One of Mac OS X’s features that I use a lot is Spotlight. I use it to launch applications and files a lot since it’s much faster for me to hit the keystroke and enter the name of the app instead of opening a Finder window.
Well, I found a nice little application that is like Spotlight on crack. It’s called theGoogle Quick Search Box. It lets you search for anything. And by anything, I mean anything. Applications, definitions, files, contacts, email, iCal events, videos, photos, and pretty much anything you can think of — almost.
Here’s my tip to use it efficiently and to make it really transparent: in the preferences menu, uncheck the “Show icon in menu bar” and “Show icon in dock” boxes. Use the suggested keystrokes (or make your own).
I’m actually kind of ashamed that I have not mentioned Google’s Quick Search Box before. After all, it is what Nicholas Jitkoff left behind Quicksilver to do. It does provide a nice middle ground between Safari and Quicksilver. It is nicely designed too. Well worth checking out if Safari is not quite enough and Quicksilver is a bit too much.
I was a Mailsmith 1.0 user. I first started using it because it was good at cleaning up email text. This was under OS9. At that time, html email wasn’t such a big deal, like it is now. Since OS X, I have switched to Mail.app twice for a few months at a time. The first time was to take advantage of spotlight; once MS went to 2.2 in beta, that advantage went away & I went to MS again, until one of the betas corrupted all my mail databases at a time I cdn’t afford it. After watching the calls that Mail.app made to all kinds of outside servers as it loaded html, I decided I really valued the purity and security of pure text email, and I’m back to stay.
I don’t take advantage of Mailsmith’s applescript nor do I do all that much with the filtering, though I could. I don’t get that much email, I guess.
I use MS simply because it’s secure against spyware or html-calls to servers I haven’t considered. 99.999% of what I want to learn via email ought to be able to be put in words, so I don’t want or need pictures or fancy layouts, or, for that matter, Plus, I can clean up text, whether my own or someone else’s, which makes me imagine I’m clearer than I would be otherwise.
(Submitted by Phil Giltner)
This post is part of a series called Enough – Folks enjoying the technology they have because it is enough for their needs.
Snow Leopard compatible version of Character Palette tip
You published a tip I submitted that shows how to get to the Character Palette without needing the menu item cluttering things up, but it turns out that it doesn’t work properly on Snow Leopard. Instead, there’s now a fully fledged application:
Thanks for including my little applications for making spotlight do things like sleep and restart a few weeks ago- the amount of downloads jumped overnight! I wanted to say however that I’ve just updated the scripts to work under Snow Leopard. So they are now all in 64-bit code, which in theory makes them faster, but more importantly you can run the applications without having to run Rosetta as well.
There are days when I wake up and refuse to turn on the Internet, and sit still with my cup of coffee in the hush that fills the hours just before dawn. I’ll listen to the quiet. I’ll reflect on life. I’ll lose myself in a novel. Some days I’ll sit down and write, just my thoughts and the quiet and the gentle tapping of the keyboard.
And it’s beautiful.
Take a peek at this chapter of Leo Babauta’s (of Zen Habits fame) new book. Then, make sure to go read the others that are up so far. He is putting out online, as each chapter draft is done, for free, and accepting input from readers as well.
Today, I’m way more comfortable in the shell. Mainly because I finally learned that, as with Photoshop and The Joy of Sex, you only really need to master 10-20% of the options in order to get by. The hard part is learning which 10-20%, I guess. (tips: start with cd and “compliment her shoes or hair,” respectively)
Merlin on Alpine; a Pine based email program for the command line.
I am sure many of you will either purchase or receive your copy of Snow Leopard today or in the next few days. I will be among you. In preparation, I spent a good chunk of this afternoon getting prepared by going through my applications and making sure everything was upgraded to the latest possible versions.
That said, a major OS upgrade is also a good time to go through your applications and clean up anything you really don’t need or re-evaluate the things you do. Instead of upgrading that very loosely supported program (I’m looking at you Quicksilver), is there something better suited to your needs (In that case, no. Use the b57 version.). Ask yourself “Do I really use this?”. If the answer is no then use that command-delete with forethought and malice. I did and feel much better having done so.
Inspired by Minimal Mac, and in the spirit of decluttering my menu bar, I removed the input menu (which in my case shows as a Union Jack icon). When I came to need the character palette though, I couldn’t find a way to get to it without the menu bar icon.
I don’t get why people are SO obsessed with having their menubars empty. I understand not wanting it to be overflowing with a million unnecessary things; I get that when you have an app open, sometimes it is just clutter to have a menubar icon too. That’s why I opt out from having icons for adium, tweetie, bowtie, etc. in my menubar.
HOWEVER, I don’t get why people want to remove “invisible” apps from the menubar and replace them with a widget. By invisible I mean things like airport, clock, battery, etc. These small, unobtrusive menubar icons which serve you by being able to be read with a mere glance, and to replace them with clunky dashboard widgets that hog vital computer resources is the complete opposite of minimal, in my opinion. Yes, the dashboard is hidden until you want it. But to me, that’s like sweeping all the dust in a room under a rug.
