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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.

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          Last Updated on February 15, 2019

          7 Tools to Help Keep Track of Goals and Habits Effectively

          7 Tools to Help Keep Track of Goals and Habits Effectively

          Now that 2011 is well underway and most people have fallen off the bandwagon when it comes to their New Year’s resolutions (myself included), it’s a good time to step back and take an honest look at our habits and the goals that we want to achieve.

          Something that I have learned over the past few years is that if you track something, be it your eating habits, exercise, writing time, work time, etc. you become aware of the reality of the situation. This is why most diet gurus tell you to track what you eat for a week so you have an awareness of the of how you really eat before you start your diet and exercise regimen.

          Tracking daily habits and progress towards goals is another way to see reality and create a way for you clearly review what you have accomplished over a set period of time. Tracking helps motivate you too; if I can make a change in my life and do it once a day for a period of time it makes me more apt to keep doing it.

          So, if you have some goals and habits in mind that need tracked, all you need is a tracking tool. Today we’ll look at 7 different tools to help you keep track of your habits and goals.

          Joe’s Goals

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            Joe’s Goals is a web-based tool that allows users to track their habits and goals in an easy to use interface. Users can add as many goals/habits as they want and also check multiple times per day for those “extra productive days”. Something that is unique about Joe’s Goals is the way that you can keep track of negative habits such as eating out, smoking, etc. This can help you visualize the good things that you are doing as well as the negative things that you are doing in your life.

            Joe’s Goals is free with a subscription version giving you no ads and the “latest version” for $12 a year.

            Daytum

              Daytum

              is an in depth way of counting things that you do during the day and then presenting them to you in many different reports and groups. With Daytum you can add several different items to different custom categories such as work, school, home, etc. to keep track of your habits in each focus area of your life.

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              Daytum is extremely in depth and there are a ton of settings for users to tweak. There is a free version that is pretty standard, but if you want more features and unlimited items and categories you’ll need Daytum Plus which is $4 a month.

              Excel or Numbers

                If you are the spreadsheet number cruncher type and the thought of using someone else’s idea of how you should track your habits turns you off, then creating your own Excel/Numbers/Google spreadsheet is the way to go. Not only do you have pretty much limitless ways to view, enter, and manipulate your goal and habit data, but you have complete control over your stuff and can make it private.

                What’s nice about spreadsheets is you can create reports and can customize your views in any way you see fit. Also, by using Dropbox, you can keep your tracker sheets anywhere you have a connection.

                Evernote

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                  I must admit, I am an Evernote junky, mostly because this tool is so ubiquitous. There are several ways you can implement habit/goal tracking with Evernote. You won’t be able to get nifty reports and graphs and such, but you will be able to access your goal tracking anywhere your are, be it iPhone, Android, Mac, PC, or web. With Evernote you pretty much have no excuse for not entering your daily habit and goal information as it is available anywhere.

                  Evernote is free with a premium version available.

                  Access or Bento

                    If you like the idea of creating your own tracker via Excel or Numbers, you may be compelled to get even more creative with database tools like Access for Windows or Bento for Mac. These tools allow you to set up relational databases and even give you the option of setting up custom interfaces to interact with your data. Access is pretty powerful for personal database applications, and using it with other MS products, you can come up with some pretty awesome, in depth analysis and tracking of your habits and goals.

                    Bento is extremely powerful and user friendly. Also with Bento you can get the iPhone and iPad app to keep your data anywhere you go.

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                    You can check out Access and the Office Suite here and Bento here.

                    Analog Bonus: Pen and Paper

                    All these digital tools are pretty nifty and have all sorts of bells and whistles, but there are some people out there that still swear by a notebook and pen. Just like using spreadsheets or personal databases, pen and paper gives you ultimate freedom and control when it comes to your set up. It also doesn’t lock you into anyone else’s idea of just how you should track your habits.

                    Conclusion

                    I can’t necessarily recommend which tool is the best for tracking your personal habits and goals, as all of them have their quirks. What I can do however (yes, it’s a bit of a cop-out) is tell you that the tool to use is whatever works best for you. I personally keep track of my daily habits and personal goals with a combo Evernote for input and then a Google spreadsheet for long-term tracking.

                    What this all comes down to is not how or what tool you use, but finding what you are comfortable with and then getting busy with creating lasting habits and accomplishing short- and long-term goals.

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