Long term Drafts users - how have you been using Drafts?

Both MPU the show and the forum have had discussions about Drafts before - I wanted an update from the users of this forum about how you’re using Drafts.

For me, Drafts is still where text starts. I have only two Workspaces: One is a “General” workspace that filters for untagged drafts. This is set up to show a badge for how many drafts are in the workspace. This workspace is for anything that comes to mind during the day. When I get a chance, I’ll use actions to move these to Apple Notes (more on that later), Things, etc.

There is some duplication in macOS since I can use Things’ Quick Add or Drafts’ Quick Capture, but it’s not too confusing when to which and really, it doesn’t matter much.

My other workspace is for messages. I am a little neurotic about texting or emailing people when it’s something important - I want to have time to revise and check for typos. I’ll store messages I want to send in the near future here and use an action to send them.

For anything that’s “long term”, I still stick to Apple Notes in the same way as someone might stick to Evernote or DEVONThink. Apple Notes is sufficiently complex and I (heresy?) prefer the rich text format for some things. In here I store my long term lists such as to read, to watch, etc., notes about my quarterly goals, important stuff.

How are you using Drats?

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I use Drafts every day. Aside from serving as digital scrap paper, I use it to:

  1. Track my time. (I have an action that processes my raw timeslips into data that gets appended to a .csv and emails my assistant properly formatted data for entry into my firm’s billing system).

  2. Take notes of calls/meetings (I have an action that prepends these notes to “comlogs” (communication logs) for each client).

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I bought the previous version but chose not to subscribe to the current app.

I use it as a temporary space to compose emails and long texts, then send them off and delete them in Drafts.

For permanent docs I mostly use Ulysses or Apple Notes, though I’m auditioning other apps too (and I own a bucketload of cross-platform writing/files apps, from FSNotes to IA Writer to Notebooks).

I like Drafts a lot but don’t need much of the functionality that makes it indispensable for some people.

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I hope the upcoming update to the Mac version will make Drafts my main wiritng app. I want text to start and end there :slight_smile:

I installed Drafts recently after reading so much about how popular it is and the awards it has won.

Can you explain to me the appeal - indeed apparently its most trumpeted feature - of an app which is raw text only?

I would love love love an equivalent app which uses Rich Text. Sure there is a Preview function for Markup - but wouldn’t it be a whole lot easier if it also supported Rich Text? That doesn’t stop those who prefer raw text or Markup from using those formats.

I subscribed twice but I wont renew. For me as much as I want to support this developer it is unfortunately a feature creep situation. It started out doing one thing well to now doing so many things some not so well that it has from a UX perspective become increasingly confusing and full of friction to use. (I guess that’s what people love about it.) But iOS 13 Notes, Reminders and Voice Memos with Shortcuts now get the job done for me. They are so well integrated on every platform. I use Cheat Sheet for the handful of things i need on my wrist — the one gap Drafts did fill. It’s a one time purchase.

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I use it primarily for search actions on iOS, and occasionally short notes especially when I want to link to them from Omnifocus. I’ve tried using the Mac app but I almost always end up moving the text to Ulysses or Taskpaper depending on the document, bc of some annoyances in Drafts (e.g. tab behavior).

I’ll give it a shot. Drafts is where text starts. It’s that notepad you keep by the phone in your office, the sticky notes you leave in the kitchen. The notebook you keep in you back pocket.

When you need to just jot something down, Drafts is there, fast, ready to type, and without bothering you about finding that note that your adding something to, creating a file, name or formatting your text.

THEN

Drafts provides you with myriad ways to process that text and send it wherever is appropriate. There are tons of built-in tools for this, thousands of actions you can download, and the power and flexibility to build or customize any of that as you see fit.

Don’t think of it as a note-taking/writing app like Notes/Ulysses/Bear/iAWriter. You can use Drafts with those apps if you like. But they all make it more difficult to get the words out of your head and into your phone or iPad. Drafts removes that friction, while still giving you the flexibility to send that text wherever you want after you’ve written it.

If it’s not your cup of tea, don’t worry. There are plenty of other apps out there that you can use. But there are plenty of us who have found real value in Drafts’ “write first, act on it later” approach.

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I totally agree with the idea of a “scrap book” if you will to work on content before it is ready to send. Makes tons of sense.

My question though is - why couldn’t Drafts do the same exact thing but with rich text - which would save the extra step of formatting or verifying that Markup is correct?

There are lots of other apps - but not many with as many integrations as Drafts has. It is clearly first in class in that regard.

