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How-to: Track top-level web site usage with Time Sink

Monday, January 2nd, 2017

Our time-tracking app Time Sink relies on window titles to track your activities. This approach works great for most use cases, as window titles are supplied by the vast majority of apps out there, which means Time Sink is able to keep an eye on nearly everything you do.

But when browsing the web, relying on window titles can sometimes be problematic: Many sites don’t include any site-specific information in their window titles. For instance, a news site may just have the title of the news article as the window title. So if you were interested in finding out how much time you spend on that news site, Time Sink apparently wouldn’t be able to help, because there’s no way to tell which site those news stories came from.

Other sites do include some site-specific data in their window titles, but what that is will vary by site, as well as where it appears within the window title.

The good news is that Time Sink can track site-wide time usage for both types of windows—it’s relatively simple for sites that include site-specific data in their window titles, and it’s somewhat more involved for sites that do not.

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How-to: Make Witch (indie) launch on login in Sierra

Tuesday, October 25th, 2016

We’ve had a few reports of the direct version of Witch not automatically launching at login after upgrading to macOS Sierra. While we haven’t seen this issue here, if it happens to you, here’s how to resolve the problem. (There have been no reports of troubles with the App Store version, so the following is only for our direct customers.)

First, open System Preferences, click on Users & Groups, then click the Login Items tab. Scan the list of items and see if witchdaemon is listed. If it is listed, and Witch still isn’t running at login for you, please open a trouble ticket for one-on-one assistance.

If you don’t see witchdaemon then—leaving System Preferences open—switch to Finder.

In Finder, navigate to your user’s Library folder (or to the top-level Library folder, if you installed Witch for all users). Your user’s Library folder may be hidden; if so, hold down the Option key and choose Go > Library from the Finder’s menu.

Once inside the Library folder, navigate into PreferencePanes. There you will (hopefully) see Witch.prefpane. (If you don’t see it, it’s probable you installed Witch for all users, in which case you need to navigate to the top-level /Library > PreferencePanes folder, then follow the rest of these instructions.)

Right-click on Witch.prefpane and choose Show Package Contents from the contextual menu; this will display a Contents folder. Navigate into Contents > Helpers, which should show just oen entry, witchdaemon.app. Leave this window open.

Now drag witchdaemon.app from the Finder window into the list of login items in System Preferences, and drop it there. Make sure witchdaemon now appears in the list, then close System Preferences. You should now be good to go—Witch should now launch properly at login.

If you need additional help with this process, or Witch still isn’t launching at login after even though it’s listed in login items, please open a trouble ticket for additional support.

How-to: Give Moom extra room to work in El Capitan

Tuesday, June 30th, 2015

If you’re a developer (or public beta tester) using El Capitan, you’ve probably discovered that you can hide the menu bar (via System Preferences > General > Automatically show and hide the menu bar).

If you use this feature, and you’d like Moom to use the extra pixels afforded by the hidden bar, here’s how. Open Terminal (no need to quit Moom first), paste the following text, and press Return:

defaults write com.manytricks.Moom "Ignore Menu Bar" -bool YES

From now on, Moom will freely place windows in the top portion of the screen. This change will affect everything Moom does—those 23-ish pixels at the top of your display are now part of Moom’s real estate.

Later on, if you decide you don’t like the auto-hiding menu bar and disable it, you’ll want to also disable Moom’s use of that space—lest you find windows partially hiding behind the menu bar. To do that, go back to Terminal (again, no need to quit Moom), paste this text, and press Return:

defaults write com.manytricks.Moom "Ignore Menu Bar" -bool NO

With that command done, Moom will once again respect the menu bar’s real estate.

How to: Discover the magic of the sequence identifier

Monday, May 19th, 2014

One of the main features in Name Mangler 3 is multi-step renaming. Instead of being limited to just one renaming step, you can add many steps to one renaming task. In prior versions of Name Mangler, you’d need to use Advanced mode, or run multiple repeated single tasks, to handle multi-step renaming tasks. This is a great change for everyone, and has greatly reduced the need to use Advanced mode.

