Archive for the ‘Mac’ Category

How to easily assign keyboard shortcuts to AppleScripts

Saturday, March 28th, 2015

AppleScriptThere is more than one way to assign a keyboard shortcut to an AppleScript file. The simple method I outline in this post does not require a third-party scripting utility or fussing with Automator. You accomplish this feat by using a specific set of characters in the filename of your script.

In researching the topic I found contradictory information on the Web. Many people claimed that this method once worked but stopped working around the time Snow Leopard was released. So it’s possible that Apple broke this capability in some versions of OS X but fixed it in subsequent releases. But that’s speculation; what I’m sure of is that it works fine in OS X Yosemite 10.10. (Please post in the comments if you know that this method works, or does not work, in other specific versions of OS X.)

You assign keyboard shortcuts to AppleScripts by using the backslash character (\) and a specific arrangement of a set of letters as part of the script’s filename. When appearing after a backslash, the letters correspond to these specific keys:

s = Shift
c = Control
m = Command
o = Option

Example AppleScript filenames and the keyboard shortcuts they assign:

script-name\smG.scpt = SHIFT-CMD-G
script-name\scG.scpt = SHIFT-CTRL-G
script-name\soG.scpt = SHIFT-OPTION-G
script-name\cmG.scpt = CTRL-CMD-G
script-name\coG.scpt = CTRL-OPTION-G
script-name\moG.scpt = CMD-OPTION-G

The letter G is an example that represents any letter, number and some other keys you might include as the trigger for the keyboard shortcut. It is the last character before the dot and file extension. It’s possible to assign key combinations that conflict with OS X system-wide and app-specific keyboard shortcuts. You need only check the app that will be active when you invoke the keyboard shortcut for potential conflicts.

Updated: The A-List of Mac Software

Wednesday, October 29th, 2008

Yesterday I updated my listing of the best Macintosh apps, tools, and utilities in the first significant update in over a year. The research is ongoing, but I just didn’t make the time to update this page, known as The A-List of Mac Software. There are quite a few new additions to the list. I’ve also knocked some long-standing stalwarts off the list (programs I remove are also listed under the Considered but Rejected subhead.

My plans for the A-List include continuing to update it as I evaluate and add programs to my essential list of Mac apps, and also to broaden the information offered on the list with information like what each app costs, if anything, and a little summary of reasons for selection.

I’m pretty ruthless about ripping products off the A-List when I’ve decided they’re no longer valid, are outdated, or have been beaten by a competitor. You’ll notice that in some product categories, there is more than one contender. In that case, I like them both and am still considering between the two.

The A-List is based on real-world research. In other words, I’m not setting up bench tests to assess Mac software. I’m living and working with these products, and when they succeed or fail in real world use, that’s when I make changes to their status on the A-List.

Feel free to send me suggestions for new Mac apps to consider. There’s a specific email address for doing so toward the bottom of the page.

One Year Later: iPhone Not So Amazing

Monday, October 20th, 2008

There are many things I love about my original iPhone, but after one year of ownership, it’s lately begun to collect dust in its charging stand. I grabbed a BlackBerry Curve 8330 at the office, and after three weeks with the RIM device, I’m sure I’m not going back to my iPhone.

So what’s wrong with the iPhone? Two things:

1. One word: AT&T. I live and work in the greater Boston area, and AT&T’s network is pretty poor here and elsewhere. When I receive calls at my house, the iPhone rings only about 50% of the time. Sometimes calls don’t even register as missed. One of the first things I noticed after switching to BlackBerry on Verizon’s network is how many calls I was suddenly getting. And calls to my BlackBerry don’t drop off or become interference plagued anywhere near as frequently as those on my iPhone. Apple’s insistence on exclusivity with AT&T in the U.S. will keep me from going back to the iPhone until that changes.

So is this a regional problem? Not according to Consumer Reports, which has more than once ranked Verizon’s network as best or second best in most major markets throughout the U.S. Both in the Northeast and in my travels all around the country I have found this to be true. I was a Verizon Wireless customer before I bought my iPhone.

