Make your Mac dance after watching MacSparky’s Keyboard Maestro Field Guide

Yesterday, David Sparks released the Keyboard Maestro Field Guide, the seventh paid course offered through his Learn MacSparky site1. This 4-hour block of videos covers 76 different screencasts about Keyboard Maestro, the Mac automation application that provides significantly deep capabilities and makes them available to use across your Apple desktop or laptop.

As usual, David’s course is well-paced, insightful, and makes it easy to learn complex topics like Keyboard Maestro’s slightly esoteric design language.

I’ve been investing some time here and there in learning Keyboard Maestro for my own video and podcast production needs. But I got stuck along the way, and was only able to initially make some real progress by personally interviewing David’s cohost of the Automators podcast Rosemary Orchard on the subject of Keyboard Maestro on Twitch just a few weeks ago.

But afterwards, without someone helping me along the way, I faltered again, and didn’t dive deep enough to integrate it fully into my workflows. Thankfully, David’s Field Guide has been the perfect aide since then. This is a deep subject that requires lots of hand-holding, and I struggle to invest the time to figure it all out myself.

For this course I downloaded the convenient combined versions of each section of videos and set them up on Plex to be available on all my devices. Even just watching along so far, I’ve been able to do more in Keyboard Maestro than ever before – and without thinking too hard about, which is always a win in my book.

With David’s guide—as with any of his others—I trust I am getting the information I need, ready to go whenever I’m up for it, and at the end I’ll have a bunch of examples to use alongside my own ideas too.

There’s a free 18-minute intro that I suggest checking out, and you can read about what’s in the course in David’s blog post as well.

If you’re interested in speeding up your Mac and automating tasks similar to the way Siri Shortcuts can for your iPhone and iPad, then I suggest purchasing the course (along with Keyboard Maestro itself, if you haven’t yet).

It’s available at an introductory price of $24, normally $29, and once you’re done, as David subtitled the course on his site, you can surely make your Mac dance.

Get the Keyboard Maestro Field Guide.

Note: David has been kind enough to make me an affiliate for his courses online, which means I earn a small commission if you purchase through one of the links in this post. That being said, I genuinely do recommend all of his courses, like the fantastic Siri Shortcuts Field Guide, and would still continue to do so even without being part of his program.


  1. Plus five free guides! 

How to buy Disney/Marvel/Star Wars movies to watch on Apple TV in 4K

When you’re trying to buy any of the latest 4K Disney films like Star Wars and the Marvel movies, you’ll quickly find they’re not available in iTunes. For some reason the partnership hasn’t shaken out properly, which I’m hoping changes soon, but for now if you buy one in iTunes Movies it will only be 1080p for $19.99.

You might think that Movies Anywhere would handle this, because it makes movies you’ve bought on iTunes, Prime Video, VUDU, Google Play, or Fandango Now available to watch on each of the other services. But, it’s not that easy.

All of these Disney movies are available in 1080p on iTunes for $19.99 and on VUDU the 4K version (called UHD on their site) costs $24.99. However, even if you’ve unlocked the HD version by buying it in iTunes, you can’t just split the difference and pay $5 to upgrade to 4K within VUDU.

Instead, you’re stuck buying a second version of the same movie for full price, like I had to do for The Last Jedi.

But, if you buy through VUDU first in 4K, you can watch it in full resolution using their own Apple TV app1 instead of iTunes.

Note: When you’re trying to Own the movie instead of Rent, make sure to hit the dropdown and select UHD for 4K instead of HDX for 1080p quality.

And if you want watch it on a smaller screen in HD or add it offline on one of your devices, the movie purchase will still automatically sync to your iTunes account via Movies Anywhere in the background.

I just bought Avengers: Infinity War on VUDU’s website, and when I opened it in the TV app moments later I could already hit Play and start watching.


For me, this is a pretty solid solution, because now I can watch the same thing on my TV or iPhone or iPad—in the best quality available for the device—without paying for it twice.


