Federico Viticci

Editor-in-chief

Twitter: @viticciEmail: viticci@macstories.net

Federico is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of MacStories, where he writes about Apple with a focus on apps, developers, iPad, and iOS productivity. He founded MacStories in April 2009 and has been writing about Apple since. Federico is also the co-host of AppStories, a weekly podcast exploring the world of apps, and Dialog, a show where creativity meets technology.

He can also be found on his two other podcasts on Relay FM – Connected and Remaster.

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App Debuts

APP DEBUTS

Noteworthy new app releases and updates, handpicked by the MacStories team.

LinkBin

John first covered David Haydl’s LinkBin last month, and the app recently received a big 1.1 update that has brought support for Quick Note, Handoff, a Shortcuts action to save the latest copied link, and new widgets. If you’re looking for a simple utility to quickly archive links you’ve copied and preview them with Safari View Controller, LinkBin is well worth a try since it’s free to download, too.

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Lawyer John on Apple's Lawsuit Against NSO, a Craft Shortcut, and a Reminders Shortcut

SPOTLIGHT ON CLUB MACSTORIES+

Highlights of the latest Club MacStories+ happenings.

Lawyer John on Apple's Lawsuit Against NSO, a Craft Shortcut, and a Reminders Shortcut

It was a busy week on the Club MacStories+ Discord, and I’ve tried my best to collect highlights from the community below, including a shortcut contributed by a member as part of my most recent Automation Academy lesson on Reminders.

We don’t get to see Lawyer John often, but when he appears, he never disappoints. This week, John succinctly explained a few key points behind Apple’s decision to sue the NSO Group.

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Changing Default Apps for Specific File Types on macOS

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Tips and tricks to master your apps and be more productive.

Changing Default Apps for Specific File Types on macOS

I was recently editing a Markdown text file synced by the GitHub app for Mac when I noticed that every time I double-clicked the file in Finder, it kept launching Obsidian without actually opening the selected document. I didn’t want to use Obsidian to edit files synced by GitHub to a folder on my Mac; I wanted to use Typewriter, a lightweight and universal Markdown editor that works with Finder and the Files document browser on iOS and iPadOS. There are several things I like about Typewriter besides its native filesystem integration: its syntax highlighting is reliable and nice; it’s got a sidebar that lists all headings found in the current document; and, more importantly, it offers a ‘Split’ view mode that lets you edit and preview a document at the same time.

Typewriter for Mac.

Whenever I need to open a Markdown document that isn’t part of my Obsidian vault, I want to use Typewriter. But if I wanted to make sure my Mac would automatically open the documented selected in Finder in Typewriter with a double-click, I had to change the app associated with the .md file type by default. On macOS, this is quite easy to do: select the type of file you want to change the default app for, then press ⌘I to open the inspector. In the floating panel that appears, select the ‘Open with’ section and pick the app you want to use as default for the selected file type. In my case, it was Markdown files. Click ‘Change All’ and macOS will ask you to confirm the change, but that’s it.

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My Obsidian Setup, Part 5: Appending Text and Webpage Links to Specific Sections of My 'Dashboard' Note

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Shortcuts Essentials

My Obsidian Setup, Part 5: Appending Text and Webpage Links to Specific Sections of My 'Dashboard' Note

In Part 4 of my Obsidian setup series, I described how I’ve been using a single ‘Dashboard’ note to quickly capture all kinds of links, ideas, and bits of text to process at a later stage – sort of like an inbox for my thoughts. In the story, I also detailed how I configured the incredibly powerful QuickAdd plugin with a menu that lets me easily append text or internal note links at the end of specific sections of my Dashboard note. I’ve been using this system for the past four months; being able to see at a glance what I’m working on or what’s on my mind for later has greatly improved how I can make sense of all the ideas I have.

The menu system I created in QuickAdd, of course, can only be triggered inside the Obsidian app. However, I wanted to remove as much friction as possible from the act of capturing an idea, so months ago I created a shortcut that launches Obsidian and instantly triggers my Dashboard Menu macro inside the app.

The shortcut that triggers a QuickAdd macro.

I installed this shortcut on the Home Screen of my iPhone and iPad, and I also enabled it as a menu bar shortcut on my MacBook Pro. With a single click, Obsidian launches and displays my custom QuickAdd menu, ready for me to save an idea or reopen the Dashboard note.

Triggering my QuickAdd macro in Obsidian from the Home Screen.

This has been great for me, but earlier this week I realized I could potentially make the entire process even more seamless and integrated with the Shortcuts app. With the QuickAdd plugin, the actual typing of text occurs inside Obsidian, which means there is no integration with the share sheet or, on macOS, text passed by other apps. If I could create a shortcut based on Apple’s new Files actions that appended text at the end of a specific section, I could potentially type text directly from the Home Screen and append it to my Dashboard note without using QuickAdd at all. Such a shortcut could even accept text input from the share sheet when used as an extension, or from Mac apps when triggered via the shell or AppleScript.

The only problem: by default, Shortcuts can only append text to the very end of a document. It has no idea what “appending to the bottom of a specific section” means. So if I wanted to replicate QuickAdd’s functionality in Shortcuts, I knew I had to do it all manually with regular expressions and conditional blocks.

The result is a shortcut called Append to Dashboard, which I’ve designed in a way that can scale for different kinds of users and Markdown notes. Once pointed to a specific note, the shortcut can check whether it contains sections (formatted as Markdown headings) and gives you the ability to append text at the end of a section. If the note doesn’t have any sections, text will be appended at the end of the file instead. Append to Dashboard takes advantage of a new feature in iOS and iPadOS 15 to use text passed as input or ask you to manually type some text; furthermore, the shortcut is fully optimized for macOS Monterey and I’ve created PopClip extensions to quickly append text selected anywhere on a Mac. Plus, I’ve created a companion shortcut to clip webpages from Safari as new notes in Obsidian and append their internal links to the Dashboard note as well. There’s a lot going on here, so let’s dig in.

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Rethinking iPad Home Screens and Interesting Details About Twitter Blue

SPOTLIGHT ON CLUB MACSTORIES+

Highlights of the latest Club MacStories+ happenings.

Rethinking iPad Home Screens and Interesting Details About Twitter Blue

It was another busy week on the Club MacStories+ Discord, and here are the highlights from our amazing community of Plus and Premier members.

One of our moderators, Burim, shared several examples of how he rethought his iPad Pro Home Screens with widgets, new apps, and shortcuts.

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App Debuts

APP DEBUTS

Noteworthy new app releases and updates, handpicked by the MacStories team.

Linea Sketch

Linea Sketch was updated to version 4.0 this week with lockable layers, a new set of watercolor brushes, and the ability to annotate your artwork with labels, something that collaborators should find useful. Annotations support both the keyboard and Scribble with the Apple Pencil and support adjusting their color, size, font, and rotation. Merging text into an image layer opens up options to add effects. The watercolor brushes come in three sizes with three effects: Simple, Wet, and Cloud. Annotations and brushes are both premium features.

Annotations are a new version 4.0 feature available to everyone. Tap the lock icon in the layer palette to toggle the lock on, preventing edits to a layer. It’s the sort of feature that is standard in more complex drawing tools and a nice addition to Linea.

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