Stay on top of Apple Mail using Mail Perspectives

I was pleased to once again have a two-minute audio tip featured on Mac Power Users. In it, I describe Mail Perspectives, software that lets me stay on top of email by displaying a mini-window showing key information about recently arrived messages.

My tip starts here.

Listen to the whole episode here: #309: I Haven't Discounted The Possibility That You're Crazy

Nesting TextExpander snippets

For extreme Mac productivity nerds: Brett Terpstra describes nesting TextExpander snippets. For example, if you’re a software developer with a product priced at $X, create a separate snippet with the price and include that snippet in other snippets. Then when you change the price it automatically changes throughout all your boilerplate. Neat.

Fixing (unrelated) annoying problems with Google Voice and the Mac App Store

The Google Voice problem was that incoming unanswered calls were going to an automated switchboard for some San Diego financial service that I have no relation to. If somebody called me and I picked up, that was fine, but if I didn’t pick up the call got forwarded to this financial service’s switchboard. Frankly, the financial service sounds shady. This was merely annoying rather than a big deal because people would just call back, or send an email or a text. But still it was a problem needing solving.

I’ve been unsuccessfully trying to fix this for months, when yesterday I thought to check which numbers were connected to that Google Voice number. Sure enough, one of the numbers Google Voice was set to ring was a landline number in my home office. But I disconnected that phone when I left my previous employer. Solution: Disconnect that number from Google Voice. And now incoming calls to my Google Voice number correctly go to my Google Voice voicemail. Yay!

For good measure, I configured Google Voice to no longer ring my iPhone when I get an incoming call and instead ring the iPhone Hangouts app. I tested it out and call quality is actually clearer through Hangouts than it is on the native iPhone app. And now I have two phone numbers on my iPhone, which could prove useful.

So I’ve gone from hating Google Voice and wishing I hadn’t signed up to … well, if not loving it then at least enjoying renewed hope for it.

The App Store problem was that I have iMovie installed on this Mac, and it’s due for an update through the App Store, but this is a company-issued Mac, and the iMovie update requires me to enter a password for another account, one that’s not mine. I don’t have a password to that account. This has been going on a couple of years now. Today I finally thought of a solution — I deleted iMovie. I haven’t edited a movie on the Mac in ages.

No big deal but that red 1 by the App Store was driving me crazy. And now it’s gone.

I’m still liking TaskPaper after a day

That’s already a breakthrough. Sometimes I spent a few hours on the weekend configuring a new productivity app and it fails to survive even an hour on a workday.

Here’s a big thing I like about TaskPaper: Because it’s plain text I can just arrange things however I want. Put tags at the beginning of a task. Arrange tasks into projects or not. Change the order however I want. Go crazy.

Two significant drawbacks: It doesn’t automatically support dated tasks. I mean, you can add a date to a task, but it won’t automatically stay hidden until the appointed day and then magically appear in your task list when it’s time. I knew that when I started trying it. There are workarounds, and I can live with it.

The second drawback is more significant: Because my task list is just a text file that syncs with Dropbox, if I walk away from my desk and make a change on my iPhone or iPad, that change will likely result in desktop conflicts. The only workaround is like the old joke: “Doc, it hurts when I do this.” “So don’t do that.” I need to remember to close Taskpaper when I leave my desk. That’s too easy to forget. I can think of a couple of workarounds: Keep a separate “errands and chores” list for things I need to remember to when I’m away from my desk, and keep a separate inbox exclusively as a place to add tasks as they occur to me when I’m out and about.

Day two with TaskPaper is Tuesday.

No good comes of connecting your Facebook account with your Mac

You just get a few annoying notifications every day.

Every few months, I seem to need to remind myself of this.

I think, “Wouldn’t it be a great idea to connect my Facebook account with my Mac?”

Then I do it and remind myself the answer is, “No.”

You get notifications of Facebook updates and messages you’ll see next time you log onto Facebook.

You see events on your calendar that you’re not interested in.

And you get birthday reminders for people you last talked to when you worked with them in the 90s.

You know how much I love birthday reminders.