Mac Power Users 473: Shawn Blanc’s Evolved Workflows

Very good episode. In the same way Stephen felt jealous of Sean, I felt jealous of him for another reason: his company culture and use of Basecamp. I’m not looking forward to logging into work Slack tomorrow.

Also great to have a fellow Things user (Things expert really) in the show. I always thought that for the “average guy” (i.e. you aren’t a super busy free agent and work by yourself) it’s the best task manager. I’ll have to look into the video course… not sure I need it but at the very least the money will go to great people.


When I hear about someone using the iPad as a primary device, I wonder about ergonomics. One of the advantages to a big elevated screen is reducing neck and shoulder strain. Sounds like Shawn and others are just using an iPad on a desk or table. The simplicity of this setup is very appealing, but what about the ergonomics?


You could elevate the iPad and use it with an external keyboard. Still have to reach over and poke at the screen though.

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Putting the iPad in a stand is an option. My experience with it was sort of mixed though.

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Like this?



I appreciate the app suggestions at the close of the segment. …new things to try.

I used thesweetsetup’s course on Ulysses 2017. It expanded my understanding of it’s organization and features. The five concluding user videos were useful. …well organized course.

I’d like to have heard more about the course’s update status. …especially with the forthcoming Ulysses update.

Last fall Shawn wrote that it was happening.

Edit to add Mar 24, 19 — Hope this is not inappropriate promotion.

P.S. Course Update Coming Tuesday, March 26…

There is a brand-new version of the Ulysses app (version 15) that just came out on Monday 11 March 2019. We are fast at work with a MASSIVE update to our Learn Ulysses course.

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A couple of things that stood out to me.

First, Shawn’s assertion that Pages is somehow not up to par on the iPad or too finicky to use, I have found otherwise. I use it all the time for complex document designs for clients. From annual reports to newsletters to brochures. Almost anything that I’ve used InDesign for in the past I can do on the iPad with Pages. In fact I just finished a newsletter for a client today! But, that said, like many things on the iPad, it does take practice! There are a few things that are a little easier on the Mac version but that’s a far cry from the suggestion that it can’t be used for anything beyond basic documents.

The second, Shawn suggested (paraphrasing but I think fairly accurately) several times that he appreciated the focus that comes with using an iPad. He refers to the simplicity and slowness of it, one app at a time. While that is a mode that is possible if a user prefers to use just one app at a time, it’s certainly not a limitation. While I agree that it is possible to have far more windows open on a Mac and that this can lead to a feeling of clutter or congestion, it’s quite possible to have many paired, split view apps open on an iPad with slide-over in play as well. I regularly do this, many times a day. Sure, there was a period when iOS on the iPad really was much closer to a focused, one app at a time interface, but that is long past.

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Stephen does seem to be rubbing off on David. I lived in South Carolina for a couple of years and picked up a tendency to use “y’all” (I even got complimented on my proper use of “all y’all” by a native South Carolinian).

I do the same with Pages and I think it is a underrated app.

I use Pages all the time and think it’s a great app, too. But I see where Shawn is coming from - Pages in iOS is less full-featured than Pages on the Mac. At the most bvasic level, in iOS you can have only one document open at a time. If the iOS version is missing something that Shawn needs in his workflows, then naturally he would need to return to the Mac version.

However, there do exist people who get very precious about having to change the way they do anything. I don’t think this describes Shawn, but it certainly describes others when it comes to comparing apps and app versions. Early in the days of this forum, someone wanted to use Pages to do something easily done in Word. I found a work-around – two, actually – and it did the exact same thing but in a different way that required ONE more mouse click. Whoever it was just thanked me for proving that Pages was incapable of doing exactly what Word could do in exactly the same way and was, therefore, a lousy application. (I’m paraphrasing.)

So, the reality is that Pages is a great app, it can do lots of things well, but it can’t do everything, and that the iOS Pages app is less full-featured than the Mac app (this is a simple fact, not an opinion), which will make it less useful to some people and not others.

Pages on iOS indeed doesn’t have all features. That needs work. Also opening multiple documents. It shouldn’t be that hard for Apple to implement tabs just like on the Mac. GoodNotes 5 already has the option to open multiple notes in different tabs and that works great.

I enjoyed this episode. Made me look at Basecamp and I had no idea it was free for teachers and students. Next academic year I’ll be using it for both groups of teachers and my students, as I was just granted a perpetual educational license.

Thanks for the great information as always!

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David on iPad sizes, watching Myke using his 11":

“I’m thinking how much easier it must be to travel with that smaller iPad.”

Oh. My. God! @MacSparky, newsflash, the use of iDevices in-flight is not what makes air travel uncomfortable.

The current 12.9 is tiny! Also, the physical size delta vs the 11” is negligable. Remember when the guy in the seat next to you pulled out his broadsheet newspaper? I do. The airlines handed them out at the gate. We have come such a long way.

So what if the seat in front reclines? Use it handheld with the Pencil. Better still, put the iPad away and enjoy some Miles Davis off your phone :slight_smile:

Shawn did a post today talking a bit about his iPad writing setup:

I just don’t get the whole “work in an airplane” thing. Probably the most miserable and uncomfortable place to work at. It’s like telling galley slaves they could get some work done if they had an 11" iPad. :smiley: Long flight: try to sleep. Short flight: newspaper.

Work stays in the bag and gets pulled out in the hotel/conference room.


Yup … that’s what I ended up doing

As a native South Carolinian (currently in Charleston)I think everyone should say y’all. :wink:


Has anybody taken the 1Password course from Sweet Setup and know if it covers 1pw 8?