Create simple text notes using Keyboard Maestro and TextEdit

Sometimes you just want to make a note on your Mac. Nothing fancy – just a text file that’s searchable, giving you quick and easy access. There are several ways to do this, but most are more complex then necessary. If you have Keyboard Maestro, however, you can easily create a simple macro that provides a streamlined solution using TextEdit.

Such files store simple snippets of information. For example, I’ve recorded my Writers’ Guild membership number in this way, so if I ever need to quote my number all I have to do is use Spotlight (I actually use Alfred but it’s a similar thing), type the file name, and hit return to open said file. I have lots of others, and storing these in a Dropbox folder called Notes means I can access them using the Files app on my phone.

TextEdit is a stalwart of the Mac, but for many uses, such as blogging or coding, it’s been supplanted by more use-specific apps with added functionality. Yet it’s TextEdit’s simplicity and lack of bloat that make it particularly appealing in this case.

First off, launch TextEdit, open Preferences, and set a couple of defaults. In Preferences, I set new documents to open as plain text, to streamline and simplify, and set the plain text font to Menlo 14pt so it’s nice and easy to read.

The macro itself is quite simple, requiring the following steps:

  • Open TextEdit
  • Create a new file
  • Save that file to give it a name

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Then all you have to do is type your note, and quit when finished. When saving in TextEdit for the first time, navigate to the folder in which you store your notes, and the app will continue to use this path unless you dictate otherwise.

To make this process really convenient, assign a hotkey to the macro – I have OPT+1 set to several macros, which gives me a palette; I just hit the appropriate number – in this case 6 – and Bob’s yer uncle.

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I previously used nvALT to create such notes, but when I upgraded my computer it was one of those apps I didn’t bring to the new machine. iA Writer, in which I’m drafting this post, can also be used for this purpose. Yet while Writer’s a great-looking and functional app whose files are searchable, for something as simple a one-line or even one-word text note, there are just too many layers to the processes of creation, saving and organisation.

As with most things Keyboard Maestro, thinking about each step is key – there are often more than you expect, and you may need to add pauses to allow each step to be completed before the computer tries to take the next. The real trick is examining the way you work, and finding ways to utilise Keyboard Maestro’s extensive capabilities.

I’m a writer, editor, and Royal Literary Fund Fellow.
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Scrivener Tip – progress at a glance

Scrivener’s Project Targets tool is great for keeping an eye on word count, especially if you’re writing something to a prescribed length. On a Mac, to set your targets and check progress call up the Project Targets window using SHFT+CMD+T.

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However, you can also get an idea of your progress as you write with a quick glance at the toolbar. Whatever document you may have selected in the Binder, a line beneath that file’s name indicates how close you are to reaching your pre-defined overall project target. Moving your cursor over the area reveals more detailed information.

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It’s always best to over-write your project and edit down, but this is a great way to keep track, not only of how much work you still have to do, but how much you’ve already done.

To read my other Scrivener tips, click here.

I’m a writer, editor, and Royal Literary Fund Fellow.
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Mart’s Radio Highlight of the Week – Graeae’s Midwich Cuckoos

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Graeae’s Midwich Cuckoos is a fresh take on a science fiction classic: the English village of the title has a “day out”, following which all the women of child-bearing age mysteriously become pregnant, with the resulting infants developing at an unnatural rate and demonstrating mysterious powers.

She makes me do things.
Do things?
With her eyes.

The script and acting are wonderful, with subtle sound design adding a distinctly sinister atmosphere. Tyrone Huggins who plays Zellerby has a delicious voice, which is perfectly complimented by that of Alexandra Mathie who plays Janet. And if like us you’re a Corrie fan, you may recognise Molly, played by Cherylee Houston.

Graeae is apparently a disabled-led theatre company. On one hand this is a fundamental part of this production and key to its character, but on the other it’s wholly irrelevant: like Radio 4’s recent production of The ChrysalidsGraeae’s Midwich Cuckoos is true to the quality and classic British SF feel of Wyndham’s original novel.

