Configuring WordPress Custom Fields in MarsEdit

March 6th, 2019

Custom fields are a powerful feature of many WordPress blogs. You can add custom fields to support specific behaviors that are not supported by default. You might add custom fields to support plugins that do SEO optimization, associate custom downloadable data with a post, or to control some other feature of a custom theme or plugin.

On the Core Intuition Podcast, we use Custom Fields to support the listing of sponsor information on the show’s web pages. When a specific episode is being shown, a custom WordPress plugin looks up information about the episode’s sponsor, and adds suitable content to the sidebar for the page.

To achieve this, I first picked some suitable names for my custom fields, and added them to the site through the WordPress “wp-admin” interface. Then, I opened MarsEdit’s preferences and edited the “Custom Fields” section of my blog’s settings:

Screenshot of MarsEdit's custom fields configuration UI

You can type whatever you want for the “MarsEdit Label”, as it only affects how MarsEdit will identify the field in post editor window. The important part is the “Server Custom Field Name” which must match whatever the field’s name is in your WordPress admin panel.

Now whenever I am editing a Core Intuition podcast episode, the custom fields show up right along with standard fields such as Title, Tags, etc:

Screenshot of MarsEdit editor window with custom fields added

I just type or paste in the suitable values for the show’s sponsor, and everything else is taken care of for me automatically.

MarsEdit is great for setting up streamlined publishing workflows. If you’re using WordPress Custom Fields, you can use this one-time configuration change in MarsEdit to make it easier than ever to add custom field values to your posts.

Relief for Compulsive Command-S Savers

February 27th, 2019

Raise your hand if you, or somebody you love, still presses Command-S constantly while editing text, or really, working with any content in any app on your Mac.

Those of us who have been using computers for a long time remember a day when, if you didn’t remember to save, then you might lose everything. These days most apps, including apps such as our own MarsEdit and Black Ink, support some form of autosave, making this old-fashioned habit unneccessary, yet harmless.

Some apps, such as Apple’s Notes, have gone so far as to remove the save command. This is good in the sense that it simplifies the app, but bad in the sense that users who aren’t familiar with autosave may not know their work is saved. It’s also bad for compulsive Command-S savers, because every time we press the keystroke, we’re greeted with a loud BEEP! from the computer. Thanks for nothing.

One of Red Sweater’s apps, FastScripts, offers an elegant solution for quieting the beep that occurs in Notes, or in any other app for that matter, when Command-S is not wired up to any menu item. Because FastScripts can be used to override just about any keystroke, you can configure it to run a script in Notes when Command-S is pressed. The script? It does nothing. Thanks for nothing, indeed.

To use FastScripts to quiet the beep in Notes:

  1. Download FastScripts. It’s completely free for up to 10 keyboard shortcuts.
  2. Launch FastScripts and look for the little script icon with a lightning bolt, in the upper-right corner of your Mac’s main screen:

    Screenshot of the FastScripts icon in the Mac menu bar

  3. Open Notes on your Mac.
  4. With Notes running, click the FastScripts icon and select the “FastScripts” submenu, then select “Create Notes Scripts Folder”:

    Screenshot of the FastScripts submenu  with

    This is the folder in which we’ll create and save a “Do Nothing” script for Notes.

  5. Open Apple’s Script Editor from the Utilities subfolder of your Mac’s Applications folder.
  6. Create a new script by selecting File -> New Script from the menu bar. You can leave it empty, or type something as a comment to remind you about it’s purpose:

    Screenshot of a Script Editor window with a comment inside about giving FastScripts something to run when pressing Command-S

    Save the script and move it to the “Notes” folder you just created in the Finder.

