Create Tags in Evernote – Not Because You Need Them, But In Case…

Michael Hyatt:

It is tempting to tag every note with a several tags. However, I broke myself of that habit once I realized that Evernote indexes every word in every note. So if you have a great quote on “purpose,” for example, you don’t need to tag the note with “purpose,” so long as the word appears in the note. This only adds more clutter. The key is to remember that less is more.

I don’t see a need for the tags in my workflow, but I use them to of caution. I add a few to each note in the event at a later date I want them. It’s easier to add them as the notes are created than to add them years down the road when you have a need for them.

I commend Michael for utilizing Evernote as effectively as he has. His articles pertaining to Evernote are note half bad. 

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Should You Use Tweetbot on the Mac with Caution?

I and many other Mac users were hyper excited to discover that Tweetbot has an all new alpha release of their popular Twitter client for the Mac. The version for iPhone and iPad is most well-known and well-rated, bringing in 4.5 stars out of 4510 Ratings in iTunes. The new alpha release is solely for a Mac app. It will complete the Tweetbot support on all Mac platforms.

What makes a great app?

Tapbots, the developer of Tweetbot and other good apps like WeightbotCalcbot, and Convertbot, must have spent many good hours tooling Tweetbot to suit the Mac OS. It’s a cleverly converted version of the iPhone Tweetbot experience. Users that are acclimated to Tweetbot for the iPhone will know what I mean. This is very much Tweetbot. It’s very much the designers’ feel of Tweetbot for the iPhone, but its on the Mac.

The Tapbots’ blog:

Developing for the Mac is no easy task, especially a full-featured Twitter client. However, we’ve gotten to a point where while not complete, it is useable. We’ve decided to release it as a public alpha to a) motivate us to finish faster, and b) get feedback to help us build the best Mac incarnation of Tweetbot we can make. You can love it or hate it, but rest assured it will only get much much better from here.

While it’s true that Tweetbot for Mac is a fun experience for those that are experienced Mac users, I don’t think this alpha version is right for most users. For the reasons listed in the quote above, Tweetbot for Mac is in alpha. While it has been a well working app for the first day for me, Tapbots warns us not to get our hopes too high for the alpha version. Here are some reasons Tweetbot for Mac is not be good for most users:

Bugs! Lots of them.

The blog post at Tapbots makes it clear: you are downloading an early copy of Tweetbot for Mac from their site to help them improve Tweetbot for an official release later this year. You can help them improve the Mac version by getting this free version and then reporting bugs using ‘Send Feedback’ from the Help menu in your Mac’s Menu Bar. This choice will prompt your Mac’s defualt email client to open and let you write an email to Tapbots.

Missing features.

I noticed from the moment I started clicking through menus and pushing buttons in Tweetbot for the Mac. This alpha version is just about the identical twin of the iPhone and iPad version. I prefer to have a fuller Mac OS experience on my Mac. This means that Tweetbot could include features that wouldn’t work as well on iDevices. Macs are full-blown computers, after all.

The developers have promised they are working on device/platform specific enhancements; that they are aware this alpha version is heavily a copy of the iOS version and not much else. I’m glad to read that, because some independent app developers cut the umbilical cord once the apps are equals across platforms — believing Mac users don’t care to have more bang for their bucks. Well, if I spend more than $1,000 on a Mac device, the apps should be much more powerful than their counterparts on $500 iPads and $200 iPhones.

Disturbing graphics and performance issues.

Tapbots’ blog wrote that statement — not I. As a designer, I found this alpha version of Tweetbot fairly close to my own requirements. It’s not perfectly polished down to the last pixel, but it seems comfortable as a design for Mac OS of 2012. I do appreciate the developers’ efforts to refine the design and performance as much as conceivable. I am curious to see what sort of design changes might occur before the final version of Tweetbot for Mac 1.0 is released.

No support.

Mac users like customer service handled by professional perfectionists. It’s never easy to handle code and OS dilemmas once they really happen unless you’re one of the experts. I have 19 years of experience using Macs, and I still don’t know what I would do in the event of a serious bug or crash besides taking a trip to a Genius Bar. The nearest Genius Bar for me is 75 minutes away. If you think about it, using Tweetbot for Mac is probably not worth the risk of your time and effort.

