I consider myself pretty old school. I regularly read entire articles and often take notes if something is interesting. Once upon a time I made the terrible mistake of archiving entire articles in my text note archive. It was terrible because in most systems it makes searching more difficult. The better solution for me was to extract only the quotes that I needed for a note. I created an iOS Shortcut that helps with this.
One of the worst parts of traveling for work is using Concur for expense report submission.1 The entire system is obtuse and slow. But the worst part is that receipts are not accepted as PDFs. They must be images. While this is insane to me, there’s no arguing with a monolith. So I made an iOS shortcut. This is a dead simple shortcut. I select a PDF with the document picker.
A few weeks ago I was trying to share a link I copied from the Safari sharing sheet on iOS. Every time I tried to paste the link in a web form the clipboard seemed empty. I made this really simple but incredibly useful shortcut to solve the problem. The root cause of my frustration is that iOS treats URL sharing as a special case and the clipboard gets confused if I want text or a web preview, or some other version of a URL.
If Memos isn’t your thing, I’d point out that TextGrabber 6 is a terrific OCR utility for iOS. A friend posted a recipe to Slack and it was a pain to grab the text on iOS. So I took a screenshot on my iPhone and opened the photo in TextGrabber. A second later I had the recipe as plain text ready to paste into my recipe manager.
As advertised on Daringfireball.net, Memos is kind of amazing. When it works. The iOS app scans your photo library (on the device, not on someone else’s computer) and recognizes text. You can then search for photos with text. Here’s an example I tried. I searched for “Fainting” I found a photo with a sign in the background. That’s Bladerunner level stuff. Unfortunately it doesn’t always work. The app reindexes at every launch and often does not find the same text later.
I’m fully on the bandwagon of using home screen shortcuts on iOS. The Automators podcast had a nice discussion about the pros and cons. Coincidentally I’ve been using a folder on my dock for iPad to get to my most commonly used OmniFocus, DEVONthink, Day One, and Fantastical screens. At least these shortcuts still work as expected so I’m sticking with them. While I like working in all of these apps, all of my shortcuts are workarounds for navigation limitations in the app UIs.
DEVONthink sync continues to improve, with last week’s update rolling out push-sync between devices. In my experimentation this is a very nice improvement for anyone running DEVONthink across iOS and macOS devices. This is how it works for me. After a new DEVONthink sync is triggered on one device, a push message is sent to all other devices within a few seconds, initiating other synchronizations even if the app is not active.
This article has taken me a long time to write because every time I go into LiquidText I end up reading for way too long. That’s a sign of a great reading app, if you ask me. But, LiquidText isn’t a reading app, it’s an annotation app, and it’s the best annotation app I’ve ever used. ApologyThis is a big review. Well, it's a big download. The images total around 14MB.
Speaking of independent Apple blogging, it’s nice to see that Thomas Verschoren is back at it. Standing still. iPad Pro 2018 But, even with all those new bells and whistles, it’s still the same iPad running the same iOS. It’s an iPad. A device that was perfect when it was released. And then kinda rested on its laurels and iterated with safe bets and predictable improvements I ordered the new iPad Pro (12.
While I’m frustrated by some of Shortcuts gaps, it has solved some long standing problems. I use apps like Drafts less because I can do basic clipboard transformations with Shortcuts, triggered by Siri. Here are a few the clipboard Shortcuts I use the most. Paste to Drafts This is one that saves me from opening Drafts and tapping one key. Don’t judge me. The trigger is a simple Siri phrase. While Drafts provides its own Siri action (added through the Siri preference) I prefer this Shortcut because it first test if the clipboard is an image before trying to save it to Drafts.