Guidelines: *email only from laptop or desktop computers *cell phones can only be used to make calls, and no text messages or e-mails are allowed - if you receive a text, you must reply in voice over the phone. E-mails must be returned from a laptop or desktop computer. *no use of Twitter or any other social networking site - this includes reading as well as posting. *no visiting of any entertainment or gossip sites. (No need to detail which ones - you know what they are.)
I have to be honest – I’m not sure I could do it. Can you? (thx Jack Cheng)
The next version of AwayFind, code named “Orchant” and currently in private beta, is a complete rethinking of the service with the goal of taking the best ideas of the product to heart while curing all of the problems with the original. In my opinion, it largely succeeds. In fact, it is an effort to finally provide the kind of server side, multiple account filtering that many I know have long dreamed about. Essentially, it is like having a virtual assistant for your email
My AwayFind review is up at WebAppStorm. Go check it out. There is even a special offer at the end.
On day one of this series, we cleaned up your Desktop and had you organize your files into the already built in groupings on your Mac. The main goal was to get them off of your Desktop and into manageable bunches. Today, let’s take the time to put some of those items where they ideally belong. Once again, I wish to preface that this series may seem rudimentary to some of you “pros” but hang in there with the rest of the folks (Who knows? You may even learn a thing or two).
Just as Apple has created ready made folders in your “Home” directory to sort like items into, they have made applications to help you further organize and enjoy those files. Photos and Music are two obvious examples (iPhoto and iTunes). Here is how to handle these:
If you moved any photos into the Pictures folder of your Home directory on day one, consider adding those to iPhoto (Choose Import to Library… in the File menu). This is really where photos belong. Once they are in iPhoto you can safely delete the originals from your Pictures folder.
There may be some images you wish not to have in iPhoto. For instance, lots of people I know who do design work keep various images for ideas and inspiration. There are a number of 3rd party tools for that very thing that I won’t cover here, but I will challenge you to add those to iPhoto instead.
If you don’t want certain photos mixed in with the family photos, no problem. After adding these, select them and choose “Hide Photo” from the Photo menu. Then, create a new Smart Album (File: New Smart Album) and set the criteria to “Photo is Hidden”. Now, these photos will only show up when you click on the Smart Album. This tip is also good for all of those other photos you grabbed off the net that you don’t want to show up when showing off your new puppy… Don’t pretend you don’t know what I’m talking about.
My point is this, there is nothing that should stop you from storing any photo you wish to keep in iPhoto and not keep any stray ones around elsewhere.
Oh, and here is an iPhoto pro-tip: You do know that photos you “delete” in iPhoto don’t really delete but get moved into iPhoto’s own special Trash, right? Well, now you do. Go to the iPhoto menu and choose “Empty iPhoto Trash” and get back a bit of disk space. You’re welcome.
Similar deal here. That Radiohead album that you downloaded, unzipped, and added to iTunes. Yep, that one. Are you still holding onto the downloaded copy? Even the zip file? Why? Once it is in iTunes, trash the original. If you are worried about having a “backup” have a real backup of everything on your hard drive – one onsite and one off. That really cool mixtape.mp3, that audio interview with the productivity guru, that ringtone of your buddy’s pet bunny sniffing into a mic – stick that stuff in iTunes (File: Add to Library) and then delete it.
Also, just like iPhoto, Smart Playlists are your clutterphobic best friend. Create a new Smart Playlist where the criteria is “Playcount is less than 1”. These are all the things in your library you have never listened to. As I see it, you have two choices here – Hit the play button or hit the delete key. Perhaps you might even find some things where you hit the delete key moments after hitting the play button.
Tomorrow, we will do a little “getting real” with your Applications folder.
In day one of this series, we cleaned up your Desktop and had you organize your files into the already built in groupings in the Home directory on your Mac. Today, I’m going to focus on two other areas on your Mac that are easily cluttered, and near impossible to ignore – the Dock and the Menubar. Here are some suggestions for how to deal with those:
The Dock is a very useful feature of your Mac and it’s purpose is to allow you to launch frequently accessed programs quickly. Frequency is the key here. Certain programs you probably launch everyday, many times a day, or pretty much run constantly from the moment you log in to your Mac. Those are the sorts of items that belong in the Dock.
There are many applications that automatically place icons in your Dock upon installation for programs you may use only infrequently, if at all. Microsoft Office is one example (the 2008 version puts 7 icons in your Dock). Even Apple is guilty of this with the iLife and iWork suites. In addition, many people still keep an icon in the Dock long after they have stopped using the application. I argue that such items have no place in the Dock.
Take the time to look at each icon in your Dock and evaluate with honesty which ones fall into which of the above criteria. Any that fall into the later, click-hold and drag those directly up then release them and breathe a sigh of relief with every saucy little poof.
