January 5, 2024
Links of Note 2024-01-05
- There are a host of free Markdown based text editors available on macOS. They are indistinguishable from one another. PanWriter is different from the others. It is focused on integration with Pandoc. Which means that it concentrates on your ability to export your Markdown document to any format Pandoc supports. Pandoc is versatile and PanWriter is integrated with it. Great solution if export formats are important to you.
- This was informative. 52 Things I Learned in 2023 - HeyDingus
- Rarely do I get to do a Links of Note article without some contribution from Brett Terpstra. This one continues that trend. macOS keybinding tricks The kill ring - BrettTerpstra.com, macOS keybinding tricks the repeat count binding - BrettTerpstra.com, and More keybindings Text editing shortcuts - BrettTerpstra.com. Useful articles from Brett. Talking about Brett, he is building a community, that will be full of information. You should join.
- I am hearing good things about Maccy. For instance, The Best Free Clipboard History & Clipboard Manager for Mac is Maccy. I don’t have a need for a Clipboard manager. Alfred fills that need for me, but you might be interested.
- I went through a similar process. Abandoning Drafts for individual text files. ldstephens talks about his decision, Why I abandoned Drafts and returned to text files for managing my information repository by ldstephens Dec, 2023 Medium.
- Talking about ldstephens, he wrote App-solutely indecisive — ldstephens, and I found myself agreeing and laughing. I have decided to get over my FOMO, and stick to BBEdit.
- Can’t have a Links of Note without mentioning a new font. Monaspace. Get it. Monaspace Neon is my regular font now.
Thanks: To Photo by Pixabay: https://www.pexels.com/photo/orange-tabby-cat-lying-on-floor-290164/
January 3, 2024
Default Apps 2024
- macOS: 10.13.6 on iMac and 12.7.2 on MB Air.
These are the latest systems that can be run on the machines.
- Mail App: Mailmate
Mailmate is the ultimate Mail application. My email needs are not extensive, and Mailmate fits the bill.
- Junk-cleaner: SpamSieve
SpamSieve keeps me free from spam. It has been on my machine for a long time. It works.
- Internet Security: Little Snitch
Lets me know when a program wants to talk to the world outside my computer.
- Calendar: Apple Calendar
Apple Calendar is all I need for my calendar.
- Notes: Obsidian and BBEdit
I like using Obsidian sometimes, but I am mainly in BBEdit.
- To-Do: Obsidian
Obsidian with the Tasks plugin is the solution I have settled on.
- Cloud File Storage: iCloud and Dropbox
- Browser: Firefox on the iMac and Safari on the MB Air
- Text: BBEdit
This is the editor for all of my text file needs. I wrote about my decision to use this, here.
- Editing Text: iA Writer
iA Writer is best tool I have when I am editing something I have written. Love using it.
- Markdown Preview: Marked 2
Marked 2 is in charge of my previewing Markdown needs.
- Word Processing: Nisus Writer Express
My needs for word processing are limited. I live in text files. Nisus Writer Express does the job when I need a word processor.
- Book Writing: Scrivener
Scrivener manages my manuscripts. It is the best program for writing. I don’t use it for everything only because I am not fond of rich text.
- ScreenWriting: Highland 2
Highland is a great solution for scripts or even single Markdown documents.
- Mindmapping: iThoughtsX
I like iThoughtsX for my mind-mapping needs. I must admit that I like outlines better for thinking than mind-maps. When I need to visualize my thinking, iThoughtsX comes in handy.
- Outlining: Bike on the Air and TaskPaper on the iMac.
I am always living in outlines. I use text editors for outlines too. In fact, everything I write seems to start with an outline. When I am looking for a dedicated outlining program Bike on the Air and TaskPaper on the iMac is what I reach for.
- PDF Files: PDF Expert
PDF Expert manages my interactions with PDF files.
- Images: Acorn
Acorn is enough for my image manipulation needs.
- Information Manager: EagleFiler
EagleFiler is where I dump information. Stable, fast, reliable storage of all kinds of documents.
