July 2013

07/31/2013 15:00:41

mindnodetips: MindNode as a Drawing Tool

Enough with all the dead serious #mindnodetips. Here’s a fun one.

MindNode also makes for a decent drawing tool1, albeit very limited to rectangles, small circles and lines.

As a pro tip: you can connect two nodes and set their color to transparent. This way you can “draw” a line anywhere, in any length.

MindNode will try to connect nodes when they are on top of each other. Hold down command to temporarily disable this function or use keyboard shortcuts to move nodes.

  1. Original tweet 


07/30/2013 15:00:38

mindnodetips: Make a List Out of Everything

I really love the two following copy and paste features:

First, paste: Often I read an inspiring article or a list of something, say some questions, and now I want to muse on the ideas this article suggests. Simply select the text and paste the list directly into a MindNode window. MindNode will do its best to create a mind map.

In the screencast, I edit the text in TextMate before going to MindNode. This is useful, as it is my case, when there is some text that you don’t want in the mind map.

This feature actually just creates a new node for every new line of text on your clipboard, even empty lines. All indented lines will become sub nodes.

This is even more powerful considering my earlier tip on OPML and writing apps. As a writer it becomes painlessly easy to move “lists” around.

The short video above demonstrates this workflow. But it also works the other way around. When selecting a node in MindNode copy (⌘C) will copy an indented list with preceding • to the clipboard.


07/29/2013 14:00:57

Find Your Life Priorities With OmniFocus, OmniGraffle and MindNode

If you have read David Allen’s Getting Things Done book, you are familiar with Areas of Focus. Every year I try to re-evaluate the “big picture”, the 50,000 feet view if you will, by looking at my old plans, what has worked and what didn’t, and then I come up with a new plan.

I’ve been trying to make a better lower level view now and want to share my experience. This is not exactly about Getting Things Done, it is more about “where is my current focus?” “am I working on my goals or did I get distracted?”.

I tried two things. An OmniFocus only approach and a more graphical, second-tool approach. I call this project “Priorities”, because this is what it ultimately is: a view of the things that I truly care about at the moment, and for the next three months or so. From other time management techniques I’m familiar with priorities (A, B, C, D, and Trash). I like this better than the feet model Allen suggests; a personal preference.

Priorities in OmniGraffle

OmniGraffle has an Org Chart or Brainstorming mode. Brainstorming and Hierarchical worked best, I found. It’s clean, non-fancy, non-distracting. Show the Outline Sidebar and start working. This is what mine look(ed) like:

Go through your OmniFocus todo list and find the projects that are important to you. If you’ve been just a little more strict about Active and On Hold, this will be very easy. If not, set projects to On Hold that are not as important right now.1
Just by sifting all projects you will soon see projects where you think: “that’s not going forward right now”, “well, this is kind of important, but I keep it off, because of reason X”, “how could I ever have committed myself to this”. This is one of the beauties of OmniFocus and GTD. It is easy to see everything that is related to your life and find stuff that keeps you off and has to go in order for you to become a better version of yourself.

You see there’s a done area as well. I didn’t just want to delete done stuff, because, you know, having a record of done stuff in OmniFocus isn’t enough. Stupid.

I like to use Emoji’s for lots of things. The small Space Invader alien is a visual indicator for me that this is a thing, that I don’t know what I want to do with yet. It is there, and at one point in my life it was important enough to be moved onto my todo list, but I haven’t figure out yet what I want from it. It is an alien.

As the week progresses, I have this document open, I look at it and see what is really really important to me. It is easy to move things somewhere else, just drag and drop. I shuffle things around, because I realize a lack of resources doesn’t move this priority forward or I really don’t care as much or some other reason. I hope you get the idea. This document is here to createfocus. To mentally move projects up and down a ladder as seen fit.

MindNode Priorities Map

Done doesn’t work so well here, it clutters up the space, which quickly brings me to: mind mapping. As mentioned in this post, mind maps are also a great tool for concepting and diagramming.

With the Folding function in MindNode, I can have a Done area, while also having a top-to-bottom list of A to D projects. This turned out to work much much better for me, since I normally have MindNode running anyway. But, I also have OmniFocus running all the time.

