Automating Task and Meeting Creation with Drafts and Fantastical for iPad

Fantastical and Drafts

After reviewing Fantastical for iPad, I’ve decided to have a go of making it my control center for all tasks and meetings. I don’t like creating tasks by tapping on various fields and categories, so Fantastical’s natural language parsing really is the ultimate solution for me. There’s nothing wrong with Fantastical’s UI for this purpose, but I prefer to use Drafts for creating all of my tasks, simply because it loads so quickly. It took me a little while to understand URL schemes, but this iOS automation guide from @The_Axx and the Fantastical FAQ really helped me out.

Setting this sequence up requires setting up two “URL Actions” in Drafts. You can find this menu by entering Drafts -> Settings -> URL Actions and creating the following actions:

Meeting - fantastical2://parse?sentence=[[title]]&notes=[[body]]

Task - fantastical2://parse?sentence=[[title]]&notes=[[body]]&reminder=1

The process starts like this: I load up Drafts, type in one line of text that describes the meeting/task and due date, and an optional second line of text for a note. If you look at the URL schemes above, the [[title]] tags correspond to a ?sentence value in Fantastical, and the [[body]] tag corresponds to the %notes field in Fantastical.

The only difference in each of these URL schemes is that the %reminder=1 line added to the Task action. This forces Fantastical to create a task, without my having to specify with keywords like “Remind” or “task”.

These URL schemes are set up in Drafts as actions, so that I can type in names, dates, and details, and tap on one button to send the meeting or task to Fantastical. I could go even further by adding add=1 to the end of each URL scheme, which would instruct Fantastical to auto-create the meeting or task (eliminating even the need to press the ”Add” button within Fantastical).

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iPad Tips: Using Smart Mailboxes on iOS 7

iOS smart mailboxes

One of the killer additions to the Mail app in iOS 7 are Smart Mailboxes, which help organize all sent messages, messages with attachments, and more. The VIP mailbox is displayed by default, but you’ll want to tap on the Edit button on the top-right corner of the Mail app to reveal the other Smart Mailboxes.

What Do They Do?

If you’re familiar with the unified inbox (the inbox that shows mail from all of your inboxes), then you’re already familiar with what a Smart Mailbox can do. Standard mail folders tend to act like physical folders do: mail that you put into a standard folder isn’t available in any other folder. So if I put Patrick’s email with the lyrics of “O, Canada” into my “Patrick” folder, I won’t find it anywhere else.

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How to Turn On & Use the Safari Favorites Bar on the iPad

iPad Safari Favorites

Safari has been a leading mobile browser ever since the first iPhone hit the streets in 2007. It brought us the internet on a mobile device with no compromises and a striking set of new features to enjoy the mobile web with.

On the iPad’s bigger screen Safari is an even more compelling experience. It’s clearly one of the most used apps on the iPad and has lead to the iPad dominating among tablets in web browsing share. One of the cool features of Safari that’s not turned on by default is the Favorites Bar – a handy area for one-tap access to your favorite websites, just below the top address bar.

Here’s how to enable and use the Favorites Bar on the iPad:

– Open the Settings app and scroll down the left sidebar and tap on Safari.

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How To: Use Private Browsing on the iPad

Normal Borowsing

Private browsing is a very useful feature for the Safari browser app on the iPad and iOS. In private browsing mode your browsing history is not recorded. So, for example, if you’re secretly browsing around for a perfect birthday gift for your partner (who shares your iPad) and you don’t want them to see your searches you can just switch to private browsing to cover your tracks.

And it’s very easy to turn on private browsing and then swap back to normal browsing whenever you want.

Here’s how:

– Open the Safari browser app

– Tap the + button near the top right of the screen, just to the right of the cloud icon.

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Parent’s Guide: Make your iPad Kid safe

IMG_0676

I love the iPad. Especially when I can palm it off to my daughter at 7am on a Saturday morning to catch a few more moments of shut eye before I have to face the day. However, in the back of my sleep fuddled mind, I’m worrying. What if she stumbles upon a scene from RoboCop (the original) on YouTube? What if she finds Infinity Blade? What if she downloads ‘Lady Chatterly’s Lover’ on iBooks (the horror!).

As anyone will know, unfiltered, unrestricted access to the internet and other features of the iPad is not a good idea for children of a variety of ages. Thankfully, the iPad makes it easy for us, as parents to take the lead in securing the device, whilst still keeping it functional for our children. There is also no need to tinker around under the hood of your router. [click to continue reading…]

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iPad Tips: iOS 7 Gesture Guide

Let’s be honest, sometimes it can look a bit weird to the uninitiated outsider when they see you magically waving your fingers in different ways all over your shiny iPad (things look even weirder if you start talking to it via Siri too). However, from a user’s point of view, gestures on the iPad can [...]

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A Quicker Way To Close All Tabs in iOS Safari

  Ever find yourself with too many tabs open in Safari on your iPad or another iOS device? They do seem to accumulate pretty quickly for me over the course of a couple days of browsing. Well, here’s a very handy reader’s tip for closing all open tabs more quickly, without even leaving the Safari [...]

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