2. The virtual keyboard doesn’t work for me. People assume that it’s the lack of tactile feel when pressing fingers to glass, but I don’t think that tells the story. My frustration with the iPhone keyboard is that I cannot use my thumbs, but am instead reduced to stabbing with one finger, which is slower and less accurate. The worst part is that I frequently press the wrong keys while attempting to type without looking. On the BlackBerry, even though the keys are both much smaller and packed more tightly together, I’m able to “touch type” because of the little bumps that help you locate the keys by touch. The way I see this the problem is one of size. I could deal with lack of tactile feel on the iPhone if the virtual keycaps were larger so there were less chance of hitting the wrong key. Without those tactile bumps, me and my thumbs need larger targets.

That’s my short list of serious pet peeves with the iPhone. Were I to make a list of things I love about Apple’s smartphone, it would have at least a dozen items. But while it’s a short list negatives, they hard to get around: It’s not a reliable cell phone for calls, and I can’t really type emails and texts comfortably. The switch to the BlackBerry was a no-brainer for me.

Even so, I wouldn’t say I love the BlackBerry. The software syncing situation is terrible for Mac users. PocketMac is hopeless. (I’m about to try Missing Sync.) RIM needs to break down and write a true Desktop Manager for the Mac. I’m going to miss the iPhone’s seamless integration with all things Apple and Mac.

I also don’t like the BlackBerry’s over-reliance on email as a way to notify about voicemails and texts. I get so much voicemail that I need one place for that. I love the iPhone’s visual voicemail center and texting module (which uses more of an IM paradigm).

The BlackBerry Web browser and digital media features pale by comparison with those of the iPhone. I bought a 4GB SD card for the BlackBerry and still haven’t been able to successfully copy my songs and photos to RIM’s smartphone.

One BlackBerry Curve strength I hadn’t expected is that it’s noticeably lighter than the iPhone while being roughly comparable in size.

All in all, the iPhone is the most important smartphone released in the last three years. But Apple’s blind insistence on being exclusive with AT&T and Steve Job’s belief that buttons are bad — even keyboard buttons — makes the iPhone incomplete for me. I know other people who’ve gone back too. I’ll come back to the iPhone when and if Apple gets the message about the main things that a smartphone has to accomplish: phone calls and email.

If I could only get the BlackBerry keyboard and Verizon’s network on the iPhone, I’d have the best of both worlds.

30 Days of Apple’s MacBook Air

Saturday, May 17th, 2008

Living with the MacBook Air is not only possible, even for a power user, it changes the way you work and play in a positive way.

For the last month I’ve been living with Apple’s diminutive MacBook Air as my sole production computer for all professional and personal use. My previous main Mac was a 2007 2.4GHz 4GB RAM MacBook Pro 17 with the highest resolution Apple offers in a notebook. So I went from one Apple portable extreme (highest resolution, most power, heaviest) to the other (smallest, lightest, least powerful, least memory, weakest video). There are a number of trade-offs, but the positive outweighs the negative.

It happened that late April through May is a slow travel period for me, so while I’ve attended local events offsite, I haven’t hit the road yet. But in a couple of weeks, I’ll be on a tour that includes D.C., NYC, Boston, and Miami. The east coast thang. I’ll give the MacBook Air a thorough travel test then. Once that’s complete, I’ll write a full long-term review of the MacBook Air on


MacBook Air: Using Is Believing

Monday, April 21st, 2008

I finally got around to requesting a MacBook Air, and received one last week sporting the solid-state drive and the 1.8-GHz CPU. The hardware that matters, though, is the super-thin case design.

At my Computerworld blog, I wrote recently that I’m changing my mind about the MacBook Air and embracing it for its elegance and usability as a travel computer. This contrasts with my three-month-old post in the days just before the MBA shipped in which, after a brief period of time with the early review unit Apple sent Computerworld, I took a harder line on the design compromises Apple made in creating the Air.

Check out my Computerworld blog for the details and my reasoning on the about-face. But if you want the bottom line, it boils down to this. I hope to acquire a MacBook Air as my “second” Mac for business use later this year.

Where I Come Down on the MacBook Air

Sunday, January 20th, 2008

My reaction to Apple’s announcements at this year’s Macworld earlier this month was largely that they were uninspiring. Hard to follow the iPhone, though. The big news is the debut of the sleek MacBook Air subnotebook. No doubt that this product has serious allure, but is it ready for prime time?