But Name Mangler 3’s Advanced mode still has a few tricks that you can’t do using the “normal” renaming options. One of the most powerful of these hidden gems is the “sequence identifier” parameter for the sequence action. The help file has this to say about the sequence identifier:

The sequence identifier, if included, indicates that sequence indexes are only inferred from the number of files that share the same identifier, as opposed to the overall number of files to be renamed.

Clear as mud, right? That’s entirely my fault, and I’ll try to come up with better wording in a future update. But for now, here’s a hopefully-clearer description:

The sequence identifier, if included, is used to group files together (by a common criteria) for sequencing. All files that share a sequence identifier will be treated as part of the same sequence.

Hopefully that’s a bit clearer…and here’s a real-world example of how you can put sequence identifiers to use to simplify your renaming tasks.

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How-to: Replace preference files in Mavericks

Thursday, January 30th, 2014

Something many people do, myself included, is copy an application’s preferences file—either from one Mac to another (as a quick way of getting an app configured to my liking) or to replace a damaged/lost preferences file using a Time Machine backup. Until recently, this process was really simple: quit the app in question, trash the existing prefs file, insert the new prefs file, launch app.

Enter OS X 10.9, aka Mavericks, aka “the easy prefs copy killer.” Apple has made changes to the way the preferences system works in Mavericks, and one casualty of those changes is the easy replacement of an application’s preferences file. A brief bit of before-and-after, and then we’ll get to the fix—or just click the Read More link to jump right to the fix.

In prior versions of OS X, preferences files were always read by the application at launch. So as long as the app wasn’t running, if you replaced its preference file, it would read the new file the next time you launched the program.

In Mavericks, preferences are managed by a background daemon, cfprefsd. This service reads the preferences file once, when you first run the app. It then (I believe) receives notifications if you change the program’s settings while the program is running, and then writes them to the actual preferences file at certain points in time. But cfprefsd always has a copy of those settings in its cache, and that’s what the app gets when it checks its settings. (This reduces hard disk access, which is important in conserving battery life in laptops.)

Here’s the important bit: After you’ve launched an app once, it seems that any subsequent launches also get their preferences from cfprefsd. So if you try the old “replace the prefs while the app isn’t running” trick, you’ll be quite surprised to find that your program launches with its previous settings. It will do this even if you simply delete (via Finder) the old prefs file!

So how do you get around this aggressive caching of preference files?

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How-to: Start and stop Leech on a schedule

Tuesday, November 26th, 2013

Note: This article applies to Leech 2; Leech 3 has built-in scheduling support.

One feature that Leech, our simple download assistant, doesn’t offer is scheduling. For many users, this isn’t an issue, as they can use their internet connection whenever they wish. There is a subset of users, though, who have internet connections that may offer more speed at night, or not have capacity limits at night, or may allow unlimited downloading only at night.

A future version of Leech may offer scheduling, but until that comes to be, you can use AppleScript and a scheduling application to handle the task. It’s not overly complicated, but does require a bit of work in Leech and AppleScript.

The first step is to have Leech queue up all download requests, so you can just copy and paste URLs into it during the day, then let it run at night. To put Leech in queued mode, just make sure there’s not a checkmark by the Queue > Start Downloads Automatically menu item, as seen in the image at right.

Once that’s done, you can add URLs to Leech throughout the day, but they won’t start downloading. Next, you’ll need to create two AppleScripts, one to start those queued downloads, and the other to pause them again.
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Toggle Witch off and on via AppleScript

Friday, November 15th, 2013

Recently, a few users have asked about disabling Witch when certain programs are in the foreground. Typically this comes up because of conflicts between Command-Tab or Option-Tab (the two most-common Witch activation keys) and the foreground app. For example, you can’t use Option-Tab in a Remote Desktop Client Windows window, because Witch will grab it. Or when using Fusion to run OS X in a virtual machine, you may find that Command-Tab is trapped by OS X before it gets to your virtual machine.

