How To: Improve the Battery Life of your iPhone

One thing that Apple has worked on a lot recently is the performance of the battery in the various models of iPhone. Battery Life, which is the amount of time that your device is running before it’s in need of a recharge, as well as Battery Lifespan, which is how long your battery lasts until it needs to be replaced, have improved greatly. 

There are, however, steps that we can take as end-users to improve both of these metrics and prolong the life of our devices. Let’s be honest, they aren’t cheap and if you aren’t worried about upgrading every single year then eeking out some extra battery life is always a good thing. 

Temperature

With the (mini) heat-wave we’ve just enjoyed in the UK, I was curious as to what happens to my phone when left in direct sunlight. Quick research pointed out that the optimum temperature for your phone is 16º-22º C (62º-72º F), although it’s still designed to perform well between 0º and 35º, so on this side of the pond, this isn’t too much of a problem. If it does go over 35º, you may find that you permanently damage your battery capacity. Also, if you charge your device at a high ambient temperature, this can damage the battery further. 

On the note of temperature, be mindful of the case that your iPhone is in. The case may act as an insulator and warm your phone up whilst charging. If you notice your phone getting excessively hot whilst charging, make a point of removing it from its case beforehand. 

Latest OS

With the majority of iOS updates, there are tweaks designed to improve battery life and reduce energy consumption. If practical, try to keep up-to-date with the latest version of iOS. This also has security benefits too. 

Brightness

Reducing the brightness of your screen can make a tremendous difference to the battery life. I have mine set to Auto Brightness and (so far) have never felt the need to increase the level manually, even in brightly lit areas. 

Wi-Fi

There are two main points to note with Wi-Fi. Firstly, if you are out and about with no plans to join a Wi-Fi network, then turn it off. If Wi-Fi is enabled then your phone will poll for new networks at regular intervals, reducing the amount of charge you have on your phone for this cycle. Switch it off until you know you need it. 

To that end, not many people know that if you have a choice between using your data connection and using Wi-Fi to access data, Wi-Fi actually uses less power, so always opt for that where possible (and secure). 

Background Activity

Do all of your apps need to be polling in the background for new information? Go to Settings -> General -> Background App Refresh and you’ll see a list of applications with toggles next to each. Turn off the ones that aren’t needed. If you’re feeling daring, turn them all off with one switch at the top of the screen. 

Location Services

Lots of applications try to enable Location Services by default, however, I’d say there is only a handful where this is truly useful. To see your applications that have this enabled, go to Settings -> Privacy -> Location Services. Turn off those that aren’t needed. 

View Battery Usage Information

If you go to Settings -> Battery, you can see a list of applications that have been in use over the last 24 hours, or 7 days, listed in order of battery consumption (highest to lowest). From here, you can see the culprits that need tweaking, although be mindful of the fact that the percentage is not an exact science, it’s just relative to the total amount of battery used. If you don’t have a battery problem, then the percentage is OK. For more information, click the clock icon to see some facts relating to exact amount of time on screen as well as background activity to ascertain whether you need to take action. 

I hope that helps. Any other advice for readers, please feel free to post in the comments

How To: Link To Separate Trello Boards with Drafts

My workflow for Task Management has taken a bit of a new direction over the last few months or so. I’m not putting everything into Omnifocus anymore. There are some things that are simply better suited to another style of application, which is why I’ve started playing with some Kanban alternatives, namely Trello and Zenkit

If I have a project that has a number of recurring steps (for example, creating a series of videos), this is much better suited to a Kanban board, with a centralised task sitting in OmniFocus telling me that today, I’m going to be working on this project. In that task is a link to the Trello/Kanban board that I’m working on. 

I’m also using these boards for capturing ideas and moving them to maturity. Which booksdo I need to buy/read/am I reading? A board system is great because I can move the book title card as I purchase/read/start reading accordingly. I can tag the books with author names to keep a record if I wish. What apps do I want to perfect? Are there new TV Programmes or films that I want to buy/watch? GamesGift Ideas - these boards really help me with projects that always follow the same template

As lots of ideas go into these boards, I need to be able to capture efficiently, so that’s why I’m going to show you how I use Drafts on iOS to process these ideas and send them to the Trello. 

