Screenshot Keyboard Shortcuts on iPad

In this new series called Tips and Tricks I am showing off some simple but effective tools you can use in order to make your life a little bit easier on your iPad and Mac.

For my first installment, I wanted to talk about taking screenshots on the iPad. For those who don’t know you can take a screenshot on an iPad by pressing the Sleep/Wake button and the Home button simultaneously. If you have one of the new iPad Pros without a home button you can press the Sleep/Wake button and the Volume up button. Screenshots like this have been a way of life for many people over the years iOS has supported it.

One thing you may not know is that you can take screenshots on your iPad using the same screenshot keyboard shortcuts as a Mac.

If you press ⌘+Shift+3 you can take a screenshot of your iPad and it will show up on the bottom left hand corner.

 

You can also take multiple screenshots and it will show up on the bottom left hand corner as a stack.

 

 

From there you can share those screenshots by tapping and holding on the single screenshot or stack of screenshots.

 

 

If you want to edit these screenshots you can tap and release the screenshot to enter editing mode.

 

Screenshots-editing-mode-2.PNG
 

But, if you know that you want to take a screenshot and edit it, whether that be adding annotations or cropping it you can do so with the keyboard shortcut ⌘+Shift+4. When you do this you can edit it as soon as you take the screenshot. Matt Birchler showed a great example of this on Twitter.

twitter.com/mattbirch…

As you can see, if you wanted to make a quick selection of a number of apps on your home screen you can do so with just a few presses on the keyboard. You may not use this trick everyday, but it can come in handy if you want to share something on your iPad but want to edit it first.

What do you take screenshots for? Let me know in the comments below or on Twitter (@_RocketPanda).

A Slab of Glass: 24: Our Platforms of Choice

Chris and Jeff have some follow-up about the iPad, HomePod. Jeff has a confession he’s worried about, and Jeff bought another keyboard.

🔗 A Slab of Glass: 24: Our Platforms of Choice

Things 3.8 Brings Dark Modes to the iOS Task Manager

Ryan Christoffel writing for MacStories:

This fall when macOS Mojave introduced a systemwide dark mode feature, Things added support for the new mode in version 3.7. The iPhone and iPad versions of the app, however, were left out. A lack of feature parity across platforms is always unfortunate, but that was especially true this time around because our John Voorhees  highlighted Things as having his single favorite dark mode implementation. There's good news though: we didn't have to wait long for Things’ dark mode to make its way to iOS. Launching today in version 3.8, Things has added two different dark modes on both iPhone and iPad, one of which is suited particularly well to OLED iPhones.

Cultured Code has been on my list for a while of developers that make the iPad great. Things 3 adding dark mode is one of my favorite things to see with Things 3. Sadly, I am still going to keep using OmniFocus strictly because it is the task manager that I consistently go back to when I am no longer “on the market” for task managers.

Announcement: Build Your OmniFocus Workflow

Today I'm very excited to announce a book: Build Your OmniFocus Workflow. I've been hard at work on this for the last 3 months - but not alone. My fabulous co-author, Ryan Dotson, has been hard at work right along side me (admittedly with a timezone difference) - and we have 150 pages ready for you! This book is designed, as the name implies, to help you build a workflow which works for you with OmniFocus - whether you've never used the app before, or if you've used it for years and just want to improve your setup. It is comprised of five sections:
  • First Steps: Getting OmnIFocus set up with a basic setup.
  • Fundamentals: Walking you through the default perspectives, and expanding on your current setup - plus diving into settings.
  • Advancing: Diving much deeper, including custom perspectives, creative uses for tags, review and onwards.
  • Final Horizons: Honing your workflow to get the most out of your system.
  • Our Workflows: Ryan and I get personal and tell you about how our setups work.
Throughout the book there are tips, notes, personal comments, and most important of all: activities for you to complete in order for you to create a set up which allows you to be productive and which will hopefully also allow you to feel like you're fully in control of your life.

Rose has been doing amazing work as long as I have followed her and this is no exception. I bought this instantly and I am about halfway through it right now. While some of the things aren’t new for me (I have been using OmniFocus off and on the past 5 years), it is still a great way to rethink how I use OmniFocus. I am taking this book as an excuse to start a whole new database and use the teachings of this book as my guide. So far, it’s working great for me.

Go buy yourself, or someone you know, a copy of this now before the price goes from $25 to $30.

Blogging on a Mac Instead of My iPad

Lately I have been using my Mac more and more, and the reason for this is because I find it to have a much easier workflow for my writing than an iPad. This isn’t to say that I can’t do my work on an iPad, I can and I have, but because of apps like MarsEdit and Marked 2 I find that the iPad isn’t my preferred device for writing anymore.

One of my reasons for this are the apps, and how they have improved my workflow when it comes to my writing.

MarsEdit

MarsEdit is probably the go-to application I will tell anyone who is using a Wordpress website to use. It has a solid reputation behind it, and it is all apparent after using it for you site. It is built a lot like a standard Mail application with each post being its own item and the data you want to see right there in rows. It allows you to see all your posts easily and select one that might need to be edited or shared.

