Tag Archives: ios

Quickly Go Back to the Home Screen in OmniFocus For iOS

This is quite the hidden feature and am glad that it exists:

If you long press on the back button it takes you back to the OmniFocus home screen.

This is a game changer for me as I would often get frustrated because I would be deep into OmniFocus and have to tap the back button 4 or 5 times to get back to the home screen.

Heard on Mac Power Users #461 at 47:13

Shortcut Monday: Dictate a Daily Reflection to Day One

Shortcut Monday is a series highlighting Shortcuts that I use on a regular basis. If you haven’t downloaded the Shortcuts app yet, you can do so for free here.

Since we adopted our first child, Jax, we noticed that we talked much less about our lives with each other than we previously did. Our conversations largely focused on our son but not about what is going on emotionally such as stressors, happenings during the day, or even just what is on our mind. To this end my wife had a brilliant idea of us asking four simple questions to each other every day. These questions help let each other know how our day went but also how we are doing emotionally both positively and negatively.

While we do this everyday in conversation with each other I wanted a way to capture this in Day One on my way home. The transition from work to home can sometimes be difficult. I often will just listen to a podcast but this will not only help me prepare for our conversation but also help with this transition (download the shortcut here).

I created this specific Shortcut for these four questions but I will probably use the same logic with audio prompts and dictation for other types of entries.

The Four Questions

  1. What was your low (or worst thing) about your day? This question is fairly simple and just answers what was the worst thing about your day. Most of our days are pretty mediocre but this gives us a chance to reflect on our day and share something that happened. Sometimes this is as simple as “I went out to eat and I didn’t eat as healthy as I would have like” or sometimes more complex such as recounting a conversation with a co-worker that was difficult during the day. This also gives each of us the chance to expand on what happened during the day and we will often engage in a lengthier conversation about what went on.
  2. What was your high (or best thing) about your day? This is the same question but on the positive side.
  3. What has you feeling negative right at this moment? This question is similar to the one above but the focus isn’t on something that necessarily happened today. The goal of this question is to look at the stressors in our life that may be weighing us down. It’s a time to pause and focus about what is going on inside emotionally and to verbalize that to one another. This could be the upcoming stress of trying to get everything ready to go in order to leave for Christmas, to a project at work that is hanging over our head, our son’s schedule, or a whole host of other things going on.
  4. What has you feeling positive right at this moment? The same question as above but we want to end on a positive note.

The Workflow (download)

You will need to first download the audio files here then upload them to iCloud Drive and create a folder within the Shortcuts folder titled Daily Reflections (iCloud Drive/Shortcuts/Daily Reflections)

First, I get the current volume of the phone and store that in a variable. I want to set my volume to the max so I can clearly hear the prompts but afterwards I would like my phone to go back to the previous volume.

Beginner Tip: The “Get Device Details” can grab all sorts of information from your phone from the volume, brightness, version number, etc. This can be handy in a variety of situations.

Grab the current volume then set the phone volume to the max
Grab the current volume then set the phone volume to the max

Next, I wanted to be able to do this while I’m driving so I need this to be completely hands free. I created four audio files of me saying each question. This gives me the prompt and then a slight pause so I can begin to formulate what I would like to say. The dictation box then comes up and I can just speak my answer. After I pause for a second it moves onto the next prompt. This same action will run four times but with a different audio prompt.

Beginner Tip: The “Get File” action grabs the audio from iCloud Drive. The “Play Sound” action takes that audio and plays it through my phone. When you are working with Shortcuts you have to think like a programmer. Thus, you can just use “Play Sound” because the app doesn’t know what sound you want to play. You have to provide it with some sort of audio file first.

Grab the previously recorded file and play the sound
Grab the previously recorded file and play the sound

Before going to the Day One action I want to reset my phone’s volume so I use the “Set Volume” action and using a “Magic Variable” I grab the device details from the first step in the workflow and use that for the new volume.

The nice thing about the Shortcuts app is that I don’t have to store each of these dictated texts into a variable for later. By using “Magic Variables” I can grab each of these dictations in the Day One action.

Since Day One can use Markdown I use the # sign to do my header then type in the prompts in bold via the asterisks. Each “Dictated Text” variable is just obtained from the workflow.

The final step
The final step

Next, the workflow will open up in Day One. When I’m driving I have my phone in a holder on the windshield which can read my face without really moving it in order to get into Day One so it can save it.

That’s it. You can download the workflow here and of course feel free to modify it however you would like.

Don’t forget that you can also setup your own Siri command to run this Shortcut. The default is set to “Daily Reflection”

The entire shortcut
The entire shortcut

New User Guides for Drafts and Evernote

One of the best ways to get content into Evernote is through an excellent little app called Drafts. I’ve written about Drafts and Evernote before in my Evernote for Academics series. Granted, with the advent of iOS 8 you can now use the Evernote widget to start a document but if your just inputting text then Drafts is still better (as in cleaner, easier to use, faster, more options, etc.)

