Scheduling success: Four tech tricks for planning meetings

Let’s face it: Despite all the technology at our fingertips, scheduling and planning meetings is still a pain in the neck. Nobody can agree on where to meet or when. When meetings do get scheduled, people forget or show up unprepared. You’d think we could do better.

Using your Mac, iPhone and the Web, of course, you can, but you have to use them right. Here are four tricks I’ve learned that use technology to plan meetings better.

Automate the meeting confirmation

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My nine must-have plug-ins for Apple Mail

In a recent story about simplifying your email system, I mentioned nine plug-ins for Apple Mail that I use to transform it from a fair email client into a much more powerful tool. A number of people have asked me what those plug-ins are, so here’s my list. (For even more suggestions, see Maximizing Mail: Add-ons for Mac OS X's Mail.)

Attachment Tamer

attachment tamer
Attachment Tamer lets you customize the way attachments appear to your recipients.
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5 quick Mail tricks everyone should know

Mail might not be a perfect email client, but it’s the one most of us use. Fortunately, there are things you can do to make it work better. Here are five of my favorite tricks for making Mail more efficient.

Swap the Find shortcuts

Mail lets you search two ways: through your list of messages (“Where’s that note from my lawyer?”) and inside the current message (“Did he say ‘nolo contendere’?”). While there are keyboard shortcuts for both searches, the easy (and standard) Command-F combo is assigned to the less-common search inside the currently selected message, while Command-Option-F is used for the more common search through the message list. Fortunately, you can swap them easily.

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The secrets of OS X's text tools

When you write in a word processor or text editor on OS X, you might want the app to do more than record your words as unadorned plain text. In addition to specifying formatting (such as font style and type size), you may want to insert things like smart (or “curly”) quotes and live, clickable links. You may want your spelling and grammar to be checked as you type. And you may wish to insert certain bits of text automatically, to save time.

While some word processors and text editors have built-in tools to do all of the above and more, others don’t. That’s why it’s a good thing that OS X has its own system-wide text-manipulation tools, which allow you to substitute and transform characters and words in a variety of ways and which are available in many apps where you have to type text. But these settings aren’t necessarily easy to find, and it’s not always obvious what they do.

You’ll find these features in all Apple apps where you can type text—including Pages, Mail, and TextEdit—as well as in many third-party apps; notably, they aren’t available in Microsoft Office. In OS X apps that do support these text manipulation features, you can see the available tools by right- or Control-clicking in an app’s editing window to summon a contextual menu. Some, but not all, of these settings are also available from the Edit menu.

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