Rebuilding Drafts

I’ve been a long-time user of Drafts, but my subscription is due to expire next month and I have been thinking that I’d let it go. I’ve been using Tot more these days, and Drafts had become an intimidating mess that I didn’t enjoy using.

However, after listening to a Mac Power Users podcast featuring the Drafts app and an interview with its developer, and then reading a blog post by Jason Burk about his Drafts setup (plus a personal conversation with him), I realised that it wasn’t necessarily Drafts that was the problem - it was what I had done to it.

That’s the thing, Drafts is almost endlessly customisable to enable it to fit different users and use cases. I had created so many Actions, Action Groups, and sections that the app had become confusing and overwhelming. I had duplicated actions across different groups, I was having to think too much whenever I wanted to use the app.

As I said to Jason, actual use beats good intentions. My Drafts configuration had become so bloated with convoluted actions that I thought I might use someday that it put me off from using the simple actions I will actually use today.

I’ve taken my myriad Action Groups and boiled them down to a single set. Now the only Actions that confront me are the ones I am likely to use and I don’t need to think about switching between different Action Groups.

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I’ve also kept a couple of additional Action Groups but set them only as Action Bars - essentially an additional layer of text editing commands that sit at the bottom of my editing window. These are for formatting text, as opposed to taking action on them.

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In terms of Workspaces, I’m keeping that as I previously had configured, but have clarified my thinking about them. I have workspaces dedicated to:

  • Untagged
  • Blogging
  • Podcast
  • Work
  • Templates

These are populated through smart searches based on a tag I apply to each note.

The Templates Workspace is specifically for OmniFocus project templates that I send to OmniFocus using the scripts that Rosemary Orchard created. I continue to use this system because it allows for date math (for example, a task will be deferred 6 months from the date the project is created).

I’m now feeling much more positive about Drafts after this cleanup. The Drafts editor is great, it supports all the Mac niceties (Services, smart markdown link insertion/pastes, etc.) and now I don’t feel overwhelmed when I load the app. Of course, Drafts also offers that great unique selling proposition of a blank field that is ready for text entry immediately. This is especially great on iOS.

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Andrew Canion @canion