A Smooth Note-Taking Workflow for Drafts 4 and Logos in iOS

I’ve got a sweet Logos–>Drafts 4 workflow I’ve been using on the iPad for a few months now. (I find Logos’s iOS app to be significantly zippier than its Mac counterpart.) Allow me to demonstrate, using Harold W. Hoehner’s excellent Ephesians commentary.


1. Open up Logos in iOS.


Here’s Hoehner’s lovely commentary.




2. Tap selected text to bring up highlighting and share options.


I’ve got Drafts open with Logos in Split View, just so you can see them together. All these steps work with Drafts not visible, however.




3. Select Drafts in the share option.




4. Now you can “Capture” to send the selected text right to Drafts OR prepend (add to the beginning) or append (add to the end) to an existing draft. (!)




If you do Prepend or Append, Drafts comes up to let you choose where to put your text.




5. When you’re done repeating this process for as much text as you want to copy, you can merge individual drafts, if needed.








You can even choose your own text or symbol to separate merged drafts:




From here it’s easy export from a single draft to Ulysses or MindNode, and on goes my sermon preparation! Drafts4 has been the most indispensable app in my attempt to do as much sermon preparation as possible on the iPad.


Thanks to Logos for the Hoehner commentary so I could write up the workflow–review of the commentary itself to follow. The Logos mobile apps are free, available here: iOS / Google Play.

Done with Threes? Sworn off 2048? Try Diced

Agile Tortoise (Greg Pierce) is probably the best iOS developer there is. I use his Drafts 4 app all the time–an amazing combination of text editor simplicity and power user export options.

He’s just made a $0.99 game called Diced.






From Agile Tortoise’s blog announcement:

Diced is a simple puzzle game. Place dice on a grid to make five of a kind or five in a row (straight) combinations to score points and clear the die. Score as many points as you can before the grid fills up and the game ends. Some game play features:

  • Quick launch and game restore. Easy to leave and come back where you left off.
  • Wild die.
  • Bombs.
  • Random blocks to add difficulty as the game progresses.
  • Game Center support with leaderboards and achievements

There are no ads, no in-app purchases, and it works perfectly. It’s universal, so you can play on iPhone and iPad, where Split View is also supported. (This guy thinks of everything.)

It’s not quite like poker–a full house combination won’t clear a row for you. But between the five of a kind and five straight goals, you’ve got enough ways to clear the board (the bombs help, too). Also cool is the dark mode, which you can toggle off and on.

Check out the app here.

WriteRight: Synonyms (and More) for iOS

You can almost make the iPad your only computing device if you’re a writer. You can certainly make it your primary one, especially if you’ve got a good external keyboard. The multi-tasking option of the upcoming iOS 9 will be another step forward for those who wish to go the iPad-only route.

That said, the built-in operating system does not have a way to fetch synonyms for you. You can tap on a word and select “Define,” but there’s no synonym option.

That’s where WriteRight comes in:

Alt text

What I Like About WriteRight


It’s a plain-text, Markdown-enabled writing app. On the one hand, the App Store has a lot of these. On the other hand, it has some unique features. For instance, I click on the gear icon in the extended keyboard, and I see little gear icons above a couple words. Tapping one of those gives me phrase substitution suggestions:


phrase substitution


The extended keyboard is succinct–just one screen on an iPad in landscape mode. But if you tap on an asterisk, for example, you get multiple Markdown options:


Markdown options


There’s a handy find-and-replace feature, too, something lacking (or not easily accessible) in other similar apps:


Find and replace


And, of course, the synonym/antonym feature is a boon to writers. It’s available in both English and Spanish.




Integration with iCloud and Dropbox is implemented well. And because you’re dealing with Markdown, you can easily work on the same document via Dropbox in WriteRight and many other writing apps. I could finish a document, for example, on Ulysses on my computer, if I wanted to.

The real-time word count (and character count, for that matter) is easy to see and helps with any writing targets you may have.

The app in general feels well-designed. It’s got some nice touches that the regular user will enjoy discovering along the way–like the option to swipe left and right for undo/redo, and a number of other minor features that enhance the writing experience.


What I Find Lacking


Between Drafts and Editorial and 1Writer, I’ve become used to inline Markdown previews, which WriteRight does not have. It’s not a huge loss, but you do have to be comfortable reading Markdown, or else going back and forth a lot between the Edit and Preview windows, if you want to see what your finished text will look like. The multiple Preview options are nice, but inline Markdown preview in a future revision would be handy. If this is a deal-breaker for you, you might struggle to use WriteRight.

I happen to like the Menlo font, but I sometimes like to write using other fonts–WriteRight doesn’t give you the option to change what font you use in the Edit window, i.e., where you do your writing. You can change font size but not style.