I’m posting this in order to offer a different perspective than mine.
I’m posting this because it may be the right answer for many of you.
I’m posting this because there are certainly many valid arguments against removing things like the clock, battery, etc. from the menubar.
I have talked about it more than a bit here because I am distracted by them. I find things that “tick” to be needlessly stress inducing. I imagine there might be others like me out there. That said, this is what works for me. It may not work for you. You may not be distracted by the battery, clock, etc. Every choice comes with a trade off. In this case, the trade off is that the Dashboard may be a bit more resource intensive than the menubar. To me, it is a fair trade because the benefit I get in return is worth it. I mean, heck, I have a 13 inch portable supercomuter on my desk. If I can’t use those spare cycles to reduce my stress what good is it.
I’m going to keep saying this over and over like a some far eastern mountain mantra, the entire purpose of this site is to challenge you to give these suggestions some thought. Not to say there is a particular right or wrong – because there is no such thing here. The only thing that is right is what works for you to get the most productivity and longevity out of your technology.
For me, that means using the simplest tools possible for the job at hand. That means removing anything that causes clutter, undo stress, and distraction.
This may mean something entirely different for you. That is OK too. As long as you have opened yourself to be challenged to think about it.
I work as a game producer in a big international game company, i find it amazingly hard to concentrate in my daily work with ANY desktop mess. I work with multiple projects at the same time so it was incredibly important to minimize everything.
Also working with a 13” MacBook Alu it’s important to maximize desktop space.
I keep my dock hidden all the time, but when it appears i have all my projects and main apps there for fast access using OS X stacks set to Fan out and show the latest added project files. As producer i get a lot of files to review from my team so an organized filing system is essential. I use ShoveBox for taking notes, QuickJot is a life saver and the iPhone app connectivity. For personal task management Things is my choice, while not the most minimalistic GTD app out there it’s sleek and fast to use.
Using Isolator to whiteout background applications and give the whole desktop unified color and smooth appearance. I find it impossible to have empty background, some simple shape is needed Blender giving me positive memories. Grey blue is a calming color and it helps me calm down when i am going overdrive.
Anytime you can eliminate one more cable from all the tech gadgets that we take pleasure in using, it sets us one step closer in simplifying the cumbersome task of carrying around wires that make our devices so valuable in the first place.
SendStation has introduced the world’s smallest mini USB adapter impeccably titled The PocketDock. Now you can sync and charge your iPod or iPhone using the same cables, wall or car chargers found with digital cameras, portable hard drives, GPS devices, PDAs and many more all right at your fingertips.
No more bringing Apple’s white cord along any other USB cable. The price is $30 depending on where you are in the world.
I have done this in a number of programs (including the Finder). That said, when doing this in Mail.app be warned that if you click on Search while in text mode (or use the key command to do so) it will change the toolbar back to the default icon and text mode.
Beyond Slim Battery (or whatever), Unplugged. A better battery monitor.
Please take a look at Unplugged. This application runs a daemon in the background that monitors battery level as well as the plugged/unplugged state and alerts the user via growl on configurable battery level threshholds, as well as when the laptop has become plugged/unplugged. It’s a preference pane, no menubar app required.
Mark Hurst, author of “Bit Literacy”, and founder of Creative Good, laid down some instructions for how to get Mac OS 9 to get out of your way and let you get some work done. It was later updated for Mac OS X, but even that version was quickly dated. The thinking behind them is still strong: use the simplest, sanest application that will get the job done. Avoid extraneous clutter in menus, on desktops, in applications. Pick the utilities that will give you the most — ahem — utility, and use and learn the crap out of them. This approach may not be for everyone, but even modern Mac minimalistas are sure to find a hint or two they can adopt.
(Submitted by Andrew W.)
While these articles are a bit long in the tooth, there are many good take away ideas that apply just as well today. I really agree with, and my purpose for this site is, the idea that simplicity and minimalism should not be done for their own sake. It should be done with a balance of what works for you and the goal of achieving greater productivity by using the optimal tools available. As stated by Mark in one of the posts:
"I heard from one high-tech guy who had read the book, and he was offended by it. He said, how could someone be so out-of-date and quaint? That’s a common reaction, actually. People think I’m ignorant of the riches of Web 2.0.
"On the contrary, I’m just trying to give people the tools they need to liberate themselves from the stress and anxiety of technology in modern life."
I’d like to share a great application I use which really improves focus, it’s called Think from Freeverse.
Think is an easy and intuitive productivity utlility which allows you to “dim out” & swap between your desktop & unused apps allowing windowed or full screen single application use, it’s most novel and certainly worth a look.
What would a minimalist command line task list look like? It would be a simple command. It would let you type natural language at the command line. It wouldn’t make you leave the keyboard and use the mouse.
$ task add Water the tomato plants.
