Sync Google Contacts on Mac OS X with Two Factor Authentication

So you want to synchronize your Google contacts with the contacts in Mac OS X, but you have done the smart thing and enabled two factor authentication for your Google account. Not a problem, here’s how to do it.

Open up and go to Contacts > Preferences… (⌘-,) and go to Accounts, there you will see “On My Mac” as an account option.


Click the “Configure…” button, and you will be prompted for your Google account and password. This is where the two factor authentication trick comes into play.

Visit the Google two factor authentication settings page and scroll down to Application-specific passwords. There you will need to supply a meaningful name to your new key (e.g. “Mac OS X Contacts Sync”) and click Generate password. This will create a random string of characters that you will then copy and paste as your password into the preferences screen.

Once you fill that in, proceed with the prompt on the preferences screen. You should see a symbol in your task bar now which only the option “Sync now”. This will pull all your contacts from your Google account, and you’re set, securely!

Make Desktop Background from Screensaver Defaults in Mac OS X

There are photos in the Mac OS X screensaver that are nicer than those in the default desktop background choices. Naturally, one might want those nice National Geographic photos as their desktop background, and it’s pretty simple to get at them.

Open up the Terminal, and type in the following:

Then just navigate to Change Desktop Background… and add the Wallpapers folder in your Pictures directory.

Change desktop background screenshot

Manage your todo list on any device with todo.txt

While there are many options for managing your life with software, there exist few solutions that are truly portable and future proof. For years, I have found that Gina Trapani’s shell script and accompanying Android or iOS apps comfortably fit into a light weight task management system.

You can configure on your system following the online installation guide.

However, if you want to setup your system so that you can sync it to your phone through the Android or iOS app, you will first need to configure Dropbox on your system.

Once you have configured Dropbox on your system, you should have a folder that will remain continuously synced via the Dropbox daemon (default Dropbox folder location is ~/Dropbox). It is in this directory that you will need to configure a few things to get everything synced up properly.

There are several clever ways that you can configure this, but I will cover here how I have chosen to do this.


Because I like to keep track of much of my code on GitHub, I first forked the todo.txt-cli repository and cloned it to my local machine, but we will use the example of cloning from the project repository.

Once we have the repository cloned, we need to link the to wherever we like to keep our scripts.

One note here, you can chose to shorten the call to to simply t rather than the entire todo to make accessing the CLI easier with less typing.

Configuring a syncing todo.txt directory

Next, we need to create a directory for our todo lists! I chose to create a hidden directory within my home directory, however you may chose wherever you wish.

It is important to note, however, that the todo directory needs to exist first in your Dropbox folder, so we will create this one first.

We can then sym-link our configured todo.txt location to the Dropbox location.

Finally, we need to point our configuration to the correct place. To do this, you need to open your ~/.todo/todo.cfg file (which is now linked to ~/.todo_src/todo.cfg) in your favorite text editor and locate and modify the following line to point to ~/.todo:

Should be changed to something like:

Additionally, you should comment out any other definitions of the TODO_DIR environment variable.

Once this has been configured, so long as your Dropbox daemon is running, you should see that you have files populated on your Dropbox/todo directory online once you begin to use your new configuration.

Once this is complete, you can install and configure the todo.txt applications for your mobile device and point the application to the todo folder within your Dropbox. Once this is done, you should see your todo list pop into your mobile application!

You can find additional help at the todo.txt website, best of luck.