How To Use: Launch Centre Pro and the Today Widget

How To Use Launch Centre Pro’s Today Widget

Launch Centre Pro by Contrast is a highly customisable launcher application for iOS. I’ve used it for years to access actions from within applications that would otherwise have taken several key presses and clicks to get to. Many people use it as a speed dial for their contacts, others use it for one touch access to their Safari bookmarks - there are lots of uses out there and I’m planning on releasing a post soon that runs through my use case for both Launch Centre Pro and a similar application called Launcher

Today though, I’m just going to explain briefly how to activate the Today Widget for Launch Centre Pro. I find myself spending more time in the widget view than ever nowadays! It’s so easy to just swipe to the right from the home screen and access a wide variety of information and accessible shortcuts. Launch Centre Pro is definitely on this bandwagon and it’s handy to have some of your most used shortcuts on hand from the lock screen. 

Let’s quickly walk through the configuration:

1) From within Launch Centre Pro, click the gear icon in the top left hand corner. 

2) Select Today Widget.

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3) You’ll see there are no actions currently configured. Click Add Action

4) Choose some of your pre-defined actions that you’d like to access form the widget. Remember that the original view will show you four, however you can click Show More from within the widget to show you as many as you select here. 

5) Click Settings again and then Close

6) Now, form the Home Screen, swipe from left to right to bring up the Widget screen. If you scroll to the bottom, you’ll see the Edit button. Tap this. 

7) If you scroll down to the Launch Centre Pro widget and tap the green button to the left, it will join the list of currently active widgets.

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8) Tap the movement handles on the right to place the widget in the location you wish. Then tap Done

9) Now when you look on the widget screen, you’ll see the action buttons ready for you to tap.

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Easy!

How I (Simply) Use OmniFocus and Launch Centre Pro - 1.0

I’ve not been using my iPhone to anywhere near it’s potential recently. I don’t know why this is - it’s certainly been a hectic twelve months in my life personally with lots of changes taking place - however, sometimes it’s important to step back and look at some of the barriers that you are facing with getting stuff done. One of mine was the efficient use of OmniFocus on the go.

Looking back, a reason for this was the friction involved in getting to the perspectives or contexts that I needed. There were a lot of screen presses needed and as my OmniFocus setup is fairly detailed, I looked for other ways to record important tasks on iOS. This CAN work for some people, however, my mindset is slightly different. If I’m not focusing on one application, or system, I’m not focusing on any and I lose trust. Once the trust in the system goes, then the whole system goes and this has been an issue for me.

Upon looking into ways to reduce this friction, I thought of Launch Centre Pro as a means to grant me easy access to frequently accessed lists within OmniFocus. It has made a huge difference.

My set-up is by no means extensive as I like to start simple and then build up as the need for more complex actions arises. I’d still like to present you my simplistic LCP and OF configuration and show you how it was created.

I’m going to assume a working knowledge of Launch Centre Pro for the purposes of this post!

 
 

As you can see, I have four LCP actions for OmniFocus configured. These are all accessible from the OmniFocus Group that I have setup on my Home Page for Launch Centre Pro. Creating the group is easy. Click the pencil icon in the top right-hand corner. Any spare grid spaces are converted into plus signs. Select one of the grid spaces and choose Group from the resulting pop-up. I’ve placed my OmniFocus group button directly above the Home Button of my iPhone, as this is easiest for my thumb to get to and I fully expect this to be my most used LCP button.

Dashboard

The Dashboard view is a list of Flagged and Due tasks that I have for today. It’s in the top left hand corner as I don’t use this view that often on my iPhone. My iPhone is rarely used for critical, must do tasks - that’s my MacBook Pro or iPad. 

Dashboard is a Perspective within OmniFocus and being able to view this from a button press is super handy. 

To setup any Perspective: 

1) Click the pencil icon once more, select your group and you’ll have a second grid of icons to select. 

2) Choose where you would like this Perspective to go and select Action from the pop-up. 