1 - Get your Board ID

Each Trello board has a unique Board ID. The easiest way I have found to locate this ID is to:

  • Navigate to the Web Interface of the board
  • Click on More Settings
  • You will see a box named Link To This Board and within is a URL. The Board ID is the character string that follows http://trello.com/b/. Make a note of this Board ID. 
  • Obviously if you wish to use Drafts to post to other boards too, each will have a unique Board ID so these will need to be collected.
 
trello5.png
 

2 - Configure Drafts

For the purposes of this walkthrough, I am using Drafts 5 however the process is very similar for Drafts 4. 

  • Within Drafts, go to the list of current actions and click on the + button in the bottom right hand corner. Select Add New Action
  • On the next screen, name the action appropriately, click Steps and then + again.
  • On the Step Type screen, scroll down to Callback URL
trello1.png
trello3.png
trello2.png
trello4.png
  • On the Callback URL page, copy the following text into the Template box, substituting BOARDID with the ID you captured earlier. 
 trello://x-callback-url/createCard?shortlink=**BOARDID**&name=[[line|1]]&description=[[line|2]]&x-success=x-drafts5://x-callback-url/create
 
trello6.png
 
  • Go back to the main Drafts page and type your text. 
  • In the Actions list, click on your newly created action and the text should go to Trello. Also, as we have defined the success parameter within the callback-url to go back to Drafts when completed, so it doesn’t keep you in an application you don’t want to use right now.
  • Repeat this for as many boards as you need to add to. 

I love the fact that I don’t have one central inbox anymore for all of these ideas and I can send them directly to the correct board with one touch. They stay in the left-most list until I’m ready to process and this works really well for me. 

I hope this helps - feel free to comment with how you automate this kind of idea capture with Drafts/Trello/Omnifocus or any Task Manager of your choosing! We’re always happy to hear your thoughts.

Why I Love: MailButler

As I recently mentioned in one of my posts, my mail workflow, particularly on macOS, has changed a lot in the last few months. I’ve moved back from using Airmail to the native Mail application. This is no way a reflection on Airmail, it’s a great app and I still recommend it to anyone that wants to have a plethora of bells and whistles included within their email client. In fact, I still use the iOS version on my iPad as the native Mail app is sorely lacking on there. 

I do find that the macOS version of Mail has improved in recent years and one reason I moved back was the integration with DEVONthink Pro Office, which is great when you wish to archive individual emails, or even entire mailboxes. 

There were some features included with Airmail that I missed at first. The ability to Send Later is something I utilise a lot. I don’t always want people knowing I’m in my Inbox and at their beck and call, so I schedule emails to go out when I know my email client is going to be closed - with Airmail, they will still be sent. So I started looking for a plug-in for Mail.app that includes this feature. 

In the end, I settled on MailButler, for both Apple Mail and Gmail. The main reason for this was not only the ability to have a Send Later option on my emails, I can also track receipt and open of messages, create templates for emails that are easy to access, configure follow-up reminders for messages that haven’t been replied to by the recipient as well as create amazing signatures with a handy little signature editor. Also, you can add notes to emails, as well as create tasks directly from emails if that is important to you. I have a separate workflow for this, however I know many people that would definitely benefit from being able to do so!

Send Later

I love this because it allows me to compose an email when I’m in that particular mode and schedule it to be delivered at a time of my choosing. When the message has been scheduled, It doesn’t disappear from Mail. Instead, it is moved into a Scheduled folder. If you wish, you can delete it, edit or reschedule.

It’s important to note that the email isn’t stored on MailButler’s infrastructure.

butler1.png

Tracking

Sometimes it’s important to know if a message has been received and, at times, read. Now I’m not the email police at all when I’m working! I never reply to an email straight away and I certainly don’t expect anyone else to. If I do, however, find myself needing to follow-up on someone, I do find that I will adopt the right approach if I know whether the recipient has received/read the email. To do this, I click the Tracking button to the right of a new email message. 