  7. Switch back to Notes, where we’ll assign a shortcut for the script.
  8. Click the FastScripts menu icon, you should see the “Do Nothing” script appear near the top of the menu. Hold the command key down while you select it. This is a shortcut to jump to FastScripts preference and start editing the shortcut for the script:

    Screenshot of the Do Nothing script in FastScripts, selected with an indication that the Command key is held down

  9. In the FastScripts Preferences window that appears, you should be editing the keyboard shortcut for “Do Nothing”. Press Command-S on the keyboard to register the new shortcut:

    Screenshot of FastScripts Preferences with the keyboard shortcut for

  10. There’s no step 10!

Ah, the sweet silence of Command-S in Notes has never … not sounded … so good?

These steps may sound laborious, but you’ll quickly get the hang of it. Creating a such a script takes only a minute or so when you’re familiar with FastScripts and the Script Editor. You can use the same technique with any other app on your Mac that behaves in an unwanted manner when you compulsively press Command-S, or (almost) any other key, for that matter!

FastScripts 2.7.6: More Mojave Permissions

February 21st, 2019

FastScripts 2.7.6 is now available for download from the FastScripts home page and on the Mac App Store.

Since macOS Mojave 10.14 shipped, many folks have noticed the increase in “permission requests” when an app wants to access something like your Photos, Calendar, Contacts, etc. FastScripts doesn’t itself ask for permission to access the data from these apps, but the permission prompts appear when some script that a user runs itself attempts to obtain data from the protected apps.

At some point along the way I think Apple tightened things up so that the permission prompt is not even displayed if the host app (FastScripts, in this case) doesn’t include a ‘usage description’, which explains to the user why it wants access. In FastScripts’s case, the explanation is always just some form of “because you are running a script that does this”, but nonetheless, I think I need to include these strings in order to support scripting these privacy-guarded assets.

This update also fixes a Dark Mode bug when presenting scripting errors:

  • Adapt script error panel to macOS Mojave’s Dark Mode
  • Add usage explanation strings for requests via scripts to access Reminders, Photos, and Calendar information. This fixes a problem where scripts that attempted to automate these apps wouldn’t prompt for user permission to do so.

If you enjoy FastScripts, please consider writing a review or rating the app on the Mac App Store, or spreading the word on Facebook or Twitter! Thanks for your support. Questions or concerns? Get in touch at support@red-sweater.com. Thank you.

The Future of Blogger and MarsEdit

February 13th, 2019

I have bad news for MarsEdit users who publish to Blogger: Google is shutting down the Picasa Web Albums API, and MarsEdit will no longer be able to upload images to Blogger/Blogspot blogs.

I had anticipated being able to switch to the Google Photos API, and put a substantial amount of working into transitioning to that service. Unfortunately, I’ve since learned that Google does not provide the same interface to Blogger albums via Google Photos that they did via the Picasa API. Furthermore, images uploaded separately to Google Photos albums cannot be embedded into other web content such as a blog post.

Uploading images to Blogger has never been straightforward. Since I first added support for Blogger almost 12 years ago, I have needed to jump through hoops to support image uploads for the service. Their API has never directly supported image uploads, but I had been able to accommodate solutions using Picasa’s API.

Without support for uploading media, I can no longer endorse Blogger as a suitable blogging service for MarsEdit users. After March 15, 2019, I will update MarsEdit to remove Blogger as a supported system. I have not yet decided whether I can leave some form of support in the app to accommodate folks who are satisfied to continue blogging without the ability to add images to their posts.

This is a very disappointing development, but it sort of comes with the territory for an app such as MarsEdit that supports a variety of services, none of which is under my control. Over the past 12 years, I’ve witnessed the disappearance of services such as Vox and Posterous, and the elimination of support for 3rd party apps by services such as Squarespace.

For customers with Blogger blogs who wish to continue using MarsEdit, I recommend switching to a service with full-featured image upload support. WordPress is a good alternative, which has always been supportive of 3rd-party apps such as MarsEdit. Because it is based on open source software, even if one hosting service were to go away or eliminate access, there would undoubtedly be other services offering suitable WordPress-based hosting.