Once in the editing mode it supports Markdown, HTML, and plain text editing. It is also a really nice Rich Tech editor similar to the WYSIWYG editor Wordpress used to have before moving over to Gutenberg. If you want Markdown syntax highlighting, this sadly isn’t the app for you. I spoke with the developer some time ago and I got the feeling that Markdown syntax highlighting isn’t something in the works. I could be wrong about this, and I hope I am, but as of right now there is nothing of the sort in MarsEdit.

Once you are done editing your post, things like the post title, slug, categories, and tags are all available to edit and assign prior to going live. The tags you even have saved on your Wordpress website show up when entering them in MarsEdit. You can even use custom fields for things like the Daring Fireball-style Linked List Plugin where you can enter in a custom field with a link and make that URL the hyperlink to your title. You can see a good example of that on my post about the new podcast by Greg Morris called And You Are?.

Finally, this application supports image uploading, meaning that you can insert your image in a post on MarsEdit and when you do hit publish that image is then uploaded to Wordpress and attached to the post automatically. This isn’t necessarily anything new as apps like Ulysses also do this. That said, it is a nice touch to not make users have to upload their images and then add them through some kind of library or manually copy the image URLs over.

MarsEdit isn’t just a very nice editing tool for blog posts, it also provides a wonderful array of admin tools as well. For instance, if you want to get the link to a post on your website, you can just select the post and press control+command+C and the link for the post is copied.

Not only that, but with a simple plugin on your browser you can make link-posting on your website a cinch. Simply select the text from an article you want to share, click on the MarsEdit browser plugin and, with the power of the Quick Posts setting in MarsEdit, the link from the site where you selected that text is then formatted however you want for link-posting.

All in all, I think that MarsEdit is a great buy for the price, and if you give it time and really start using it regularly it can be the one and only application you need to post to your blog.

You can buy MarsEdit 4 today for your Mac for $49.95. Which seems high, but if you want a powerful one-stop shop for posting your blog, MarsEdit is by far and away worth the money.

Marked 2

Marked 2 was an app I didn’t think I needed when it came to writing and blogging on the Mac, but once I finally used it I instantly added it to my workflow.

Marked 2 is a simple app on paper, it allows you to open a file with Markdown and see real-time updates to it. Outside of what this does “on paper,” the flourish and polish of this app makes proofreading and quality control smooth and simple.

Along with adding bold text and italics whenever the syntax shows up, it does things like shows the full URL of a link when you hover over it.

It can show the length of selected text with things like world count and character count and sentences in the selection. It allows you to review and check the version your readers will see, making it the last application necessary before hitting publish.

It also has an incredible editing system to show you where you can improve on your writing and grammar. It reminds me a lot of the Hemingway web-app, showing where you write in passive voice, or when you are using words that have preferred alternatives. So instead of saying something is “very large” it could show you something like “enormous” or “gigantic” making for it to be a much more pleasing thing to read.

Finally, Marked 2 also allows you to export the finished product as a slew of different file formats. You can save the finished post as things like a Markdown file, a PDF (paginated and continuous), or even HTML if you want to share it to something like MarsEdit and not have to worry about your Wordpress website supporting Markdown formatting.

Marked 2 was the editor I needed when writing as I never feel that my work is worthwhile until I meticulously comb over everything and rewrite draft after draft. Now, with the editing tools and system I can use that as a finish line to when I can stop trying to make it perfect and start making it public.

You can get Marked 2 for $9.99 right now, or become a SetApp subscriber and get access to Marked 2, Ulysses, and a slew of other great apps.

Bringing it All Together

Now that you know both the apps I cherish on the Mac when it comes to my writing, let’s explain the process in my writing and blogging on the Mac.

I first start writing my draft in a text editor. Which is usually Ulysses on the Mac, which can be an alternative to MarsEdit if you just want a text editor that can post to Wordpress. One thing I prefer with Ulysses is that it does have Markdown syntax highlighting, allowing me to see more clearly the differences I make when I want to bold or italicize something. However, I am not a fan of how Ulysses handles your posts after you send it off to be posted. It just stays right at the folder you had it in. From there I have to figure out what to do with it. Eventually what I decided to do was make a folder called “Posted” and throw everything I am finished with in there for safe keeping. Once that got cumbersome I decided to make Ulysses my app for writing, and Marked 2 and MarsEdit for editing and publishing respectively.

Anyway, once I am done with my first draft I export the Markdown file of the post to Marked 2 and have both apps side-by-side and make changes to the according to the Keyword Highlight Drawer in Marked 2.

Once done there I send the post to MarsEdit. Once there I add the metadata I need and make sure everything in the post is how I want it. Once I am happy with it I then send it to Rocket Panda for posting.

Conclusion

The workflow is a little crazy seeing that I am using 3 apps to get one post out on to Rocket Panda, but I feel that if I were to exclude any of these in my blogging process it would make for a lesser product.

One thing that I think is something that I prefer over the Mac is just how easy it can be to edit posts and make changes with ease. When it comes to iOS and the WordPress app, which is the only decent app to handle WordPress content on iOS, it is still clunky and ill-fitting to the styling of iOS.

When I am using MarsEdit and Marked 2 on my Mac it feels like it is the perfect way to make sure that my writing is the best that it can be.

