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Voice capture org-mode tasks on Android

 ·  ☕ 2 min read  ·  ✍️ Stéfan van der Walt

This post originally appeared on Dr Stéfan van der Walt’s personal blog. It is reproduced here with his kind permission.

I often want to capture tasks on the go—in a hurry. When there’s no time to fire up organice or, being able to transcribe tasks comes in really handy.

In this post, I show how, on Android phones, you can hook up Google’s Assistant with org-mode, so that you can speak notes and have them appear as TODO items in a buffer.

Set up Google Assistant

First, we need to teach Google Assistant a new keyword, and tell it to store transcribed notes in an accessible location. We do this via the free If This Then That service. Add the “Log notes in a Google Drive spreadsheet” applet, and configure it as follows:

  • What do you want to say? Add a task to $
  • What’s another way to say it? (optional) new task $
  • And another way? (optional) task $
  • Drive folder path (optional) Google Assistant

This would allow you to say task <description> and have Google Assistant log that to a spreadsheet in the Google Assistant folder of your drive.

Save the applet and try it out: launch Google Assistant and say “task test out capture system”. Then, locate and open the new spreadsheet in your Google drive. The URL should be of the form:

Note down that long string after /d/—this is your spreadsheet ID.

Set up org-mode conversion

Go to Tools -> Script Editor, and include the script provided at

You have to customize two variables: the spreadsheet ID, and a random “token” (a password to make it harder for other to abuse the service).

Now, publish the script to the web: Publish -> Deploy as web app.... Set Who has access to the app to Anyone, even anonymous and note down the published URL.

Use it!

I have the following script that downloads TODOs and append them to an org-file:



curl -s -S -L -d "$TOKEN" "$ASSISTANT_TO_ORG_URL?clear=1" >> $ORG_INBOX

I then have the following in my daily org checklist:

[[shell:~/scripts/][fetch tasks]] : [[file:~/org/][tasks]]

The first link launches the script that fetches the latest tasks, and the second opens the tasks file.


Having a quick, hands-free way to capture tasks has been tremendously helpful to me. I hope you find it useful too!

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Charl P. Botha
Stéfan van der Walt
open source SciPy developer, founder of scikit-image