Launch iOS Actions from the Mac using Alfred and Command-C

In my first post about Command-C last week, I haven't really explored into the possibilities of sending data from Mac to iOS. After spending a few days learning AppleScript the hard (and maybe, wrong) way, I'm finally ready to share a few Alfred workflows that you can use to send data and trigger actions on your iOS apps.

The basic idea is pretty straightforward. On iOS, we store our custom URL actions in Drafts or Launch Center Pro. We need to find a similar place where we can store our custom URL actions. My choice is to go with Alfred. You are welcome to create similar approaches with other launcher Mac apps, such as Launch Bar, Quicksilver, and Keyboard Maestro.

Alfred 2 Power Pack allows users to create their own custom workflows.

Alfred 2 and its Power Pack

To install and run the actions in this post, you need to download Alfred 2, and purchase its Power Pack. You need the Power Pack to create and install custom workflows.

I have created a bundle where you can download all of the custom workflows I outline in this post. If this is the first time you install a custom Alfred workflow, simply double tap on the file in Finder, and it will automatically be added onto your copy of Alfred.

From Alfred to Drafts

By now, I'm sure you know that Command-C can send text/images from Mac to iOS. The problem with this built-in feature is the clipboard data still floats around the iOS pasteboard. What if we could put the clipboard data, assuming it's in text format, straight into Drafts instead?

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Using Launch Center Pro's [prompt-list] for Better Interaction with List Apps such as Clear, Silo, and Begin

I bet everyone has his own favorite list app. For a long time, I liked Clear and its simplicity. But when Silo came in with its x-callback-url support, I was hooked into it. I have been exploring several new list apps for the past couple of weeks, and one of the apps that I'm interested in is Begin.

Begin is the brainchild of Ben Brooks and Kyle Rosenbluth who were looking to build a simple list app that highlights Today's list and Tomorrow's list. It has a nice dark theme that suits my preferences. And, it also supports x-callback-url.

Now, all these apps have something in common. They allow you to send a comma-separated list of items via URL Scheme to be added to the list. While Clear and Silo allow you to create a new list or use an existing one, you're stuck with Today's and Tomorrow's lists in Begin.

Clear allows you to specify the list name that you're targeting in the URL. It will create a new list only when the list name is not found. Silo prompts you on which list you want the items to be added into. It will allow you to create a new list and add the items into the new list.

By default, Begin will add all items into the Today's list. But, it allows you to append (tomorrow) modifier to the end of each item that you want to send to the Tomorrow's list.

Begin has a nice dark theme and a simple approach to manage to-do lists.

Adding Multiple Items at Once

When doing a "brain dump", I'd like to write as many things as possible in Drafts, and send them in as a batch to Clear or Silo. Because both apps require the items to be sent as a comma-separated list, you need some form of preprocessing to reformat the data before sending them to Clear/Silo. Phillip Gruneich has written a Pythonista script to convert such entries into a comma-separated one. All you need to do is define the end-point according to your needs. He used Clear in his example, thus if you're using Silo or Begin, you may need to modify his script.

As a comparison, Drafts offers a nice built-in action that allows you to write each item on your list as a separate line. Then, simply trigger the List in Reminders action to convert the entire [[draft]] to entries in the default list on the built-in Reminder app. If only there's an easy way to convert such a list into a comma separated one without having to involve Pythonista nor being tied to use the built-in Reminder app.

Launch Center Pro has a prompt tag variant that allows you to convert a multi-line entry into a comma-separated list.

Launch Center Pro's [prompt-list]

Apparently, Launch Center Pro has been including a variant to its [prompt] tag that automatically converts a multi-line entry into a comma-separated list since its earlier version. Yet, I was unable to discover this feature until the release of its 2.0 version. Combined with the new [prompt:label] feature, creating new entries into list apps has become more intuitive to perform in Launch Center Pro.

Here are the Launch Center Pro's actions that you can download and install for Clear, Silo, and Begin. Have fun!

Open this link to automatically install this action on Launch Center Pro 2.0 on your iPhone.

Open this link to automatically install this action on Launch Center Pro 2.0 on your iPhone.

Open this link to automatically install this action on Launch Center Pro 2.0 on your iPhone.

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