  1. If you get the regular app and you have automatic downloads turned on for your Apple TV, the app should just appear once you’ve “purchased” it. 

How to delete unplanned screenshots with Shortcuts

If you’re an iPhone X or Apple Watch user, you may have a bunch of screenshots you’ve unintentionally taken recently filling up your camera roll:

Maybe you’re accidentally gripping the volume up button as you also press power to turn off your iPhone, or you’re pressing the Digital Crown and side button at the same time to pause an Apple Watch workout1 – either way, you probably don’t want most of the screenshots that are filling up your library.

With the Shortcuts app in the iOS 12 beta (or using Workflow if you’re not on the beta), you can set up a three-action script to get your latest screenshots, pick which ones to delete, and delete them all in one go.

Add the actions by searching in the action drawer or browsing through the Content Types categories, then dragging them into the following order:

  • Get Latest Screenshots
  • Choose From List
  • Delete Photos

I’ve increased the number of screenshots to 30 so there’s a full screen to choose from, toggled Select All Initially, and set it up with a Siri command as well.

This shortcut is useful since you don’t have to sort out regular photos you want to keep, all the images are already selected by default so you only have to unselect the ones you want to save, and it will confirm the deletion in case you make a mistake.

If you use the Add To Siri function available in the shortcut’s settings, you can set up your own custom voice trigger and later ask Siri to “delete my screenshots” (for example) when you want to kick off this flow.

One thing to note: the shortcut won’t operate entirely in the Siri interface because it requires the menu UI and delete confirmation, so currently it’s expected behavior that using Siri will just open the app and run the shortcut.2

Additionally, you could switch up this shortcut for new purposes with a few tweaks – if you’re not using any of your screenshots anymore, just bump up the number further or run this a couple of times to clean them all out; or, maybe swap out the first two actions with Select Photos to pick from your entire library instead of choosing only from screenshots.

See more of my Tips & Tricks posts, shared every Monday.


  1. Apple assigns the trigger of pressing the buttons to both pause your Apple Watch workout and take a screenshot, so if you want to keep the screenshot function on you’ll have a library full of mid-workout screencaps. 
  2. I hope this type of functionality can be displayed within Siri in the future so shortcuts can operate entirely without opening the app. Admittedly, however, that’d likely be a hard user interface to make look natural from within the Siri overlay. 

How to make a full-page screenshot of an app or website with StitchPics

With the sharing feature that was in Workflow not being available in Shortcuts1, many people are resorting to sharing screenshots to show people how their shortcuts work.

Oddly, this has had a great benefit for the fledgling community – shortcuts are very visual, and a bunch of hyperlinks links on Twitter might not have had the same effect as a good photoset2:

But longer shortcuts with more than a handful of actions can’t fit onto one screen, so users have to resort to more creative options.

StitchPics

My recommendation is StitchPics, a simple but very functional app to combine photos that’s free with a $1.99 in-app purchase to add more than 8 images3.

Made by a Chinese developer, the app isn’t fully translated, the logo is somewhat inexplicably an L, and on iPad it only works in portrait orientation.

That being said, I’m definitely glad I bought it. That’s because, beyond basic auto-stitching, StitchPics has a fantastic pinch-based method of combing images that’s super reliable for getting things exactly right.

Here’s a quick example:

Once it takes a guess at how to put your images together, you can slide either image up or down behind the crossover point and collapse parts you want to be hidden.

Especially with longer shortcuts where you may need to take many screenshots, it makes aligning the different actions much easier.

StitchPics is also great for getting images of complete webpages on mobile – just take screenshots as you scroll and stitch them together in the app.

Tailor

A popular alternative is Tailor, but historically I’ve found it is unreliable at parsing multiple screenshots from Workflow (and the same is true for Shortcuts). The actions just look too similar across many images and it doesn’t know how to handle it.