OmniFocus Priorities View

OmniFocus can also create this “Priorities” view by using its Perspectives feature. There’s one downside though, you have to make up your mind and decide whether something is important or not. Sorry to say that…

This is setup in Context View, because this way it is also available on iOS:2

The way you get tasks into this view is simple, assign a due date that is soon and it will be included here. If you spot too many tasks, compare with your Priorities mind map and check if the tasks shown are really high priorities on your list. If not, what are they doing here?
You will quickly realize that some tasks refuse to show up here, this is because the view is set up to only include tasks that are available. Go back to Project view and find projects with tasks you think should show up in the Priorities perspective. Often a wrong project setup is causing tasks not to show up. When a task is not available, then there may be tasks that need to be executed first. Congrats, you just identified the Next Step. You see how useful this setup is?

About once a month you should compare the Priorities mind map with your life goal or year goal and extract the things, or the steps, that are required for you to reach your goals. Put them in the mind map, add/delete projects and tasks in OmniFocus. Keep the ball moving.

I hope you find this approach rather helpful!

Did you make a 50,000 feet plan/map yet? Let me know in the comments, I’m curious to hear how many people actually do that. Do you want to read an article how I go about this?

  1. Unsurprisingly, I’ve setup some Keyboard Maestro shortcuts for quick access. (http://cl.ly/image/0O060H3t1m0n

  2. I don’t use Contexts and I don’t know why Omni doesn’t allow me to sync Project Persectives, but I guess the idea of working in context sounds just too damn cool for most people. 

#omnifocus #omnigraffle #mindnode

07/29/2013 08:00:36

#mindnodetips: Optimize Canvas Space for Long Text Nodes

The default Node width setting in MindNode is optimized for short text. But sometimes you have nodes with longer text, like when by pasting some reference from a webpage. This multi-line nodes look squished and take up a long of space on the y-axis.

To make these multi-line nodes shrink to one liners do the following:

If Shrink Width To Fit was selected, the nodes will not grow past their maximum text length. In case this setting was not activated, click Shrink Width To Fit and watch the nodes shrink.


07/28/2013 15:00:26

#mindnodetips: Move Nodes With Your Keyboard

Few users know that MindNode has a lot of shortcuts. As you can imagine I’m quite familiar with most of them.

I find it really useful sometimes, for some odd reason, to position nodes somewhere pixel-perfectly. Maybe because I’m German or a nerd or both.

First select some nodes, then hold down the ⌘ key and press the arrow keys to move by 1 pixel. ⇧ increases movement to 10 pixels.

I show you in a later tip what you can do with this…


07/27/2013 16:30:22

The Lazy Geek’s Guide to Outsourcing Everything

There you have it. No work needs to be done anymore.

07/27/2013 15:00:21

#mindnodetips: An OS X Shortcut Almost No One Knows

This is not a MindNode tip per-se, but a reminder for some awesome OS X features, I rarely see mentioned.

You probably know that ⌘T shows the typesetting/font menu, right?

There’s another shortcut supported in most apps to show the color palette: ⇧⌘C. This way you have instant access to all the colors you ever need. Again this works in other apps as well! Just try it and see what happens. I just learned about this some months ago. (Works in Motion, too! So useful.)


07/26/2013 15:00:19

#mindnodetips: MindNode As a diagramming/concept Mapping Tool

This is a tip the original creator, @fafner, shared with me on Twitter. I almost forgot that MindNode can be used as a diagramming/concept mapping tool as well.

As mentioned yesterday, nodes can be can be connected by holding down ⇧ while dragging.

If you stick with main nodes only, and connections. MindNode becomes a pretty useful diagramming tool. Limited features, of course, but for a quick diagram good enough.


07/26/2013 14:01:00

Released: Markdown for Keyboard Maestro 2

I’m proud to introduce the new version of Markdown for Keyboard Maestro. A Macro Library that helps you write Markdown.

Thanks to @nuclearzenfire for beta testing!

Main improvement areas for version 2 were:

Checkout all new features here.

My favorite changes:

The Wiki contains full documentation. Please note that you have to install the Wrap Text Plugin separately.

