Save iPhone Voicemails to Things

Problem

No matter what task-management system you use, one essential element is the ability to add tasks seamlessly and consistently. In my case, I use Todoist to keep track of what I need to do, so I obviously want all of my tasks to end up there. Creating to-dos based on e-mails is easy (Airmail is my current e-mail app of choice), but not everything comes to me in the form of an e-mail. In most of those cases, I use the Quick Entry shortcut (ctrl-opt-cmd-j for me) on my Mac and Siri on my iPhone. (The latter is done using Reminders and IFTTT, but that’s a post for another day.) Every once in a while, though, someone will call me and leave a voicemail that I then need to do something about. What am I supposed to do with that?

Solution

Enter Dropbox and Workflow. The solution I’ve pieced together wouldn’t have been possible in earlier versions of iOS, but it is now. I can’t remember exactly when Apple added this feature, but dating back to at least iOS 9, it’s possible to export voicemail recordings from the Phone app. Trouble is, the share sheet you see when you try to do that is very limited. So limited, in fact, that the Todoist share extension doesn’t show up. That’s where Workflow and Dropbox step in.

I created a four-step workflow (which you can download here) that exports the audio recording of the voicemail to a Dropbox folder (which I’ve conveniently titled Voicemails), gets the link to that file, asks for the name of the task to be done, and then creates a new Markdown-formatted Todoist task with the name of the task linked to the voicemail. (One of the best features of Todoist is the ability to use basic Markdown syntax in task titles to create nicely formatted tasks. I love it!) I wanted to be able to access all the information for a given task whether I’m on my Mac, my iPad, or my iPhone, and this was the smoothest path I could think of to gain access to voicemails across devices. Now I can tackle that voicemail-based action no matter what device I happen to be using. But that’s not all.


To tie everything together, I created a Hazel rule on my Mac
that watches that Voicemails folder. Any file in that folder more than two weeks old gets move to the trash. This means I don’t even have to think about deleting the audio recordings; they just disappear automatically. And if I haven’t dealt with a voicemail in two weeks’ time, then I’ve probably got bigger problems, anyway.

(Note: If you’re interested, you can hear a description of a previous version this workflow—back when I used Things—on episode 309 of Mac Power Users. Thanks, David and Katie, for sharing this on your show!)

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