Brett Kelly, who wrote the excellent Evernote Essentials[1] ebook has written some helpful guides to using Drafts and Evernote.

If you are looking for some other helpful ways of getting content into Evernote check out my third post in the Evernote for Academics series.


  1. Seriously, if you’re looking for a comprehensive primer for getting started with Evernote then look no further.  ↩

iOS Workflow: Quickly Search BDAG Entries in Logos using Drafts

Description:

Quickly type the lexical value in Drafts to search BDAG in the Logos Bible Software iOS app (video demo)

Apps Needed:

Drafts – $9.99 (Universal)
Logos Bible Software – Free (must have BDAG)

Workflow

  1. Open Drafts
  2. Switch to Greek keyboard on iOS
  3. Type lexical value (no need for accents)
  4. Click the BDAG action button
  5. Will automatically open the Logos app to the lexical entry in BDAG. Note: I find it works best if you download the BDAG resource to your iPad/iPhone

Download the workflow here

Evernote for Academic: Day 03 – Getting Your Stuff Into Evernote

Well you have made it to the third post in the Evernote for Academics series. Previously I gave an introduction to the series and then covered some methods of using tags and notebooks in Evernote along with some other tips. Today we are going to examine one of the beauties of the Evernote system: getting your stuff into Evernote. The app itself has many awesome ways of getting your documents and notes into Evernote such as the app itself, web clippings, screenshots, email, and more. Coupled with the hundreds of apps that allow you to send information to Evernote there is really no excuse for you not to store all your information in Evernote.

For the purpose of this post I am just going to introduce some of the default methods that Evernote provides to import your files and notes into Evernote.

Evernote App

The default method of getting your notes and files into Evernote is the app itself. From here you can create a new note and start typing in your information and you are good to go. One additional useful feature is the ability to drag and drop files into Evernote. Each file uses the name of the file for the title of the note itself. See video below for a quick demonstration of dragging one or multiple files into Evernote.

Evernote also provides a menu bar app for quickly adding notes, taking screenshots, and capturing audio without actually opening the app. You can activate this by either clicking the icon or with a keyboard shortcut. This is particularly useful when you want to capture something quickly without actually opening the app. This frees you from distraction if you are working on another project not in Evernote. It is also handy to create a quick audio file for later.

See video below for a quick demonstration of dragging one or multiple files into Evernote and using the desktop clipper.

Evernote Options

Evernote Web Clipper

This is one of the most handy functions of Evernote. You can take any webpage and import it into Evernote to read and research later. The web clipper works in all the major browsers. Click here to download the Web Clipper. I find this particularly useful for biblioblogs. I save many articles that I may find useful later in research. Often times blogs and other websites can help spark ideas for research or serve as a launching pad for further research. By having these articles in my Evernote database I can easily search them later.

Email to Evernote

Evernote provides each user with a unique email that allows you to send an email to create a new note. I use this especially for emails that I want to save or search for later. Evernote’s search functions are often times much better than email clients such as Apple Mail. When I receive an important email I just forward the email to Evernote. For more tips on using this function and for creating a memorable email address see this post.

Evernote Mobile Apps

I will cover using Evernote mobile more in depth in a later post but having a mobile device with Evernote is often the most convinient way to get your information into Evernote on the go.

See here for more information and availability for Evernote on mobile devices.

Evernote also recently bought a note taking app called Penultimate. This is a notetaking app that works well when combined with a stylus on the iPad. I personally have not looked into this yet but here is a review of using the app with a specific stylus.

Skitch

Skitch is a seperate app by Evernote. This allows you to take screenshots, annotate them quickly, and upload to Evernote. See this video that I created for a tip on using Skitch in research.

Print to Evernote

On the Mac you can use the print dialog screen to send a file directly to Evernote. It appears to me that the Mac App Store version of Evernote and the direct download from their site is slightly different. This is the result of some of Apple’s limitations it puts on developers in order to create a completely safe environment for downloading programs. Unfortunately, many times this does not allow handy features such as “Print to Evernote.”

If you download Evernote directly from their website you will have the “Print to Evernote” feature. This will allow you to send any printable file to Evernote in the form of a searchable PDF.

Third Party Apps

There are numerous third party apps that integrate with Evernote. Integration ranges from just creating a new note to being able to specify notebooks, note titles, tags, and more. Below are some of my most used third party apps.

Byword

Byword is a fantastic distraction free text editor. I prefer to write most of my documents in Markdown. At its core it is very simplified HTML. Now that might sound scary but it is really easy to get the hang of. I find it easier and quicker to write in than using an app like Microsoft Word. With apps like Byword it includes simple keyboard shortcuts for most of your formatting.

