Due 2.0

I started using Due when it was released about four years ago, and I’d wager that I’ve used it every day since. Today Due reminds me to take meds, to pick up and drop off the kids, to get the mail and so on. I depend on it, and it has never failed me.

Version 2.0 was recently released for iOS and it’s more beautiful and functional that before. I can’t think of another third-party app that’s been on my home screen for four years. It’s a steal at $4.99 for new users. Existing users can upgrade for free and unlock all of the new features for $2.99.

Nice update to Liquid for OS X

I’m a big fan of Liquid, a handy utility for Mac OS X. The so-called “Swiss army knife of text” is one of those tools you “get” as you use it.

The most recent update offers to shorten long tweets, lets you copy text results with a tab and adds a user-configurable timer for triggering menus. Well done.

Extend Launch Center even further (Update)

Last week I fell in love with Launch Center ($0.99) from App Cubby, an iPhone app that lets you create one-tap shortcuts for frequently performed tasks like composing an email, launching an app, updating Twitter and more. Yesterday I described how you can create “profiles” in the app, arranging tasks in a way that supports your profession or interest(s).

Today, reader Andrew Burgess pointed out that Launch Center can be used to create shortcuts to iOS system preferences, too. This saves time but also fulfills some of my wishes for Apple’s Notification Center.

Here’s how.

Launch Center opens an app via its unique URL. For example, “tweetbot://” will open Tweetbot. David at AppCubby has conveniently posted a list of app URLs.[1. David has thoroughly updated that list to include instructions on how to use URL schemes with Launch Center. Thanks, David!] That’s great, but as Andrew points out at Shaky Takes, there are also URLs for iOS system preference screens. Best of all, they work with Launch Center.

To create a Launch Center task that opens the Bluetooth system preference, for example, follow these steps:
1. Create a new app shortcut
2. Enter “Bluetooth” as the title
3. Enter “prefs:root=General&path=Bluetooth” in the URL field
4. Tap Done

Now, tapping that task brings you right to the Bluetooth preference screen. It doesn’t stop there. All of these iOS preference screens are available via URLs. Now you can have one-tap access to Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, Airplane Mode…you name it. All from within Launch Center. Here’s a list of app URLs compiled by Lifehacker Australia:

  • About – prefs:root=General&path=About
  • Accessibility – prefs:root=General&path=ACCESSIBILITY
Airplane Mode On – prefs:root=AIRPLANE_MODE
Auto-Lock – prefs:root=General&path=AUTOLOCK
  • Brightness – prefs:root=Brightness
  • Bluetooth – prefs:root=General&path=Bluetooth
  • Date & Time – prefs:root=General&path=DATE_AND_TIME
  • FaceTime – prefs:root=FACETIME
  • General – prefs:root=General
Keyboard – prefs:root=General&path=Keyboard
iCloud – prefs:root=CASTLE
iCloud Storage & Backup – prefs:root=CASTLE&path=STORAGE_AND_BACKUP
  • International – prefs:root=General&path=INTERNATIONAL
  • Location Services – prefs:root=LOCATION_SERVICES
Music – prefs:root=MUSIC
  • Music Equalizer – prefs:root=MUSIC&path=EQ
  • Music Volume Limit – prefs:root=MUSIC&path=VolumeLimit
Network – prefs:root=General&path=Network
Nike + iPod – prefs:root=NIKE_PLUS_IPOD
Notes – prefs:root=NOTES
  • Notification – prefs:root=NOTIFICATIONS_ID
Phone – prefs:root=Phone
  • Photos – prefs:root=Photos
Profile – prefs:root=General&path=ManagedConfigurationList
Reset – prefs:root=General&path=Reset
  • Safari – prefs:root=Safari
  • Siri – prefs:root=General&path=Assistant
  • Sounds – prefs:root=Sounds
  • Software Update – prefs:root=General&path=SOFTWARE_UPDATE_LINK
  • Store – prefs:root=STORE
Twitter – prefs:root=TWITTER
Usage – prefs:root=General&path=USAGE
  • VPN – prefs:root=General&path=Network/VPN
Wallpaper – prefs:root=Wallpaper
  • Wi-Fi – prefs:root=WIFI

In this way, Launch Center has delivered something Notification Center hasn’t: one-tap access to Bluetooth and Wi-Fi settings (among many others). Fantastic.

Launch Center is a 99¢ utility that keeps getting better. If you don’t own it, you’re nuts.

Update: Reader Aaron wrote with good and bad news. First the good. You can get to personal hotspot with “prefs:root=INTERNET_TETHERING.” The bad news is, “…in the current iOS beta, none on these system pref URL’s work anymore.” Drat.

Also, Dean notes that you can access the personal hotspot preference with “prefs:root=Personal_Hotspot”.

Launch Center 1.1 is a useful utility for iPhone

App Cubby’s Launch Center is one of those rare utilities that’s helpful in a very real way. It allows you to create one-tap shortcuts to common tasks and even schedule reminders for each one.

I love Launch Center so much that it lives in my iPhone’s prime location: home screen, second row, second from the right. That’s the spot my thumb reaches most easily. We all keep track of such things, right?

Here’s why it lives in the coveted spot.

Continue reading →

Using Alfred

Recently, Jason Rehmus asked me, “What does Alfred give above and beyond Spotlight?” I replied with a few highlights and promised a more comprehensive follow-up. At last, here it is.

I’ve been using Alfred for many months. On the surface it’s an app launcher, and that’s how I use it most of the time. After assigning a hotkey combination (I chose Command-Space), its main window is only a tap away. From there, start typing the name of the app you’re after and hit Return to launch it. But that’s just the beginning. Here are some of the other useful tasks Alfred performs for me (note that some require the Powerpack, which is a separate purchase).

Spell check

I use this several times per day. Here’s how it works.

  1. Launch Alfred
  2. Type “spell” and then your best guess at the target word
  3. Hit Return
  4. The correct spelling will be saved to the clipboard, ready for pasting into your document

iTunes Control

It’s nice to listen to music during the work day, but annoying to bring iTunes up front time and again. Fortunately, Alfred has a powerful iTunes controller built in. Here’s how to use it.

  1. Open Alfred’s window
  2. Type “iTunes” and select “Launch iTunes mini player”
  3. Use the arrow keys to select an option
  4. Hit Return and listen to your tunes

There are so many options here, like searching by artist, album or genre; iTunes DJ; play, pause, skip and back and so on. In fact, you probably won’t look at iTunes itself again. Nearly everything can be accomplished via the mini player.

Browsing contacts

Here’s another one I use often. To browse contact information, simply type that person’s name and hit return. Alfred presents all of that person’s info (from Address Book) in a tidy window. Copy the default email address to the clipboard by hitting Command-C.

The email option is pretty cool, too. I can type “Email John,” select his card from the list and hit Return. Mail will launch [1. Alfred also supports Sparrow, Mailplane, Postbox 2, Postbox Express and some versions of Outlook] to compose an outgoing message.

There’s so much more, like moving files, creating mail attachments, browsing the clipboard history…I could go on. The point is I find it tremendously useful and launch it on average 20.2 times per day (Alfred told me that, too).

Desktoday tidies your Mac desktop

Like many others, I like to keep my Mac’s desktop clean and tidy. Just like a physical desk, however, it accumulates clutter as I work. Some projects will be finished and others won’t. Typically, I’ve got several support files for the unfinished projects that I can’t delete. Desktoday lets me sweep them away into a dated folder with a click. It’s a simple, free app that I’m enjoying very much.

[Via Minimal Mac]