Manage Subscription

Stephen Hackett of 512 Pixels came up with a really sweet solution on how to quickly access your iTunes subscriptions. IT seems like a simple Shortcut once you get into it, but I think some of the best Siri Shortcuts are those that are so simple you wish you’d come up with it.

Apple Subscription Siri Shortcut

What this shortcut does is open a URL to Apple’s Subscription Page and from there iOS users automatically get sent to the iTunes Store app and it shows your subscriptions.

Again, a simple URL allows you to access something that would take several menus and taps to get access to otherwise. Which, to me, is a perfect example of what automation can do for you.

You can download the shortcut here and give it a go for yourself.

And You Are? - Daryl Baxter

Greg Morris has something special here with And You Are?. Hearing episode one with Daryl Baxter also just makes so much sense. The laid back nature of this is something I can get used to easily.

Give this episode a listen, you won’t be disappointed.

Capture - Learning GTD

When it comes to GTD, the first thing you are introduced to is the idea of “Capture.” For the most part it’s straightforward. You can’t store your ideas without getting them out of your head, so you need to have a system in place to make it seamless and second-nature to go from idea to capture.

Without capture you have nothing but a bunch of things swimming in your mind taking up a bunch of space. With this in mind I knew I needed to work on the things that I was going to be using to capture my ideas and tasks. Which starts with what was coming into my life. So I started writing everything out and organizing the different things that come into my life that may require, action.

As you can see, there are a number of different things I use to capture my ideas, and many different types of things I need to capture. Which basically boils down to three categories: digital and analog.

Digital Inputs

For the digital, I wanted to decide on apps to use to capture those things into my task manager of choice. What I needed was a way to send things from each of these sources to my task manager.

Email was the first thing and was simple to configure. A simple Share Sheet option made sending the emails I received to Things 3 a breeze. I also could set up an email account to forward to Things 3, but I preferred a share sheet option as it didn’t require me to have to send an email to myself and clog up my messages.

From there things like Twitter, RSS, text messages, and Overcast, I had to put these ideas and tasks into my system manually. As I use Things 3, I can either use Siri Shortcuts to input something or I could also have a Drafts 5 action in place to send anything I make on a new line to Things. Which isn’t perfect, but it gets the job done without issue.

Finally came my digital notes. This was ultimately the hardest thing to handle as I have been using a combination of Drafts 5 and Bear to handle my notes over the years. When starting from scratch I wanted to take a long hard look at what each of these apps are for, and I eventually decided that Drafts is where everything would start. I decided this because it made things easier for me to decide what I wanted to say and then think about where they go second. Instead of trying to think of whether what I have on my mind is better off in Bear or as an item in Things, I decided to forgo that line of questioning and make Drafts 5 my go-to input app. From there, I can send it to the respective app once I am done capturing my thoughts.

Tim Nahumck made a great point in his Drafts 5 review about this saying:

At its core, Drafts remains the app it has always been: a place where text starts. It is the quintessential app for trusted capture of text. There are other writing/note-taking apps out there that are great in their own right. Some are more suited for long writing and research, while others are good for simple note-taking. But none of them replicate the functionality that Drafts carries on iOS, where integrations built into the app provide powerful, customized actions. This is where the strength of Drafts really shines: it can be the central hub from which everything flows.

Drafts 5 was always an app I loved. Now that I have real guidelines on how I am capturing anything in my digital life it makes Drafts 5 my go-to application for all of my text input.

Analog

Now comes the more difficult area of my life, the analog stuff. There are times where I want to capture things in my Field Notes notebook over Drafts 5. The reasoning could be as simple as I don’t have access to my phone or iPad at that time, or that I want to sketch something out and using my hands is faster than using a keyboard or iPad. In both scenarios I write in my notebook and now have to capture it digitally into my task manager or note-taking app.

Originally I thought scanning my notes and saving them in Bear would be sufficient, but after a few tries with that it made searching a pain. So now I make it a point at the end of each day to go through my notebook and decide what stuff I want to digitize in Drafts what things I don’t. This is technically part of the processing section of GTD but as I see it moving things to one cohesive system is so important I have to make it a habit I never break. For me, i consider it more a capturing process over actual processing as I am just throwing these items in my “Inbox” of Things 3 and deciding what to do with it later.

While my notebook and my digital input covers 95% of my life, there are still instances where snail mail and other paper documents appear and I need to find a way to handle them in my GTD system. Which leads me to one of the most important things I have learned in GTD: having an “In” box at your desk.

I take these paper documents and keep them in my “In” basket by my desk and make it a point at the end of my day to, along with looking over my Field Notes, go through and add these documents to either my reference material (Bear) or my task manager (Things 3). Again, this is technically processing but I think it is still worthy of mention here before I really dive deep into the processing section of GTD.

Conclusion

In short, I think doing this project allowed me to not only get a handle on what things I have coming at me at a regular basis that requires my attention, but I also now have formed a better understanding of how to manage them all in one trusted system. Which, if you ask me, is the hardest part of this whole GTD process.

So now that I know what I need to do for every kind of input in my life and what apps and workflows I need to accomplish them, the next thing I want to cover is processing, which will come next in this series.

Until then, feel free to share with me how you capture your tasks and ideas on twitter. I would love to hear your workflows!

