Most of you know that I’m a big Mac guy. If I could have it my way and afford it, I’d have every mac product I could and as many as I could, but we all know that’s not possible. Especially with the way mac products are priced. You get what you pay for with mac products in my opinion however.
Onto what this post is about. I’ve been working with ways to automate my mac more and more, so that I can become more productive. The end result is simply to get more done, in less time and with greater efficiency and less error.
This introduction post is simply a starter post to explain what I will go into more detail about in later posts. Simply a taste of what I’m doing and what I’ll show you how to do as well.
Having the right tools, or in this case, applications is a must. Being an organized person, or wanting to be is also a must.
The most important aspect to my automation system is the voice commands built into every mac. Basically I’ve customized mine to do what I ask, not just the basic commands that come standard. Which aren’t actually that bad, check them out, you’ll thank me later.
System Preferences – > Speech – > Speech Recognition
Turn this on and select the microphone you’ll be using to speak to your computer.
It is a good idea to calibrate your mic in the environment you’ll be in most frequently using your voice commands.
There are many different variations of Dropbox, such as Sugarsync, but personally I prefer Dropbox as I’ve used it the longest and it simply works. Once it’s setup, start dumping files into the Dropbox folder. Setup aliases to access your folders on your desktop or in Finder and you’re good to go.
I pay for an upgraded version of Dropbox so I can get more space.
The most important aspect here is to only place what you want synced and/or backed up within Dropbox.
I use mine for all my project files, graphics, images and programming files. Anything that I would need access to on the go, goes in my Dropbox. All of my documents also go into Dropbox, this insures that I always have access to them anytime I need them.
The next tool I utilize is very important as well and helps me to be lazy, yet organized. When I save a file to my Dropbox, or where ever I need to. So long as I name the file properly, the rules I have setup in Hazel will place the file where it needs to go. I have one Inbox within Dropbox that I save EVERYTHING into. Naming it properly in the process and let Hazel move, tag and color code it as needed.
I also setup rules to color code them based on their age and/or importance. All my files also get a date when they are saved, this insures I know the first time it was saved/created. The operating system keeps up with this information as well, but this helps when sending to other people on different platforms, that may not have their finder or explorer windows setup to show that information.
Automator is a great application if you learn to use it properly. There is so much that it can do and it’s so simple to setup. Basically everything is drag and drop, so you simply drag what you want done and in what order. You can test your automation app before you build it and then when you’re ready, simply save it and go.
These apps can later be used via voice command to open or run, which saves you time in the long run.
Quicksilver is another app I use for my automation purposes, but more so to save time than to automat tasks. However, if setup correctly, Quicksilver can automate some tasks with certain plugins. I personally don’t use it, mainly because I haven’t taken the time to look through what it can do and then set it up.
The main thing I use Quicksilver for however is simply to acces applications very quickly. I hit a hotkey on my keyboard, start typing the application and then enter. I have an application found and opened within fractions of a second, compared to minutes trying to find it through finder.
In my next few posts I’ll give a more detailed rundown of the above applications and tools, how I have them setup and how they integrate into my use of the computer. I’ll also explain some of my workflows and organization techniques. These work for me, so they may not work for everyone.