Mortal Mac App Sins

Maybe I’m just an ornery old man yelling at the new kids running through my lawn. Maybe I should be content to retrain myself to hit ⌘H instead of ⌘W when I no longer want to see a non-document-based app but want to keep it running.

Maybe Apple has done the research and realized that a decade-plus of relearning computers with iOS had taught the over-60 crowd that fullscreen apps are the be-all-end-all. And Gen-Z, who grew up with touch screens, intuits that as well. Maybe there are diminishing numbers of us in the middle reluctantly dragging overlapping windows around like cave people?

Regardless, there is one specific UX sin that interrupts my workflow and annoys me more than anything else on macOS. I want to call out a few of those offending apps now before offering my dumb solution.

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Receipts

Ten months ago I drafted a post about how incredible the Apple ecosystem is when all the pieces fit together. It was a month into the pandemic and I found myself walking through a real-life Apple commercial in the grocery store.

I was a bit stunned when I got back to my car and it sorta hit me just how well the entire end-to-end experience worked. As a lifelong adherent of the positive influence and power that well made software and hardware can have over our lives, I was taken aback.

And so while I was planning on finishing my thank-you post to Apple this weekend, that’s not going to happen.

Instead, let’s talk about receipts.

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One Year of App Pricing Experiments

One of my goals for 2020 is figuring out a financial path forward for my little software business – particularly around how I price and sell my apps.

I’ve been mostly open about the fact that, for a few years, I was incredibly fortunate enough that my software business was successful enough to be my full-time job. I’ve also been pretty honest that sales started slipping in 2017 before cratering in 2018. The reasons for the decline are varied – some my fault, others outside of my control.

But this post is about figuring out what can work in the years ahead. And the genesis of that experiment began last July when I started planning in earnest and setting up the infrastructure to convert my main app to a subscription model.

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Standup.app

Standup.app is a tiny little Mac app that I made last week because I needed it in my day job. I’m not sure what to do with it or what will ultimately become of it, but, as usual, I figured I should make the app available in case anyone else finds it useful.

It helps facilitate the super-short standup call I run with my team every morning.

It also serves double-duty as a weird, helpful presentation utility for the seemingly never-ending stream of video meetings I have throughout the day.

I know there are other solutions out there, but this one is mine and built to my odd specifications.

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The Apple Hero 2020 Needs

Rakhim is the hero we need in 2020.

Please don’t let the comedic nature of the video turn you away. I’m not sure if there is a better way he could have presented this.

Stay for the entire trainwreck so you can appreciate the focus of a two-trillion dollar company that says subscription services revenue is the future.

He really does make some excellent observations about usability, attention to detail, care, and obviousness in software.

I cackled for the full 18 minutes.

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Voxmail – Voice Email with Siri

The idea for this app started eleven months ago as a collection of PHP scripts and a giant Shortcuts.app shortcut. But I quickly realized it would be best served as a real iOS app. I’ve been working on it off and on since February and have teased it a few times publicly on Twitter.

But now I think I’m ready for broader feedback from outside my small group of testers. And hope that feedback will show that it’s useful to more people than just me.

The app is called Voxmail. And (I think?) it’s the first iOS email client that you can’t use on your phone.

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Talking to OmniFocus

But one significant change I have made is to my morning routine. And it was made possible by OmniFocus’ version 3.4 update last year. I’m sorry that I’m just now getting around to writing about this new workflow because it’s a lot of fun. And it just might be my favorite new feature Omni has ever shipped. As a user, it’s wowing me with the possibilities. And as an Apple developer, I’m amazed at how well done it is.

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Does Not Contain

I occassioanlly need to scan a folder and all of its subdirectories to see if any of them DO NOT contain files of a certain type.

I’m fully aware you can do this with some combination of shell commands, but I always spent 20 minutes googling for how to do it again every time I needed to. It was faster just to write this small utility myself.

I call it dnc, which stands for “does not contain”. You can download the source or a pre-built binary on GitHub. The builds aren’t notarized. So be sure to ask Apple if it’s OK to run this on your Mac.

Read the full post for an example of why I need this script.

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