Overview of Hook

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Hook enables you to immediately access related information so that you can quickly solve problems with it.

The basic idea of Hook is a concept that we are all familiar with, one that turned the Internet into the Web: links. But web links have a few problems: they are brittle (if a resource moves, they break); they are awkward to create; they can’t (for all intents and purposes) point to information on your Mac; and they tend to be created by others. Hook, in contrast, makes it extremely simple to robustly and privately link related information together. Hook enables you to (quickly!) get an address to web resources. But it also lets you (easily!) link to arbitrary resources (like emails, files on your Mac, etc.)

With one keystroke, Hook shows you the items linked to your current focus; another keystroke or double-click/tap and you can access the related item.

Hook’s two main windows

Hook is simple. It has two main windows:

  • the Hook Window, which you can invoke with a keyboard shortcut (⌘⇧SPACE), mouse click (in the menu bar window) or touch (of the Touch Bar); and
  • the menu bar window.

They are two ways of doing the same thing. Hook’s Preferences can be accessed from the Gear menu of either window.

The Hook WINDOW

CREATE AND LINK

ACCESS LINKED ITEMS

  • Opening and Revealing Linked Items (These commands allow you to open linked items and reveal them in the Finder (if they are files). You can also delete links from this section of the Hook window).
  • Copy All Links. (This allows you to copy all the links in the Hook window, in RTF and Markdown formats.)

STATUS BAR

The status bar, at the bottom of the Hook window, provides context sensitive information. Its content changes as a function of the menu entry you select. It can explain the current command and indicate keyboard shortcuts.

The status bar is very handy for becoming familiar with Hook.

GEAR MENU

The Hook window has a Gear Menu that contains the following commands.

MENU BAR WINDOW

The menu bar window is accessible from the Hook menu bar icon. It provides shortcuts for accessing the Hook window, Hook folder, and a Gear menu. However, its most important function is to allow you to link two or more items together by dragging and dropping them from the Finder.

PREFERENCES

Hook’s Preferences are available via a keyboard shortcut (⌘,), or from the Gear menu. The Preferences window has the following tabs:

  • General: to apply Finder tags to linked files, and do even more;
  • Notes to control various defaults related to the creation of notes;
  • Script Editor to add, edit and delete scripts for apps to use with Hook;
  • Shortcuts to set the keyboard shortcut to launch Hook;
  • Favorite Apps to choose the app used to open Mail links (and later, more); and
  • Updates (when) to check for updates.

Linking event notifications are controlled in the macOS System Preferences > Notifications tab.

Hook in a Nutshell

Hook boosts your expertise, establishes context and keeps you in flow

Cognitive science has found that experts learn to rapidly encode and retrieve meaningfully related knowledge. For example, a chess master can rapidly memorize a dozen chess configurations, and then use them in play. Expert brains have developed long-term working memory for their domain.

Hook is like long-term working memory. Hook links resources together. You can then rapidly switch between documents, while remaining in flow. Hook also helps you switch between tasks: it instantly re-establishes your context.

For example, if you are writing a new, important document (such as a presentation), Hook can maintain links from this document to documents that support it. This new document might be linked to several web pages, PDFs, spreadsheets and emails. With Hook, there is no need to copy all related (ancillary) information to the new document’s folder. Hook maintains those links. Just bring up the Hook window, and you will see the key related information. Then just double-click or use the keyboard to instantly access any linked document.

(For more on the art and science of using digital documents to enhance your competence, check out Cognitive Productivity and Cognitive Productivity with macOS. These books were written by our co-founder Luc P. Beaudoin).

Hook Augments Your Favorite Apps

Hook does not replace the apps you use to create documents or “consume” (delve) information. Instead, it enables you to get much more out of them. Hook turns “productivity apps” into cognitive productivity apps. For instance,

  • A great PDF reader and a great note-taking app are exponentially better if you can link PDF documents to your notes. Hook enables you to do this.
  • Great task management apps (whether they are complex like OmniFocus and Things, a text editor, or a to do list) are exponentially better if you can bi-directionally link tasks (and projects) to documents (and other resources) to which the tasks pertain. For example, paste a link to a document right in your task description; or link a document to an entire OmniFocus or Things project that indicates what you need to do with respect to the project.
  • A great email, spreadsheet or any other kind of app is much better if you can link their objects/documents to anything else. For instance, after downloading a file (such as a PDF or spreadsheet) from an email, it’s often very useful to be able quickly to navigate back and forth between the file and the email. Hook enables you to do this.

These, and many other augmentations enable you to stay in flow while working with your favorite apps.

Here’s How It Works


1. In the context of a particular resource (web page, document, message, etc.) in a suitable macOS app, invoke Hook with a keyboard shortcut (⌘⇧space, by default) like you would a launcher) (or by touching the Touch Bar, or the menu bar window’s Hook button). For instance, suppose you’re in Apple Mail. Select a Mail message, then invoke Hook.
2. Use “Copy as Link” to get the address of the current resource. (Or if you are Markdown lover, use “Copy as Markdown Link”).
3. You can then paste this link anywhere you like. Voilà. You can now click on this link to open the linked resource. (For instance, if it’s a link to an email, the email will open).
4. You can do more! Instead of, or in addition to the prior step, you can invoke Hook in the context of a different document (using ⌘⇧space), e.g. a PDF on your desktop.
5. Now you can select “Link to Copied Address”. And Bingo! You have linked these two resources together!
6. Prove it by invoking Hook (⌘⇧space) on either resource.

The Hook window shows you any bidirectionally linked resource.

Note that the magic command, “Link to Copied Address”, works anytime there is a well-formed URI address in the pasteboard (copy buffer). That means Hook works with regular web addresses, linkback addresses, and more. (Many Mac apps, like OmniFocus and nvALT, have “copy as link”).

Thus, Hook is the most simple, powerful, flexible link-processing app in the world.

Hook provides many other link-related utilities.

Check out the Hook window’s status bar and Gear Menu to find out more. For example,

How many times have you wanted to see where a given file is stored in the Finder? Just invoke Hook and issue ⌘R, to “Reveal in Finder”.

What if you want to create a note and have it linked to the current (contextual) resource (document, message, video, task, whatever)? Well, just use ⌘N, or click on “Link to New”, and Hook will:

  1. create a new note of the selected type,
  2. name the note,
  3. store it on disk, and
  4. link the new note to the current resource.

We are non-sectarian. We have a very expansive concept of a “note”. We’ll support any app that has the right scripting interface. Your “note” could be an Apple note, a plain text file, an OmniGroup document, whatever. (See supported apps).

Augments Markdown

We love Markdown and have been using it for almost all of our writing since 2011. Luc Beaudoin even wrote two Leanpub books in Markdown. And because Hook is a linking app, and Markdown deals with links, Hook supports Markdown links. But, in several respects, Hook takes Markdown linking further than any other previous app.

A very simple, handy feature-set of Hook is to enable you to instantly get Markdown formatted links in any web browser. But it does not stop there! You can also get Markdown links to other resources (emails, tasks, etc.) in other apps too. And why not?! This means that when you are writing your notes, you can now robustly link to other notes on your computer (in email, Dropbox, etc.) or on the web of course.

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