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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.

The relatively simple way

Some sites include a bit of unique information in each page’s title, which makes tracking them simple. YouTube, for instance, appends ” – YouTube” to every window title:

Any site that does this is easy to track with a pool, regardless of which browser you use. (This example assumes Safari.)

  1. Drag any opened YouTube window (in Time Sink’s Organizer window) to the Pools section of the Organizer window, and drop to create a new pool.
  2. Expand the Safari (assuming you used Safari, of course) folder in the Pools section, then expand Safari (the app within the folder) to reveal the window title.
  3. Select the window title and press Return to edit it. Change the window’s title to * – YouTube and press Return again. The * is Time Sink’s wildcard, and it means “match anything.” In this example, it will match any number of characters that are followed by the ” – YouTube” bit.

That’s it; Time Sink will now add all time spent on any YouTube page (in Safari, at least) to that pool. In general, there are basically three versions of the window title that you could see. Here’s how you’d edit each in a Pool to track the site in aggregate:

  • unique tidbit – words ==> unique tidbit – *
  • words – unique tidbit ==> * – unique tidbit
  • words – unique tidbit – words ==> * – unique tidbit – *

Related tip: If you want to track YouTube usage in any browser (actually, any app that can load web pages and includes page titles), right-click on the Safari application entry in the pool, then select Track Across All Applications:

This will change the application name from Safari to Any Application, and now all your YouTube time will be captured in one pool. (Are you sure you want to do this!?) You can also, as seen in the screenshot, change the name of the pool to reflect that it’s no longer Safari-specific.

So much for the simple sites…

Announcing the Witch 4 public beta

Thursday, December 22nd, 2016

It’s been a long time since we released a major update to Witch. How long has it been? It’s been 27 minor updates long, that’s how long (nearly seven years, if you count like a normal human).

But the long wait is (nearly) over…


Hey, are those tabs in Safari or separate windows?

Say hello to Witch 4. You can try it out for yourself, today, via the Witch 4 public beta (with special pre-release pricing, too).

And yes, Witch 4 has learned more than a few new tricks…here’s just one…

If the above images have you convinced you need the beta, well, give it a try! But you should also keep reading, as there are some important details about the new features, the beta itself, and the pre-sale.

The pre-sale? Glad you asked: During the public beta, new users can buy Witch 4 for just $10 (normally $14); users of prior versions of Witch can upgrade for only $6 (normally $8). And yes, this includes App Store buyers. There are more details on the pre-sale at the end of this post.

What’s new?

Horizontal switcher

Obviously, Witch now has a horizontal mode. And anything you can do with “vertical Witch” you can also do with “Horizontal Witch.” But more on that in a bit…

Switch to tabs

That’s right, tab support! Witch can now switch directly to any tab in many apps, including the biggie, Safari…

Switch between tabs

“What other apps’s tabs will work?,” I can already hear you asking. Any app that uses the built-in support for tabs in macOS should work just fine. So all of Apple’s apps work, obviously, but so do Chrome and Opera. (Firefox, iCab, OmniWeb, and Vivaldi don’t use the system-provided tab feature, so their tabs won’t show in Witch. If you want browser tabs with Witch, use Safari, Chrome, or Opera.)

Switch to non-standard windows

If you’re like me, your toolbar is full of useful add-ons, things like Moom and Keymo, and maybe even some stuff from other developers.

The windows that open from these menu bar apps aren’t normal—they don’t show in the Command-Tab switcher, for instance. But they do show in Witch 4:

No more window shuffling to find that one settings window!

Multiple switchers

Witch 4 lets you have many switchers—one vertical and one horizontal, for instance:

Each switcher can be set to show windows or just apps. Each can have a different sort order. Each can separately list tabs or not. You get the idea. There are many actions to choose from, too:

These were all choices in the old version of Witch…except for that first one, which when used with a horizontal switcher, gives you a nicer-looking alternative to the built-in Command-Tab switcher. And now you can easily add and remove any of these actions from your collection of active switchers.

Search window titles

Even with Witch, switching between many open windows can be time consuming—you have to find that one particular window in a potentially huge list of windows. But with Witch 4, it’s easy…

It doesn’t get much easier than that!

Switch via the menu bar

Witch 4 includes an optional menu bar mode that can be added to any and/or all actions you create.

Switch apps via the menu bar. Switch windows and tabs via the menu bar. Switch just the frontmost app’s non-minimized windows and tabs via the menu bar. The possibilites are endless…well, no, that’s a cliche, they aren’t endless. But they are many!

Lots more

There are other new things, too, but we’ll leave them for you to discover during your explorations of the beta. Speaking of the beta…

About the beta

Please download the beta and put it to use, and send us feedback. We’d prefer it if you could use the Witch Talk Google group (so everyone can see what’s being discussed), but feel free to use any of the other support methods. We welcome all feedback—bugs, feature requests, and how-do-I questions are all fair game.

