6 iPhone hacks to make you more productive

There are many ways to be more productive while on the go with your iPhone. Here’s a brand new collection of them.

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There are so many productivity tips for iPhone users that it can be difficult to figure out the best ones. Here’s a new collection of those I think will be most useful.

Save (almost) anything as a PDF

The easiest way to save anything you can print from your iPhone or iPad as a PDF isn’t particularly clear. But this is a great way to gather copies of almost anything and is as simple as:

  • Open the item you want to save.
  • Tap Share and select Print.
  • When the print dialog appears you’ll see a preview of the item you wish to print. Tap this with two fingers and spread them out.
  • The preview should grow to fill the page. Congratulations – you just made a PDF.
  • Tap the Share icon and you can now save this item to Files.

Create meeting transcripts the easy way

Are you responsible for writing the minutes of meetings? Perhaps you’re a student wanting accurate lecture notes, or a researcher trying to transcribe lengthy discussions?

The easiest way to transcribe on your iPhone is to use the Otter.ai app.

This works using the microphone on your device, uploading recordings to the service, which then transcribes them in real time.

Once the recording is fully transcribed, you’ll receive a notification and you can search and surf through the transcriptions on your device. You can export them in various formats and it is possible to upload recordings (such as recorded calls) to the service for transcription.

While I do find it necessary to work through and correct transcriptions, this is much easier than doing the task manually. I find it incredibly useful.

Say it, don’t write it

Your iPhone isn’t just good for asking Siri silly questions, it’s a highly capable dictation device. You can even use it to dictate letters, scribble thoughts or write for other reasons while on the move – just ask Siri to open your writing app (Word?) and then tap the microphone icon on the keyboard that appears and dictate away. Yes, you’ll probably need to learn Apple’s built-in dictation commands (there’s a handy list of commands here), and you will need to double-check your document for accuracy. But using this feature frees you to work in different environments in places you choose.

NB: Don’t forget that you can also use Siri to write and send emails and messages, though I imagine most of us already do that to some extent.

Automate the simple things

The number of emails we receive that also say, “Sent from my iPhone,” represents the number of people who have not yet managed to set their device up to automatically write a signature at the end of their email. It’s simple to do:

  • Open Settings>Mail>Signature.
  • Choose whether you want to use the same signature from All Accounts or Per Account for emails sent from your device.
  • You must then create a relevant signature for each account, or one generic signature for each account using the dialog boxes you’ll find.

This one simple step will make your communications look more professional and leads you nicely onto another form of automation that makes sense:

Text Replacement (Settings>General>Keyboard>Text Replacement).

This lets you create text shortcuts for complex phrases or sentences. Open it and you will see some of Apple’s oven-ready Text Replacement set ups. Choose a Shortcut  such as “Monitoring form question 3” and then in the Phrase box you can create the block of text for the task.

Neutralize Notifications

Why not cut back your Notifications?

For example, I only receive email notifications from people I keep in my VIP list, and only see on-screen app notifications from the apps I most need to know about –  primarily communications, but also project-related apps such as Slack or Trello.

To achieve this, I thought about the nature of notifications.

  • Urgent apps I set to provide notifications on the Lock screen, Notification Center and Banners with (perhaps) Sound and Badges enabled.
  • Less urgent apps get Lock screen and Notification Center privileges, with (perhaps) Sound and Badges enabled.
  • Any of the remaining apps that are slightly worth watching are only granted Badges with everything else disabled.
  • And all the other apps have all notifications disabled. And I’ve probably disabled Location services for them, too.

It is a little tedious setting this up if you have a lot of apps – you need to open Settings>Notifications and then set the relevant permission for each app. You should then make sure to set this up for any new apps you install.

The beauty is that once you have done this, you’ll never miss an important notification and will know that if you are alerted by an app, it is probably one you want to know about.

It really is time to use Do Not Disturb mode

Here's how to shut everything out while you try to focus.

Open Control Center, tap the half-moon icon to silence calls, alerts, and notifications until you tap to switch them on again. Better yet, given you might forget to exit Do Not Disturb mode, tap and hold the Do Not Disturb icon and then choose a duration to silence it all.

  • For 1 hour.
  • Until this evening.
  • Until I leave this location.
  • Schedule your own

You may also benefit from using the Be Focused focus timing app to help you optimize the work you get done while in Do Not Disturb mode with its concentration tips.

Want even more productivity tips? I’ve got you covered. Try these:

Please follow me on Twitter, or join me in the AppleHolic’s bar & grill and Apple Discussions groups on MeWe.

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