Brydge 10.5 Series II Review

If ever there was a time for me to talk about keyboards it is now that I have my Brydge Series II in hand. This keyboard was something that I was long waiting for and now that I have it in hand I think this is the perfect keyboard for me.

My History with Brydge

I was wary of this purchase after having more than my fair share of issues with the original keyboard Brydge came out with for the 10.5 iPad Pro. I had to send it back 3 times and after the 3rd time there was no charm and I eventually told Brydge to refund me in full. I was left with a horrible taste in my mouth from this company and I vowed to never give them my money ever again.

That all went out the window after hearing about the new Series II from Brydge and how it seemingly fixed all of its quality problems I had previously. I was elated to hear this and after some thought I decided to make one final exception for Brydge and gave them my money, and boy am I glad that I did.

The Pros

The Brydge Series II looks identical to the form factor of the original, the only thing that changed was the reliability of this keyboard was increased exponentially. No keys would fail to type, there were no more sticky keys, and the Bluetooth connection stayed true. It worked perfectly.

The Brydge keyboard has loads of features and checks every 99% of the boxes I had when it comes to a keyboard for the iPad.

The first is the layout of the keyboard allows me to touch type without issue and allows me to really fly on this thing without worrying if the key I am wanting to write with is going to work correctly or not. Not to mention, this keyboard doesn’t skimp out on anything, offering media keys and having arrow keys that aren’t squished and difficult to feel for. Finally, it has a dedicated home button to go back to the home screen with one press and to the multitasking view with two.

[caption id=“attachment_2110” align=“alignnone” width=“4032”]Brydge Series II Arrow Keys Brydge Series II Arrow Keys[/caption]

[caption id=“attachment_2108” align=“alignnone” width=“4032”]The Dedicated Home button The Dedicated Home button[/caption]

Not only is the keyboard layout something that warms my heart, the fact that this offers backlit keys is also a treasure to me. It is still something that baffles me to see Apple only offer backlit keys on MacBooks and never on a Wireless keyboard. I know that because of the size of the Smart Keyboards it isn’t feasible, but if Apple were to update their Magic Keyboard to offer backlit keys it would have been an instant-buy from me. I don’t use backlit keys often, but when I need it and not have it a small part of my brain goes berserk. Having my keys backlit allows me to write late at night while my fiancé sleeps and not have to have any house lights on1.

Downsides

The only downside I found with this keyboard, like so many others I have tried, is that it is Bluetooth instead of using the iPad Pro Smart Connectors. Seeing that this keyboard is specifically made for the 10.5” iPad it makes sense to me to have the connection to the keyboard be the Smart Connector instead. With that said, no one other than Apple and Logitech have ever made attempts to use the Smart Connector.nAfter speaking with a Brydge representative their reasoning actually made a lot of sense saying:

Here at Brydge we deliberately chose to use the Bluetooth 3.0 over the Apple Smart Connector as this technology does not limit our fundamental design. The Apple Smart Connector restricts the experience to a single viewing angle, while the Bluetooth 3.0 enables the flexibility to deliver a unique laptop like 180 degrees viewing angle.

With this in mind, this decision is actually something I feel is the better choice than to make the iPad only viewable in one angle. Even with the new Smart Keyboard, there are only two angles, one of which could be argued that is never used. So seeing that Bluetooth was the better option, it makes sense that is what Brydge went with instead of the Apple Smart Connector.

Conclusion

It is clear that Brydge has made gigantic strides to right the wrongs they may have inadvertently made in older models of their keyboards, and it is a breath of fresh air to see a company that cares so much about design be equally caring on the quality of their new products. As someone who has an “older” iPad Pro, seeing them update their products for this not only goes to show that they truly want to allow everyone to get their hands on something to write with, but also indicative of what is to come in their line up for the new iPad Pros.

The boycott is over from Brydge, and I couldn’t be happier with my decision to buy this product, and if you want to make you iPad Pro equally beautiful and functional, there isn’t anything better the Brydge.

  1. The only light I use is a desk lamp as it isn’t as illuminating as the overhead light in the office.

Katie Floyd is Leaving Mac Power Users, Stephen Hackett Filling Her Shoes

Katie Floyd from Mac Power Users Forum:

After nine years and more than 450 episodes, the time has come for me to say goodbye to Mac Power Users.
Never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined the success of this podcast or the opportunities it would create. I would not be where I am today, personally or professionally, without this show. I owe a debt of gratitude to our sponsors, listeners, and most of all, to my co-host David Sparks. You have lived with me through life, loss, new homes, careers, and nearly every other significant milestone. Throughout it all, MPU has been there.
To everything, there is a season. I’m turning to a different season in my life. December 31st will mark my last episode of Mac Power Users. I have not come to this decision hastily, it’s something David and I have been talking about for several months and the end of the year seems a natural time to wrap things up.
The show will go on. We are pleased to announce Stephen Hackett will be the new co-host of Mac Power Users with David starting in January. I can think of no one better. Stephen is passionate about the Mac platform, and I am confident leaving knowing that the show is in good hands with David and Stephen at the helm.


Stephen Hackett on 512 Pixels:

Katie is leaving big shoes to fill, and it’s why I was deeply humbled when David asked me to step in as his new cohost. I am beyond thrilled to announce that I will be taking up the mantle on Mac Power Users starting in January.


