Whether you’re typing on are the keyboard, or hand is on your mouse or trackpad, Mac automation tools can provide multiple ways to perform the same task, such as routinely opening or activating a regularly used application.
This article is particularly useful for readers who are not familiar with Mac automation tools. I explain ten ways I open my frequently used task manager application, 2Do. Most of the tools and actions I share can of course be applied to any application.
After you read through my list of tools and methods, feel free to share some of your own.
Of course one of the quickest ways to open an application is to keep it available in the Dock, which is where my copy of 2Do resides. But when my hands are already typing on the keyboard, I may not want to stop and move my right hand to the trackpad in order to click on 2Do in the Dock. And quite honestly, dragging the cursor to the Dock on my 21″ iMac feels like traveling an extra block to get home. This is where I can make use of other activation methods that require a little less clicking and dragging the cursor.
Without taking my hands off the keyboard, I can provoke the launcher application, Alfred, either by using my assigned hotkeys, Space+Command, and then start typing “2Do”. From there, I can click the Return key and it activates or opens 2Do. I can do the same for any application or file using Alfred.
While my hands on the keyboard, I can type the assigned string trigger letters, “otdo” and the macro will activate 2Do. This means I don’t have to use any keyboard shortcuts.
Similarly I can used a hotkey trigger, as seen the above screenshot, to activate 2Do. But I never really use the hotkey. I simply included it as an example for those who might like to use hotkeys.
Another way 2Do gets is launched without me having to use my hands, is using another Keyboard Maestro macro, which activates 2Do each time my computer is awakened. I check 2Do throughout the day, so automation is convenient.
I can use a Dragon Dictate voice command, and simply say, “Activate 2Do,” to launch or activate the application. Dragon Dictate will open any application on your Mac using the “Activate…” voice command.
My hand is on the keyboard, I can use my assigned Two Finger Force, Right Finder Harder to activate 2Do while my hand is on my trackpad. (Note: any finger gesture can be used. The one I chose is mainly because I’m running out of finger gestures that I can use globally. BTT has dozens of different finger gestures, and I use most of them. The force finger gestures were recently added.)
OS X Share Extension
If I want to add a URL page in a new task to review later, I can use the 2Do share extension. El Capitan allows for third-party extensions that are located in Systems Preferences > Extensions.
If you enable an extension, you can use the Share button in Toolbar of Safari or click on the pop-up that appears when text is selected.
When I want to create a new task in 2Do using selected text, I can use a PopClip extension. This extension will copy and paste the selected text and create a new task using 2Do’s quick entry feature.
Note: the PopClip extension is not good as the OS X extension, because the former doesn’t include the date field in the Quick Entry box.
If 2Do were the type of application that frequently crashed on me, I could use SuperTab, an automation tool that works similarly to the Dock. I can select the “Auto Ensure is Running” feature which automatically re-opens the application. So this qualifies as another way to launch an application. But since 2Do is a stable application, I don’t have to use this feature.
Instead, I use the “Auto Hide When in Background” feature so that 2Do is automatically hidden after it’s in the background for 5 minutes.
I could also use either the Mac or Keyboard Maestro application switcher, but I rarely do unless my hand is already on the trackpad. I don’t like activating an application switcher because it often means I have to lift my hands off the keys to use the shortcut to activate the switcher, and then I have to use to use the Tab key to navigate to the application I want to select. I just don’t find the switcher is fast as the other methods described above.
What’s Your Favorite Method?
Are currently using any of the above methods to launch applications. Which is your favorite? Do you have suggestions for other methods? Please share them.
Note: Check out my other article for a few other ways to launch applications, and for my details about some of the above methods for application launching.
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Thankfully, Yosemite also allows URLs to be added using the third-party extensions located in Systems Preferences > Extensions.
Great stuff, thanks for these posts.
Hey, Paul thanks for your feedback. Could you explain what you mean by, Yosemite allows URLs to be added using third-party extensions? Is that something that cannot be done in El Capitan?
I use Alfred most often, followed by Option tab to get one open already and I also tell Dragon Dictate to open apps.
David, I totally love how fast DD is for launching and activating apps. It would be a huge setback if I couldn’t use DD. Thanks for your feedback.