That said–even if I’m not jumping to switch to using WriteRight as a primary writing app, its unique features and Cloud-sync capability mean that it has its place as a nice pre-publishing app, to use after I’ve written all my text and before I export and print (or save, or send on to someone). At $2.99, the synonym/antonym and find-and-replace features make it a useful tool in the writer’s tool belt.

Find the app (for iPad and iPhone) in the App Store here.



Thanks to the makers of WriteRight for the free download for the purposes of review.

iOS’s Best App, Now at 30% Off



Drafts is the only app that lives in my dock on both iPad and iPhone. I was skeptical before I reviewed it. Now I use it more the Phone “app” on my phone.

Best of all is the customizable keyboard, from which you can trigger a bunch of actions to perform on the text in your draft: send as Message, Email, make into OmniFocus list, send to Evernote journal, make into a mind map, etc., etc., amen.

Here’s how part of mine looks:



If you use your iOS device (iPhone or iPad) to boost your organization and productivity, this is an essential app. You can, for example, do this amazing thing and this even more amazing thing.

Best of all, it’s now 30% off for a Back to School sale. I’ve never seen it cheaper.

Check out Drafts here.

Voice Dictate a Mind Map (MindNode+Drafts+Siri=Whoa.)

You can make a mind map with no hands in just three steps on an iPhone.

To voice dictate a mind map, you need:

  • an iPhone or iPad with Siri
  • the amazing app Drafts 4
  • mind mapping app MindNode

The Drafts action you’re going to need is “Open in….”

I’ve given this action (which comes already installed with Drafts) its own “Run Action” key on the customizable Drafts keyboard, with its own icon from the emoji keyboard. My keyboard in Drafts looks like this:


Voice MN_Keyboard


Now the amazing part, and it’s just three steps:


1. Outline the text of your mind map in Drafts.


Here’s a bit of voice-dictated text:


Voice MN_Draft


To get going, use Siri to record what will be your first node.

To get to a second node, simply say, “New line, new line” and say what your next node will be.

If you want to do sub-nodes (i.e., “children”) after you have dictated your main/parent node, say, “New line,” and then have Siri indent your sub-node with the “tab key” command. Then dictate that sub-node or child.

You can add more parent, child, and sibling topics similarly.


2. Run your “Open in…” action in Drafts.


I simply tap my “Run action” key, which automatically triggers the “Open in…” action:


VoiceMN_Open in


Select Mind Node and…


3. View your mind map in MindNode.


Voice MN_Map


Because of MindNode’s iCloud-enabled sync setup, you can now view (and modify) your mind map in iOS or OSX platforms.

Joey Lawrence put it best:





The above is an adaptation/re-posting of a previous post on voice dictating a mind map. That post used the app iThoughts, but I learned shortly after posting that even though MindNode doesn’t have the x-callback-url support that iThoughts does, Drafts’s “Open in…” feature makes the same process possible with just one extra tap. Rad.

How to Voice Dictate a Mind Map on Your iPhone

iThoughts icon
iThoughts mind mapping app


You can create a mind map with no hands in just three steps on an iPhone.

Before you voice dictate your mind map, you need:

Then head to the Drafts action directory to pick up this nice little callback url to install to Drafts. If you click this link from your iOS device, you can have it install the action right to Drafts. (More on iThoughts and x-callback-url options here.)

I’ve assigned this action its own “Run Action” key on the customizable Drafts keyboard, with the label MM. My keyboard in Drafts looks like this:


Mind Map Key


Now the fun part, and it’s just three steps:


1. Outline the text of your mind map in Drafts.


Here’s what I’ve just voice dictated:


Text in Drafts for Mind Map


To get going, use Siri to record what will be your first node (“topic” in iThoughts parlance).

To get to a second node, simply say, “New line, new line” and say what your next node/topic will be.

If you want to do sub-nodes (i.e., “children” topics) after you have dictated your main/parent topic, say, “New line,” and then have Siri indent your sub-node with the “tab key” command. Then dictate that sub-node or child topic.

You can add more parent, child, and sibling topics similarly. (iThoughts has a nice terminology overview here.)


2. Run your “iThoughts: New Map from Outline” action in Drafts.


I simply tap my “Run action” key, which automatically opens my draft in iThoughts as a mind map–and does it so quickly, I can barely catch a screenshot of the dialogue!


New Map from Outline


3. View your mind map in iThoughts.


Here it is
Here it is


Because of iThoughts’s sync setup, you can now view (and modify) your mind map in iOS or OSX platforms.

If this isn’t amazing tech, I don’t know what is.