- E-book Reader: Clearview X, and Kindle
- Music Player: Pine Player and iTunes or Music
- Video Player: IINA
- App Launcher: Alfred
Alfred is the most important utility on my computer. I use it for a whole host of things.
- Clipboard Manager: Alfred
- Text Expansion: Alfred
- RSS Service: Newsblur
- RSS App: Reeder
- Bookmarks: Pinboard
- Read It Later: Omnivore
- Password Manager: Enpass
- Utilities: Hazel, Keyboard Maestro, AppCleaner, Skitch, HoudahSpot, Keka, and a host of others.
- Tasks: Clear
- Text: iA Writer
Thanks to all the developers of the programs I use. They make my life better and I am grateful.
You might find more at:
Thanks to Photo by Pixabay
macosxguru at the gmail thingie.
December 30, 2023
One Editor For All My Text Files
This should not be a difficult search. Looking for one editor to handle all of my text file needs.
What Are My Text File Needs?
- I write in Markdown. I want good support for Markdown. Keyboard commands to make the input of Markdown syntax easier. Good syntax highlighting. Some automations. Automatic insertion of closing bracket if I type the opening bracket. Automatic continuation of lists both numbered and unordered. Fast movement between titles and sub-titles of a Markdown document.
- The ability to have a bunch of files open and easy navigation between files. Easy navigation should include keyboard commands.
- A good writing environment. Spell-checker. Support for macOS conventions like two periods turn into a period and the opening letter of a new sentence is capitalized would be a bonus. Nice themes.
- Typewriter scrolling. Hate looking at the bottom of the screen when I am writing.
- Regex support.
- Good performance. Low memory usage. Fast. Stable and reliable.
- Ability to deal with large files. By large, I mean files which are in the megabytes. Not gigabytes.
Obviously the Answer Is VSCode
VSCode is the dominant text editor in the market. I tried it.
It is fantastic.
Does everything I want it to do. It’s memory usage is a tad crazy, but a text editor is the main program on my computer and I am willing to look past it chomping on memory.
It doesn’t do well with large files. Everything lags. You hit the ↩︎ key and wait. Nothing happens. It is busy trying to create the outline view. If you wait, it suddenly responds to a few of the ↩︎ keys that you typed. The performance is abysmal. It is responsive when you are dealing with small files. This problem occurs with large files. I use a lot of those. VSCode unfortunately can’t be solution for my usage. Pity.
The Answer Has to Be Emacs
You would think so. But not really. When you are dealing with a large Markdown file, you are going to have to switch to Fundamental Mode and then you might be able to scroll through that without a lot of lag. How do people work in this editor?
Of course I am an Emacs newbie and I might have some setup weirdness which is making Emacs slow and unresponsive dealing with large files. I don’t know how to solve that problem. Thus, it can’t be Emacs.
Surprise. The Answer Is BBEdit.
Yes. I am using BBEdit.
BBEdit does a lot of things well. It is a full-featured text editor. I have had a license for a long time. I keep upgrading it. There is reason behind my madness.
It has lousy syntax highlighting. It doesn’t do task lists or strikethrough. Hell, it doesn’t do italics or bold. It has no typewriter scrolling. It has no keyboard commands for Markdown. Everything is manual.
But it deals with large files. It is fast, stable, and efficient. It’s low memory usage is laughable when you compare it to VSCode or Obsidian.
A few Keyboard Maestro macros, a few Services, a few AppleScripts from BBEdit-Markdown Extensions Coyote Tracks, and I have a text editor which lets me write Markdown and be happy in it. Well, not quite happy, but contended enough to stick to it.
BBEdit for Writers: A Guide and Appreciation was helpful in this journey.
BBEdit is not without its faults. But it does some of the basics better than the competition. Primarily, it is stable and efficient. I don’t have to worry about it. It deals with my text files and does it well enough. Does not fill me with joy but it works and that is all I need from a text editor.
