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Harry R. Schwartz

Software engineer, nominal scientist, gentleman of the internet. Member, ←Hotline Webring→.


Creating Org-mode TODOs on iOS with Drafts

Published 03 Aug 2016. Tags: beards, emacs.

I manage my to-do list in Org-mode. I sometimes use an iPhone, and I like to be able to append tasks to my list from my phone.

To do that, I use a terrific iPhone application called Drafts. Drafts lets you type snippets of text and apply an action. It transforms the text according to the action (by inserting it into a template) and does something with the result, which often involves sending it to a remote service.

I’ve defined a custom action in Drafts that formats a snippet of text like an Org-mode task and appends it to an inbox.org file in Dropbox.

When I want to remember to, say, “buy toothpaste,” I’ll open up Drafts, type buy toothpaste, and trigger the “TODO” action that I’ve defined. That formats the task as:

* TODO buy toothpaste

and appends it to the inbox.org file in Dropbox. Drafts templates are pretty flexible, so you could also attach some metadata to that task (a “created at” timestamp might be useful, for example).

Later on, when I want to browse my to-do list on my computer, I’ll hit C-c i to summon it. Before it displays the file, that moves the tasks from inbox.org to the end of index.org, my main to-do list (which isn’t in Dropbox).

The open-index-file function that C-c i triggers is defined in this section of my dotfiles.

The “TODO” Dropbox action looks like this:

TODO Drafts action

Note that this is just for capturing tasks from my phone; it doesn’t really handle browsing or editing them, but I find that I rarely need that.