[…]

David and I have been hard at work planning our first episodes. If you are a MPU listener, let me put your mind at ease: we aren’t radically changing what has made the show so good for so long. We will still be diving deep into topics, comparing apps, interviewing guests and getting our nerd on about all sorts of topics.
If you don’t subscribe to Mac Power Users, I’d encourage you to check it out. It’s pretty different from my other shows, and a challenge I look forward to meeting each and every week.


Mac Power Users was one of the first tech podcasts I ever listened to and I have had a long-standing relationship with this podcast.
I was just listening to an older episode about setting up a new Mac (more on that later) and I just loved the back-and-forth both David and Katie had about David first getting an iPad Pro, then later “stealing the thunder” from Katie after buying a new MacBook Pro like she had. Something about the two of them doing that show was infectious and one of the few podcasts I would have go straight to the top of my queue when it came out.
I think Stephen will be a good match as a co-host with David. To be the yin to his yang as Katie said. It is sad (but also exciting for Katie’s “offline life”) to see Katie go, but I couldn’t have thought of a better person for her to pass the preverbal baton to then Stephen Hackett.
I look forward to what the next few episode of MPU will hold with Katie, and I am equally excited to see what comes in the new year with David and Stephen having a podcast together.

A Slab of Glass: 22: New iPad Pro Thoughts

Chris gets his new iPad, Jeff is drooling and living vicariously through him, and they both answer listener questions.

🔗 A Slab of Glass: 22: New iPad Pro Thoughts

Tablet Habit is now Rocket Panda

As of today Tablet Habit is now Rocket Panda. Before I go into the full reasoning why I wanted to share with you what has been going on with me for the last few weeks.

To make a long story short, I have been having a bit of an issue defining my blog. As I have said before, Tablet Habit was a blog for me to explain how I use the iPad as my main device and it was a way for me to express my love for iOS and the iPad. That all changed once I started using my 2017 MacBook Pro.

I started to slowly move more and more things to my Mac and less work on my iPad. Which brought on something of an identity crisis. I gained readers because I was an “iPad guy” and drifting away from that seems like I was cheating my readers out of what they wanted.

My first idea was to move things from Tablet Habit over to Mac Habit.

[caption id=“attachment_2076” align=“alignnone” width=“4000”]Logo for Mac Habit I made Logo for Mac Habit I made[/caption]

After a lot of work building a new website from scratch and importing all of my old posts over, Mac Habit was inches away from taking over Tablet Habit. I was excited, nervous, and anxious to show everyone the new website I was going to be using. But then a question popped in my head.

“What makes Mac Habit any different than Tablet Habit?”

The original answer I had was Mac was a more universal term for Apple blogging, and it was something that wasn’t tied to anything other than Apple. It wasn’t a device-specific name like Tablet Habit. Which sounded fine, but I wanted something even more freeing than Tablet or Mac as my name.

I spent days, even weeks, trying to come up with a new name. Then, during a shower I was taking the name Rocket Panda came to my head and I loved it. It wasn’t specific to any kind of topic or idea, and the name stuck with me like glue. If you ask me what it means, I will say it is just a cool name that I enjoy, and that Rocket Panda doesn’t need a topic or underlying meaning. It is just something that is catchy and easy to pronounce and type out without any kind of mispronouncing or misspelling. In short, I like the name way more then Tablet Habit or Mac Habit.

Seeing as this is my blog, and has always been a personal endeavor for me, having a name that isn’t tied to a specific topic seemed to be the right choice.

This website will still have all the things you loved about Tablet Habit, including all the old posts. The only change you will notice about this site is that it has a new name and a new color scheme to match the flames coming from the Rocket Panda logo. I may deviate from posts about Apple, but this is and forever will be a personal blog where I share my thoughts on things. It will always have my authenticity in it and I like to think people read my stuff because of my personality I put to the page, not the topics that I write about.

If you want to follow Rocket Panda on social media or make sure you have the right RSS feed subscription you can find all the links below. If you have any questions, comments, concerns feel free to mention Rocket Panda on Twitter or email me directly.

I thank all of you for being loyal readers and sticking with me over the last year with Tablet Habit. Here’s to many more with Rocket Panda!

🚀🐼

Links

Shortcuts 2.1 Update - Matthew Cassinelli

Matthew Cassinelli, a former employee for Workflow, has been crushing it on YouTube lately. His video explaining the changes and updates in Siri Shortcuts 2.1 is well worth the 5 minutes of your time.

It is so good I am linking his video instead of sharing one of the shortcuts I made. You can subscribe to his channel or watch the video below.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RSYPCbntfSE

Why Today at Apple Made the Keynote

One thing I think that was most interesting on the new Apple Event Keynote wasn’t the new devices, but the fact that Today at Apple was given time on stage.

For those that don’t know what Today at Apple is, it’s a series of workshops that Apple Stores offer for anyone to come to for free and learn things you can do on the Mac, iPad, and iPhone. I am sure there are others as well, but it’s been something that hasn’t been talked much about in the Apple tech community.

