Fast WordPress Blog Posts From iPhone with Launch Center Pro

I set up a way to quickly post to WordPress using the post by email feature and a custom action in Launch Center Pro. Includes control over the post’s Category and Status. Here’s how I did it.

I’m assuming you own and know how use Launch Center Pro. First, hit the Edit button and start the process of creating a new Action. You’ll want to choose the Action Composer and then select the “Mail” option. From there, choose the “Email with body & subject” option. You’ll get a screen that looks something like this:

The name will be the name of the Action on the main screen of LCP. For the “To:” field, choose your WordPress post by email address (much easier to add using the Contacts button if you save this email address to your OS X Contacts/Address Book first).

For the Subject, tap in the text entry field and choose the “Prompt” button. We’ll do the same for the Body field, but with a little bit of extra nerdy stuff. Since WordPress post by email allows you to set some parameters of the post using short codes, we’ll put those to use here so we can set the Category and the save the Post as  a draft (or as published if you prefer; I saved an Action for each).

The code you’ll want to enter here is as follows:

[prompt] [category [prompt]] [status draft] [end]

When you run the action, Launch Center Pro will offer up three text field prompts. Unfortunately none of these are labelled, so you’ll need to just remember what you need to enter. The first prompt will be for the Subject of the email, which will be the Subject of the post. The next prompt will be for the Body of the email, which will be the body of the post. The Action code gets a bit confusing here because the LCP prompts use the same brackets as the WordPress short codes, but bear with me here.

The second [prompt] is contained within the [category ] shortcode (and note the space after category). What this does is outputs the actual text “[category ]”, but prompts you to enter something after the space but before the closing bracket. This way, you can manually enter the Category of the post. And note that WordPress shortcodes require the Category to already exist for this to work. And you can just skip this (by tapping Go without entering anything) if you want to set the Category later.

The rest of the Action code just enters default text at the end, the first is a WordPress shortcode to save as a draft (just change “draft” to “published” if you prefer to post immediately). The [end] shortcode just makes sure the post ends there. I have noticed that for some reason, at least when sending from the iPhone, the [end] tag needs to have a carriage return before it for this to work properly. This suggestion from the LCP developer AppCubby didn’t work for me; maybe a reader will have a solution.

You may be asking yourself “why not just use the official WordPress app?” and my answer to that is that this is much faster. When I run the Action, I get one prompt for the Subject, one for the Body, and one for the Category. I hit OK, it drafts up a new email message ready to go to the proper address, and if need be I can add an image or two. If I do need to do any fancy editing, I can do this on the Mac or open up the WordPress app and edit things. But this takes far less time to set up a draft post the way I want it, with the default settings for the posts.

For the adventurous, you could even add a prompt for the Tags, but I find entering those on the web admin is much easier. The Action code to do this would be [tags [prompt]] and you would just enter tags separated by commas when the Action runs. I might even add this to my own setup since it’s easily skipped if I wanted to ignore it. Another reason it would be handy if Launch Center Pro indicated what fields each prompt was related to when the Action runs.

One last note: I discovered that images sent using the post by email feature show up pretty small on a post. It seems as if WordPress defaults to the “Medium” size for images sent using the post by email feature. To fix this, go to your WordPress Dashboard and under Settings -> Media, change the Medium size to the with of the body area for posts, or just set it to the same as the “Large” size dimensions if you’re not sure how to find the width.

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