I see. A few thoughts:

  1. If Drafts supported rich text, you’d still be formatting the text at some point. You’d just be doing it while capturing in Drafts rather than in whatever rich-text app you are sending the text to. I’m not sure why it would be any more efficient for you to do it in a rich-text Drafts rather than a rich-text destination app.

  2. Allowing for rich text formatting inside of Drafts vastly complicates matters in terms of what gets shared and how to what apps. What if the apps don’t support rich text? Or only support some of the formatting, but not others? As soon as you add rich text into Drafts itself, you open up all those questions and potential problems. Just working with plain text allows you to do the formatting later, wherever the text is ending up.

  3. I suspect there’s also some element of historical necessity. iPhones didn’t always support rich text. Until iOS13’s Shortcuts, most inter-app communication had to be done via URL schemes which, by their nature, are plain text.

It sounds like you’re frustrated with a particular use case. If you share what you’re trying to do, I suspect the folks here would be happy to help you figure out a good way to accomplish your goal.

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Yeah I’d rather add rich text formatting to text in its final destination when needed than need to bother with it when I don’t.

I like writing early drafts in Scrivener less and less for precisely this reason. Why should I need to worry about the font, line spacing, etc. getting messed up just by pasting some text from another document?

Thanks for the thoughts

Two uses cases:

1 - For regular generic messaging, it seems quicker/easier to me to be able to add bold or underline or a change in font color as I am writing than remember to do it in the later app

2 - More specific use case Suppose I am composing a draft email which will include a copy of some image I have clipped from the web. Unless I am missing something, I cannot do that with Drafts. Somehow I have to save that image somewhere else and remember to add it later when the text goes to its destination. Or maybe I have to upload the image to Dropbox and include the Dropbox link in my Drafts text. It seems to me it would be a lot simpler if I could just copy/paste an image into Drafts, just as I can do for example in Apple Notes.

Isn’t CheatSheet great? I often put lab protocols for certain procedures in it so I can see the next step with a flick of the wrist.

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Looks great for iOS - but it doesn’t sync to macOS, corrrect?

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Correct. But underrated app.

I like that explanation claran! Makes good sense.

For “generic messaging” — which app are you using to send the message? Messages doesn’t support rich text at all, so you must be using something else—presumably something with formatting tools that allow you to specify text color and other items.

For composing rich emails, it’s best to use your favorite email program directly. You might be able to hack together something to grab a link to an image and send an HMTL email. But why go to all that trouble when you could just compose the email in a tool designed for that very purpose? If you want to start with Drafts, do that, but leave the image insertion and formatting until after you’ve sent the text to your mail app of choice.

More broadly, I’ll note that I don’t find Drafts all that useful for sending responses to people, in messages, email, or otherwise. Most of the time having the full context available—the messaging thread, the original email, etc.—makes it far easier to draft the reply.

I’ve tried Drafts several times and I’ve always just naturally gone back to Notes. I think it comes down to Notes being as easy (and fast) to use as Drafts. To get started with a note I open the app, Command-N on my keyboard and just start typing. Or I can long press the Notes app in the dock and choose new note. I don’t have to format anything if I don’t want to. And, I have the option to share out to Messages, Mail, a tweet, a text file or any number of other possibilities. And while I can (and usually do) just start with text as I would with Drafts, I also have the additional feature set which supports adding inline images, PDFs, links with rich previews, etc. Which can all be shared out with the note if I need to share it out.

Drafts seems to click for some people but I think there are a lot of people that want to make it work and it never quite does. I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve seen posts from people who trying Drafts again for the nth time. I’ve just acknowledged that I’m one of the people that prefers Notes. And I’d emphasize that Notes is just as easy to get started with as Drafts. There’s nothing over-complicating the Notes workflow. If I’m being honest, adding Drafts to my workflow was an unnecessary step and adding an unnecessary app.

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More power to you. I love that we have as many good choices as we do. I was just trying to explain the appeal for those of us that really do use and rely on Drafts on a daily basis.

For me, I have far more need to manipulate text than I do to deal with images, rich text, or files. So for me, Draft’s customizable keyboard keys, scriptability, text-expander integration, etc. far outweigh the potential gains of using Notes.

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FYI, there have been a few other threads about this, like this one, so you might want to do a Search.

The spaciousness in Drafts makes editing in it superior when sending a Message. On the Mac the window for entering text is tiny and un-resizable, and on iOS it’s been too easy to send a multi-paragraph Message while still composing it. To be able to edit my text and Message from Drafts… it’s a beautiful thing.

Messages window vs Drafts:

Sadly for Agile Tortoise, I don’t need the additional features in the subscription, so, even though I was willing to pay for an upgrade to the app, I’ve remained as a user of the free version on Mac and iOS.

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