Thanks: To Photo by j.mt_photography
macosxguru at the gmail thingie.
July 18, 2023
Bear 2 Icon
Bear 2: Underwhelming
After a wait of seven years, Bear has reached version 2.
In the last seven years, the marketplace for note-taking applications, has changed considerably. More importantly, my workflow, focus and exposure to note-taking applications has changed. I am not using Bear. In fact, I haven’t been using it for a long while now. This review, thus, is not from a Bear-user. It is from the perspective of someone who is deeply rooted in the competition.
I will break the competition into two different boxes:
- Products which focus on simplicity.
- Products which are full-featured solutions.
Products Focused on Simplicity
- iA Writer: iA Writer has come a long way. I wrote about iA Writer here. iA Writer is different from Bear 2 in that it deals with individual text files, it is not database based. What that means is that documents written by iA Writer are accessible by any text editor that you care to use. iA Writer is opinionated software and doesn’t let you use your own fonts, or have a plethora of themes to choose from. It has an iconic look and is excellent software. iA Writer is a better choice for me. The ability to deal with actual text files makes that a no-brainer.
- Drafts: Another solution which is database based. Drafts is extendible through Actions and adds functions which Bear 2 can’t compete with. Another no-brainer choice for me. Drafts is an accomplished competitor which is better than Bear 2.
- Obsidian: Obsidian actually rests somewhere in the middle of my classification scheme of simple/complex. Obsidian can be as simple as you want it to be. If you are so inclined, you can increase complexity in your workflows in Obsidian. It is focused on knowledge management and is well-designed software. It is not database based, it deals with individual text files and there is no lock in to the program. It is also the one program in this list which is free to use. If you use iCloud or Dropbox, you can sync your documents across devices. I have written about Obsidian here. Obsidian bests Bear 2 for note-taking and knowledge management.
Regular text editors are a great way of dealing with all of your needs when it comes to writing. They are good at all kind of writing. You can take notes and deal with them. Searching, creating, linking between them are all tasks which are easy and available to you. Any writing you want to do, a full-featured text editor is a capable solution.
There are some specific features which text editors provide which are not replicated by Bear and its ilk.
- Text editors are capable of dealing with large files without any degradation in performance.
- Regex support is built-into every text editor.
- You can use your own fonts and there are a host of themes available for each of the text editors.
- Immersion into any of the text editors will pay you back for the rest of your life.
- Each of the text editors have the ability to break your work into projects/workspaces. So you can focus on a specific collection of files that you are managing.
I will pick on two text editors which are worth considering:
- VSCode: Free solution. Has superb Markdown support and is being developed at an insane speed. Every month gives us a mix of features and bug fixes. Has a great community of extensions and themes. This is the editor I am using currently.
- BBEdit: Amazing text editor for the macOS. Fantastic tech support and a long-standing commitment to macOS. Deals with any text editing need you might come across.
What Is New in Bear 2?
What’s new in Bear 2, This is the list of changes that the developers highlight.
From my perspective:
- Tables is a great addition.
- Hiding the markdown syntax doesn’t do anything for me. I like seeing that on the screen when I am writing. But for those who don’t want to see the syntax, they can turn it off.
- You can use your own fonts.
- Links and backlinks.
- Improvements to the tagging system.
One glaring omission is the option for typewriter scrolling. The developers don’t care about that feature and haven’t added it in version 2.
These were interesting to me:
Bear preferences 1
The Bottom Line
If you are a current user of Bear, upgrading to Bear 2 makes complete sense. You are going to enjoy the latest version. The update has improved the product and added some features which users were clamoring for.
If you are not a current user of Bear, there are better solutions available. Try out the alternatives and Bear 2 to find out what works for you.
I don’t recommend Bear 2.
For a much more positive take on the Bear 2 update read this: 300 Times a Day – Rands in Repose
macosxguru at the gmail thingie.
June 20, 2023
Links of Note 2023-06-20
Note: Thanks to Athena for the image.
macosxguru at the gmail thingie.