Created task 1
It would allow you to specify dates in a reasonable way:
$ task add Pay the rent due:1st
Created task 2
It would handle complexities such as recurring tasks without fuss:
$ task 2 recur:monthly
Modified 1 task
It would present the list in a simple way:
$ task ls
1 Water the tomato plants
2 Pay the rent
It would let you dismiss tasks simply and quickly:
$ task 1 done
Completed 1 ‘Water the tomato plants’
It might have hundreds of features, but it would know how to talk to a minimalist.
While it’s easy to keep clean and minimalist at start-up, my mid-workday desktop is generally a massive dogpile of apps and windows. I try to hide or quit apps I’m not using at the moment, but often forget. Enter SpiritedAway. SpiritedAway checks each running application’s activity, and if an application isn’t active for a certain fixed time (set by you), Spirited Away hides the application automatically.
And here’s a vital tip: the official sites are all distributing v0.7, but you need v0.6 for it to run reliably on Leopard, so until v0.8 comes out with a fix, here’s a direct link to it: SpiritedAway v0.6 .zip (any earlier versions aren’t universal binary.)
But I did get the iPhone for free, when a friend updated his 1G to the 2G. He was going to fix the screen, but the cost to fix the the 1G iPhone screen is pretty close to just getting a fresh one from Apple. With a renewal of his contract he got the 2G from Apple and giving him a chance to hand down his 1G to me without a contract attached to it. It’s great because I get to use the iPhone for Remote around the house to control my iTunes and AppleTV, and use the best cellphone on the planet.
I work from home and really don’t need a data plan or the cost of data every month, but it’s nice to have a great phone that has all these great uses of app’s that need internet when I’m in range of a WIFI connection, at home or about town.
To get the iPhone up and running, all I needed to do was slip my SIM card in it from my ATT Razr and most importantly, call ATT’s International Customer Service (though I think any rep can do this, now) and request that they turn off the data access. They’ll do this when you travel so that you won’t incur roaming charges for the data.
As with any mobile service provider’s customer service, ATT’s needs to be coerced into providing you the service according to their own service agreements with you. When they recognized that I was using an iPhone and not the Razr, a few reps had told me I had to have a data plan under the agreement with Apple, which I reminded them that I didn’t have since there had been no transaction with Apple. After some terse interaction with a really aggressive rep, she complied with leaving data off and said it may come under review and be added without my knowledge at a later date.
They never did add data back on, but I do keep an eye on the little data icon on the topleft of the iPhone when I know I don’t have Wifi Access to make sure I won’t be getting a larger than anticipated bill from ATT.
I don’t really use Wifi that much around town, but it is a bonus, when I can login to a network at a friends or the Apple Store, or a Starbucks. The reality is, that I am so connected at home, I usually leave the house not wanting to be connected for a few hours.
Despite the crack on the screen, this iPhone 1G completely functional, and I rarely have a problem seeing around the crack. The benefits over getting a Touch (for instance), is the iPhone was free from my buddy and I don’t have to pay for data, and I have an insanely great cellphone.
(Submitted by Steve Hokenson)
Thanks Steve for submitting this. I am sure a few people will be grateful for it.
For those new here, this post is part of a series called Enough – Folks enjoying the technology they have because it is enough for their needs.
“To create a new standard, it takes something that’s not just a little bit different; it takes something that’s really new and really captures people’s imagination — and the Macintosh, of all the machines I’ve ever seen, is the only one that meets that standard.”—Bill Gates
Finder has the option to hide icons for drives and devices, but not for other files and folders. I wanted to hide these so that I could keep a clean desktop but still use the ‘Desktop’ folder. There is 'Camouflage' but this puts an icon in the menu bar and I see it as more of a temporary solution.
it is possible to hide the whole desktop very easily.
Open Pref Setter and double-click on com.apple.finder. Look for an entry called ‘CreateDesktop’ - if there is not one there, then create a boolean key using the ‘actions’ menu, give it this name and set it to false.
Restart the Finder and your desktop should be hidden. To undo the changes, just set the value to ‘true’.
There are other preference editors, however I like Pref Setter as it is both free and easy to use. If you want to be very minimal, you can of course uninstall Pref Setter once you’re done!
The 10.5 Dock, as seen at the bottom of the screen, has a 3D effect. If you toss the dock to the side of the screen, however, you get a nice 2D alternative Dock. If you’d like the 2D dock at all times (that is, even at the bottom of the screen), open Terminal and type the following command:
$ defaults write com.apple.dock no-glass -boolean YES; killall Dock
I hate Leopard’s 3D Dock as well. I found this hint very shortly after the 10.5 release and it makes all the difference in the world to me.
This is the first part of a new series I am calling “Enough”. This is, in part, inspired by the many posts at Last Years Model. In this series, I will feature people who are using older software and/or hardware because it is enough for what they need to do. The words are their own. Big thanks to all who contribute their stories, reasons, and methods. Enjoy…
“Pretty much, Apple and Dell are the only ones in this industry making money. They make it by being Wal-Mart. We make it by innovation.”—Steve Jobs, who, as I like to think of it, is describing what we believe in vs. not what we believe in.