Use Trunk Notes as an App Launcher

Launch Center Pro made a big splash because it allows you to launch many apps from a single place, instead of having to swipe through many home screens, or to find the group in which you placed a particular app. However, it’s main strength is its ability to let you take actions with apps, such as entering text to search in google or IMDB, or to send a task to Omnifocus.

I tend to use LCP more for the latter purpose, as it feels like to much hunting to dig down into a LCP group just to launch the app I’m looking for.

Fortunately, there are other ways to launch an app. To work in LCP, an app must provide an URL scheme, which is like a link for that particular app. For example, Google Chrome’s URL scheme is googlechrome:. If you type that into the address bar in mobile Safari, it will launch this alternate browser. Neat, huh? And that will work for any app that provides an URL scheme.

Of course, typing out an URL scheme into the browser’s address bar is cumbersome. And you could create a bookmark much like you would for creating a bookmarklet, by bookmarking any page and then editing the link and replacing it with the URL scheme. But there’s a more convenient way: a wiki page on your iPhone.

A Wiki Page to Launch Apps

I will explore the greater possibilities of Trunk Notes in a later post, because this tip doesn’t even make use of its wiki functions. What you need to know today is that TN lets you create pages in Markdown. I have a page called LaunchBar that contains nothing but links to other apps. If I want to link to Google Chrome, I just add the following in the editor:

[Chrome](googlechrome:)

 
When I open that page in my wiki, it just shows the link. I tap on it, and it launches the app.

Here’s the editor in Trunk Notes:

Edit page in Trunk Notes

And here’s the page when I open the app:

LaunchBar page in Trunk Notes

How to Find the URL Scheme for an App

Launch Center Pro includes a list of all apps that it supports, both within the app and on its website. They appear to update their Action Composer weekly, if you want to see new additions to their list.

If I know an app has an URL scheme, I might first just type its name followed by a colon in the mobile Safari address bar, as the vast majority of apps have a scheme that mirrors their name. For example, Instacast is instacast:. If your best guess doesn’t work — Dropbox is dbapi-1: not dropbox: — or you don’t want to bother with checking it in Safari, then you need to do the following:

  1. Scroll down the list of Installed apps in LCP’s Action Composer (click on “Action” after you hit the plus sign) and tap on it. If it supports not only the launch function but also actions (like input text) just tap on the launch function.

  2. Before you hit Done, tap on the app. Under Settings, copy the URL, and add the link in Markdown in TrunkNotes.

Edit Settings in Launch Center Pro

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