Monthly Archives: June 2018

A Hardware Keyboard Shortcuts Tip for Drafts 5

Drafts 5 is a great app for capturing thoughts, drafting notes, and capturing tasks, and quickly sending them, via Actions, to other apps or services for further processing. The typical workflow is:

  1. Launch Drafts
  2. Type a draft
  3. Launch an Action to process the draft

On iPhone, swiping left from anywhere to pick an Action is right at your fingertips, since you are typing on screen. On iPad, if you type with an external keyboard (which I highly recommend), launching an Action is a little more cumbersome. By default, you have to move your fingers off the keyboard and reach up to the screen to get to your Actions list. There is another way to launch Actions, however, that doesn’t require you to move your fingers off the keyboard.

Custom hardware keyboard shortcuts

Drafts 5 lets you assign custom hardware keyboard shortcuts to any Action. This is an extremely rare, and extremely powerful, feature. You can configure hardware keyboard shortcuts for text formatting commands and to insert text snippets (such as today’s date) into your draft. You can also define a set of hardware keyboard shortcuts to use to complete your drafts.

I use Drafts 5 throughout the day to write microblog posts, notes, and tasks and send them to where they need to go: Dropbox, Ulysses, my to-do app SwiftoDo, and so on. For all my most-used Actions that process drafts, I use an easy-to-mash but hard to accidentally type accelerator, Control+Option+Command, plus one letter, when I complete my draft and want to send it on its way.

I use the Control+Option+Command accelerator only for Actions that complete drafts, so it’s always clear to me when I type it that I am ending my draft and sending it somewhere else.

Here is my list of hardware keyboard shortcuts, each of which I find incredibly useful:

  • Control+Option+Command+D: save draft to a Dropbox folder
  • Control+Option+Command+U: save draft to a Ulysses Inbox folder
  • Control+Option+Command+T: send tasks in draft to my todo.txt file via SwiftoDo
  • Control+Option+Command+M: post draft directly to Micro.blog
  • Control+Option+Command+G: search for draft text in Google
  • Control+Option+Command+A: search for draft text in App Store

Each shortcut is easily mapped to its Action via the “Edit Action” dialog. (See the photo that accompanies this blog post.) If you forget what custom shortcuts you created, hold down Command while editing your draft, and all the custom shortcuts you defined will appear in the standard iOS hardware keyboard shortcut pop-up display.

These hardware keyboard shortcuts don’t necessarily save me a lot of time and trouble, but they make my Drafts workflow on iOS feel fast and comfortable. I highly recommend setting some up for your own iPad Drafts workflow.

What would make me upgrade my Series 1 Apple Watch

I love the Apple Watch. I didn’t always, though. When I first tried on a Series 0, a couple weeks before it was released, I quickly made the decision not to buy one. I thought it was too expensive and that it was not immersive enough. I had been expecting an iPhone for the wrist; what it was instead was a wristwatch with some extras. Six months later, however, I relented and bought one, mostly because Target was offering the Space Gray Sport model at a deep discount, and I wanted to pick a holiday gift for myself that my family members could chip in for.

I quickly grew to love the Apple Watch, despite its slow speed and lack of viable third-party applications. The first-party Apple Watch applications alone—such as Messages, Workouts, and Weather—pleased me very much. Caller ID on my watch was great for avoiding telemarketing calls at dinner. Something as simple as having the temperature always available on my watch face far more useful than I had anticipated.

I have a Series 1 now because my Series 0’s screen popped off due to battery swelling after almost two years. Apple covered it under an extended warranty and sent me a Series 1 for free. The Series 1 is much faster than the Series 0, and is not going to be obsoleted by Watch OS 5 in the fall. Still, it isn’t as fast, and consequently as useful, as the Series 3. I fully expect a new Apple Watch model to be released later this year, which will be even faster.

If I still had the Series 0, I had planned to upgrade this year, for increased performance alone. Now that I have the Series 1, I am not so sure. My Series 1 has great battery life, but is starting to show performance problems. Workouts, for example, take a long time to start. Third party apps are still, largely, useless for me, for the same reason. Despite these problems, most of the features of the Apple Watch are still working just fine for me.

The main feature that would tempt me to upgrade, at this point, would be new or better health monitoring features. The idea that the watch could save my life, by monitoring for irregular heartbeats, is very compelling to me. I would welcome and pay for any additional features in that area. If they are confined to newer hardware, I would definitely upgrade to get them. I care more about that sort of thing than I do about increased speed, cellular or GPS connectivity, or (if the rumors are true) a larger display area.