Use Tweetbot for Mac anyway

Who am I kidding? Tweetbot for Mac — even in alpha — rocks.

Lesson we can take from this: the developers at Tapbots are not only perfectionists. They are also wizards that want something practically perfect in every way before they’ll call it version 1.0. I love Tapbots’ commitment to culture-altering excellence. Of course, I want to see the Tweetbot soar to greater heights, but Tweetbot for Mac is already high enough. 

Revolutionize Your Address Book Experience with Cobook

Many can’t tolerate the changes to Address Bookthat came with Mac OS X Lion. Mountain Lion is going to tweak the Address Book, with the most notable change being it will be renamed “Contacts.” Without a go-to awesome address book solution in sight for Mac OS, it’s been up to the users to grin and bear the stifling limitations — until now.

Cobook exceeds all expectations

I’m not the first to sing its praises. Cobook is a new contacts book; one that you need to give a try for a week. You know those new apps that come along once in a blue moon that revolutionize your workflow? Yeah, Cobook should be one of them.

[vimeo https://vimeo.com/35474102]

When it comes to my contacts I’m not especially interested in paying money to improve my situation. I stick to the limited and frustrating solution Apple offers simply because other apps at a price are calling my name. But Cobook is free, so I have no excuse not to give it a try. Neither do you.

Some of my favorite Cobook features

As you so choose in setup, Cobook will integrate with your Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn account info. This is not a feature everyone will like, but it serves its purpose well. This means you eliminate manually keeping track of your contact info. When your network of email addresses and phone numbers change, you will get automatic updates in Cobook on your Mac.

When you setup Cobook for the first time, you can choose to update your Address Book’s contacts with the latest info from Facebook, or, you can choose to have all of your connections on Facebook added to your Mac’s Address Book. I appreciate the thoughtfulness that went into this. Lesser developers would have only offered to add all Facebook connections. I chose to only update the contacts I have in my Address Book with Facebook’s data.

And Cobook co-exists with your Mac’s Address Book. What you have in Address Book is shared in Cobook, and vice versa. Update the one and the other reflects all of your most-recent changes. It’s a piece of cake.

Cobook is the app/button/icon on the far left of my Menu Bar:

The interface of Cobook is where it needs some work, but still outweighs its cons with its pros. It rests in your Menu Bar. The right side of my bar has all of the great utilities that I use to accelerate my workflows. Cobook is my latest addition to the row of small black-on-white utilities. You interface with Cobook from the Menu Bar. Simply click on the miniature icon button, or learn a keyboard shortcut to call open its contacts dropdown menu.

The last trait I want to point out is Cobook smartly navigates your contacts by search alone. It’s an intelligent navigation choice, and one that’s enhanced with controls unique to Cobook. It’s carefully laid out to solve many shortcomings of search in Mac’s Address Book.

My many thanks are in order to the developers Kaspars Dancis and Janis Dancis for breathing new life into a dusty part of my day-to-day business communications. 

Mail on iOS and iCloud is Due a Huge Upgrade

Lately I have used iCloud for all of my email needs. At the office, at home, and on the go, iCloud takes the cake when it comes to simple and streamlined email. Email comes in and updates whether I have emails in my Inbox or setup to auto-go to one of my folders (sometimes called Mailboxes) that I keep in my iCloud account. Anywhere I go, I can get to my mail ads-free, and in one of the cleanest easy-to-use apps Apple has ever made: Mail for Mac and iOS.

But the app is not without its shortcomings. The desktop Mail app does everything I need it to, while the online and iOS versions leave a lot to be desired. The predicament is Apple hasn’t included many features that are in the desktop Mail in the iOS Mail. Mail on iOS is the default email app, and that’s not changeable. So if you want to push notifications you have to use Mail, but it’s not going to handle your email as good as it will on a Mac.

Mac power users everywhere are annoyed by the limits of Mail on iOS. Coincidently, after I wrote most of this entry, I listened to the Mac Power Users podcast interview with Merlin Mann where Merlin goes deep into his complaints towards Apple Mail. Each new iteration of iOS addresses some of the users’ complaints, but never satisfies.