Note that Witch 4 will only be available directly from us, because it cannot be sandboxed, which is a requirement for the App Store. (We have a migration process for App Store customers…keep reading.)

About the pre-sale

Witch 4 will be available at the same price as Witch 3—$14 for new customers, $8 for upgraders.

During the public beta period, however, the price is just $10 for new customers and $6 for upgraders from older versions of Witch—including App Store users.

Also, anyone who purchased Witch 3 after October 1st already has a valid license for Witch 4 —you can start using it as a fully licensed user with your existing license.

App Store buyers

Because Witch 4 cannot be sold in the Mac App Store, you’ll have to purchase directly from us in order to use Witch 4. The good news is that as an existing customer, we’ve figured out a way to get you the upgrade pricing, too. Here’s how:

  1. Permanently migrate to the direct version of Witch 3 by following these instructions.
  2. Purchase an upgrade license for Witch 4.

If you purchased Witch 3 from the App Store after October 1st, you only need to do step one—the license you’ll receive will work with Witch 4.

If you have any questions on the beta or the pre-sale, let us know! Otherwise, enjoy the beta, and please, send us your feedback!

Three minor updates have escaped into the wild…

Thursday, December 22nd, 2016

…and while you’d think that’d be enough for one day for us, we are Many Tricks, after all. So a bit later today, stay tuned for an announcement witchwhich you may find of interest.

As for the escapees, they are…

  • Butler 4.1.23, which includes some comestic improvements and a couple of bug fixes. [release notes]
  • Resolutionator 1.1.1 fixes a color depth issue on newer laptops that could cause Resolutionator to not show any resolutions. [release notes]
  • Usher 1.1.15 has a ton of changes, most of which aren’t directly visible. But we’ve improved memory usage, speed of previews, crawler performance, and more. [release notes]

Butler and Resolutionator are direct-only apps, so you should get notified by each app that there’s an update available, if you haven’t disabled that setting in Preferences. Or you can just download the full app from our site again; you won’t lose your settings if you update that way.

Usher is available both direct and in the App Store, and the App Store update should be showing up any minute now, if it’s not out already.

Name Mangler 3.4 is at your service

Tuesday, November 22nd, 2016

Name Mangler 3.4 is out now, and though there are only three changes in this version, we felt one of them was major enough to merit a full dot increase in the release number. You can read the details on the release notes page; two of the three changes are fixes, but the third…

The third is a nifty new feature best summarized with a screenshot:

That’s right, Name Mangler can now create Services out of your renaming actions. Services are available either via the Services menu in Finder, or (more usefully) via the contextual menu you get if you right-click on a selection of files. You can read all about this in the Menus (File) section of Name Mangler’s help, but the basics are, well, basic:

  1. Create your renaming action
  2. Choose File > Create Context Menu Service
  3. Enter a name, but do not change the save location in the dialog that appears
  4. Select some files in Finder, right-click, and choose your service from the contextual menu. (Or as above, go old school and use the Services entry in the Finder menu.)

When activated, what happens next depends on whether Name Mangler is running or not. If it’s running, Name Mangler will activate with the files populated, showing the effect of the Service you applied. All you need to do is click Rename, and you’re done.

If Name Mangler isn’t running, the service just does its thing on the selected files: They will be renamed without any interaction on your part. Easy!

To make your renaming Services even easier to use, you can assign them keyboard shortcuts, in System Preferences > Keyboard > Shortcuts > Services. Once assigned, you can rename files with a quick press of a hot key. We think this feature makes Name Mangler even better, and hope you find it useful as well.

Direct users can get the update via the in-app updater, or by downloading the full app from our site. App Store users should see the update in the App Store app—if not already, then very shortly.

Moom 3.2.6 snaps into existence

Thursday, November 3rd, 2016

Moom 3.2.6 has been released with a few bug fixes for snap-related actions. Users had reported some issues with snapping when working with zoomed displays and when customizing toolbars, and some reported decreased responsiveness in certain apps. We have addressed all of these issues in Moom 3.2.6; you can see slightly greater detail on these changes in the official release notes, if you wish.

App Store users should see the update shortly, if not already, in the App Store app. Direct users can update via the in-app updater, or by downloading a new copy of the app from the Moom page.

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.

Time Sink 1.2.6—direct only—released

Friday, September 9th, 2016

Time Sink 1.2.6 is out, but only for direct customers. This update is basically an update to get ready for a major update (hint: its version number starts and ends with ‘2’) that’s coming Very Soon Now. Actually, that’s not entirely true; this update is so that future updates (including said major update) will work properly under macOS Sierra.

Note: If you’re already running Sierra (beta or Gold Master version), you will need to manually download Time Sink 1.2.6 from our site (only this one time).

