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7 Launch Center Hacks to Save Time on Your iPhone

7 Launch Center Hacks to Save Time on Your iPhone

    Launch Center

    is a $0.99 app for iOS that allows you to create shortcuts that are kept in one handy list. You can do things like make an email, call, or SMS shortcut to someone that you contact a lot, a Tweet shortcut that uses the official Twitter, or even a flashlight shortcut to turn on your iPhone’s LED. It’s pretty darn handy.

    But, what’s awesome is that you can schedule these shortcuts to show up in iOS 5’s Notification Center as well as create custom Website/App shortcuts. Here are 7 Launch Center hacks that save your time while using your iPhone.

    1. Add tasks to your inbox

      I’m an OmniFocus user but this could work with any task app on iOS, as long as they have an iOS url scheme to follow. Simply add a new “Launch Website/App” shortcut with the URL of:

      omnifocus:///add?

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      That will open up a blank task for your OF inbox.

      For other services that support task addition by sending an email to a special address you could create a new LC shortcut for email, add the special address, and then go about it that way.

      2. Launching apps

      If you are a heavy app user on you iOS device your Springboard probably isn’t cutting it for you anymore. I have even resorted to using Spotlight Search for an app if I don’t want to look for it.

      With LC you can setup a shortcut to launch an app. Most apps have a URL that is associated with them (like omnifocus:// above). You can check out AppCubby’s site for some of the URLs for different apps.

      3. Reminders and process

        So, you can launch apps with LC, huh? Pretty cool. But, what about launching an app at a certain time to remind you to use it?

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        Every day I want to make sure that I go through my RSS queue. So, with LC I can create a custom app launcher for my RSS app, Reeder (reeder://) and then tell LC to schedule it everyday at 7pm. If I want it to go multiple times I could create multiple instances of the same launcher set for different times during the day.

        So, you could set these types of reminders for all sorts of things like calling your parents, sending SMS’s to people, searching Google for something that you do everyday (like your own name, you narcissist), or anything else you are too smart to remember.

        4. Custom searches

          If there is something that you search for on a regular basis on your iPhone, then setting up a custom search within LC is the way to go. Just create a new “Launch Website/App” shortcut, name it, and add your search URL. Here are a couple of things to get your started:

          Weather in a certain place: http://bing.com/search?q=weather+in+pittsburgh+pa
          Twitter searches: http://twitter.com/#!/search/lifehack
          Any other type of Google (or even Bing) searches: http://google.com/search?q=<whatever+you+are+searching+for>

          You have to make sure that instead of using spaces in your query you use “+” symbols. Also, if you are searching for crazy characters that aren’t supported in URLs, then you have to encode them.

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          5. Launch iOS settings

          One thing that I truly miss from Android is being able to make almost anything a widget or shortcut on your home screen. We have seen some of the ways that you can setup shortcuts to get to options in iOS settings, but they require that you have some sort of internet connection and are sort of clunky to setup.

          With LC you can create a “Launch Website/App” shortcut that uses the iOS “prefs” shortcut to open up settings. Here are just a few:

          Brightness: prefs:root=Brightness
          Bluetooth: prefs:root=General&path=Bluetooth
          iCloud Storage and Backup: prefs:root=CASTLE&path=STORAGE_AND_BACKUP

          If you want a full list of the ones that you can use, check out this Stack Overflow page for more. There are a ton of them.

          6. Launch custom actions inside of apps

          If an app has a published URL scheme, you can save those URLs as shortcuts in LC. For instance, my favorite Twitter app, Tweetbot, has a pretty nice URL scheme for iOS. I setup two shortcuts:

          Twitter timeline: tweetbot:///timeline
          Tweet with Tweetbot: tweetbot:///Post

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          For this example you need to have three forward slashes as you can put an optional screenname after the second one (for people that use multiple Twitter accounts).

          If you have a favorite app and you would like to see what things you can do with their URL scheme, just Google something like “iOS URL scheme” to see what your options are.

          7. Find businesses close to you with Google Maps

          Wherever you are there usually is a Starbucks nearby. And rather than opening Maps and typing out Starbucks, you can use this shortcut to find one. Create a new LC “Launch Website/App” shortcut with the URL set to this:

          http://maps.google.com/map?CURRENTLOCATION&q=starbucks

          This will open up the mobile version of Google maps, but will at least give you any of the Starbucks that are around your location. You can also change the query to whatever you want like “mexican+food” or “bars+and+clubs”.