Like your Dock, there are many applications that put an icon in your menubar upon installation. In increasingly more cases, the menubar icon is the application. And don’t even get me started on the applications that put an icon in your Dock and your Menubar on installation even if in prior versions of that aplication you have told it you prefer one over the other (Droplr, you know I am looking at you right?).
There are some other scenarios I can think of where a Menubar icon may exist for a service that is rarely used. I have seen many people with desktop Macs that are networked via ethernet that, despite not being used, have the Airport Menubar item active. Or Bluetooth when no such devices are being used. Just because Apple put them there does not mean you need to keep them.
Therefore, just like your Dock, it can be a slippery and fast path to a lot of icons for applications and utilities that you rarely use. If you use a Menubar icon for a service or application, keep it in there. If an application has both a Dock icon and a Menubar item that perform essentially the same functions, choose one over the other.
If neither of these is true, why have a Menubar item at all. With many of them, command-clicking and dragging out of the Dock will remove it. Others have it in a preference panel or pane. Still others you simply must quit the application to make it go away.
Tomorrow, we will look at how to deal with some of that stuff you cleaned up off your Desktop on day one. Stay tuned…
Inspired by, and shamelessly riffing on, the wonderful Unclutter Your Life in One Week, the next 5 days will show you how you can apply some quick and simple steps to get your Mac into ship-shape.
We are going to start with cleaning up your Desktop (and keeping it that way). A computer desktop can get cluttered very quickly with files and folders. After all, it is intended to operate just like a real world desktop – a place to hold items you are working on. But, just like the real world, that spot operates best when it is being used to hold only the items you are working on. Luckily, the Mac makes it easy to file and organize these items into fairly logical grouping which will make them easy to find should you need them again. Much of this may seem rudimentary to you but, trust me, there are many that can benefit from this info.
In the Finder, go to the “View” menu, click on “Arrange by” and choose “Kind.” This will group items based on the type of file they are.
Open a Finder window and navigate to your “Home” folder. One of the nice things about the Mac is that it actually encourages you to organize into some logical groupings. Documents, Pictures, Music… It is all right there ready for you to get your org-fu on.
Take the files on your Desktop, now grouped by kind, and organize them into these folders. Place Documents into Documents, Pictures into Pictures, etc. Don’t worry about their final resting place (iTunes, iPhoto, etc.) right now. The goal here is simply to get your Desktop cleaned up.
While doing this, think about the things you don’t need to keep and can go straight to the Trash. This includes .DMG files for applications you have already installed. .ZIP files for archives you have already unzipped, etc. If you don’t need it there is no reason to file it anywhere but that circular file in your Dock.
A clean Desktop is easy to keep that way. Commit to taking a few seconds at the end of every day to file away items no longer needed at the ready using the steps above. The fewer the items, the less time it will take.
Google senior vice president Jonathan Rosenberg published a long memo “about the meaning of ‘open’ as it relates to the Internet, Google, and [Google’s] users.” It’s the biggest pile of horseshit I’ve ever seen from Google.
But down here, below the clouds, in the world of ebook-reader owners, I can guarantee you that the times I want color are far outnumbered by the times that I’d benefit from sharper, bolder, faster grayscale.
I think Marco’s take on this is the right one. Better does not always have to mean more features, it often simply means making the current ones more useful.
Nothing a lot of you don’t already know in this video tutorial. Still, it is a good reminder to regularly go through and clean up things that can get easily cluttered (like your bookmarks). There are a few good tips here so even the vets at this stuff might learn a thing or two. (thx Nick Campbell)
“You have to find something that you love enough to be able to take risks, jump over the hurdles and break through the brick walls that are always going to be placed in front of you. If you don’t have that kind of feeling for what it is you are doing, you’ll stop at the first giant hurdle.”—George Lucas (via i-peach-feng-shui)
Shawn hits it out of the park with this review of Pastebot, the new clipboard manager for the iPhone (that is nothing short of amazing). I even learned a few new things about it by reading this. Fantastic work on all sides.
"If you’re checking your e-mail 24,000 times a year, what are you sacrificing? What are you not working on during that time? Could you reduce your rate to every 15 minutes (a yearly total of 8,000) and be more productive with other aspects of your job? Could you reduce it to once an hour (2,000)? Three times a day (750)?"
"Frankly, there’s no such thing as multi-tasking. What’s really happening is a rapid shifting of focus. A human can only keep that up for a short period of time before errors start creeping in. And rarely do we see the best work out of people who are continually interrupted."
Randy mentions a tool I pointed him to called AwayFind. I’ve used it for a while now and have been beta testing the next version of it. The new version is nothing short of amazing and can permanently change how you deal with email. I will be writing more about it real soon. Stay tuned.
