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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…

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

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.


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.

How to: Set up, grow, and move Usher movie libraries

Tuesday, March 27th, 2012

Usher is our powerful movie management tool; its mission in life is to bring order to the chaos that can be one’s collection of videos. To help you get the most out of Usher, this how-to covers setting up Usher’s main Library folder, adding more storage space, and moving movie files to a new hard drive (replacing an existing smaller drive).

Basic Library folder setup

Our recommended setup for Usher is to create your main Library folder on your machine’s boot disk, regardless of whether you intend to keep any movies there or not. By having the main Library folder on your boot drive, you’ll be able to see all your movies, even if they’re stored on a not-currently-connected external drive; you can even edit those movies’ metadata without them being physically present.

(If you’ve got a machine with more than one hard drive, and the extra drive (or drives) is always connected, feel free to place your Library folder on that drive. It’s only drives that are transient in nature that can be problematic as Library folder locations.)

If you simply install Usher and run it, this is the setup you will get—the main Library folder is created in your user’s Movies folder, within an Usher folder we create there. While you don’t have to use this arrangement, we strongly recommend that the main Library folder reside somewhere on your boot drive, or other always-there drive. (You can choose a new location for the Library folder on the Library tab of Usher’s preferences panel.)

After you’ve used Usher for a while, assuming you’re actively growing your movie collection, there’s a good chance you’ll find yourself running short on drive space. Thankfully, Usher makes it really easy to add additional storage space to your collection.


How-to: Clean up filenames using Name Mangler

Tuesday, January 31st, 2012

Name Mangler can be used for many file renaming purposes; many people use it to change the generic IMG_ (or whatever) prefix their camera applies to all photos. Another good use, though, is to clean up filenames—either to remove odd characters (which can happen with web-downloaded files), or to remove characters not allowed in other filesystems, such as NTFS. In today’s how-to, I’ll show you how to do both of those things with some not-too-complicated Name Mangler queries.

Name Mangler 3 includes two entries in its Presets menu—Dumb Down for Windows and Trim Whitespace—that can fix many filename issues. This blog post explains some methods to use when those menu items aren’t enough.


How-to: Save Many Tricks license files forever

Monday, January 16th, 2012

When you purchase our software directly from us (as opposed to in the App Store), you receive an email with a license file download link. Please download the file right away, as the download link expires in a few days. (If it didn’t expire, pirates could simply post the URL for anyone to use—forever.)

After downloading, double-click the downloaded file to license the associated app; you should see the license file window appear:

Both Peter and I prefer to these license files over serial numbers for many reasons (they seem more personal, they don’t require copy-and-paste and app switching, etc.), but there is one downside: Many users aren’t sure where to keep a copy of the file, to ease migrating to a new machine, or just for safekeeping. It turns out it’s actually very easy to back up these files…


How-to: Make Firefox’s bookmarks play nicely with Butler

Friday, December 16th, 2011

One of Butler‘s features is a Bookmarks menu that displays bookmarks from a number of browsers, including classics such as Internet Explorer (thereby revealing the depths of Butler’s life experiences).

You can access these bookmarks from the Butler icon in your menu bar, or create a keyboard shortcut to pop it up as a menu near the mouse, put it in a droplet, etc. In short, it’s a quick way to get at your bookmarks without first going to your browser.

Over the years, however, most of these shortcuts have stopped working, as the various browsers changed the manner in which they store their bookmarks. As of today, in fact, only Safari and Camino still appear to work properly. (We’ll see what we can do about updating support for the other browsers in Butler 5, though we’ll probably not bother to look at Internet Explorer.)

Thanks to Butler user Rick, however, we can add one more browser back to that list: Firefox. He discovered a simple way to get Firefox’s bookmarks working again in Butler. (My workaround has been to use Xmarks to sync bookmarks across all my browsers, and then just use the Safari entry in Butler to see them.) Read on for Rick’s solution…

Here’s how to get your Firefox bookmarks back into Butler’s Bookmarks menu:

  1. In Firefox, type about:config in the URL bar, then press Return. You’ll see a warning about voiding the warranty; click on the “I’ll be careful, I promise!” button.
  2. In the Filter box, type autoexport, and the list of matches will be reduced to just one: browser.bookmarks.autoExportHTML.
  3. Double-click anywhere on the browser.bookmarks.autoExportHTML line, and you should see its Value entry change to true.
  4. Quit and restart Firefox.

That’s it; in a few minutes, you should find that the Firefox entry in Butler’s Bookmarks item is now populated with your Firefox bookmarks. Thanks again to Rick for pointing out this workaround.

How To: Use Lion, the Witch, and the Escape key

Thursday, December 15th, 2011

Early in 2011, as we were testing our apps with the Lion developer previews, Peter and I noticed something odd with Witch in Lion: some, but not all, of our Macs were unable to dismiss the Witch switcher panel via the Escape key. Peter dug into Witch’s code, and could find no reason for this, so then we started looking at the operating system itself. What we found is that the problem is indeed in Lion, and it’s related to Front Row (which, ironically enough, isn’t in Lion).

In a nutshell, Lion is reserving the Command-Escape keystroke to activate Front Row, even though there’s no Front Row to activate. So if you use Command-Tab to activate Witch, and then press Escape to cancel the window, Lion sees a Command-Escape keypress, and captures it—Witch never sees it, and its switcher panel isn’t dismissed. (If you disabled Front Row in 10.6, or remapped its activation keys, and then upgraded to Lion, you’re probably not having this problem. But if you did use Command-Escape for Front Row, you’ll want to use this fix.) We filed an Apple bug report on this back in March of 2011, but it’s still open and unresolved.

To fix this problem, we’ve created a simple little application, Escape Key Liberator. Usage couldn’t be much easier: download and mount the disk image, then launch the program (right from the disk image; it’s fine). You’ll be greeted by this incredibly obvious dialog:

Click the Liberate button, then quit Escape Key Liberator. Now comes the only slightly annoying portion of the process: you must logout and login for the change to take effect.

But after that task is done, you should once again be able to use the Escape key to dismiss the Witch switcher panel. You can then delete (or zip and archive, for possible future use on another Mac) the Escape Key Liberator disk image; it’s a one-trick pony, and its trick is done.

(Note: If you’re the kind of person who prefers replacing the transmission in your car yourself, instead of taking the car to the shop, read on for instructions on freeing your Escape key without the ease of a couple of mouse clicks.)


How-to: Use Butler and AppleScript to open a folder

Wednesday, November 16th, 2011

I know what you’re thinking…how hard can it be to open a folder? Not very hard at all. But what I wanted was a way to open a certain folder with a certain view and sort order, even though I may then change that folder’s view and sort order, thereby messing up future openings of that same folder. In my case, I wanted my Downloads folder to open, at a given size and location, sorted in reverse date order. Moom can do 90% of this using saved window layouts, but it can’t do anything with the actual Finder window, such as setting the view and sort column.

After a bit of work with AppleScript, I came up with a solution that got me everything I wanted. By storing the AppleScript in Butler, I can now open my folder with the press of a hot key, at any time from any application. Here’s how I did it.