A blue double tick shows that the message has been received and opened, with a date/time displayed. 

A blue single tick shows that the message has been received, whereas a grey single tickshows that the message hasn’t been picked up by the receiving mailbox. 

You can enable tracking by default if you wish on all messages. I don’t have this setup.

butler2.png

Follow-up Reminders

The follow-up reminder feature allows you to follow up on your emails at a time you have set. If you have AsanaWunderlist or Todoist, these accounts can be linked and the reminder will appear there, which is a real benefit.

butler3.png

Notes and Tasks

Mailbutler allows you to create a note and attach it to an email to either remind you, or your team of something important. These notes can be both private and public. Simply select the message that you wish to add a note to and click the Note icon your menu bar. 

You can also add integrations to external note services, such as Evernote and OneNote. This is isn’t something I’ve leveraged, however I’m sure there will be teams that I work with in the future that will have this kind of set-up. For now, I don’t use the Notes feature in any great depth.

butler4.png

If you want to create a task directly from an email, then select the email you know you need to work from and click the Task icon. You can schedule this task to give it a due date if you wish and this can be integrated with Todoist, Asana and Wunderlist currently. You can also view your tasks directly from your Mailbutler dashboard on their website.

butler5.png

There are other features I love too. You can set a Send Delay on messages you are replying to in the moment. Mine is set for 10 seconds so when I click Send, a countdown timer starts that gives me just enough time to change my mind and undo the send if I wish! This can save a lot of embarrassment. 

If you mention the word 'attachment' in the email subject or content, yet forget to attach a file, you will be prompted. Again, this has come in handy on more than one occasion!

You can Auto BCC emails to your favourite CRM tool, Snooze emails so that they reappear in the future if you really don’t want to deal with now, create wonderful signatures and much more. 

There are three price plans, EssentialProfessional and Business and you can see the feature set for each below. If the circle isn’t filled then you are limited to 30 actions per month, which may well be enough. 

Essential is free, Professional is $6.50 per month and Business is $24.95 per month.

Screen Shot 2018-04-24 at 10.05.53.png

Journaling is Boss Mode Thinking

Those of you who are familiar with the work we do at Think Productive will be familiar with the concept of Boss Mode thinking. This is the time when you sit back, you review your current projects and commitments as well as make decisions on where your priorities should be. This frees up the time for your Worker Mode self to crack on with the work at hand, safe in the knowledge that you are doing what you should be doing, when you should be doing it. 

On a personal note, I’ve expanded this concept a little and viewers of my Learn OmniFocus live session with Tim Stringer will already be familiar with this. I allocate time-blocks during the day where I solely concentrate on Boss Mode thinking.

Read More

BusyCal is on Setapp

As if there weren't enough reasons to subscribe to Setapp, the team have announced that the popular Calendar application, BusyCal is now available. 

BusyCal is a great application and fulfils a lot of needs for the Power Users among you. I love the way you can customise the views to suit your needs - the ability to change the number of days in a week to 10 is a real benefit! There are integrated to-dos, the ability to include Travel Time with your appointments and much, much more. 

Check out what BusyCal has to offer here.  The value offered by Setapp goes from strength to strength. 

How I Use: Search in Mail on macOS

Over the past couple of months, my mail workflow has changed. I used Airmail a lot on all devices. Aesthetically it’s great on the eye, lots of Power User actions and it was a pleasure (in the main) to process my Inboxes. I did find, however, that there were occasions where mailboxes weren’t syncing correctly and I was losing important messages. Also, there were times when messages were being stuck in my Inbox on one device, despite being moved to Trash, or Archived, on another. As much as I try to minimise my use of email, it’s still got to be reliable when I need it, so despite the fact it still looks kinda ugly, I moved back to Mail.app as my default Mail client. I also use MailButlernow which makes using Mail a lot more pleasant and I’ll write about my experience with this application soon. 