After writing your document Byword has a export option that allows you to format and send your document to Evernote.

Popclip

PopClip is a neat little app that brings up options with you highlight text with your mouse. One of their features allows you to highlight any text and send it directly to Evernote.

Drafts (iOS)

Drafts is a great little app for your iOS device. It basically allows you to start writing anything and send to a variety of apps and services. For example, let’s say that I am going to send an email to a friend. I open up the email app and begin my message but before I am finished I think it might be better sent as a text message. I would have to copy and paste the text, close the app, open the text messaging app, and send. With Drafts you start your text in one central location and then send it elsewhere after writing. This allows you to always start any text based input in one location. It integrates with a variety of apps such as Messages, Mail, Evernote, Dropbox, Facebook, Twitter, DayOne, and much more. Check out this LifeHacker article for a more complete overview.

See the video below on how I quickly add book, article, and audio recommendations to one running note in Evernote.

Update: In the previous video that was posted I mentioned that you need to create the note in Evernote first before prepending or appending text but this is incorrect. Drafts will automatically create a new note and then append or prepend subsequent entries. This actually makes the workflow more streamlined and less prone to error due to mislabeling the note. Thanks Greg for reaching out with that correction!

The current video below is the updated video that shows the more streamlined workflow.

Conclusion

Well, there you have it. I hope this post was helpful in giving you some ideas on how to get your stuff into Evernote.

Links to the Evernote for Academics Series

If you would like to subscribe to the blog via RSS click here. If you would rather receive updates via email click here to sign up

Follow me on Twitter – @renshaw330

Be More Productive on Logos for iOS with Launch Center Pro

One of the things I love figuring out is how to become more efficient on my iOS devices. One app that helps me do this is Launch Center Pro. It allows you to easily start in one location and perform actions in other apps quickly.

I recently figured out how to link this app with the Logos Bible Software iOS app by using x-callback-urls.

This allows me to start in Launch Center Pro and search for a Bible reference in whatever version I want (NIV, ESV, NA27, LXX, etc.). Another use for this is to look up Greek and Hebrew terms quickly in lexicons such as BDAG, LSJ, HALOT, and BDB. I can also look up dictionary articles in the IVP Dictionaries (Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels, Paul and His Letters, etc). Finally, I can quickly open up a variety of Greek and Hebrew grammars that I have installed in Logos.

I created a short screencast showing how this can be accomplished. At the end of the video I explain how you can easily install the actions onto your iOS device. Update: If you want to create your own actions and not use the pre-made actions see this post

Update: I recommended downloading the resources that you want to link to on your iOS device. I have noticed hit and miss results when a resource is being pulled from the cloud on the Logos app.

Follow a link below to watch the video

(Web)(Mobile/Tablet)

or view on YouTube

Launch Center Pro is $4.99 in the App Store and is available for the iPhone and iPad.

FYI: In order to install the actions click on “Logos” at the bottom of my page on your iOS device. From there you can click the link and it will open up Launch Center Pro to install.

New to the SBLAAR App?

The SBLAAR 2013 app is out and once again it looks to be extremely helpful again this year in planning your conference and navigating it while you are there. I thought I would highlight some of the app’s features if you are not already familiar with it.

App store screenshot

App store screenshot

Once you download and open the app you have to go through two loading screens (somewhat annoying but the app is still well worth it).

Loading screen 1

Loading screen 1

Loading screen 2

Loading screen 2

Once you are into the app you are presented with a variety of options: 

Main screen

Main screen

  • Build your schedule
  • Browse sessions by track
  • Browse speakers
  • Browse exhibitors
  • Search
  • View event maps
  • Links to the AAR and SBL websites
  • Twitter feed that shows all the #SBLAAR13 hashtags

If you are unsure what you are looking for you can browse by speakers or sessions. 

Browse by sessions

Browse by sessions

Browse by speaker

Browse by speaker

But the most helpful way to find what you are looking for is the search feature. This allows you to search the whole program in the palm of your hand. You can search by keyword, speaker, programs, and more.  

Search by speaker

Search by speaker

Search by session keyword

Search by session keyword

If you click on a particular session it will bring you with a variety of information and options.  

If you add notes to several sessions you can email them to yourself, which is helpful if there is a handful of sessions you are debating on going to. In order to email them click the more  option in the bottom right and click email notes . 

Some other handy features include maps of the convention center, twitter feed for the #SBLAAR13 hashtag, and your schedule. 

Maps of the convention center

Maps of the convention center

Twitter feed (looks like Jim was already advertising the app's release!)

Twitter feed (looks like Jim was already advertising the app’s release!)

You're personal program schedule

You’re personal program schedule

Best part of all the app is free in the iOS store!