Droplr is the newly released and dead simple file, image, url, and text snippet sharing tool. I’ve been using it for a bit now and it is excellent and one of the tools you are always coming up with a new way to use.
CB does a far better write up on this fantastic app then I can do on my limited time today. Go read it and then check out Droplr. Droplr is free; whereby free = ad supported… But they are really nice ads.
It’s a Tumblr principally about Feng Shui but there is lots of other chewey goodness on this site. Not Mac related but it is where I spent most of the morning and feel it has a vision that is important enough to share it with you.
Now I just have to figure out what she charges so I can hire her to do my house. (thx EM)
"Unlike other publishing sites’ approach to backups, our goal was to create a useful copy of your blog’s content that can be viewed on any computer, burned to a CD, or hosted as an archive of static HTML files.”
I think a telling mark of any platform or software product is not only how easy it is to get your data in but also how serious and committed are they to letting you get your data out. I have ignored this in the past and it has burned me practically every time (I’m looking at you Evernote).
Kudos to Marco for continuing to be all that and a bag of lightly salted chips.
"The good news is that the minimalist path needn’t be one of simple self-denial. Minimalism is about filling our lives with quality, not just quantity. It’s about reconnecting with the things which make us human, rather than consumers. And you can enjoy these blessings right now."
Nothing I have not said before so I have nothing I can add. Simply put, this is the reason I wake up and do this every day.
Tis the season I guess. Therefore, not to be left out, here is the official Minimal Mac Holiday Gift Guide for 2009. In order to keep it simple, I have limited it to the top five must have gadgets and accessories for every Mac lover in your life. That said, these should also appeal to any PC user as well. They are even great for those who don’t have computers at all.
I mean, seriously folks, if you are not willing to break the bank a little on these fantastic items that you AND your loved ones absolutely need, then you really should question what this season of GIVING really means to you.
OK, enough grandstanding, here is what you have been waiting for. Buy these and stick them in every stocking today!
I tried to pick carefully to make sure that at least two of these would appeal to everyone. But, why stop there? Get all five and give the rest away as hostess gifts.
Please note, these are all affiliate links unless where otherwise noted. The payback isn’t generous but, hey, I ain’t doing this for love folks.
My guest post for the always excellent Unclutterer, whereby I show you not only how to reduce the visual clutter of Mail.app but also how to navigate it using the keyboard once done.
I’ve said this elsewhere before but it bears repeating, constraints, when fully embraced, can create unparalleled creativity and force the learning of new ways to do things. When I really wanted to learn how to use Mail.app using mostly the keyboard, I removed the crutches that my lazy brain used to keep me from doing so. By getting rid of the Toolbar and Mailboxes, installing Mail Act-On, etc. I found that, whenever I wanted to do something like get new mail or compose a new message or navigate to a specific folder or file a message away, I was forced to learn the new way of doing that since drag and drop and pushing buttons were no longer easily available to me.
This lesson can be applied to many other areas of your Mac – and your life.
Update: I should note that, despite my using Mail.app this way for some time, Unclutterer approached me to do this post after seeing the earlier submission here from Marc Köhlbrugge which I should have mentioned and linked and feel like a heal for not doing so. Mea Culpa.
Create a moden and minimalist iPhone dock anywhere you have a wall outlet. Perfect for areas where the wall outlet may be a bit higher like the kitchen counter. More than a bit brilliant if you ask me (via Engadget)
After reading this post on Gizmodo, I can’t help but think of Minimal Mac. Cormac McCarthy has made his name writing books and plays, yet every single one of his works has been typed up on one trusty, truly old-school typewriter. With minimal maintenance, he found no need to upgrade to a modern computer. He estimates to have written over 5 million words on the typewriter, and is now selling to buy another.
Every year Apple announce new Macs, and every year people rush out to snap them up. But can your old Mac do the job just as well?
(Submitted by Bo Franklin)
This is a good point and one that I have been trying to get across here for some time. The best tool is not the one that is newest, fastest, etc. The best tool is the one that works. For some people, that might just happen to be the new fast thing. For a large number of others, that is what they have right now.
Since you seem to be in a Mail.app-mood, I thought I’d share my customized version as well. I’m using Letterbox for a nice wide-screen experience. Disabled most of the menu items since I use short-cuts anyway. The short-cut for Search re-enables the menu-item so it’s still there. I use this inbox for all email.
Since I can’t seem to get over my fixation with Mail.app today, here is one more thing to pimp it out. Letterbox is a plugin for Mail.app that will make use of the wide screen Apple was so hot to sell you.
So, on the way to drafting up a killer piece about my nifty smart folder setup in Mail.app, I remembered where I got all of those useful tips from. All of these are gems and I use them daily years later.