In those cases, it’d be nice to easily disable Witch, then quickly enable it again when you’re done with the app in question. As of today, you can’t do this within Witch, although we have plans to change that. For now, though, the best solution is to create an AppleScript that will toggle Witch off and on as needed. You can then use any program that can run AppleScripts via hot keys (such as our own Butler) to give yourself a keyboard combo that toggles Witch off and on.

Setting up the AppleScript isn’t overly complicated, though it does differ slightly depending on whether you’re using the App Store or direct version of Witch. If you’re interested in creating your own Witch toggle, read on for the how-to…
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How-to: Enable Moom in Mavericks

Wednesday, October 23rd, 2013

Moom is fully compatible with Mavericks, but Apple has changed how users enable the OS X feature (access for assistive devices) that Moom (and some of our other apps) uses to get things done. Enabling this feature isn’t much harder than it was before, but it is different.

Here’s the expert version: After installing Moom 3.1, visit the Privacy tab of the Security & Privacy System Preferences panel, and place a check in the box next to Moom’s entry in the window. Once you’ve done that, Moom should work fine. (If, for some reason, it doesn’t work, please check the end of this blog entry for some troubleshooting tips.)

If you’d like a more-detailed walkthrough on getting Moom to work in Mavericks, keep reading…a
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How to: Restore Command+Arrow keys in Name Mangler

Sunday, March 3rd, 2013

One of the new features in Name Mangler 3 is a comprehensive history of renaming operations. Name Mangler will remember your last 50 (or more, if you change it in prefs) renaming actions. You can access these saved configurations via our history browser:

To make it easier to browse your history, we provide two keyboard shortcuts: Command-Left Arrow (previous configuration) and Command-Right Arrow (next configuration). Experienced keyboard users will instantly recognize that those are the shortcut keys for jumping to the start and end of text strings in an input box, and may wonder how we have the keys serving both roles.

The short answer is “we don’t.” In Name Mangler 3, you can’t use those shortcut keys to navigate input boxes, only to navigate history.

But there is an easy solution, for those who prefer these keys in their text field roles: change the keyboard shortcuts for the history browser. After changing these shortcuts, the Command plus arrow key shortcuts will work as expected in Name Mangler’s text fields.

If you’re experienced with changing OS X keyboard shortcuts, you just need to assign Previous Configuration and Next Configuration to new shortcuts, and you’re done. If you need more specific how-to help, keep reading.

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How to: Migrate from App Store Witch to direct Witch

Tuesday, June 5th, 2012

As you may have heard, the App Store is now enforcing sandboxing. As such, apps that aren’t sandboxed cannot be updated with new features; only bug fix updates are acceptable.

Unfortunately, with the rules that are presently in place, Witch is not sandboxable, which means that today’s release of Witch 3.9.1 is the last with any new features in the App Store—unless Apple changes their mind, which has been known to happen if enough users let them know how they feel about things (hint hint!). We fully intend to continue updating Witch with new functionality, but all such updates will only be applicable to the direct sales version. That’s the bad news…

The good news is that we have a way for you to easily migrate to the direct sales version, and making this move is completely free. The process is actually quite simple, too.

  1. Make sure you’ve run the App Store version of Witch 3.9.1 (it must be the most-recently-updated version) at least once.
  2. After running once, quit the App Store version of Witch.
  3. Download Witch 3.9.1 from our site, and install it. (The direct sales version of Witch is a System Preferences panel, not an application; you’ll find it in the Other section of System Preferences after installation.)
  4. There is no step four. Just check the Enable Witch box in the Witch System Preferences panel, and you’re good to go.

You can tell you’ve successfully licensed your app by looking at the About tab; the license in the middle should look like this:

That’s really all there is to it, with one caveat: you must repeat this process for each Mac—or different user on the same Mac—that you would like to convert. That’s because the conversion is tied to a license file which is specific to each user on each Mac.