Best new app in ages: Workflow for iOS

I’ve been holed away in an apartment in Paris, as you do, with only barebones internet connection and a lot of gorgeous city to look around. It was meant to be a working break and some work was done but, between us, it worked more as a break. A stillness, a bubble. And I thought I’d be recommending that to you.

I may yet.

But the last thing I downloaded as the Eurostar train went under the Channel was the newly released Workflow for iPhone and iPad.

Wait. This is more relevant than you’re thinking. If I hadn’t gone off for these days, I would’ve downloaded Workflow and I would’ve fully reviewed it but there’s a difference between fully and fully. The fully reviewed review I would’ve written you would doubtlessly have been praising and it would’ve begun:

Workflow lets you automate various things your iPad software can do. So things that take you several steps and need several of the regular iPad apps can be turned into one.

This is true. I’d have sounded enthused too, because I am, but I think you’d have got that more from the tone than from anything specific. Automate. Great. I’d have given you an example, too, but while I got the concept and I’ve been looking forward to this app, I wouldn’t have done you a great example. I couldn’t have done you a great example because I couldn’t think of one.

But being away, having the time to play, I’ve got one. Full disclosure: it may not seem that great to you. But, grief, it’s great for me and this is what’s so good about Workflow: it lets you create tools that are great for you.

Previously on this… In one of my freelance jobs it helps me to keep an eye on various news outlets and when I see something that could be useful, I save it to Evernote. Now, I’ve got an Evernote notebook for it and I could copy the text from an article and paste it there. I’ve done that. I can also email the article from the web straight into Evernote. I do that a lot. What I don’t do is remember how.

I can remember how to email into Evernote, that’s fine. But saying which notebook gives me pause because I can never remember its name. And I’d like to add tags, things to help me find articles later, but I can never remember how to do that.

And now I don’t have to.

With Workflow, when I spot an article online that I want to save, I tap Safari’s Share button. There’s a Run Workflow button that appears. Tap that and I get all my Workflows. Pick one I’ve called Research and, wallop.

Workflow takes the article, the web address, pops it into an email, does the trickery to say what notebook and what tags there are, and it’s gone. Sent. Saved.

It doesn’t actually save me a lot of time but it saves me enough that I do it more often. And that’s the thing about automation; it makes things easier as well as quicker.

Workflow is on sale at £1.99 but the price goes up soon. Get it on the App Store.

Search Twitter by number of retweets

This is a clever idea: if you want to find something on twitter, it stands to reason that the best information is the one that has been retweeted the most:

Go to the Twitter search box, type any search term and append the operator min_retweets:[number] or min_faves:[number] to filter your search results. For instance, here’s a sample search that will only shows tweets pointing to the domain that have been favorited or retweeted at least 5 times. min_retweets:5 OR min_faves:5

If you are brand manager trying to find out the most viral tweets generated for an event or a content, the min_retweets and min_faves search operators may save you several hours. You can also archive tweets to a Google Spreadsheet automatically.

A Twitter Search Trick You Didn’t Know About – Amit Agarwal, Digital Inspiration (25 July 2014)

The full article explains that you can do this most easily on Tweetdeck, the twitter client that includes a feature specifically for this, but the trick works everywhere with a bit of effort.

Hat tip to Lifehacker for spotting this.

Quickly get tasks out of your emails

This happens. Someone sends you a giant email full of personal detail, personal conversation between the pair of you, and oh, in the middle, there’s a job they need doing. Actually, it’s a job where you need to ask someone something for them.

Highlight that bit. Just that bit. Only that sentence. Now hit Forward.

Practically whatever email system you use, you will now have in front of you a brand new email message with that highlighted text and nothing else.

You didn’t have to copy and paste, your email just did it for you. Address the email, send it off, done.

If that one email has several tasks for many people, do this to each one. Highlight, forward, send. Highlight, forward, send.

If it’s a task for you and your To Do app can handle this, you could do exactly the same thing but email the task into your app. OmniFocus users get a secret email address for precisely this job. And I use the bejaysis out of it. Highlight, forward a task to OmniFocus, done.