This post originally appeared on Dr Stéfan van der Walt’s personal blog. It is reproduced here with his kind permission.
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)
- Drive folder path (optional)
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
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.
I have the following script that downloads TODOs and append them to an org-file:
I then have the following in my daily org checklist:
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!