I suppose we have lived so long in a garden that we have all but forgotten the common places of survival. If you want to keep alive in the jungle, you must live as the jungle does.

The script for episode one is available to download here.
You can find my other radio-related posts here.


I’m a writer, editor, and Royal Literary Fund Fellow.
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Mart’s Movie of the Month – Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool

When I first heard about this film on The Jonathan Ross Show I was a bit meh. I mean, it’s a romance innit. But Mrs S was keen, so off we went. Now, having seen it this afternoon, I can safely say Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool is everything a movie should be: great story, great script, really great acting, looks great, sounds great. Just… great. And not a dry eye in the house.

So that’s five stars from Mart. And I can tell you that’s as rare as four 10s on Strictly, because I, ladies and gentlemen, am a tough crowd. And not only that, five stars for a romance innit!

Go and catch Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool on the big screen while you can, because it’s a quality piece of British cinema with spectacular performances from all involved. Meanwhile, here’s a link to the official trailer.

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I’m a writer, editor, and Royal Literary Fund Fellow.
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Mart’s Radio Highlight of the Week – A Badge, by Tony Pitts

When I learned another play by Tony Pitts was due for broadcast I knew it would be a belter. His previous plays Pact and Monster were incredible: the former, the darkest radio play I’ve ever heard; the latter, a skilful examination of the secrets lurking behind so many ordinary front doors.

Written in Pitts’ unique, powerful style, and with remarkable acting performances from all concerned, A Badge chronicles a young mother’s journey as she discovers that one of her sons is autistic, and how coming to terms with this, and the prejudice she encounters along the way, shape her entire life.

I can never cut the strings. Never. All his life he needs me. I have to do it. I’m his mum. Michael’ll leave one day. Make his own way. Might come back if he needs me and I’ll put my mum badge back on. But I can’t take off my mum badge with Daniel. I can never do that with him.

A Badge is an essential, moving, and indeed educational production for anyone interested in quality drama, regardless of whether you’re personally affected by the subject matter.

You can find my other radio-related posts here.

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I’m a writer, editor, and Royal Literary Fund Fellow.
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Mart’s Radio Highlight of the Week (x2) – Tommies, and Home Front

BBC Radio 4’s World War One drama series are back on air this week, with 45-minute episodes of Tommies on both Friday and Saturday, and Home Front returning to the lads and lasses in Tynemouth.

The characters in both series continue to develop as a result of the ongoing conflict. In Tommies, Captain Mickey Bliss is gathering scars both physical and mental, while Home Front sees those back in England wrestling with the ever-present issues of class and gender. Who doesn’t enjoy the assumptions and prejudices of the upper classes being challenged by the fighting spirit and insight of their lower-class counterparts?

There’s some way to go yet, but when this war’s finally over, what’s going to fill the shell holes in the schedule these two dramas leave behind?

Home Front Tommies

You can find my other radio-related posts here.

I’m a writer, editor, and Royal Literary Fund Fellow.
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Mart’s Radio Highlight of the Week: Velvet Blackout by Vincent O’Connell

Vincent O’Connell’s Velvet Blackout, directed by Marc Beeby, is an unusual drama set during World War Two London.

In 1942 a young woman with amnesia is pulled from a bombed building. A doctor and a policeman think she may know something vital to the British war effort – and they use some unorthodox techniques to force her to remember.

Stories work their way out as amnesiac Roxanne (Isabella Inchbald) finds herself at the centre of differences regarding the investigative techniques used to extract the required information, the relationship between Trounce (Ben Crowe) and Edward (Joel MacCormack) taking turns as they enter new territory. I was so engrossed I almost scorched my flapjack. No, really.

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You can find my other radio-related posts here.

I’m a writer, editor, and Royal Literary Fund Fellow.
Find out more, tweet me, or email.