How I use Drafts as my text editor
Drafts is a well-known app that sells itself as being the place “where text starts.” The app’s strength is its ability to become a launcher for many text-based actions towards other apps. Want to add a new todo list item in Reminders or Todoist? Type it using Drafts. Want to add a new calendar event in Fantastical, or post a new tweet? Drafts. You get the idea. Drafts has a directory of “actions” that you can download and customise so that your initial text entry in the app becomes the starting point of many of your daily operations.
These “actions” can also be used for customising your writing experience within the app itself. This is how I use Drafts. For Reminders, Calendar events, tweets, and all other things, I prefer to start with the corresponding app. For writing entries in my blog, I use Drafts, as a text editor only, like I previously used iA Writer, Byword, or Dropbox Paper.
Besides being very fast and looking good both on the Mac and on the iPhone,1 Drafts can be finely tuned. I’ve already explained why I use Drafts as my go-to text editor, but not how I use it.
On the Mac I hide all the toolbars (see screenshot here) and operate through keyboard shortcuts: I only use 3 main Drafts actions, for which I’ve configured these keyboard shortcuts (on iOS, these are available as buttons above the keyboard, as you can see here on this screenshot)
- Export ⌘⇧S • allows me to export a text file in my Dropbox folder — the one used to publish on Blot — while automatically naming that file using the title of the post, and appending the date to the filename.
- Markdown links ⌘⇧H or ⌘⇧K • inline link or reference link, depending on my mood or how many links are in a post. If I have an URL copied in my clipboard, it will automatically add it in the URL field.
- Footnotes ⌘⇧J • adds a footnotes reference and moves the cursor to the footnote area.
On the Mac, I also use these custom shortcuts:
- ⌘⌥- • to show/hide the main Drafts window
- ⌘⌥^ • to show/hide the Capture window (for quick notes without losing sight of what you’re reading for instance)
- ⌘⌥P • to preview Markdown in rich text (on iOS it is another action shortcut).2
- ⌘⇧: • to launch Gruber’s service: Open URLs in Safari Tabs
- ⌘⇧D • used in Safari to share a selection to Drafts (on iOS it goes through the Share menu), creating a new entry with the selection as a quote, and the link of the source already referenced in the draft (see what it looks like on this screenshot here).
That’s it. That’s the setup. I think I only use around 10% of what everything Drafts can do. I can’t believe it took me so long to find a writing app that does everything I need, and does it so well and is so fast.
Thanks for reading.
Each writing mode can be customised separately: font, colours, space between lines, etc.↩︎
I just wish using the shortcut again would hide the Preview window.↩︎