          Conclusion

          Launch Center is pretty awesome and is getting close to making its way to my iPhone dock. There are a couple of things that would make LC even better, like having a better repeat function, grouping of similar shortcuts and tasks, and keeping some of the shortcuts in iOS Notification Center so they can be used at any time (this may be a limitation of Notification Center, not LC).

          But, as you can see, this one little app can save you a ton of time doing things that you repeatedly do on your iOS device.

          More by this author

          CM Smith

          A technologist and writer who shares advice on personal productivity, creativity and how to use technology to get things done.

          Design Is Important: How To Fail At Blogging 7 Tools to Help Keep Track of Goals and Habits Effectively 6 Unexpected Ways Journaling Every Day Will Make Your Life Better Why Getting Things Done is the Best Productivity System For You How to Beat Procrastination: 29 Ways to Beat It Once and for All To Automate or not to Automate Your Personal Productivity System

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          Last Updated on May 14, 2019

          8 Replacements for Google Notebook

          8 Replacements for Google Notebook

          Exploring alternatives to Google Notebook? There are more than a few ‘notebooks’ available online these days, although choosing the right one will likely depend on just what you use Google Notebook for.

          1. Zoho Notebook
            If you want to stick with something as close to Google Notebook as possible, Zoho Notebook may just be your best bet. The user interface has some significant changes, but in general, Zoho Notebook has pretty similar features. There is even a Firefox plugin that allows you to highlight content and drop it into your Notebook. You can go a bit further, though, dropping in any spreadsheets or documents you have in Zoho, as well as some applications and all websites — to the point that you can control a desktop remotely if you pare it with something like Zoho Meeting.
          2. Evernote
            The features that Evernote brings to the table are pretty great. In addition to allowing you to capture parts of a website, Evernote has a desktop search tool mobil versions (iPhone and Windows Mobile). It even has an API, if you’ve got any features in mind not currently available. Evernote offers 40 MB for free accounts — if you’ll need more, the premium version is priced at $5 per month or $45 per year. Encryption, size and whether you’ll see ads seem to be the main differences between the free and premium versions.
          3. Net Notes
            If the major allure for Google Notebooks lays in the Firefox extension, Net Notes might be a good alternative. It’s a Firefox extension that allows you to save notes on websites in your bookmarks. You can toggle the Net Notes sidebar and access your notes as you browse. You can also tag websites. Net Notes works with Mozilla Weave if you need to access your notes from multiple computers.
          4. i-Lighter
            You can highlight and save information from any website while you’re browsing with i-Lighter. You can also add notes to your i-Lighted information, as well as email it or send the information to be posted to your blog or Twitter account. Your notes are saved in a notebook on your computer — but they’re also synchronized to the iLighter website. You can log in to the site from any computer.
          5. Clipmarks
            For those browsers interested in sharing what they find with others, Clipmarks provides a tool to select clips of text, images and video and share them with friends. You can easily syndicate your finds to a whole list of sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Digg. You can also easily review your past clips and use them as references through Clipmarks’ website.
          6. UberNote
            If you can think of a way to send notes to UberNote, it can handle it. You can clip material while browsing, email, IM, text message or even visit the UberNote sites to add notes to the information you have saved. You can organize your notes, tag them and even add checkboxes if you want to turn a note into some sort of task list. You can drag and drop information between notes in order to manage them.
          7. iLeonardo
            iLeonardo treats research as a social concern. You can create a notebook on iLeonardo on a particular topic, collecting information online. You can also access other people’s notebooks. It may not necessarily take the place of Google Notebook — I’m pretty sure my notes on some subjects are cryptic — but it’s a pretty cool tool. You can keep notebooks private if you like the interface but don’t want to share a particular project. iLeonardo does allow you to follow fellow notetakers and receive the information they find on a particular topic.
          8. Zotero
            Another Firefox extension, Zotero started life as a citation management tool targeted towards academic researchers. However, it offers notetaking tools, as well as a way to save files to your notebook. If you do a lot of writing in Microsoft Word or Open Office, Zotero might be the tool for you — it’s integrated with both word processing software to allow you to easily move your notes over, as well as several blogging options. Zotero’s interface is also available in more than 30 languages.

          I’ve been relying on Google Notebook as a catch-all for blog post ideas — being able to just highlight information and save it is a great tool for a blogger.

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          In replacing it, though, I’m starting to lean towards Evernote. I’ve found it handles pretty much everything I want, especially with the voice recording feature. I’m planning to keep trying things out for a while yet — I’m sticking with Google Notebook until the Firefox extension quits working — and if you have any recommendations that I missed when I put together this list, I’d love to hear them — just leave a comment!

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