As I've mentioned in previous posts I've really been trying adopt a paperless lifestyle. My Fujitsu Scansnap scanner and software like Hazel are sure making that easier.

I feel I've become very efficient at dealing with the paper that comes into my house, and whenever I get an email receipt I print to PDF and file it away. 

Many of my financial institutions have asked my if I want to be paperless. I've always said yes and, when I select that option, the stop sending me paper statements. I feel good about saving the trees, but there is a downfall: I don't have copies of these statements for myself. Sure, they're available online, but I've found I'm too lazy to undergo this process:

  1. Go to my bank's Web site
  2. Type in my username and password
  3. Navigate to the "documents" page
  4. Download the statement
  5. Repeat steps 1-4 for every IRA, student loan, college savings plan, mortgage, and car loan

In the end, just the process of logging in to all these sites was a chore, and I was finding myself wishing they just came in the mail so I could stick them in the scanner and be done with it.

I wanted to find some way to automate this process, at least simplify the whole ordeal of logging into 6-7 websites. I thought this might be a good job for Keyboard Maestro

keyboard maestro icon

Keyboard Maestro is something I'd been aware of for quite a while, but I never had a good understanding of what it actually did. In my limited understanding it was a way to create keyboard shortcuts. While I like keyboard shortcuts, I have a really tough time remembering most of them and the idea of adding more didn't sound very appealing. 

What I didn't understand is that Keyboard Maestro is a tool to create macros. Typing, clicking, opening programs and files, appending text, etc etc. You can string together multiple combinations of these things makes it a very powerful tool to automate repetitive tasks.

1Password logo

Of course, it wouldn't be a good idea to display all of my passwords to my financial institutions in a program like Keyboard Maestro, so I thought it would be helpful to add 1Password to the recipe. I've mentioned 1Password before, but, if you're not familiar with it, this is a great utility for managing your passwords. It allows you to use secure passwords (such as yas^hjr$@ds7) and access them with a master password. 

Alfred icon

The last ingredient is Alfred. Alfred is a program launcher and so much more. I feel an app like this, or something comparable (like Launchbar or Quicksilver), is indispensable. 

The cool thing is, Alfred and 1Password work very well together. If you're logged into 1Password you can do things like this:

  1. Click the keyboard shortcut to open Alfred - in my case, command-space
  2. Start typing the name of a website, eg) wellsfargo
  3. Select the search result for 1Password: Wells Fargo - the one you want is usually the first result and you simply have to hit enter to select it.
  4. Sit back while Alfred and 1Password open your browser window, navigate to the website, enter your username and password, and log into the site.

So, putting these things together, I created a Keyboard Maestro workflow that looks like this:

To initiate it, I first make sure I'm logged into 1Password and then I like to open a clean browser window. Then I press the trigger hot key I assigned to this macro, control-option-command-B (B is for bank).

Keyboard Maestro starts with the first step, which is typing the control-space keys. This is my keyboard trigger to open up Alfred. On step two the text "wellsfargo" is pasted into Alfred. It is assumed that the top result will be the 1Password "open up and log into wellsfargo.com" action, so the macro will press the enter key to select it. Then, as described above, 1Password will log me into the wellsfargo.com. 

This may seem like a lot of work to log into a website, but the fact that it scales well becomes very helpful. By simply copy-and-pasting these four steps 6-7 times I can change the text in step two to all of my other financial institutions: "wells fargo dealership services", "prudential.com", "ING Direct", "student loan servicing center", etc., etc,.

I created a little pause in step 4 to give give Alfred / 1Password time to log in. The macro doesn't wait for a page to load before moving on to the next step, so I wanted to make sure it had time to load the site, enter login credentials, and hit "submit" before proceeding.

So, now I set up a monthly reminder to download my bank statements. When it pops up, I log into 1Password and hit my keyboard trigger, then sit back and watch while I'm logged into six or seven websites. When It's done I click each tab, manually download my statement, and let hazel sort them into their appropriate folders by kind and date.

Is it perfect? No, sometimes a page doesn't load fast enough and I don't get logged in. However, in this case, all I need to do is click the 1Password extension in my browser and it logs me in.

Could this be better? Maybe. I originally created a much more involved macro that was customized for each site. It would search the page for the text, right-click it, choose "save as", navigate the finder to the appropriate folder, etc. It required a lot of precision and it also required the sites to not change their layouts. It was kind of like tumbling dominoes: Everything had to be perfect, and if one thing went wrong everything from that point onward wouldn't work. 

Some might still argue that this is too much work for what you get out of it. However, it's keeping me from putting off the task of downloading bank statements like it used to. Plus, it's nerdy, which is always a good thing.

Posted
AuthorTodd Zarwell