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How To Personalize Your iPhone From The Inside Out

How To Personalize Your iPhone From The Inside Out

I’ve been an iPhone user since I was able to get my hands on one, which wasn’t easy as a Canadian. I had to go to eBay and grab an iPhone second-hand. Then I had to jailbreak it. In essence, I made my first ever iPhone as personalized as possible … because I had no other choice!

Now that iPhones are widely available, I have plenty of choices. And those choices aren’t just related to apps or carriers. There are many ways you can personalize your iPhone from the inside outand that’s how you can make the device a real pleasure for you to use every single day.

The Right Case

One thing you can do that requires virtually no knowledge of the iPhone’s innards is to get a case that says “you” and wrap it in that. To be honest, I’ve got one case that does that for me, and it doesn’t really seem like a case at all, which is actually one of the reasons I like it so much.

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It’s made by WoodChuck, a company that makes far more than iPhone cases (and they do custom work). I have a Green Lantern case (pictured) for both my iPad and iPhone, and being able to look at the GL logo every day really resonates with me, and the case is top quality.

WoodChuck represents American-made products in an industry over-populated by overseas manufacturing. Their products are 100% sustainable and customizable, so beyond being incredibly personal, they’ve got a great company culture to match: these things are important to me. See if you can find a case that resonates that well with you.

Device-Specific Uses

I’ve got a myriad of devices, and I want to make sure I use each of them with intent. One of the ways that I’ve chosen to make my iPhone as personalized as possible is by using it for certain things and not using it for others.

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For example, I don’t read on my iPhone. I don’t have any RSS reader applications installed on it, and I don’t have iBooks installed on it. That’s what my iPad is for. By removing the reading applications from my iPhone, I’ve freed up one particular area that I know it is not intended for. And that can really help me in terms of being more efficient and effective in my use of the ones that it is for.

So, take a look at what you have installed on your iPhone and decide if it’s really what needs to be on there. You may find there are some applications that you’re just not using because the device just isn’t designed for that purposeat least not in the way that you use it.

Launching Apps

Having a bunch of apps installed all over the place is one thing, but having an app that allows you to quickly access the apps you use most often (and keep your screens as clutter-free as possible in the process) is another. That’s when apps like Drafts and Launch Center Pro come into play.

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I use Drafts as my ultimate inbox. Everything that I input into my iPhone goes through Drafts, be it tasks, tweets, or ideas for posts like this one. Then from within Drafts I can decide where those things should actually be. Tasks go to OmniFocus or Asana, tweets go to Tweetbot, and ideas for posts either go straight to Byword or sit in Evernote. But I always know where the starting point is: Drafts.

I’ve also personalized all of the destinations within that app. I use Launch Center Pro in many cases when I know where things are going to go immediately. I use a setup very similar to Michael Schechter’sa setup that works very well for me. Using Launch Center Pro allows me to make choices with my iPhone that are designed and maintained by me. And using these apps also allow me to keep my screens and folders in far better shape, which is the shape I like to keep things in.

Screens and Folders

Any of you who have read about the iPhone since it came out have probably seen articles that show off users’ home screens. With the arrival of iOS 7, you can now put more apps in folders, finally bury Newsstand inside of a folder, and really decide how you want to map out your iPhone so that it works more cohesively for you. I’ve gone as far as to keep the bottom row on my home screen “app free” because of the amount of real estate I’ve got to work with now.

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When it comes to screens and folders, the possibilities are endless. And that means personalization is just as endless. We can’t do much about changes to operating systems or updates to our favourite apps. But now, more than ever, we are able to make our iPhones uniquely ours. And we can do that from the inside out.

So what have you done—or are going to do—to make your iPhone as personalized as possible? Let me know in the comments below.

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Mike Vardy

A productivity specialist who shows you how to define your day, funnel your focus, and make every moment matter.

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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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