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Review: Drafts for iPhone and iPad

Dan Frakes | Jan. 2, 2013
It's easy enough to cut and paste text between apps, but these days, much of my iOS-composed text starts out in the aptly named Drafts, a stellar app from Agile Tortoise. Available for both the iPad ($3) and the iPhone ($2), Drafts is a catch-all bucket for typing messages, jotting down ideas, storing templates, and--just as useful--doing things with that text when it and you are ready.

Those options include: posting the text to Twitter (using any iOS-configured Twitter account),, or Facebook; sending the text as an email or Messages message (either of which brings up a screen, within Drafts, for addressing and sending the message); copying the text to the clipboard for use elsewhere; creating a new Calendar event or Reminder based on the text; or printing the text. For Markdown-formatted text, you can preview the rendered text, print it, email it as HTML, or copy the equivalent HTML to the Clipboard. (You can disable any action you don't use regularly so it doesn't appear in the Share popover.)

Other handy actions let you save your draft's text to an Evernote note or to a new text document in Dropbox--you can even append the text to an existing Dropbox-hosted text document.

Drafts also provides actions for sending your text to other iOS apps. These include an ever-expanding list of third-party text editors, task-management apps, email clients, calendar apps, web-search apps, and Twitter and clients. There's also an Open In action for opening your text in apps that aren't explicitly supported by Drafts.

Finally, you can configure email actions, which are custom "email-to" tasks. For each email action, you define the recipients (To and CC), the subject (predefined or the first line of your draft text), and whether or not Drafts should convert Markdown text to HTML when sending. This feature is useful for quickly sending email to particular people (or to yourself), but it's also great for getting around iOS's lack of a group-address feature: When I want to email my family, I just type the text in Drafts and then use my Send To Family email action, which sends the message to all the members of my family. (You can also use email actions with services that support email commands, such as IFTTT.)

Speaking of email, Drafts is also useful for storing templates for new documents and frequently sent messages. You just type or paste each template into a new draft. When you need to create a new document, you just open the draft and then send it to your favorite text editor; to send a stock message or reply, you open the draft, tap the Email action or one of your configured email actions, add whatever additional text you need, and send. (Just be sure you don't have your email action configured to delete your draft after sending.)

You can rearrange the order in which actions appear in the Share popover, and for each action, you get a few configuration options. For example, most actions include an option to confirm the action before performing it--I use this option for things like sending an email or tweeting, but not for "safe" actions such viewing a Markdown preview. Every action also lets you choose what happens after you perform the action: Drafts can return you to the draft, save the draft and create a new draft, or delete the draft and create a new draft. Some actions, such as those for creating text files or events, can be configured to use the first line of your draft as the title.


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