As for the name, I decided that I want this to be referred to as “Markdown for Keyboard Maestro”. It sounds appropriate, simple, minimal. Please use “#km-markdown” or “#kmmarkdown” on social networks.

Links are now created using a sub-group and a palette. The shortcut is ⌃⌥l to bring up the palette. Here you have 1, 2, and 3 as options for links. Why not more of this? I don’t like this kind of macro execution. A shortcut ⌃E followed by ⌃K to do something just doesn’t feel modern to me. I don’t like Emacs. We’re done with that.

In any case. Download the new version and enjoy the enhanced writing experience!

EDIT: I just updated to MultiMarkdown 4.2 and saw that it adds support for superscript (^) and subscript (~). So a super-late addition are two macros for these.

  1. Note that replacing text is optional. Simply enable the “Keystroke ⌘V” action. 


07/25/2013 15:00:22

#mindnodetips: Connecting the Dots

Again, just a quick tip you may already know about, but I think it’s worth noting.

Working on larger projects usually means that mind maps become quite complicated. It would be great if there was something that would allow to connect related ideas, or things that stem from each other, somehow. Luckily there is!

When working on a mind map, it’s sometimes important to “connect the dots”. To connect ideas, simply hold ⇧ (Shift) while dragging from a node.

Customize the appearance of a connection in the inspector. You can choose from several arrow heads, the line thickness and style.

Here’s another tip: If you drag the connection arrow somewhere on the canvas, where there are no nodes, a new main node will be created when you let go off the ⇧ key. This becomes very useful when I will tell you about xxx in tomorrow’s tip. (Stay patient!)


07/24/2013 15:00:38

#mindnodetips: Emphasize Key Elements for Better Focus

In a typical thought process often include key elements. Elements that are thought of that they will have the greatest impact/performance/profit/success. It is a good idea to emphasize these ideas so they stick out. As a project progresses, we sometimes lose focus. Refocusing is key for a successful project.

To emphasize nodes you have many options:

  1. No Comic Sans, please.  ↩


07/23/2013 15:00:15

#mindnodetips: How to “Think” Faster in MindNode

Just a short general productivity tip today:

Take a look at MindNode’s shortcut preferences and memorize them. This will help you create “flow”. When your brain is thinking quickly, your hands need to move quickly as well. If you don’t memorize some basic shortcuts quick thinking will be a problem.

Also have a look at the menu and go through some of them. You will see shortcuts next to the menu entries. ⌥⌘← folds a Node, whereas ⌥⌘→ unfolds it.


07/22/2013 15:00:31

#mindnodetips: Refocus on the Main Problem

This post is going to be about a rather inconspicuous shortcut: ⌘R. ⌘R is the shortcut to center the mind map.

The curious thing about this shortcut is not what it does, but what it does. For me it doesn’t just “center” on the first main node. When I work on larger, more complicated, mind maps, the Center Main Node function, also centers my thinking.

When working on new things, I get travelled away from the original point pretty far, pretty quickly. It is important to “center” back on the original idea and evaluate whether I am still on track.

I would recommend to use this function consciously. When you realize that you’re thinking has gone a long ways into one specific direction[1]. Then take a break or check on Twitter, come back to MindNode and hit ⌘R. You will instantly refocus on your original idea and you will see a solution emerge and maybe you will have to fold some of these Sub Nodes, so that you’re thinking stays more original to the center thought.

  1. That is when one Sub Node has grown quickly, almost as if it were a Main Node.  ↩


07/21/2013 15:00:35

#mindnodetips: How to Select Nodes Individually for Cross Connections

When you click on a node with some subnodes, MindNode normally highlights all subsides as well. To highlight nodes separately, e.g. for making a cross connection, hold down ⌘ while clicking to select nodes individually.


07/20/2013 16:30:13

The various icons of Markdown for Keyboard Maestro 2

I’m working on the next big version of Markdown for Keyboard Maestro. Lots of new stuff is coming. A beta version is available.