App Store customers don’t get this update, because it doesn’t affect their version of the app (because there are no in-app updates). However, pending App Store review and approval, we fully expect that the next major update (that one that starts and ends with ‘2’) will be available for App Store users as well.

Stay tuned for more on Time Sink 2! Oh dang, I’ve gone and spilled the beans…

Leech 3.1.1—App Store only—released

Friday, September 9th, 2016

Today we released an update for the App Store version of Leech. This minor update changes the way Leech accesses the filesystem via the sandbox; the method we previously used didn’t work correctly in macOS Sierra, which is due out within a couple of weeks. (Because the direct version doesn’t use the sandbox, no update is required for direct customers.)

If you’re an App Store Leech user, please update to 3.3.1 before installing macOS Sierra. The update should be available now, or very shortly, via the App Store app.

A few minor (non App Store) updates…

Tuesday, August 9th, 2016

We’ve released updates to a few of our apps. These are all quite minor changes; you can read the release notes for each if you’re interested in the nitty-gritty.

We did add a new AppleScript command to Resolutionator, if you’d like to control your display’s resolution via AppleScript … and Witch includes a blurred-translucent background option. To see it, either select the Default item on the Presets pop-up on the Appearance tab, or uncheck the Background color box on that same tab.

  1. Butler 4.1.21 4.1.22 [release notes]
  2. Desktop Curtain 3.0.7 [release notes]
  3. Resolutionator 1.1 [release notes]
  4. Witch 3.9.9 [release notes]

Why aren’t there any App Store updates for those apps that are in the App Store? Because these changes only affect the direct versions of Desktop Curtain and Witch (we fixed some stuff related to the new crossgrade feature). Witch’s blur background may come in a future App Store update, though, if the App Store review team doesn’t deem it a new feature. Remember you can freely crossgrade to the direct version of Witch today if you want the blur!

As always, you can update via the in-app updater, or just download a fresh copy of the app from our web site. (If you happen to be running the macOS Sierra public beta, you’ll need to download Butler and Resolutionator from our site this time only, as we had to fix a Sierra-specific update issue.)


Update: Butler just got bumped to version 4.1.22 to fix two bugs in 4.1.21. Sorry about those!

Desktop Curtain 3.0.6 released

Thursday, August 4th, 2016

Today’s release of Desktop Curtain 3.0.6 marks our second straight update that removes a feature for App Store users. And just like the Witch 3.9.8 update, the App Store version of Desktop Curtain has lost Spaces support. (See the linked Witch 3.9.8 post for the nitty-gritty on why we had to do this … and keep reading this post to see how you can regain Spaces support.)

Other changes in this update are mainly behind-the-scenes, but there is a nice new retina menu bar icon and Desktop Curtain now uses our new in-app help system. Direct users can update via the in-app updater, or by downloading a new copy from our web site. App Store users should see the update in the App Store app shortly, if not now.

To help those who use the App Store version of Desktop Curtain and rely on Spaces, Desktop Curtain has gained a new skill, just like Witch did: The ability for App Store users to freely and permanently crossgrade to the direct version of Desktop Curtain, which continues to support Spaces.

If you’d like to freely crossgrade to the direct version, here’s what you need to do:

  1. Install and run the App Store version of Desktop Curtain at least once. (You’ve hopefully done this many times, given you bought the app at some point.)

  2. Quit the App Store version, and install the version from our site. As long as you’ve run the App Store version once, you can replace the App Store version with the direct version, or you can install the direct version in another location if you’d prefer to keep both around.

  3. Launch the direct version of Desktop Curtain, and display its license window. If you run Desktop Curtain as a normal app, go to Desktop Curtain > License in the menus. If you run in menu bar mode, as most do, click the menu bar icon then select License. If you happen to use Faceless mode, you’ll need to temporarily switch to one of the other modes first.

  4. When the license window appears, it should state that the app is licensed to Anon McAppStore. This is our normal “temporary” license for App Store users, as explained in this blog post.

  5. Right-click (or Control-click if you’re old school) on the license file image, and you’ll see a single contextual menu item:

  6. Select “Request permanent crossgrade…” and a new dialog will appear:

    Enter your name and email address, then click Submit.

  7. After a bit of processing time (Desktop Curtain is talking to our server to verify your App Store license and generate your direct license), you’ll get a confirmation dialog, telling you that your license is enroute.

  8. When the license email arrives, follow its instructions to license Desktop Curtain in your name—all you need to do is click the link in the email, double-click the resulting downloaded file (if your browser doesn’t unzip it automatically), and then drag the now-unzipped license file to the “Anon McAppStore” license window in Desktop Curtain, which should still be open.

You should now see the license in your name; if so, you’re done! If not, well … if you have any difficulties with the crossgrade, please use any of the methods (support ticket, Twitter, email) on the Desktop Curtain support page to get in touch with us, and we’ll help you complete the crossgrade.