Resolving to not switch apps

We’ve had more than one thread on this subject. Switching apps can be a colossal waste of time. Moving from OmniFocus to Things and back again, switching browsers, switching text editors, note-taking apps, etc.

So I resolved to cut it out. Corollary: I’m allowed to try new apps just for the hell of it. Why not? Download it, fiddle with it a bit. But just leave it there; don’t switch for no reason and go to the bother of moving all my data.

And yet there are two problems with this philosophy: One is that needs change. I recently switched fro Overcast to Castro for podcasts, when I realized I will never catch up with my podcast queue. Castro is better at helping you prioritize which podcasts to listen to next, and which ones to just make note of for some, indefinite time in the future when you might have time to listen.

The other problem is that the ground shifts under you. I successfully resisted the temptation to switch browsers for months, and then the update for Safari started flaking out on me for some frequently visited sites. Like Twitter. So I switched to Firefox. That had its own problems so I’m back to Safari again.


Yep! Tired. VERY tired. Constantly switching between the latest new shiny thing is getting old, not to mention, it is extremely unproductive.

Which fishing bait do you catch the most fishing on?
The one that you throw the most. ‘Plains it all right there.


I have cut some podcasts. Others I don’t want to let go of. Others I only want to listen to some episodes. Other, I do want to listen to … someday. Castro makes it easy to avoid making an unnecessary decision.

Also, Pocket vs. Instapaper vs. Reading List vs. Pinboard. I bounced between the four.

A few months ago, I decided Instapaper is it. That’s it. I’m done.

Then Safari broke the Instapaper extension. So I went to reading list.

Then I had to switch away from Safari, so I went to Pocket.

Then I realized that I like Instapaper’s formatting better, and the way it can automatically sort articles by length, and popularity and how far I’ve read into them. So now I’m back to Instapaper.

One result of supporting Mac users for years is I tend to use the built in apps on the Mac, and whenever possible on iOS. When I was working this allowed me to stay up to date with the apps/features all our machines had in common.

Today, it’s still much the same. I try to find what works and stick with it until I have a real reason to change.


Were you actually switching for no reason before? It seems like it’s always going to be because a need changes, the tool changes, a superior alternative emerges or you want to jolt out of procrastination with something new. All of those seem legitimate to me so long as enough understanding of the current tool has been developed (some OF/Things switchers, for example, haven’t really hit the limits of either—not saying that’s your situation.)

If you misjudged the ROI of a switch, that’s something to learn from but it doesn’t mean it’s never worth switching again in the future, even more so if I’m switching during what would otherwise be unproductive time.

Additionally, I can’t change how I organize my work without learning new things about myself and what I’m trying to do. Improving my tools has useful byproducts.

Regarding podcasts specifically, I think Castro makes a ton of sense for a journalist, just like they also have really busy RSS feeds for text. I think it encourages good use of time better than Overcast/Pocket Casts for people who highly value the option to listen to a podcast.

(P.S. I feel like I need to flash my Cal Newport fan badge when I make these comments. Love Deep Work, have loved his blog for years. That doesn’t change my job and how quickly/thoroughly I want to do it every day.)

I find something that’s good enough then I stick with it until it becomes sufficiently intolerable in the face of competition. It’s worked pretty well for a long time. It’s what for example kept me in DevonNote/DevonThink from 2007-2016 then EagleFilter until now, and the only reason I’m (extremely slowly) evaluating alternatives is for a switch to cross-platform (iOS, web) editing access.

I’m not opposed to sampling apps, but I treat it with a hobby-like attitude that a new app probably goes back in the box after playtime is over.


I am trying to cultivate this attitude!

What do you like about EagleFiler as opposed to just using the Finder and, on iOS, Files?

And why did you give up DevonThink after all these years? I quit for two reasons: Concern that it would be a major hassle getting data out of there – seems like the database required more care and feeding than I wanted to put in. Also, I just didn’t need all that power.

For me DevonThink Pro was also ultimately overkill for my needs. (Over the years I went from DevonNote [now discontinued] to DevonThink and then to DTP.) There was a super-annoying bug that I’d reported for years and only got fixed after I left for EagleFiler: although I’d turn off the Sorter, every time the app got updated my preferences would be overridden, the Sorter would be reinstalled, and I’d have to turn it off again. It happened several times a year for many years. The devs were also deaf to complaints from many users (on the forums, Twitter, Reddit) about the clunky interface (which finally got an overhaul in the new version), and the our-way-or-the-highway attitude of the developers just got to me and made me realize the highway wouldn’t be so bad. EagleFiler has a similar structure, but fewer features (with a concomitantly lower price), but it’s rock solid and does what I need.

DevonThink To Go is a good idea, but from what I’ve read it’s rather limited in execution. Given that, and the new pricing structure, if I go for something cross-platform it’ll be something with an iOS or web version whose features are peers of the Mac app. That’s why I’ve been thinking of Notebooks (which I already own) and Keep It!, and why I’m also entertaining the possibility of using OneNote.