These are the various icons I use at the moment:

Thanks to ttscoff for finding iconmonstr. I use lots of them as templates for my icons. Link, Image, and List, for example. Ordered list uses a slightly modified version of the Menu 2 icon, with Helvetica as its font. Another one that’s probably standing out is “Preview Selection with Marked”. It uses a hand-written “m” from a font named “Banks Script”. The “Convert to Markdown” macro uses Dustin Curtis’ [markdown-mark](https://github.com/dcurtis/markdown-mark “dcurtis/markdown-mark · GitHub”). Most wrapper macros use one of my favorite (nerd) fonts: Menlo. formd surprisingly uses Droid Sans Mono. Other options just didn’t look as good and close(r-ish) to the original.

07/20/2013 15:00:19

#mindnodetips: Use MindNode as an OPML generator

This is a tip that goes well in hand with an older tip on exporting in a predefined order.

You can use MindNode as an OPML generator. OPML can be used by many writing apps to generate a basic bare-bones structure for a document.

OPML is also a format that allows you to “round-trip” an outline to a mind mapping app to another mind mapping app to an outline to …


07/19/2013 15:00:42

#mindnodetips: Further Customize the Appearance of a Mind Map in Illustrator Or @sketchapp

If you ever wanted to further customize the appearance of a MindNode mind map, e.g. for a presentations or a design, try this.

Export your mind map as PDF. Notice how the file size is usually really small. MindNode saves all of its nodes as vector PDF. Use an Illustrator or another Adobe app to directly manipulate the mind map there, or get pdf2svg. pdf2svg is a command line utility that will create a SVG file that you can use directly in an HTML document, or in a vector editor such as Sketch.


07/18/2013 15:00:00

#mindnodetips: Create New Main Nodes for More Order

I’ll include some shortcut tips in this series as well.

The first one is one that I find very useful when working in MindNode. Hold down ⌥ and click somewhere on the canvas to create a new main node. This is great to spread out ideas that belong to the same topic, but are inherently different. For instance my tutorial on Hazel has various main nodes. One where I collect the content of a chapter, another one where order the different sequences so they make sense for the viewer.


07/17/2013 16:30:34

Export Keyboard Maestro Macros Individually

I’m almost done with version 2 of my Keyboard Maestro Markdown Library.

Since I version things in Git, I often need to export a large amount of macros individually, rather than one big library file. Keyboard Maestro doesn’t allow to export individually so I wrote a macro for this missing feature some time ago, but never blogged about it.

The macro is set to export 5 macros and it needs the macro list to be highlighted to work. It simply presses some buttons and selects a menu entry to do its thing.





07/16/2013 15:00:11

#mindnodetips: Birds-eye view in MindNode touch

MindNode touch: Quickly get a birds-eye view on a document using MindNode touch’s document inspector. Tap a triangle to collapse/expand a node.


07/16/2013 11:55:48

#mindnodetips: Export in order

I’ll start this series with a simple tip.

I use MindNode as a “list” generator. Once an idea is sketched out, I tend to export it as a list, or just copy paste. But how do things get in order for that list?

It’s pretty simple. Move all nodes to one side of a main node and just drag them in your preferred order, then export. The exported (OPML) file will have the same order as the nodes had, from top to bottom, as your mind map had.

Sorry I had no internet yesterday, hence why the first #mindnodetips article is late.


07/14/2013 16:30:26



Inspired by Sven’s #thingsididnotbuy series, I thought I’d chime in and give my two cents. His main idea is to post tech-related products and luxury goods he would have liked to buy, but doesn’t, not necessarily to save money. But money saving is kind of what he’s going for with this. I’m very stingy.

First of all, impulse buying is very hard to control, and everyone who wants to get this under control is on my list of heroes, because there are so many little decisions a human has to intercept. We’ve been taught from society that sometimes you have to do “yourself a favor“. Doing yourself a favor usually involves buying something, be it food, tech, or some other crap you don’t need.

Saving money is a topic that interests me. So while #thingsididnotbuy has a tech-focus, I want to approach this more broadly.

I don’t buy most things, but that doesn’t mean that the temptation to accumulate “stuff” doesn’t exist, it does. Thanks to tricky marketing all kinds of temptations and desires exist. Desires for food, apps, entertainment, fun, relaxation, books, “another world”, etc. People search for excitement, something that makes a bad day become good, and so forth. That is all natural, but what I’ve learned, and that seems to be a common theme of my generation, is that minimalism is a desirable goal for a human being. In a perfect minimalist world, there are no distractions, no bullshit, nothing unnecessary, but I digress. We want to exercise how to make better buying decisions.