Check out my takeaways about MacBook Air at my Computerworld blog.

Besides, I could use some friendly faces over there!

— Scot

Problems in Leopard-Upgrade Paradise?

Sunday, October 28th, 2007

Stop the presses! Something appears to be wrong with Apple’s Leopard OS X 10.5 upgrade-installation process — at least on some Macs. I ran into the problem on one Mac. It manifests itself as a never-ending “blue screen” (not a Windows term, mind you) after Leopard completes “successful” installation, on the first restart. Many others have encountered the same issue, and you can see evidence of that in the Apple Discussions area in the thread titled Installation appears stuck on a plain blue screen.

If you read through the thread (as well as many others on other forums), you’ll find that various things are blamed for the problem, including an add-on customization utility called Application Enhancement (APE) by Unsanity.

The Apple Discussion thread offers a solution that involves booting in single-user mode, which requires you to hold down the S key while your Mac boots. Apparently that works for some people, but on my MacBook Pro 15, the only boot option that worked at all was Target Disk Mode (which lets you plug in a firewire cable and address the drive from another Mac as if it were an external drive).


Mac Users: Should You Get Mac OS X 10.5 ‘Leopard’?

Thursday, October 25th, 2007

With Apple’s new OS X 10.5 operating system due to ship at 6PM (wherever you are in the world) tomorrow, the question millions of Mac users are asking themselves is: Should I spend $129 on this thing yet? The short answer is: Yes and no, but probably not in that order.

At Computerworld, we’ve put together the quintessential examination of the new Apple OS commonly referred to as Leopard. Check out: In Depth: Apple’s Leopard Leaps to New Heights. Be sure to check out the First Look at Leopard Image Gallery for a complete visual tour of the new OS, complete with a screencam of the Stacks feature.

I like Leopard. The new OS X has over 300 new features according to Apple (I didn’t stop to count them). There are literally oodles of small tweaks and changes. Things like, when you select Shut Down from the Apple menu, the new default countdown time is 60 seconds, not two minutes. (Yeah, I went for something pretty mundane that you probably haven’t read in a hundred other Leopard reviews.)


Apple Acknowledges Its Enterprise Division

Saturday, September 29th, 2007

In early September I wrote a column titled Apple’s Taking a Pass on the Enterprise Prize. It appeared in Scot’s Newsletter and also on the Computerworld site. I was attempting to take Apple to task for its lack of an apparent big business strategy. Many Computerworld and Scot’s Newsletter IT pro readers have written me over the past year to say they prefer Macs but don’t feel that Apple supports business buyers as well as their Windows-related vendors. Many readers also feel the existing Macs are more consumer-oriented than business-oriented. So I wrote about that. And I wrote that I had contacted Apple weeks earlier and hadn’t gotten any real response from it about the company’s enterprise strategy.

The week after the column appeared (after I returned from a vacation), I received a call from Apple acknowledging for the first time that, yes, it has an enterprise division headed by Al Shipp, senior vice president of enterprise sales. Only hitch was, Apple’s PR department wasn’t authorized to let me talk to Mr. Shipp or, in fact, anyone in Apple Enterprise.


Mac vs. PC Cost Analysis – Round 2

Tuesday, July 10th, 2007

There’s no question about it. Last month’s Mac vs. PC Cost Analysis article struck a chord. I was praised and lambasted around the Internet for it. It was also republished by Computerworld, where it pulled in a lot of traffic. If you didn’t catch it, I recommend the Computerworld version of the story, which was lightly updated because of Apple’s release of its new MacBook Pro model line on June 5.

It seemed to me that people who criticized this story missed the key points I was trying to get across:

1. This was a pure, hardware-based, speeds-and-feeds kind of comparison. I was comparing the hardware goods only, including CPU, chipset, RAM, video, display, hard-drive capacity and specs, ports and upgradeability, dimensions and weight, and so on. In other words, I was attempting to make an objective comparison that did not inject any evaluation about the hardware, anything at all about the software, or my personal experience with the operating systems and hardware involved. It was an on-paper comparison.