One thing I missed about Airmail when I first moved across was the Searchingcapabilities. By default, Airmail will search all mailboxes rather than the one you are currently in so this was a habit I had got into that needed to break. Why do I rely on Search so much? Well, my workflow means that I have a minimised email structure. For each email account I have (unfortunately I have several clients, meaning several different accounts as I work with them), I have an Inbox and an Archive folder. Oh, and Trash of course, however I don’t really count that. I don’t like the whole subfolder culture that is around. If I took the time to file every email that came in into a dedicated folder, I’d never have time to work! Also, how often do I find myself retrieving that email? Not often. The time taken to file is a lot longer than the time it takes to perform a search on the whole, so I decided to learn as much as I could about how to search effectively within Mail.app. I was pleasantly surprised when I dug a little deeper and while the below isn’t an exponential list of all of the functionality, it highlights how I use it daily, so hopefully will help you. 

1 - Natural Language

I didn’t realise that Mail was able to understand natural language. I guess I’ve been away from it too long, so when I started to type in phrases like from Kelly yesterday or pdf files to Mike, it was nice to see the right results appear. I’ve got into using natural language parsing a lot when using apps such as Fantastical 2 and voice assistants such as the Amazon Echo so I’m pleased that I can keep that habit going. 

Other searches I’ll use over the course of the day include

  • from (person)
  • To (person)
  • Excel files
  • (date)
  • To (person) about (keyword)

2 - Stack Search Criteria

You aren’t limited to one search term. Once you’ve clicked on your first search element, continue typing and another list of potential search criteria will appear below. Click again, rinse, repeat as often as necessary. You can see below that I’m creating a search for emails from my wife, received yesterday, that have attachments. 

mail1.png
mail2.png
mail3.png

3 - Saved Searches

If I find myself searching for the same criteria more than once, I’ll save the search so that I can use it again at the click of a button. When you’ve configured your Search criteria, click the Save button below the text entry field. You’ll see a dialog window appear that allows you to configure what is known as a Smart Mailbox. Smart Mailboxes are ace. Just like a Smart Playlist in iTunes, Smart Mailboxes are dynamic and will only show you emails based on the searches you have defined. If you find yourself always looking for emails from your boss that were sent in the last week, then setup a Smart Mailbox that will only show these messages. Saves a lot of time. 

4 - Ranged Date Searches

Sometimes I know roughly when I received an email from somebody, however I”m not entirely sure as to the exact date. You can specify a date range for Mail to search through. Type date followed by a colon and then the range. 

5 - BOOLEAN Operators

Of course, we can utilise BOOLEAN operators if we want an effective search system, such as ANDNOT and OR however I have to say I don’t use them as often as you would think. Generally, I find 95% of the emails I need using the methods above and in a very timely manner. There are occasions where using BOOLEAN operations has helped with complex searches, however if it’s something I may need to search again, I’ll simply setup a Smart Mailbox and use the built-in tools for building the search there. 

So that’s a brief overview as to how I search for emails in Mail on macOS. If you find you need to use more complicated methods than this, or indeed you have simplified ones, then comment below! Would love to hear from you.

Fallback Searches with Alfred

How many times do you find yourself searching for web content a day when you’re on your Mac? Ten times? Twenty? More than fifty? OK, it’s a rhetorical question, we know it’s a lot however it’s only recently that I’ve stopped defaulting to Google for every search I make. If I need to check the definition of a word, I go to Google first. When I watch something on TV and recognise an actor, yet can’t remember for the life of me where they are from, straight back to Google again. Who are my favourite football team playing this weekend? Once more, straight to Google. (OK, sometimes it’s Alexa, but she seems to have the hump with me a lot of the time and refuses to understand my wonderful British accent).

Read More

DaisyDisk 4.5 Released

DaisyDisk 4.5 Released

DaisyDisk has long been a favorite application of mine. It’s got a wonderful graphical interface that allows for a seamless method of looking through your drive(s) for retrievable disk space and freeing it up there and then. 

One limitation of previous versions of DaisyDisk has been the inability to see purgeable space - this is the space that is taken up by local Time Machine snapshots and other caches that cannot be scanned. I’ve just freed up 45GB that was in use that I couldn’t do before - thanks to this new version!

For a full list of updates included within this version, please visit here and you can download the latest version of Daisy Disk here