The Today at Apple workshops may not be geared towards those who are tech savvy. With that said, Apple giving time for it on stage today in between the release of some much-needed updates (Mac Mini and MacBook Air) and interesting innovation (iPad Pro) shows that Apple isn’t just here to make you think that your iPad Pro 10.5” isn’t good enough anymore. They want you to harness that power with what ever device you have.

As Tim Cook said in the keynote after they announced 60 all-new sessions coming to Apple Stores, it is something that no one else has.

For me personally I have never been to a session, but after today I have been looking at upcoming events and workshops at my local Apple Store and am very seriously considering making the 55 minute drive to go to one of these.

Some sessions mentioned in the Keynote include Siri Shortcuts, and a session called Small Screen Magic which is all about making short movies with the Clips app. They also provided an interesting background with other new sessions that are intriguing to say the least.

[caption id=“attachment_1698” align=“alignnone” width=“2224”]Screenshot from the October 30th Apple Event Screenshot from the October 30th Apple Event[/caption]

Apple really outdid themselves today with the new devices. But I think they equally outdid themselves 18 months ago when they launched Today at Apple and made it possible for their users to learn from the team at Apple just what kind of things they can make on their computers.

It is also worth noting that when this part of the Keynote happened the entire audience at the Brooklyn Academy of Music went into an uproar of enthusiasm and excitement. It is indicative just how important sessions like this can be for users, and I can’t wait to see what I have been missing out on.

Learning GTD: Starting From Scratch

When I started reading Getting Things Done, I was in a spinning world of chaos. I had many different plates spinning at the same time and no way of making sure that nothing fell through the cracks. I needed a system.

So, as a challenge to both my co-host of A Slab of Glass, Christopher Lawley, and myself I set out to read the book Getting Things Done by David Allen cover to cover to see just if GTD was something that would work for me. After chapter one I was all in.

I wanted to use this methodology immediately. I did brain dumps, set up a task manager, and started making boat loads of contexts and tags and folders. I thought I was finally getting to where I wanted with a system that worked for me. The reality was that I was on a high setting up all these productivity things, and I was no closer to getting my work done.

If I am being honest, I was even further from getting the big things in my life done. I did all the things I thought I needed to do to get my life in order and start Getting Things Done, but in reality I just took the foundation of the methodology and ran with it, without thinking on a much higher level.

I was worried about having a task manager that handled everything I threw at it, without actually throwing anything at it. I put the cart before the horse, and that is where I think a lot of people end up when starting a brand new productivity system. This all stops now for me.

I have decided that over the next several weeks I will be starting from scratch in Getting Things Done, and do what David Sparks suggested when he was on A Slab of Glass episode 19:

Do not try to create an entire system in a day. I think what you should do is you should make a list of things you want to improve. What are the key elements of a task management system? There’s capture, how do you capture tasks? How do you process tasks? How do you complete tasks? How do you review projects? Those are the big 4 steps. And pick one of those and say, “How am I going to get better at this?” And do that for two weeks, or a month, or two months, or whatever it takes to just internalize that and say, “Okay, I am just crushing it on capture, now how am I going to process tasks?” If you try to do it all at once it’s just overwhelming and nothing sticks. It’s just like learning keyboard shortcuts or anything you do. Bite off small pieces and fully digest them. And then take another piece, but don’t try to eat the whole elephant in one bite, you’re going to have a problem.

So the first thing I am going to work on is capturing. I need to figure out a system that will work for me and what will allow me to make capturing thoughts, ideas, projects, tasks, and anything else that comes to mind. I need to make it second nature to take those ideas in my mind and put them somewhere I will go back to later to process them.

All of this will be part of an ongoing series on Tablet Habit I like to call “Learning GTD.” Capturing will be part one of this new series, and I can’t wait to share this journey with all of you as I try to make my life more organized and less chaotic.

Apple’s Radical Approach to News: Humans Over Machines - New York Times

Jack Nicas writing for New York Times:

In a quiet corner of the third floor, Apple is building a newsroom of sorts. About a dozen former journalists have filled a few nondescript offices to do what many other tech companies have for years left to software: selecting the news that tens of millions of people will read. One morning in late August, Apple News’s editor in chief, Lauren Kern, huddled with a deputy to discuss the five stories to feature atop the company’s three-year-old news app, which comes preinstalled on every iPhone in the United States, Britain and Australia. National news sites were leading that day with stories that the Justice Department had backed an affirmative-action lawsuit against Harvard University — a good proxy that the story mattered, said Ms. Kern’s deputy, a former editor for The New York Times whom Apple requested not be named for privacy reasons. He and Ms. Kern quickly agreed that it was the day’s top news, and after reading through a few versions, selected The Washington Post’s report because, they said, it provided the most context and explanation on why the news mattered.

[…]

“We put so much care and thought into our curation,” said Ms. Kern, 43, a former executive editor of New York Magazine. “It’s seen by a lot of people and we take that responsibility really seriously.” Apple has waded into the messy world of news with a service that is read regularly by roughly 90 million people. But while Google, Facebook and Twitter have come under intense scrutiny for their disproportionate — and sometimes harmful — influence over the spread of information, Apple has so far avoided controversy. One big reason is that while its Silicon Valley peers rely on machines and algorithms to pick headlines, Apple uses humans like Ms. Kern. The former journalist has quietly become one of the most powerful figures in English-language media. The stories she and her deputies select for Apple News regularly receive more than a million visits each.