1. Make a budget

Simple enough, just decide that you are not going to spend more than XXX amount of money on certain activities.

One thing that works tremendously well with a budget are luxury goods and media. Media such as apps, music, movies, books.[1]

The budget can either be “I’m not going to spend more than 20€ on the iTunes Store” or “I’m not going to spend more than 5€ on one app”. I would recommend to cap the budget at some total amount.

iTunes voucher cards are sometimes available for 10% or 20% off. That means a 25€ voucher is only 20€, etc. So by buying a 20€ card, you save an additional 5€ per 25€ spent on media. Buying one 20€ card per month and only buying when there is plus on one’s iTunes account makes it very easy to control impulse purchases.

To get these vouchers, you can either buy them directly at a store, or go to eBay. Search for items that are reduced by 20% or more and never pay more than 20% off the original price. As soon as you see the price rising, go find another item. It is really easy. It takes about 10 minutes, and two to three emails, compared to an hour+ running to a store and buying a voucher there.

2. Illusive items

We live in a very constructed world. Most of the things we grew up with are questionable in value. Take Christmas for instance. You’re supposed to spend money on stuff to make your loved ones happy. It is assumed that a bought item brings happiness and joy. The value of a present increases, the more it cost. I don’t want to write about my gripes with the Christmas season any more than necessary though.

The point I want to express here is: you have been taught to believe that certain things are more desirable than others, because people say so; and people before said so. No one questioned whether having a TV set is something you actually need. So start questioning yourself more.
I don’t need to have a computer, but I choose to have one. That’s a dramatic difference. If you choose to buy something, not just have it, you are going to be more happy with that thing, whatever it is. A TV set costs a lot of money. From experience I know how a typical evening looks like. When I look at that event, that’s not what I want my evenings to look like, so I choose not to have a TV. It is a mindful decision. Learn more about mindfulness with this book.

So for every purchase you are going to make, ask yourself why you are buying it. I realize that apps, music, technology stuff, is stuff I buy to feel excitement, to geek out, to have fun.[2] So for every app I buy, I wait a little before I buy “into” that thing. I did not buy Vesper, I did not buy Tweetbot for Mac. Both apps don’t offer the kind of value I expect from an item of that price. But when I choose to buy, I celebrate my purchase. I know this sounds ridiculous, I celebrate in a very literal way.[3]

See, when you don’t just blindly buy things anymore because they are desirable, you start making conscious buying decisions. It is not about buying anymore, it is about “do I want to let this thing into my life? Do I have room for it?”.
And because it’s so rare that new stuff comes in, every new thing that does, is very exciting. I sit in my chair and throw my arms up so exciting is it. My colleagues look flummoxed. But I don’t care.

You need to chill, if you will. If you just buy, buy, buy, you make hectic and fast purchases decisions. Slow down. And I mean slow way down. That is what makes the difference.

These are the two things that leave plus on my bank account every month: budgeting and conscious buying decisions.

If you have some questions regarding minimalism, relaxation, or meditation, leave a comment.

  1. Yes, apps are media. If you haven’t realized that yet, you must have slept the last 10 years.)  ↩

  2. I consider AppleScripting a hobby. So that’s where all my Keyboard Maestro stuff gets created. Late at night.  ↩

  3. Celebration takes the form of dancing, yelling, etc. Looks weird, but makes me happy.  ↩


07/11/2013 18:14:49

Announcing #mindnodetips

I’m going to start a blog series here on MindNode tips. I prepared 30 tips that I’ll be posting over the next 30 days. One each day. They go online 10am Eastern Time. (That’s 3pm in Germany)

You can follow this series by subscribing to the RSS feed or you can follow MOSX on Twitter or Facebook, for these tips to arrive in your daily inbox.

Also, I’m going to use tags for this! Here on Tumblr each post will have the mindnodetips tag and Twitter and Facebook will have the #mindnodetips tag.

The reason I’m doing this is that I’m an avid user. You know that. I love mind mapping. I love to plan things, I love to read things, I love to learn things, but I also love to share things.

The series will start Monday, July 15th.