Another user that feels sorta how I do had this to say in an article addressed to Mail in a clever way; like Mail were a person that could read his article (I guess it’s really addressed to Mail’s developers). His complaints are targeting iOS Mail:

Instead of giving me ONE inbox where emails from my most important contacts can go, why not just let me setup email rules like I can do with Mail on my Mac? That way, I can set my own rules and you can work on other things. Could these rules just sync with iCloud, or aren’t you two that close?

And signatures for my different emails? Oh, wow, that would be d*** exciting if it was 2005 and I was still using a Windows PC with Outlook. AppAdvice

I don’t know how Android devices handle email, but I’ve heard that it’s satisfactory. I also hear Windows mobile phone users are proud of what Microsoft has to offer. But I’m not going to compare Mail of iOS to these. Frankly, it’s beneath Apple to compete in the area of email clients, and I don’t believe they should match competitors’ email clients. I believe Apple should do things their own way, and Apple’s mail client should be overwhelmingly superior to the competition. Is that too much to ask? I’m not about to use a Windows or Android device simply because the email client doesn’t work for me with iOS. Since this is the case, I just want Apple’s offering to get with the program (I guess that pun is intended).

Therefore I will evaluate Mail for iOS and iCloud on its own lack of merits.

1. Let’s get Mail Rules in iCloud that’s iOS operable

Mail on a Mac handles rules for emails incredibly well once you understand how they’re done. Mail will organize and sort your mail for you, thus eliminating a lot of wasted time and effort sifting through emails the old-fashioned way—like your granny with the latest telegrams and Sears catalogs. After all, one of the greatest shortcomings of a physical mailbox is that the USPS and the mailbox by your street doesn’t know how you want your mail managed. That’s why Mail app Rules are so practical. Chop-chop!

The roundabout way to deal with Mail rules for iOS is to keep one of your Mac’s Mail app open at all times. It can act as a server that sorts the mail for you. This is a simple solution if you own and interface with Mail on a Mac regularly. If you don’t have a Mac in the first place then you’re up the creek. Emails on iOS have to be organized manually, which is the most unproductive way imaginable. It can be done, but it’s a killer waste of time.

2. Give Mail my alias’ signatures

Enterprise users, such as myself, want custom signatures for our different email addresses. If you add multiple Gmail address accounts in iOS and give them all a place in the Mail app then they will each have their very own customizable signature. However, if you use iCloud’s @Me.com option to create aliases, those aliases cannot have their own signatures. It’s not difficult to understand why this is a major shortcoming.

I use aliases to help sort my emails using Mail app Rules. If a get messages for my Jiving Jackalope’s alias address it will sort for me regardless of the subject line or the sender when Rules are applied. Aliases from iCloud give me email addresses that end in @Me.com, which I like. Currently, since Mail and iCloud only let you have one signature for your iCloud account, it’s so very impractical to use one signature for emails to all of your regulars: your boss, spouse, friends, and customers. I want to tell Mail what my signature ought to be depending on which alias I use for outgoing mail.

3. Give us Flagged emails in iCloud online

Scott Forstall announced that in iOS 6 they are adding the VIP and Flagged Mailboxes to the iOS app. It’s about time. What users have not noticed though is that iCloud’s online web app doesn’t show your Flagged Mailbox either. All this time I’ve used flagged emails (since 2006) and I have gone without access to them on iDevices, MobileMe, and now iCloud online. When I’m in a bind, getting to all of my email stuff online would be super. At times when it is impossible to get to my own machines I want to quickly get to my flagged emails in the Flagged Mailbox from iCloud online. No such Flagged Mailbox is available at this time.

Regardless of the long-standing shortcomings, Mail will remain my go-to email client, but I want to see Apple raise the bar to greater heights. Rumor has it that Sparrow, the popular email client alternative on the iPhone and Mac, is coming to the iPad. When that happens, I will most certainly give it a test drive in hopes it addresses these points. 

the 30/30 app iconPay What You Will for the 30/30 iOS App

The app itself is a timer app, used to set timers for activities. Similar to the minutes prescribed in the Pomodoro technique, except 30/30 allows a range of timing. The app is free to download, as the payment is up to you.”

