From The Tips Box: App Shortcuts, Dry-Erase Planners And More

Readers offer their best tips for making global application shortcuts in OS X, making easy, dry-erase weekly planners, and eliminating odour from your garbage can.

About the Tips Box: Every day we receive boatloads of great reader tips in our inbox, but for various reasons — maybe they're a bit too niche, maybe we couldn't find a good way to present it, or maybe we just couldn't fit it in — the tip didn't make the front page. From the Tips Box is where we round up some of our favourites for your buffet-style consumption. Got a tip of your own to share? Email it to tips at

Create Global Application Shortcuts in Mac OS X

Rick Betita shares an easy way to bring up applications with their own hotkeys:

I love keyboard shortcuts. I switch around applications a lot when I work, and I prefer using keyboard shortcuts to bring up applications rather than having to cmd+tab ad nauseam.

Fluid app SSBs have a handy option to set a global shortcut that will bring the application to the front, under Preferences General Global shortcut. Unfortunately, I know of no simple way to do the same for non-Fluid apps.

One workaround I've found is to fiddle with the Keyboard Shortcuts under System Preferences Keyboard Keyboard Shortcuts. Usually, these shortcuts are used for menu items within applications, like setting "Save As..." in Microsoft Word (which, at least in my version, has no default keyboard shortcut) to cmd+shift+S. (This is a good tip in and of itself, actually.)

However, you can also use this to bring up a specific application if it is listed under  Recent Items. In the Keyboard preference pane under Keyboard Shortcuts Application Shortcuts, click "+" to add a shortcut. Select "All Applications" under "Application", type the name of the application under "Menu Title", enter the shortcut under "Keyboard Shortcut", and click "Add".

(A few curiosities: 1. For some reason, the shortcut doesn't work immediately after you add it. I had to click out of System Preferences in order for the application shortcut to work. 2. Creating this shortcut adds a curious "Show [Application]in Finder" item under Recent Items. It doesn't seem to be problematic, though.)

An obvious limitation to this is the fact that the application has to be listed under "Recent Items" in order for it to work. It's a simple step to quit and relaunch an application to get it in there, but you can also increase the number of applications listed under Recent Items under System Preferences Appearance (I put the max, 50).

This does take a bit of patience to find shortcuts that will work (that aren't already taken by other applications), and even after I got it working I needed Finder to be the active app in the menu bar — this may or may not be the case for different shortcuts. If you find good shortcuts that work for launching apps, let us know in the comments!

Make a Dry-Erase Planner

Photo by Pittaya Sroilong.

writergrrl tells us how she got around printing endless pages for making her own planner:

I love making my own custom planner pages with daily, weekly, and monthly actions. But printing all those pages was causing me physical pain. Plus, I typically printed letter-size pages, but my DIY planner is classic size. What to do? I finally spent a bit of time tweaking my templates, printed them in classic size, slipped them into classic size sheet protectors in my planner. Now I write on the sheet protectors with wet-erase markers. I have 5 daily pages, so I can review the whole week, then wipe it off with a damp rag and start fresh. Far less waste, but I still get the satisfaction of pen and paper.

Use Tea Bags to Eliminate Garbage Can Odour

Confuzius lets us know how to keep our kitchen smelling fresh:

If you've got a stanky kitchen garbage can, the type that's a plastic bucket that you line with your own bags, throwing a tea bag or two into the bottom of it before you put a garbage bag in works wonders for the smell.

The tea bags also help absorb any mystery garbage water leaks that may make their way through the bag.

A cursory googleing shows that tea can have antimicrobial properties, so maybe there's more at work here than just odor absorption and nice smelling tea. Mint green tea has been performing well lately, but plain ole black tea does the job too.

Use Google Calendar to Plan Meals and Shopping

themuli tells us how he plans his meals for the week:

Doing your groceries once a week is time and cost efficient. Remembering what you had planned to eat during the week can be difficult. My wife and I share a google calendar "Food" where we put the meals that we plan to eat. A multitude of positive side effects: When using recipes from the web I copy the instructions (or the URL) in the event description. That way, I have them on my mobile device while cooking. Also, you can "re-schedule" your favourite meals if you want to use them again. And you keep a record of what you are eating.


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