Leaving Bear and Using Drafts 5

It’s not long since I posted about trying out Bear for writing. Now I’ve ditched it again. Mostly, though, the problem wasn’t Bear as such, just a better alternative for me came along. An updated version of an app I’ve been using for years – Drafts.

Drafts 4 was a handy little app for capturing quick bits of text, and sending them to different places. You set up the actions you need/want, and then it’s quick and easy to do. Type a few lines, run an action to add each of them as an item to my shopping list. Type a bit of text, send it to Tweetbot to tweet. Type a quick note, and hit a button to add a date and time stamp before exporting it to Notes. That sort of thing.

It didn’t have any organisation for your drafts, though. So all your bits of text were just in one list. Fine for those quick note you just needed to push elsewhere, but that was it. For that, though, it was a great app, and I used it often.

Then Drafts 5 came along, and added tagging and workspaces. Now it can organise your drafts, and you can switch between workspaces to see different views of different drafts. With good Markdown support, it was suddenly a perfectly decent writing app. I’m using it for writing this, now.

Screenshot of Drafts 5

Bear is still good, and I’d still recommend it, just as I’d still recommend Ulysses if you do enough writing to justify the cost. Drafts is a bit more expensive per month than Bear, as it’s now become a subscription, but as I’d probably be paying anyway for the quick running of actions, the extra is well worth it for me.

I actually prefer the way Drafts handles Markdown to Bear’s method. The markup remains in your text, where Bear changes it to formatting, which can then export back to Markdown again. I prefer my text to stay as I enter it. I imagine some people will prefer Bear’s method, but I like working in real plain text.

The biggest downside for me is that there’s no macOS app for Drafts, but it’s been hinted that one is coming. I’m not finding it too much trouble to restrict my writing to iOS. It’s usually my preferred way anyway – it can be nicely free of distractions, with long battery life, and my iPad goes almost everywhere with me. I also carry an old Mac keyboard in my bag, so the typing experience is just as good as on a MacBook, as long as there’s a surface to prop up my iPad in its folding cover.

All in all, the new version does everything the old one did, at least as well as before; and now it’s also a good app for writing. Worth the small monthly fee to me.

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