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Give Your Mac A Productivity Power-Up With LaunchBar

Give Your Mac A Productivity Power-Up With LaunchBar

Launch

    Ever wish you could open up any file on your computer with just one key press? Well, if you have, you can store every file you have on your desktop. Instant access!

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    That was a joke, or course. If you’re an OS X user wanting a more elegant solution for getting to your stuff, LaunchBar proves to be the productivity-booster you’re looking for. LaunchBar is a ridiculously useful program program launcher for OS X that’s operated entirely with the keyboard. I’ve been using it on my Macbook Pro for several months now, and I honestly miss it whenever I switch to my Windows machine.

    Now, you might think that LaunchBar is useless because you’ve already got Spotlight. In truth, Spotlight works pretty well as a program launcher, and it’s free. However, LaunchBar is so much more robust and useful than Spotlight. Plus, the program gives you a 30-day period to evaluate it before buying – and you can still use it free after that period if you’re willing to deal with a purchase reminder.

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    LaunchBar takes keyboard shortcuts to the next level. With Spotlight, you search for the program you want and then hit enter. LaunchBar actually lets you launch a program by holding down the last letter you type. As a result, you can launch certain programs in one keystroke after opening the program (which you can do however you like; I’ve got mine bound to command+L). For example, you can launch Safari just by opening LaunchBar and holding “s” for a second, or launch Firefox by holding “f”. When I’m working on a lot of projects and am constantly switching to new spaces with other keyboard shortcuts, it’s really nice to be able to just launch the programs I need in this lightening-fast manner.

    Launching Safari
      Launching Safari

      Launching a different application from the list simply requires typing a few more characters to drill down to it, or using the arrow key to scroll down to it.

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      “Hi, Billy Mays Here for LaunchBar…”

      Finding and launching applications is really just the tip of the iceberg, however. LaunchBar’s real usefulness comes from its many other built-in functions. The amount of things the program can do is pretty staggering, actually. Here are just a few:

      • Find songs and play them in iTunes
      • Create events in iCal
      • Perform mathematical calculations
      • View contacts from your Address Book
      • Search through your internet browsing history, and open specific web pages
      • Browse through your file structure just like Finder
      • Search Google
      • Perform file operations such as moving or renaming

      An additional (awesome) feature is the ability to show a preview of your selection when you hit the space bar. I really like using this for pictures. In fact, if you have a folder with many pictures, using this feature turns LaunchBar into a pretty nice photo viewer. Just use the arrow keys to scroll through pictures.

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      Launching a song in iTunes from LaunchBar
        Launching a song in iTunes from LaunchBar

        Though I’m pretty objective when I review programs, the only real fault I could find with LaunchBar is the fact that it costs money. People who just want a quick way to launch applications and browse for files will be absolutely fine using Spotlight. However, for the power users out there, LaunchBar is a productivity-boosting powerhouse of an app.

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        Force Yourself to be Productive with Conditional Events Give Your Mac A Productivity Power-Up With LaunchBar

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        Last Updated on February 15, 2019

        7 Tools to Help Keep Track of Goals and Habits Effectively

        7 Tools to Help Keep Track of Goals and Habits Effectively

        Now that 2011 is well underway and most people have fallen off the bandwagon when it comes to their New Year’s resolutions (myself included), it’s a good time to step back and take an honest look at our habits and the goals that we want to achieve.

        Something that I have learned over the past few years is that if you track something, be it your eating habits, exercise, writing time, work time, etc. you become aware of the reality of the situation. This is why most diet gurus tell you to track what you eat for a week so you have an awareness of the of how you really eat before you start your diet and exercise regimen.

        Tracking daily habits and progress towards goals is another way to see reality and create a way for you clearly review what you have accomplished over a set period of time. Tracking helps motivate you too; if I can make a change in my life and do it once a day for a period of time it makes me more apt to keep doing it.

        So, if you have some goals and habits in mind that need tracked, all you need is a tracking tool. Today we’ll look at 7 different tools to help you keep track of your habits and goals.

        Joe’s Goals

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          Joe’s Goals is a web-based tool that allows users to track their habits and goals in an easy to use interface. Users can add as many goals/habits as they want and also check multiple times per day for those “extra productive days”. Something that is unique about Joe’s Goals is the way that you can keep track of negative habits such as eating out, smoking, etc. This can help you visualize the good things that you are doing as well as the negative things that you are doing in your life.

          Joe’s Goals is free with a subscription version giving you no ads and the “latest version” for $12 a year.

          Daytum

            Daytum

            is an in depth way of counting things that you do during the day and then presenting them to you in many different reports and groups. With Daytum you can add several different items to different custom categories such as work, school, home, etc. to keep track of your habits in each focus area of your life.

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            Daytum is extremely in depth and there are a ton of settings for users to tweak. There is a free version that is pretty standard, but if you want more features and unlimited items and categories you’ll need Daytum Plus which is $4 a month.

            Excel or Numbers

              If you are the spreadsheet number cruncher type and the thought of using someone else’s idea of how you should track your habits turns you off, then creating your own Excel/Numbers/Google spreadsheet is the way to go. Not only do you have pretty much limitless ways to view, enter, and manipulate your goal and habit data, but you have complete control over your stuff and can make it private.

              What’s nice about spreadsheets is you can create reports and can customize your views in any way you see fit. Also, by using Dropbox, you can keep your tracker sheets anywhere you have a connection.

              Evernote

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                I must admit, I am an Evernote junky, mostly because this tool is so ubiquitous. There are several ways you can implement habit/goal tracking with Evernote. You won’t be able to get nifty reports and graphs and such, but you will be able to access your goal tracking anywhere your are, be it iPhone, Android, Mac, PC, or web. With Evernote you pretty much have no excuse for not entering your daily habit and goal information as it is available anywhere.

                Evernote is free with a premium version available.

                Access or Bento

                  If you like the idea of creating your own tracker via Excel or Numbers, you may be compelled to get even more creative with database tools like Access for Windows or Bento for Mac. These tools allow you to set up relational databases and even give you the option of setting up custom interfaces to interact with your data. Access is pretty powerful for personal database applications, and using it with other MS products, you can come up with some pretty awesome, in depth analysis and tracking of your habits and goals.

                  Bento is extremely powerful and user friendly. Also with Bento you can get the iPhone and iPad app to keep your data anywhere you go.

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                  You can check out Access and the Office Suite here and Bento here.

                  Analog Bonus: Pen and Paper

                  All these digital tools are pretty nifty and have all sorts of bells and whistles, but there are some people out there that still swear by a notebook and pen. Just like using spreadsheets or personal databases, pen and paper gives you ultimate freedom and control when it comes to your set up. It also doesn’t lock you into anyone else’s idea of just how you should track your habits.

                  Conclusion

                  I can’t necessarily recommend which tool is the best for tracking your personal habits and goals, as all of them have their quirks. What I can do however (yes, it’s a bit of a cop-out) is tell you that the tool to use is whatever works best for you. I personally keep track of my daily habits and personal goals with a combo Evernote for input and then a Google spreadsheet for long-term tracking.

                  What this all comes down to is not how or what tool you use, but finding what you are comfortable with and then getting busy with creating lasting habits and accomplishing short- and long-term goals.

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