System Tools

Keyboard Maestro makes a last minute appearance on the Party Barge

While researching Alfred, CopyLess and PopClip, I saw many references to Keyboard Maestro, but never quite understood what the app was for. It came across as a text expander, or a clipboard editor, or a keyboard mapper.

So, taking a moment out to pause and reflect, it finally became clear to me. All those functions are a part of Keyboard Maestro. How is that possible?

It makes a little more sense when Keyboard Maestro is presented as an extension or the next version of Automator. It uses a similar style of building blocks to chain actions together to accomplish tasks. At one end you can tie an action to a hotkey, and at the other, actions can be triggered by system events such as switching networks, or a USB drive being inserted.

After downloading a copy, trying it out, watching some videos and assembling some blocks of my own, Keyboard Maestro jumps aboard the Party Barge just as we cast off for 2020.

In reality there is some overlap between Alfred and Keyboard Maestro. They are both development environments for creating shortcuts for repetitive tasks. And in many ways they go about it the same way. However, they both offer distinct tools and functionality.

To give a simple example, in Alfred you can create a workflow to stop and start multiple applications using AppleScript.

In Keyboard Maestro, the same job can be set up as a macro using a series of the “Application Control” actions that list the applications to stop and start. It can also be done using the Execute AppleScript module.

In Alfred:

    tell application "Firefox" to activate
    tell application "Mail" to activate
    tell application "Messages" to activate

In Keyboard Maestro:

km-macro

Same end results, slightly different way of getting there.

But where Keyboard Maestro comes into it’s own is with system events. You can create actions for when a file is added to a folder, when you login, when the system goes idle, when the system wakes, when an application starts or stops, when text is copied to the clipboard, etc. There are dozens of events you can monitor and take action on.

Additionally, you can build loops, use IF statements, employ variables, set up decision making, and even prompt for input before continuing.

Or if you prefer, you can skip the module building part and use straight scripting in AppleScript, a shell script, Swift, or JavaScript.

I even watched a couple of videos where Keyboard Maestro was used to fill in forms on a Google page.

Once I took a serious look, I saw just how powerful Keyboard Maestro can be. I’ve already built a few simple macros with many more coming. There is a fair bit to learn, but like Alfred, there is a very active community of users and plenty of examples to study.

With their combined powers, very few computer tasks will escape me.

Keyboard Maestro

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Disk Drill 3.x Lifetime License

As part of my switchover to macOS, I’ve been looking for a disk recovery tool. For Windows, I’ve got EaseUS Disk Recovery and Recover My Files. These have served me well and Recover My Files recovered tens of gigs worth of data from an external drive fiasco.

Now that I’m using macOS, I’ve got TimeMachine as a backup tool and have been looking for full file recovery. Disk Drill comes up time and time again as a tool of choice and it’s now on sale for 70% off, including Lifetime License.

I haven’t had need of Disk Drill’s services yet, so this is a preventative purchase. But this is a solid deal and it’s worth the small investment now, rather than full price later should things go awry.

I will say, I have Disk Drill running to take advantage of the SMART monitoring. I have a couple of drives in this Mac, and want to make sure nothing happens to them. So far, all is running well.

The discounted version is available on BitsDuJour and the license key is immediate. I’ve been watching for a sale, so it looks like Black Friday is at hand.

Disk Drill Pro 3 for Mac

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Ashampoo Backup Pro 11 for $9.99 with Coupon Code

In keeping with the Spring Cleanup theme and making sure your system is in good repair, here is Ashampoo Backup Pro 11 for $9.99.

If you didn’t take advantage of the O&O DiskImage sale, then I don’t think you can argue with a complete backup solution for $10. Now, I’m not that familiar with their backup tool, but after checking out the demo, it seems like a solid choice. You have the standard tools like file backup, and options to backup the entire system drive. Additionally there are connectors for storing your backup in the cloud such as Dropbox, Google Drive, OneDrive and others. Additionally, the option to make a rescue disc (CD/DVD) is built right in or you can use a USB stick.

Overall it looks like a pretty solid choice and you get 30 full days for evaluation so you have plenty of time to experiment. If you decide to buy the full version, you should receive an offer after installation to buy it for $12.49, which is a great deal on it’s own. Or you can sign up for the Upgrade off their main page. Either way, you can then add HRE3365QNY and drop the price top $9.99.

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O&O Spring Cleanup Bundle and Discount

It’s time for Spring Cleaning and here is another computer bundle, this time from O&O software. It includes:

DiskImage for making a backup of your system or for cloning and entire drive
Defrag to keep files tidy.
AutoBackup for backing up files and syncing files to external drives
SafeErase for deleting Temp files, Internet files, Wiping Free Space and even the entire drive

I’ve used DiskImage in the past and it has worked quite well for me. It’s currently scheduled to make an image of my C:\ drive every two weeks. So if something goes wrong with that drive, it should just be a matter of replacing it, restoring the image and back up and running.

O&O is offering each program for $12 for 1 PC, or you can buy a bundle with all 4 apps to cover 3 PCs for $39. Clearly, the bundle price is far cheaper than buying 1 copy of each. It’s an 85% discount on the cost of each app.

https://shop.oo-software.com/36/purl-springcleanh

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Ashampoo Bundle System Utilities 13–Winoptimzer, Uninstaller, HDD Control

With Spring Cleaning comes the time to dig through your system and clean out some of those old files and programs you no longer need. Ashampoo has a bundle offer to help with the task and it comes with a really good price. The Bundle System Utilities 13 contains Winoptimizer to help clean out old files, Uninstaller which can be used to remove programs you no longer need and monitor new ones as you go forward, and HDD Control to keep an eye on your drives so you don’t suffer from data loss, a problem I seem to keep running into as I add more and more drives to my system.

Even at the lowest discount price, all three apps would be around $36. However, with this bundle, you can get all three for less than half of that. Using the link below, you can get all three for $19, or just over $6 a piece. That is a really good deal.

Ashampoo Bundle System Utilities 13–Winoptimzer, Uninstaller, HDD Control

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