Checkout 30/30 online in the App Store »

I never thought I’d live to see the day (I’m being facetious). Actually, this makes perfect sense. It’s another smart way developers can get around the apparent limitations in the App Store’s payment system.

The Best Holding Bin: DragonDrop or Yoink?

Two apps recently came out that solve the same problem for Mac users. The one I think is almost divinely inspired, while the other is, well, let’s just call it tacky.

But I’ll let you be the judge, and I will put aside my own feelings for a moment to tell you about both of these apps. With either one, you are going to be more productive in your daily Mac life—unquestionably so, if you use them as they are intended.

DragonDrop iconDragonDrop for Mac

The app is a great way to simplify your organization of files in the Finder and on your desktop. DragonDrop puts an icon in your Menu Bar at the top-right of your Mac’s screen. If you select files and place them on top of the icon, DragonDrop acts as a placeholder. Then, if you got to another place in your filing system, you can easily tell DragonDrop to place the files in the new place.

It’s also possible to use a gesture, of sorts, on the Mac that achieves a similar workflow. Rather than placing the files atop the DragonDrop’s icon in the Menu Bar, select the files, hold the mouse button, then shake the mouse/cursor around. This is auto-add the files to DragonDrop for the moving. This is probably the more common way people use DragonDrop.


Now that you have the general idea, you may see where the solution comes really handy.

Yoink iconYoink for the Mac (does the same thing in its own way)

Yoink came to the market at least two months before DragonDrop. Yoink has a different way of accomplishing the same task, making it super easy to move a file or a collection of files to anywhere—from one place in the Finder, to someplace else (could be your desktop, a server, an external hard drive, etc.).

I perceive Yoink almost blends into the Mac OS Lion interface. If it came on the Mac pre-installed, I would’ve assumed it was an intelligent solution Apple designed. Yoink, like DragonDrop, is customizable to some degree. You can control Yoink from an icon in the Menu Bar, or turn off the icon in the Menu Bar altogether. Yoink will run invisibly until you start to drag files around on your Mac.

Why these apps are so handy

It’s always cumbersome to open multiple Finder windows to transfer files from one place to another. The screen real estate is limited, so your windows sloppily overlap and create an annoyingly convoluted interface. This always gets in the way of my focus on the task at hand.

Yoink’s dock, or DragonDrop’s Menu Bar icon or alternative shake-indused widget take all the clutter away from your interface. They are both relatively simple and user-friendly. While I wouldn’t say either are especially intuitive, once you know what they were meant to carry out, they serve the task so well it’s a no-brainer for the Mac user.

Now, would you like to know which I prefer? Read on.

Yoink is far superior, IMHO.

DragonDrop is trying to be “different” from Yoink [we must pardon the developers for giving Yoink such a terrible name…]. DragonDrop came later to the market, and rather than match Yoink’s simplicity, DragonDrop aims to be oh-so clever. I think the shake-indused gesture is a shot at fixing a problem with an equally difficult solution. What if I unintentionally shake the mouse? Many people do this as sort of a nervous habit. I don’t always want DragonDrop to interrupt my focus of actions on my screen.

Yoink is consistent with just one solution. The pop-up dock is the one way to move a single file or multiple files. Yoink is robust (since some of the more recent updates) and is very predictable, so it never distracts me when it appears while I move files—whether I intend to move them using Yoink or not.

And I generally prefer “originals” over copycats. Yoink was around first.

PS: Never make an app purchase based on the price. If you do, then you care more about saving pennies than using a powerful tool, which will save you time and money. Trust me: go with the best app, even if it costs more.

Yahoo’s New Axis Web Browser

This is Yahoo! Axis' iconYahoo! Axis redefines what it means to search and browse the Web. Y! »

Oh, please… Who asked Yahoo to ‘redefine’ web browsing?

What’s more sad is that the app is less than an app on desktop computers. It’s a hack-plugin addition to other browsers, like Chrome and Firefox. So much for a web browser that “redefines what it means to search and browse” Axis turned out to be. More like it “redefines smoke and mirrors.”