A couple of weeks ago I got back into the Drafts train. I’d been a user, on and off, for years, but always found myself stepping off and using other apps for my note taking. I’ve used the usual suspects, Notes.app, Bear, …
This time around, locked in a hospital room, waiting for my first child (baby girl, thank you very much), I had time to start digging in, and try to find other uses for it. And I did. Turns out I found a few.
First thing I did was find an excuse to subscribe to the Pro tier. An icon sealed that deal. I NEEDED that classic Mac icon!
Soon I found myself using other Pro features: Themes, Workspaces (amazing) and editing actions to better suit me. But I didn’t have to. I wouldn’t really need these.
Supporting development is the main reason you should pay, even though the app feels Pro on the free tier. It does a LOT without the extra features. Most actions don’t need editing to work for you, workspaces are really nice to have, but only needed if you find yourself using it all day, for everything (by then you should be paying something anyway), and the theme selection is still far from perfect (Nord theme maybe coming ??).
Moving on, what am I using it for ?
A few of the things that now live on my Drafts:
Note taking, let’s get this one out of the way first. I love taking notes, small bits all day long; and I love doing it in Monoid. Turns out Drafts is really good for note taking and you can pick from one of the included fonts, or install your own.
Clarinha Diary: write something down real quick about the baby, press a button, it gets added to a running note, complete with date and time. When the day ends, I just paste that note into Day One, where a more complete journal is being written, with photos.
Twitter! I found out I love to tweet from Drafts, and I’m not talking about an action to send the draft to Tweetbot. Just using plain old simple Twitter, from inside Drafts. The tweet gets published and I’m not spending another minute, or hour, going down my timeline. You can, of course, use Drafts to send your text to Tweetbot, or Twitterrific, but this is the one working for me.
Shopping List. I’m a big Things fan, and use it for all my task needs. I have dozens of personal and professional projects going on, all neatly organised in Things.
That’s where my shopping list also lives. That was pre-Covid, when I could freely unlock my phone when out in the supermarket. Not anymore. Wearing a mask makes this an excruciatingly hard exercise, and I found myself thinking there had to be a better way. Turns out it does.
Drafts to the rescue. The shopping mode keeps the screen on the whole time, and the keyboard is disabled. I can get my phone in and out of my pocket as many times as I wish, it’s always on. Perfect.
| Toggle Shopping Mode
Calendar. Inputting stuff into Fantastical. It now feels weird to go into Fantastical to add an event, even though that’s also an easy task. But I’m so used to opening Drafts when I unlock my phone, I’ll just write it down and add it to Fantastical from there. Even nicer when I have multiple events to add. You’ll see.
Tasks. Same workflow for Things. Drafts is now the place where I write down what i need to do, and then these tasks are sent to Things.
| Task in Things
Writing Rich Text emails in Markdown and sending them on their way with Spark. Easier to format text this way.
Messaging. Telegram/WhatsApp. For quick replies I’ll go into these apps and write on the appropriate chat. If I’m preparing a longer text, I find it more convenient to write it down on Drafts.
That’s something I’ve found very comfortable for a lot of apps: writing down stuff away from the app where it’ll end up. It’s easier for me to focus on the thing I’m writing if it’s just a black screen with no distractions from the app.
The Telegram action wasn’t available and it was well within my level of expertise to make one, so I did.
Quote repository. Workspaces are great for this. They keep my inbox clean, and make it easy to find stuff when I need it. Tag support is great on Drafts, if you tag your notes, it’s super easy to have them automatically organised in Workspaces.
Snippet vault. Same goes for snippets. Tot is a great app for snippets with a short expiration date, Drafts is used to keep the ones that’ll live longer, like hashtag bundles for Instagram…
Wife Sleepy Craziness. My wife sometimes says the craziest things while sleeping. Some of the most hilarious sentences I’ve heard. This is where they live.
One of the things I felt I needed when writing, is a notes file for the note I’m writing. I know, I know…. Obviously someone had thought about that already (thanks, @agiletortoise, again) and I can now press a button and go back and forth between the note I’m writing and the notes for that note. Helpful as hell.
| Meta Data < > Draft
Even though I’m not a developer, I like to use GitHub. I host this blog on GitHub Pages and I use GitHub Gist to share stuff with friends. I make small travel guides with tips for my friends, and post them there, or small tutorials when another friend needs help with something and I feel I can help. I used Sublime Text to compose these, and then upload them to Gist. There had to be a way to do this with Drafts, so why not change my workflow? Turns out the action to do that was outdated, not working. A quick trip to the forum, and @agiletortoise came through, yet again, updating the action in no time. Isn’t that the greatest customer support ever?
| Post Gist to Github
I forgot a couple of things, so I’ll just add them here. More coming in the future, I’m sure, as this app is so cool it feels like having a new phone, and I keep finding new stuff I can get accomplished with it.
One of the things I do, on and off (mostly off these days) is blogging. Sometimes I write down something and post it, that’s it. It’s mainly for myself, my readership levels should not even make it to two digits, but I like to do it, from time to time.
Longer posts go into a Medium publication that lies dormant most of the year, and other stuff I publish on this Jekyll install hosted on GitHub Pages. It was set up mainly as a proof-of-concept, when I was looking for ways to use GitHub as a non-developer, and I remember I have it here, ready to post, from time to time.
Dictation is not the first thing that comes to mind when I’m writing, but maybe it should!
I never got into the habit of talking to my iPhone, but Drafts does that really well. I started getting into it now that one of my hands is usually holding a baby, and I’m forced to write with the other one. The size of the iPhone is not well suited for that, so I started using this feature more often. Press a button on the extra keyboard row, say a few things, and most of it is usually write. A few tweaks and it’s ready to go.
I can keep on talking for as long as I want to, it never goes into sleep mode, and I can do it in English and Portuguese. Maybe I’ll even stop hating the way my voice sounds!
Most actions I’ve posted are the official ones, made by @agiletortoise. There are countless variations, some with a huge amount of extra features. You should try them out if you feel you need something more than the stock features. Most of them are already included on the action groups that are installed by default, so you don’t even need to download them, unless you’ve deleted them in the meantime.
Browse the Drafts Directory and I’m sure you’ll find dozens that fit your needs.