UPDATE: I’ve just learned you can achieve this same effect with MindNode, my current go-to app. It doesn’t have as rich x-callback-url support, but you can make a mind map from voice-dictated text using the “Open in…” feature in Drafts. Very cool.



Thanks to the good people of toketaWare, for giving me a download of iThoughts for iOS and OSX for review purposes. More on that app to follow.

File Under: I Can’t Believe a Phone Can Do This

I can hardly believe the technology on a little iPhone exists to do this, but this is now how I am going to take and process meeting notes from here on out.

I have an app (Drafts 4) that has a downloadable action I found at their Web Action Directory.

Let me show you what it can do:


Drafts to EN and OF 1


Drafts to EN and OF 2


This means I simply open the Drafts app (which is quite aesthetically pleasing, and fast, too) and take meeting notes there…including marking action steps with the checkbox keyboard shortcut key (!).

Then I tap the action above, and all my meeting notes are saved as an Evernote note, with all the checkboxes I made automatically converting to OmniFocus tasks.

Many, many thanks to Agile Tortoise for the awesome app and to @rosscatrow for the action above to install into Drafts 4. A good step forward in my ongoing quest to stay organized.

AppTastic Tuesday: Drafts 4 for iOS



The purpose of Drafts 4 is twofold:

  1. Provide the easiest and quickest way to get to a blank text entry screen on iPhone and iPad.
  2. Allow you then to send or export that text to as many other apps as possible.

This may sound like one of those apps that developers made just because they could, but I’ve been surprised to find myself increasingly reliant on Drafts 4.

drafts4-icon-512x512-roundedJust the last two days I used it to (a) jot down some stand-up meeting notes (which I then exported to an OmniFocus task) and (b) send an email to someone when I didn’t want to have to be distracted by unread emails in my inbox.

Open the app, and you get a blank screen, into which you can quickly type (or dictate, via Siri) text. I recently was fortunate enough to have inspiration for a sermon outline strike me when I was doing some chores around the house. Not sure what to do with this newly found locus for creativity, I quickly reached for Drafts and jotted my thoughts down:


1_Text Entry


From here I could access a wealth of sharing options:


2_Basic Sharing Options


3_Basic Share Options 2


This particular draft went into Evernote, where I could easily get it later. I could have exported it some other ways:


4_Export to iCloud


Also amazingly cool is that when I exported it to Reminders, Drafts made each separate line into its own task:


5_Export to Reminders


This is sweet enough–an app that lets you quickly jot down text and export/share to just about anywhere. But Drafts is built with an eye to detail. You can make your text look nice, too:


6_Text Appearance
Note the option to have a night mode. And all those fonts!


You can even re-arrange your text from within Drafts, just by virtue of having started a new line when you were entering text:




You can edit the keyboard keys that are available to you:


8_Edit Keys
Note, too, the Markdown capabilities


There are quite a few settings you can adjust:




And Drafts can keep everything you enter, regardless of whether you’ve shared or exported it. (Drafts also keeps a record of where you’ve shared/exported your draft.)


10_Sort Inbox


Yes, you guessed it, there’s a Today widget, too:


11_Today Widget


Drafts 4 is just as awesome on iPad (not pictured here) as it is on iPhone. The only possible downside to this app is that $9.99 is more than most iOS users are used to paying for an app. But it’s easily one of the most carefully developed and detailed apps I’ve used, and robust in its features and capabilities.

It’s well worth checking out, and has found a home in my daily workflow.



Thanks to the fine folks at Agile Tortoise, the makers of Drafts 4, for giving me a download of the app for this review. See my other AppTastic Tuesday reviews here.

App Santa–Sweet iOS Apps on Sale

App Santa


I’m not sure how the actual St. Nick would feel about iTechnology, but App Santa offers a surprisingly large selection of excellent iOS (and Mac) apps for sale, starting today.

A few highlights of apps I use (and like):

  • PDF Expert 5 ($6.99, from $9.99)
  • Scanner Pro ($2.99, from $6.99), which I use regularly for e-filing
  • Calendars 5 ($2.99, from $6.99), even better than Apple’s native Calendars app
  • TextExpander Touch ($2.99, from $4.99)

And a few apps that I haven’t reviewed (but will soon) that look sweet:

  • Drafts 4 ($4.99, from $9.99), “where text starts on iOS”
  • Launch Center Pro ($0.99, from $4.99), the tag line of which is, “Launch actions, not just apps”
  • Screens ($13.99, from $19.99). This morning after having it installed for less than a minute, I was using a tiny little phone to control a big desktop computer. Amazing!
  • MindNode ($4.99, from $9.99): a smooth mind mapping app, which I’ll post about more in coming months

Find them all (and others) here.