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Using the Workflow App on My iPad to Control My Desk Phone

A simple change in scenery can do wonders for productivity. For me that sometimes means sitting in a recliner in the corner of my office, using my MacBook and my office phone headset to make and receive calls. That’s possible because my firm’s VOIP phone service, Mitel, offers a Mac app that lets me trigger outgoing calls on my office phone. As long as I have my MacBook and telephone headset with me, my actual telephone unit can be across the office.

This process doesn’t work if I want to use my iPad to initiate calls. The Mitel iOS app won’t trigger calls on another device, such as my office phone. Not to be deterred, I put together a workflow to accomplish this. It sounds much more complicated (and much slower) than it really is.

Workflow in Use

Overview

The workflow involves two broad steps. First, the Workflow app on iOS takes the phone number off my clipboard and saves it to Dropbox. Next, Keyboard Maestro on my Mac reads that phone number out of Dropbox, and dials the number using the Mitel Mac app. The whole process takes just a few seconds.

Screenshots

I can show the workflow in action with two screenshots. First, I long press on the telephone number in Filevine, my firm’s case management system, and choose “Copy Phone Number.” As you can see in the screenshot, I keep Drafts open in split view for taking notes.

Next, I swipe in from the right side of the screen, bringing the Workflow app into slideover view, and tap the “Play” button. A few seconds later, my desk phone chimes, and I can tap my headset to connect the call. The whole process takes no longer than if I were at my desk, looking at the phone number on the screen and keying it into my phone.

Nuts and Bolts

The iOS Workflow

Here’s a screenshot of the iOS Workflow workflow, which you can download:

Step 1 of the workflow reads the phone number off the clipboard. Step 2 uses a regular expression to strip out anything but numbers (sometimes the number gets copied over with “tel:” on the front). Step 3 names the file, and the final step saves it to Dropbox. Steps 3 and 4 might be redundant, but it works so I’m not messing with it.

The Mac Workflow
Here is a screenshot of the Keyboard Maestro macro, which you can download (you’ll need to unzip the file after download):

The first step of the Keyboard Maestro macro reads the contents of the file sent over from my iPad, and saves those contents (the phone number) to the clipboard. The second step opens the Mitel app, while the third step consists of a pause to make sure the app has time to get front and center on my Mac. I will probably decrease this pause over time, as I become confident that it’s long enough.

The fourth step uses Keyboard Maestro’s ability to click on the screen based on the location of an image. This puts my mouse courser in the phone number entry field, so that the fifth step can paste the clipboard contents (the phone number) into that field. The sixth step simply hits the Enter key, which dials the number. The final step moves the Dropbox file to the trash, so I can run the process again for the next call.

Wrap Up

This sounds very convoluted, and seems like it would take too long to run. In reality it’s pretty simple and pretty fast. Although I’ve included the Workflow and Keyboard Maestro files for download, above, they probably won’t be directly usable by anyone who doesn’t have my exact setup. I’ve found that even Keyboard Maestro’s “found image” feature doesn’t always work if you use an image you took on one machine, and try to use it on another. Hopefully, though, the downloads and screenshots will provide some guidance to someone who wants to give this a shot.


Things 3.5 Brings UI Refinements, Tagging and Automation Improvements, Clipboard Integration →

Federico Viticci writing for MacStories:

Today, Cultured Code is launching Things 3.5, a mid-cycle update that refines several aspects of the app and prepares its foundation for other major upgrades down the road. There isn’t a single all-encompassing change in Things 3.5 – nor is this version going to convince users to switch to Things like, say, version 3.4 or 3.0 might have. However, Things 3.5 is a collection of smaller yet welcome improvements that are worth outlining because they all contribute to making Things more powerful, intuitive, and consistent with its macOS counterpart.

Today is a great day for app updates and releases, with the release of Drafts 5 and now the Things 3.5 update. Just a few of the improvements in Things are the ability to enter tags by searching, to paste text and convert lines to tasks, and to use URL scheme automation to update existing tasks. MacStories has the full rundown.


How to check your Mac for 32-bit apps before Apple kicks ’em to the curb →

Bryan Clark writing for TNW:

Apple has recently begun warning users about 32-bit application compatibility. These applications are relics — although some are still in heavy use without a development team to support or update them — and will one day be phased out for the 64-bit versions most developers have been spitting out for at least half a decade.

Just as iOS 11 dropped support for 32-bit apps, it looks like the writing is on the wall for 32-bit apps in macOS. Hit the link for a method to check which of your current macOS apps are 32-bit.

Just because an app is currently 32-bit doesn’t mean the developer won’t get it ready by the time macOS requires it. Many apps will only require a re-compile.

When I reviewed my list, the app that gives me the greatest cause for concern is Clarify, a great app for annotating images and creating tutorials. The app is no longer sold and is in maintenance mode. I hope “maintenance mode” includes getting it ready for the 64-bit requirement.


Don’t Give Away Historic Details About Yourself →

From Krebs on Security:

Social media sites are littered with seemingly innocuous little quizzes, games and surveys urging people to reminisce about specific topics, such as “What was your first job,” or “What was your first car?” The problem with participating in these informal surveys is that in doing so you may be inadvertently giving away the answers to “secret questions” that can be used to unlock access to a host of your online identities and accounts.

A good reminder that you shouldn’t use real answers to these security questions when setting up accounts. Make up nonsense, non-guessable answers and store them somewhere secure like 1Password.


#OpenWeb →

Michael Rockwell writing for Initial Charge:

The site aggregates headlines from independent publishers that focus on Apple products and software. It also serves as a directory of single-person weblogs within our community. Over the past few years, social networks have become less and less exciting to use and there have been some subtle indications that the open web is poised for a comeback.

The new #OpenWeb site and its clean design is a quick way to not only get some news and insights if you use Apple products, but also to discover new bloggers. I like the focus on indie blogs, which is where I spend most of my time online. I have most of these blogs in my RSS feed already, but this is worth following for discovery, as the author intends to continue adding new blogs.