Tailor is also free (but with a watermark removable by in-app purchase) and should work fine for simpler shortcuts. However, it is only available for iPhone.

That’s why I’ve been using StitchPics – it ain’t pretty, but it gets the job done, and a bit better, on both my devices.

Get StitchPics on the App Store.

Click here to check out more Tips & Tricks posts

Links in this post


  1. I don’t know if it’s temporarily removed or gone for good, but boy am I hoping for the former not the latter. 
  2. Awesome work Ben! And also wow, almost 7,000 people liked a good automation joke (even if it’s mostly for the Harry Potter). 
  3. Plus you can add your own watermarks, change it to a custom size, cut off the top or bottom, leave blank spaces, or change the color of the fonts in the app. 

Swipe on the Copy & Paste menu in iOS to see more actions

If you’re like me, you may have been on iOS for years before you learned that when you select text and want to navigate the copy & paste menu, you don’t have to tap the arrows to navigate – you can just swipe to the next page.

Normally I’d select text, try to accurately hit the tiny little next arrow, and usually missed and paste something instead of closing the menu. But when I was at WWDC, I saw someone go to share a bit of text and he… just…swiped on the list of actions.1

For anyone who uses the Workflow action extension often and likes to run workflows on text using the text selection share menu, this is extremely handy. And for Drafts users, this also provides quicker access to the Dictate and Arrange actions available in that second page of the copy & paste menu.

This is a super small thing and may seem obvious, but if you don’t know about it, you might not ever really figure it out. Hope this helps – check out more of my new Tips & Tricks archives here and coming every Monday on my site.


  1. I’ve… worked on iOS for years and he… justswiped on the menu. 

How to cancel tasks in Things

In my first Tips and Tricks post for this site, I wanted to share how to cancel tasks or projects in Things if you haven’t yet learned how.1

In order to cancel a project, task, or checklist item in Things, tap and hold on the item’s checkbox. You’ll be presented with the options to “Mark as Completed” or “Mark as Cancelled” – if you cancel the item, it will be marked with an X instead of a checkmark.

These work for individual tasks, whole projects, or even checklist items. If you choose cancel on a project, you’ll also be prompted to choose whether to cancel or complete any subtasks that are remaining.

On both the iPad and Mac versions of things, there are keyboard shortcuts for you to mark tasks as complete or incomplete:

  • iPad2 & Mac: press Command + K (⌘K) to mark an item as complete, or Command + Option + K (⌥⌘K) to cancel a task, project, or checklist item.3
  • Mac-only: for compatibility purposes, the Mac version of Things also allows you to use Command + Period (⌘.) to mark something as done and Command + Option + Period (⌥⌘.) to mark something as cancelled. However, the team recommends using the K method everywhere for consistency across platforms.

Sometimes whatever you needed to do is indeed cancelled, sometimes you’re just not ever going to do it, or sometimes you might want to clear out an item with deleting it or incorrectly marking it as completed.

I usually choose to cancel everything I didn’t do, as I want to keep the Logbook section of my things database accurate and be useful for keeping track of what I’ve actually completed when I review it later on. If something was added in error or I never truly intended to incorporate that task into my life, I’ll delete it from Things.

Hope knowing these little details helps – in the future, I’ll be sharing Tips & Tricks posts every Monday. Until then, check out my workflows collection of posts so far.

Update: This post originally recommended the Command + . method on Mac, but the Cultured Code team replied to me on Twitter and recommended using Command + K on the Mac as a best practice.


Links for Things


  1. I saw someone ask the question of Cultured Code on Twitter this morning – it took trial and error to discover it myself too! 
  2. Also this technically works the iPhone, but almost nobody attaches a Bluetooth keyboard to their phone. 
  3. I currently have the Things beta for Mac and in version 3.6.1 they added support for cancelling tasks with the keyboard shortcut within checklist items, if you’re interested in using that on desktop as well.