Daily tip: Mail photos to groups easily with Launch Center Pro

I picked up Launch Center Pro 1.1 this week (here’s my full review of Launch Center 1.0 at TUAW), and it’s a nice improvement over the original version. One feature I really like is the ability to mail a photo to a pre-defined group of recipients with a tap, all from within the app. This is so much easier than adding recipient addresses one after the other in Mail. To set it up, tap the pencil icon in the upper right-hand corner, tap a “+”, select Action and then follow these steps:

  1. The Action Composer appears. Tap System Actions.
  2. Tap In-App Email.
  3. Tap Email With Last Photo Taken.

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The Options screen appears. There are a few variables here we’ll fill in. Note that there are several options for each, including a contact, a prompt for input or whatever is on your clipboard. Here’s how I’ve set it up.

  • Name. Pick something descriptive. I’m using “Last Pic to Family.”
  • Recipients. This is the good part. Add as many as you like. Mine sends an email to my mother, father, sisters and their husbands and various aunts and uncles.
  • Subject. I added “Check out this picture” so I don’t have to type a subject every time.
  • Body. I’ve left this blank, but again you can add what you like.

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Now it gets great. Take a photo with the iPhone’s Camera then open Launch Center Pro and tap your new action. It composes an email with your list of recipients in the “To” field, subject intact and photo attached. Tap Send and it’s gone. It’s so much faster than adding addresses by hand. Have fun!

This post is part is one of 31 tech tips I published in March, 2013You’ll find the rest here.

Capture, process and automate with Drafts and Launch Center Pro

Drafts for iPhone and iPad is one of my favorite utilities. I love that it manages two sides of GTD – capture and processing – so well. Many solutions do one or the other. Drafts handles both on the one device.

Capture

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To capture a thought or piece of information with Drafts, just tap it and start typing. There’s no new document to create, to tags or categories to fiddle with, nothing. It’s as easy as opening a notebook and grabbing a pen. I use it to collect tidbits all day. It’s very easy but the real power is in the processing.

Process

When you’re processing an inbox, you must decide what each item is, what must be done (if anything) and then move that information into your system. When I’m processing a stack of index cards on my desk, I’ve got to have apps like OmniFocus and Evernote open on my computer. Drafts lets me send actions and reference material directly to those apps with a tap.

Automation options

Federico Viticci at MacStories recently wrote a great article about iOS workflow automation with Drafts. You should read it. In it, he mentions how powerful the combination of x-callback-urls, Drafts and Launch Center Pro can be. Briefly, you can create an action in Launch Center Pro that passes text to Drafts, which triggers an action of its own and then sends you right back to Launch Center Pro. It’s very convenient and super fast.

From Drafts to digital notebook in a snap

I wanted to use this idea to move notes from Drafts to nvALT, which is my digital notebook. I name notes in nvALT according to a convention described by Michael Schechter, who borrowed heavily from Merlin Mann. It makes things very easy to find. Fortunately, I’m now using Launch Center Pro and Drafts to create a note in Simplenote (and, as a result, nVALT on my Macs) that uses the naming convention with a bare minimum of effort. Here’s how.

Set up Drafts

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First, create a URL action in Drafts that will pass the note to Simplenote. Mine looks like this:

simplenote://new?tag=Drafts&content=[[draft]][[time_short]]

The “[[draft]]” pulls the content of the note and the “[[time_short]]” appends the current date and time to the end of the title. Once that’s done, it’s time for Launch Center Pro.

Set up Launch Center Pro

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In Launch Center Pro, we’ll create an action to pass text to Drafts and then jump right back. To begin, follow these steps:

  1. Tap the edit button (It looks like a pen) in the upper right-hand corner.
  2. Tap a blank square to create a new action.
  3. A slip appears. Selection Action.
  4. The action edit screen appears. Enter a descriptive name (I chose Drafts>Simplenote).
  5. Add the URL. Here’s what mine looks like:

drafts://x-callback-url/create?text=[prompt]&action=Simplenote&x-success=launchpro%3A

  1. Tap done.

This action will pop up a compose field (below), pass the text to Drafts which then triggers the Simplenote action we created earlier and finally, comes back to Launch Center Pro. The whole thing takes 2–3 seconds. Plus, I’ve got Simplenote set up to sync with nvALT on my Macs. The new note appears with my naming convention intact.

readyforinput

This has saved me a lot of time and I hope you like it, too. There’s much that can be down here, so start playing with Drafts and Launch Center Pro. Thanks to Federico and Mike for the inspiration.

Thanks for reading. You’ll find more tech-y “how-to’s” here.