[…]

Apple’s executives grandly proclaim that they want to help save journalism. “There is this deep understanding that a thriving free press is critical for an informed public, and an informed public is critical for a functioning democracy, and that Apple News can play a part in that,” Ms. Kern said.

For me, I will always choose human over machine when it comes to getting news, and Kern seems to be the perfect person to lead the way for the Apple News team.

Podcast Show Notes - Workflow Wednesday

One of the biggest things I do when I make podcasts is write show notes. I do this on both my podcasts A Slab of Glass and Getting Caught Up. Writing show notes can be a tedious affair and difficult to search through the backlog of episodes, but with this shortcut it allows me to be able to search and find every single episode’s show notes in seconds.

What this Shortcut does is take a specific formatting I use when writing my show notes and makes those top 3 lines the name of a file, with some text formatting.

[caption id=“attachment_1619” align=“alignnone” width=“2224”]Format Used for Show notes in Drafts 5 Format Used for Show Notes in Drafts 5[/caption]

After I have my show notes written in Markdown format, my format of choice when writing, it is time to make the magic happen. It first gets the line count of the text I have shared to Siri Shortcuts. From there it saves it as a variable for the count.

Once done, the shortcut grabs the first line of text from the input, in this case it is the podcast name. From there, it saves the first line as a variable called “Podcast”. Now it is on to the next line, the episode number.

For me I like to write it as “Episode ##” so that it is clear for me to read, but I don’t want the word “Episode” in the name of the file when saving it. So to remove it I use a Find and Replace Text action to find “Episode ” and replace it with nothing, effectively deleting everything but the literal episode number.

Finally, it takes the 3rd line, which is the episode date. I format my dates the way I am most comfortable with (MM-dd-yyyy). However, I am using hyphens as a means to break up the three different areas of information, so to avoid using hyphens in the naming process of the date I find and replace hyphens to make them underscores. Now the formatting of the date is MM_dd_yyyy.

Now, with all these lines saved as variables, the shortcut takes the original input of the text (all show notes, including the top lines), and sets the name for it to be the three variables I have saved, all with hyphens between them. Which makes it look something like “A Slab of Glass-19-10_19_2018.” When equates to A Slab of Glass, Episode 19, released October 19th, 2018. From here I save the text as a .txt document in Dropbox for safe keeping and search-ability if I ever need it.

Once saved, if you open the .txt file you will see it has everything as it was when I wrote it, just with a name that is now searchable and easy to distinguish among other files when needed.

You can find the workflow here and try it yourself. If you make some improvements or changes feel free to let me know on Twitter.

This shortcut is just something that shows the power of Siri Shortcuts when it comes to editing text and making it your friend in the world of automation.

I plan to add more to this later on. Things like saving the file in the podcast’s respective show notes folder in Dropbox, and adding the podcast episode title in it as well. For now though, this is something that allows me to be organized and never have to think about where I left those show notes again.

Getting Caught Up 21: One Good Thing, One Bad Thing

This episode of Getting Caught Up is all about one good thing in our lives and one bad thing.However, before we get into the main topic we spent way too long trying to figure out if a hot dog is a taco or not. Mike blows my mind, and we both talk about dealing with stressors in their lives.

A Slab of Glass 20: iPad Event Predictions

With the new Apple Event coming October 30th, Chris and I wanted to talk about our predictions and hopes for the iPad event. So we decided to spring a surprise mini-episode of A Slab of Glass on you all! Chris blows my mind with one of his predictions, and I really want a tweet to be true. This is short and sweet and I can’t wait for you to listen to it!

Themes in Tweetbot 5 — The Untitled Site

🔗Chris Lawley writing for The Untitled Site:

With some major design changes it feels like a whole new app. There's some hidden easter eggs as well that I’ve noticed people may have missed. If you go into setting, tap Support Tweetbot, and give them a tip you can unlock different themes. After that go into display and you can now change your themes. My personal favorite is Pumpkin.

This was something I hadn’t noticed until Chris told me about it. I’m currently using the Manhattan theme.

A Slab of Glass 19: Using Your Teeth with David Sparks

After sharing their thoughts on GTD, Chris and Jeff talk with David Sparks, a man who needs no introduction with GTD. The three of them talk about their task managers of choice, dealing with overwhelm in their GTD lives, and David shares a wealth of insight in getting started with getting your tasks in order. You can listen to this episode on your podcast player of choice, or just head to the A Slab of Glass website.

Pro Apps on the iPad

Adobe recently announced that Photoshop is coming to the iPad, and with that comes talk of how the iPad is once again on the precipice of gaining the ability to be a “Mac replacement.”

For me, this seems a bit trite and something that isn’t a matter of if or when, the iPad is a Mac replacement if I ever saw one. In fact, I have been using my iPad as a main computer once again since the release of iOS 12. I haven’t picked up my Mac for more than a few minutes a handful of times.

I do still use my Mac, don’t get me wrong, and I think it is an amazing machine. With that said, it isn’t necessary for my workflow of writing, reading RSS feeds, designing minimal graphics, and managing the backend of my websites. All of this can be done on my iPad with ease.

