra baggage to carry around with
    • … which doesn’t care if you’re battery goes flat.
  • You have to remember to grab your notebook and pen when you leave the house
    • … which you will grew accustomed quickly.
  • It’s not that fast if you’re a Keyboard Maestro
    • … but you will get used to it. Spill that ink proudly.
  • It’s not working in absolute darkness
    • … which practically doesn’t exist if you live in a city.
  • There’s an extra step if you want to transfer your handwritten notes into the digital age
    • … but if that thing inside your skull isn’t capable of remembering what it has thought of a minute ago that’s probably a good thing.

3. The Gear

I bought a good pile of paper, so to speak. Here are the gadgets that convinced me. I’m still in the experimentational phase, so thinks might change and I’ll update you if I find something nice.

3.1 OHTO Roller Ball Pen


This refillable ball pen looks elegant… and not too cheap. That’s good because naturally I like to own ‘nice things’. It’s also slim, which is a new thing for me. I used to prefer thick and big (normal) ball pens.

The best feature of this pen: it comes with 0.7 mm ceramic point roller – japanese style, I’m in awe and ❤ the shit out of it.

With approximately $30 it’s also not too devastating if I loose it.

I wasn’t able to find a US store to link to for the Words pen. Feel free to contact, they might have some ceramic roller ball pens from Otho for you in stock. If you’re interested I think it’s worth a shot.

I also got a small backup pen in case things go pear shaped. It’s so tiny that I can’t hold it comfortably… but that’s okay since it’s just my fallback/emergency pen.

3.2 Mini blocs by Le Typographe


These little blocks are handmade in Brussels and they serve as my today or project checklist.

The thickness of the paper is great. Most times I use the top field to write down the date and project name – I guess that’s why they are there. I don’t do this every time.

When you hit the website you’ll see that they come with different layouts for all tastes. I’ve never been a “line guy” but the notebook below converted me, so I’m considering trying a mini-bloc with lined paper next time.

3.3 Field Notes


As you can see in the image on chapter 2 my Field Notes book is always with me. That thing is worn out, wrinkled-up, and just looks like it’s lived up to it’s potential… I also like my books this way.

As a notebook rookie I bought several thick checkered notebooks. I soon learned that a slim 48-page memo book with fewer pages is much more versatile. I can always fit it in my back pocket and even use dedicated notebooks for home and work projects despite having one as a kind of all-purpose-always-with-me inbox.

To my surprise lines also work better with me than the checkered ones I used to prefer. But I already told you this in the laster chapter and instead of deleting one or the other I torture your eyes with another sentence. ಠ_ರೃ (<= evil master mind)

3.4 Dash-Plus


Patrick Rhone’s Dash-Plus is how I roll. I can’t help it. It always had a certain appeal to me. I wanted to use the iPhone app despite having no use for it since it was a completely other system and had no Dropbox sync.

Now, finally, I can use the heck out of it. I didn’t hesitate an instance to switch to this system. I’m sure I will add more use cases to the standard syntax over time. By the way, if you use Dash-Plus and have a cool syntax… ==> “please do tell” and contact me on Twitter or let me know in the comments about it.

That’s it. A short story from a recent paper convert.

  1. Truly perfect would be a plain text supported system with persistent and annoying reminders.

An Even Sweeter Setup

August 23, 2014

An Even Sweeter Setup → via @_patrickwelker

With my “Der Übercast”1 co-pilot Sven Fechner being featured on The Sweet Setup I found a good excuse to “brag” about the latest addition to my own sweet setup.

It’s a DIY cork tray for my cuteness-overload meadow:


Since you might not grasp the full meaning of this… here’s another picture with an arrow and a message.


If you wonder how my complete setup looked like before, here’s my Sweet Mac Setup on Shawn Blanc’s website.

I know that you’re probably still flabbergasted. Take your time. The inconsiderable beauty of this cork thingy is quite something… I know it’s a subtle elegance and not to mention the superior craftsmanship… just let it sink in. But, when you reach the point that you’re totally miserable since you don’t own one of these you can always hit the next hardware store with 30 bucks and build your own.

If you still feel that your home office sucks or that all of the above was utterly boring, I’m truly sorry… but I got you covered: check out the “Most Depressing Home Offices Ever”.

Side note regarding my setup: some other things changed like me selling my beloved (but under-powered) 11-inch MacBook Air and buying an amazing office chair instead. But there’s another big change which I’ll tell you about in tomorrows post.

  1. Warning! German content.