12: My save dialog workflow

Last time, I described how I move from app to app on my Mac, largely with Keyboard Maestro. Having universal hotkeys doesn't save me hours at a time — it's more like fractions of a second. Those shortcuts aren't designed to save raw time (and that doesn't have to be the goal, as John D. Cook has pointed out and Dr. Drang has corroborated). Yet there are still everyday tasks where I can make significant time savings, and the simple act of saving a new file is one of them.

My worldview of files and folders is seen through the lens of LaunchBar — the Finder plays second fiddle. When prompted with a save dialog box, I know where the new file should land, and I can probably get to that location in LaunchBar in ten keystrokes, tops. But LaunchBar can't talk directly to the save dialog.

Anything navigated to in LaunchBar can be dragged and dropped, and (since Apple mercifully rolled back their decision to change this behavior while still in beta) you can drag any representation of a folder to the save dialog to set it to that location. I used the drag-and-drop strategy for years, switching from keyboard to mouse to keyboard to accomplish the task. It was as efficient as I knew how, but it still felt imperfect.

When I began using Keyboard Maestro, its building blocks — simulating keystrokes, copying and pasting text, and hitting dialog buttons — made me realize that a file path could be brought into an open/save dialog with they keyboard alone. The necessary hidden feature is hitting ⇧⌘G within the dialog to pop up a "Go to…" sheet, just like in the Finder. With that knowledge in hand, it's simple to have Keyboard Maestro copy a path and paste it into that sheet. Then the workflow proceeds: 1) trigger save dialog 2) use LaunchBar to navigate to save location 3) invoke macro.

There are certainly other ways to perform this and similar tasks (the 20-year Default Folder users are probably screaming at me right now). For the couple years that I've used this macro, it has absolutely felt like the smoothest way for me to do the task and move on. It feels automatic — and if that's not what automation is for, what is?