So why did I decide to crack open my Mac? Because when I needed to do something quick, it was easier for me to use a Mac app that I was already familiar with than to try and find a solution on my iPad that would have made this quick thing I had to do an entire project. If I really wanted to go iPad only, those quick and easy things I do on my Mac would become projects and learning sessions on my iPad. It isn’t impossible, but it isn’t something that I can make time for right now.

With all this said, there are times where I will make a conscious effort to make the switch from an app on the Mac to something on my iPad. A recent example of this is going from Adobe Photoshop on my Mac for graphic design to Affinity Designer on the iPad.

The reason for this is two-fold. The first being that I wanted to make more logos and designs with an app that is actually meant for designing rather than using a photo editing tool as a means to making logos. Adobe Illustrator came to mind, but I have had issues with RAM on my Mac when using that app on my Mac. So, I decided to look into other alternatives and Affinity Designer was one that I felt was an obvious leader for the iPad. It had all the features I would want a Pro app to have, tutorials to make my life easier when learning this new system, and an affordable price tag to $19.99.

After downloading the app, I spent an hour or so watching tutorials and just playing around with the application to get a grip on what all this system can use and what things I could look into for my own work. The UI is brilliantly placed and allowed for a busy and cramped space to look like it was crafted specifically for the iPad instead of cramming a desktop version of an app into a smaller screen haphazardly.

The apps Affinity has put together allow for it to be a seamless and simple solutions for people looking for a pro application to edit photos and design works of art, but they aren’t the only ones.

Apps like Lumafusion and Ferrite also allow those working with video and audio to be iPad only as well. They not only are great solutions for using an iPad for videos and podcasts, it can be your main way of editing. The Mac isn’t necessary anymore to make that YouTube Video or create the podcast you always wanted to. It wasn’t that long ago when you needed a high-end iMac or Mac Pro to edit videos to meet the expectations of critics and film reviewers, and most importantly ourselves. You go on YouTube now and look at videos made entirely on the iPad and they are some of the most creative and impressive pieces of art I have seen online in the past 18–24 months. One I highly recommend is that of Serenity Caldwell’s iPad Review.

There are a lot of premium apps with premium prices on the iPad, but not nearly enough for everyone to see that the iPad is a “Mac replacement.” Personally, I think it would be better to see apps like Logic Pro X and Final Cut X get full versions of the apps on iOS. Having Apple tout that the iPad is a great alternative to the Mac and Windows Tablets but not have the premium apps to back it seems counterintuitive to me and I think for people to look at the iPad more than a Facebook and Netflix machine, they hav to put their money where their mouths are.

Despite my criticism on Apple not providing apps that are pro apps, I will say that there is no tablet in the Android, Chromebook, and probably the Windows ecosystem, that is as beautifully designed and well thought out as those on the iOS ecosystem, especially the iPad. If I were to look for something like Affinity Designer and Lumafusion in a Tablet form I sincerely doubt I would find anything that is as close to the intersection of beauty and function like those available on the iPad.

If ever there were a time to think about replacing that old MacBook Air with an iPad, I would say that time is now. With Adobe releasing more iPad apps in 2019 and almost certainly new iPads coming in the next month or two, I think right now is the perfect time to think about what you can do with the iPad and really consider if it can be a replacement for you in your day to day work and life. For me, it absolutely is. I may crack open my Mac once in a while but it by no means is because I need it, it is just that I don’t have the time to learn how to work around those specific things I use my Mac for still. One day I think I will, and probably have an easier time with it thanks to iOS apps like Drafts 5 and Siri Shortcuts to make things as easy as one singular tap.

Pro apps on the iPad are here to stay, and I think having Adobe coming into the game to bring full-featured versions of their apps is a great thing for iOS and the iPad.

7 Sources for Ready-Made iOS Shortcuts - 40Tech

Evan Kline at 40Tech did a great job listing some great places for where you can find Siri Shortcuts. I hope to have my Workflow Wednesday section on this list once I get things back up and running October 17th.

How to Use Digital Ocean for Web Development on an iPad – the Sweet Setup

🔗 Curtis McHale writing for The Sweet Setup:

While some people have loved the latest editions of MacBook Pro keyboards, others have not. I fall on the side of not liking them at all, which left me with a choice to make with my aging 13” MacBook Air. Do I keep using it or look for alternatives? After trying Linux and other machines, I turned to my 9.7” iPad Pro wondering if I could do all my work from an iPad. I already had my writing, audio editing, and video workflows nailed down with the iPad, but there was a gap for my web development work. After some research, I was happy to find that it’s quite possible to do all my web development work on an iPad in almost the exact same way I worked on my MacBook Air. Not only did this give me a much less expensive computer with which I could replace my MacBook Air, it also gave me a much more portable and focused work environment. Here is how I do web development on my iPad Pro.

Before I thought it wasn’t possible to do this kind of stuff on an iPad, but I’m glad I was wrong.

Honestly, this is impressive. Bravo Curtis.

Getting Caught Up 20: The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck

Episode 20 of Getting Caught Up is finally here after some time away. I am really excited for this one! Mike and I talk about our feelings and criticisms of the book The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson. It has its high points and its low points, so give this a listen if you have also read this book or just want to know our feelings on it to decide if you should buy this book or not.