OneNote/iOS just got an incremental update, and I was pleasantly surprised at how well it worked on my iPhone. Unfortunately the Mac app was always perplexingly dog-slow for me, but given how nicely the iOS app is running I’m going to re-download the app from the MAS and try once more. If it does work, then I’d install the Chrome/Brave/Opera web clipper (nothing available yet for the new Safari), and might even dump Google Keep in favor of OneNote’s ‘sticky note’ section. Too early to say for sure though. But when I have time it’ll be playtime.

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Second time I’ve heard good about OneNote recently. Maybe time for me to have another look.

What do you get from EagleFiler that standard MacOS/iOS/iPadOS does not provide?

I listen to podcasts at 1.5x on the Podcasts app and also use smart speed on Overcast. The one person that I had a little difficulty listening to at 1.5x initially was Katie. But after a while I got used to it and now if I have to listen to people at regular speed they sound drunk to start with :slight_smile: I have to switch back to 1x for foreign language podcasts.
I have a set of podcasts that I listen to on Podcasts and another set that I listen to using Overcast. I started using Overcast when I had to binge listen to the entire history of the Pen Addict, and the smart speed certainly saved many hours.
I use multiple apps in other areas as well, for example 3 different web browsers at work for different web apps and content, partly due to the fact that some sites only work on one or other browser.

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FYI I just downloaded the latest Mac version of OneNote, and it seems a lot snappier than before. A while back I’d created a notebook of screenshots of a few dozen pieces of furniture at various stores before I went shopping and it was usable if a bit slow on iOS, but stutteringly slow on the Mac. Today it’s speedy on iOS and now I see surprisingly usable on the Mac! Something to look at more closely when I have time. Could be a keeper now. When I launched the app the 2nd screen was about privacy, which I appreciated:

What I like about EagleFiler is that it’s a no-frills, easy to use notebook/database structure with folders, tags, mail archiving, easy search, sorting, and more, for a cheap price. I use just a part of its features, but for the price it’s a really amazing. The dev has a reviews/testimonials page in which people discuss how they use it, and some of it’s downright inspiring. I just did a quick googling on it and was amused to see that David Sparks wrote a brief overview of the app in 2007… and that he did a good job then of explaining the app’s features and appeal today.


David Sparks you say? Whatever happened to him I wonder? :slight_smile:

We use the OneNote app on iPad Pros at my school and currently scans from our photocopier insert rotated and cropped. Same with documents I transfer from DEVONthink To Go. Seems to be a consequence of updating to iPadOS. Microsoft know there is a problem but don’t seem bothered.
Also, using ClassNotebooks for teaching is plagued with syncing delays. Just bearable but being constantly told “our servers are busy” by a company the size of Microsoft is beyond funny.
So some people do have problems with OneNote!


Sadly, while OneNote has gotten much faster on the Mac, I’m finding the menus and switchable menubars and overall UI a complex mess for me. And I can’t find any way to view the Sticky Notes I created on my iPhone – I thought everything was supposed to sync! (Not only that, but Sticky Notes don’t even appear to be a feature in the Mac app at all.) Sigh. So much for that. Maybe I’ll revisit the app again in a year or so.

In the mean time, I’m just really impressed by the speed and power of Notebooks on the Mac and its usability on iOS too. And if I needed something more lightweight (I don’t, really) FSNotes remains impressive on Mac/iOS


Specifically related to switching Task Managers I’ve found that moving does two things;

  1. it forces me to clean up my projects and dump stuff I know I never will get around to doing and
  2. I end up tweaking prowesses/organization to be a bit better.

Would I be better off just staying with one task manager and setting aside time occasionally to purge it? Possibly.

But the pull is hard, y’all! I have shiny object syndrome even now that I’ve written MY OWN task manager that I can tweak to my heart’s content. And I STILL think about switching.

OneNote v. GoodNotes v. Apple Notes v. EverNote
BBEdit v. Text Edit v. vim

It’s a sickness.


This. Although sometimes I stick with it until an OS change breaks it and forces my hand.



This past year to 18 months I moved from Todoist (because of poor Watch support) to Things, to Omnifocus, to TickTick, looked at ClickUp, and now back to Todoist (with Watch support), and have resolved never to do that again.

I remind myself that mankind has done greater things with fewer tools than what I have today.


Oh, yes, I’ve done the task manager shuttle a few times myself. Of all the app-switching productivity sinks, that one is the worst because it involves copying and organizing all your to-dos.

Yup. This comes up in my mind during discussions of writing tools. Ulysses vs. iaWriter vs. whatever you love. Exquisite distraction free environments, focus view, syntax highlighting, etc.

I’m a professional writer and I work with a lot of professional writers. You know what most of them use? Microsoft Word. Google Docs is also a popular choice. And they’re not even using any of the features of Word or Docs. They could just as well be writing in TextEdit on the Mac, or the Windows equivalent.

One of the best favors you can do for yourself as a writer is learn to write anywhere, at any time, with anything. The novelist Cory Doctorow is also a political activist and does public speaking gigs around the world; he’s a Linux guy and uses the text editor that’s free with Linux, and does a lot of writing at airports sitting on the floor leaning against the wall near an electrical socket.


Yes but you don’t know how intolerable it is compared to the competition till you try out the competition…