3) Select Action Composer

4) Select Apps with Actions

5) Scroll down to OmniFocus 2 and select

6) Press Open Perspective

7) In the Name field, type the Name you wish to see in the LCP icon. In the Perspective field, type the name of the Perspective you wish to open (I imagine you will want both of these fields to be the same)

8) Click Done. 

9) (Optional) Change the icon by clicking the Icon option and configuring the background, style and icon contents. 

10) Done! You have a new Perspective accessible from the touch of an LCP button. 

iPhone

I have a context called iPhone which is for those tasks that I can only complete when I’ve got my phone to hand. It’s not often that I’m not in front of my MacBook or iPad so if I ever have a task I can complete on any device, I usually go for the larger devices as it invariably makes the task quicker and easier. However in my quest to make more use of my iPhone, I’ve created a context (and Perspective) for tasks that are phone dependant. These could be calls, researching iPhone apps, checking App Store updates for iPhone. This list will grow I’m sure, but for now this works. 

Setting the icon is the same as the steps above, merely substituting the Dashboard in the Perspective field for iPhone.

Household

This is a perspective that contains the tasks that need to be completed around the house. At the weekend, the MacBook is either away or performing backups/maintenance so I want to be reliant on my phone for keeping me up to date with what I can be doing around the house or with the family, so I’ve created a perspective for just this purpose. 

Errands

This one speaks for itself. This perspective contains a list of all available items with the context of Errands and is great for when I’m out in the car and need to pick up groceries or other items for the family. 

As said, this is a rudimentary setup. I’m planning on adding new buttons in the near future. I’ve just watched a great video over at Learn OmniFocus that shows how to create a button for entering a range of New Items. There are workflows for adding in clipboard content and setting up templates for recurring tasks. I’m also planning on leveraging a one-button search in the near future. 

I’m hoping to present a version 2.0 of this post in six months time to see how my setup has progressed (I’ve just put it into OmniFocus now so no excuse for forgetting!). 

I’m opening the comments on this one so any hints and tips that you would like to share, feel free to pass them on!

Activate Your Personal Hotspot from Launch Centre Pro

Here in the UK, we can get a pretty good deal when it comes to data allowances on our mobile devices. This can come in really handy when you are using a laptop on the move. Tethering to my iPhone and using it’s data connection really helps me whenever I need to commute into London. 

In fact, I use it so often, I’ve even created a Launch Centre Pro action which I access via 3D Touch from my dock!

For those of you who are unaware, Launch Centre Pro is a shortcut launcher on iOS. It can help speed up everyday tasks with simple shortcuts (think of a Speed Dial for apps!). As I activate the Personal Hotspot at least twice a day, it’s prime for some LCP hacking. 

Configuration

1) Open Launch Centre Pro and press the pencil icon in the top right-hand corner of the screen. You will see any spare grid spaces replaced with plus signs. Click on the one that will hold the Personal Hotspot shortcut.

2) Select Action on the resulting pop-up

3) Select Action Composer

 
 

4) Select System Actions

5) Once you’ve had an eyeful of all the goodies that you can setup after this tutorial(!), scroll down to Settings, then down to Personal Hotspot

6) If you wish, you can change some parameters, such as the Name or Iconamongst others. When happy, click Done in the top right-hand corner.

7) Click Done once more and you have a shortcut that you can launch directly from Launch Centre Pro. Happy Days. 

If you want to launch your new shortcut directly from the 3D Touch menu of your iPhone, then you need to configure it as a Quick Action and this is very simple to do. 

  • Open Launch Centre Pro and click the gear icon in the top left-hand corner
  • Select Quick Actions
  • Click Add Action and navigate to your newly created shortcut.
 
 

Now you can access your Personal Hotspot directly from a force press of the Launch Centre Pro icon.

Day One - My Evolution

Over the last couple of weeks, I have been diving in and out of Shawn Blanc's excellent Day One in Depth. Now, I'm not going to be extracting elements from the book to share - you really need to buy this book if you are in any way serious about journaling on iOS and OS X. Instead, I'm going to write about how my workflows have changed since reading it

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