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iPad Limitations With Reactive Work →

Riccardo Mori, at morrick.me:

The point that some iPad die‐hard fans seem to miss is that it’s not a matter of people not wanting to adapt to an iOS‐based workflow; it’s not a matter of people lacking mental agility to ditch their computers and switch to iPads for work. It’s that their work imposes different solutions, in the form of dedicated software, company‐issued computers, multitasking requirements (e.g. ability to monitor more than three applications simultaneously on a bigger screen), etc.

Although the “why I can or can’t use the iPad as my only computer” topic has been covered ad nauseam, and although Riccardo’s post focused on the portability and lightness aspect as a draw for iOS, the above quote is what struck me.

While I love the change of pace of working on my iPad when I can, it simply isn’t possibly when things are flying fast and furious at the office. And that has nothing to do with me not being familiar enough with iOS or iOS automation to bend the iPad to my will so I can react quickly. Instead, it has everything to do with the design decisions of the iPad concerning windowing and multi-tasking, as well as the limits of automation on iOS1.

I can’t instantly jump between apps on the iPad as quickly as I can on the Mac, or keep more than a couple windows on screen at once (three, if you count slide over). iOS automation isn’t to where it is on macOS yet, either. For example, with Keyboard Maestro on macOS, I can apply a brute force filter to entries in our firm’s case management system, using Keyboard Maestro’s ability to click on specified images. With the iPad, I have to do this clicking manually. The iPad method takes several seconds longer, and, for me, those seconds count.

For my type of work, the iPad is good when I know what I need to get done, and can control my work environment. When I have to be reactive, though, I need a system with windowed apps, and more advanced multi-tasking and automation (i.e., macOS).

I’m glad Ricardo framed this as “some” iPad users missing the point. I think most of the people in my online circle seem to understand that what works for them doesn’t work for everyone. I certainly understand that my way of doing things is specific to me, and that the iPad is a much better platform for some of you.

(But don’t get me started on the ergonomic and future health issues of working solely on an iPad or laptop.)


  1. This post isn’t meant as a suggestion that there’s something inherently wrong with those design decisions, or that Apple should change them – just that they hold me back in some situations.


Blogging on a Mac Instead of My iPad →

Jeff Perry from Rocket Panda:

It also has an incredible editing system to show you where you can improve on your writing and grammar. It reminds me a lot of the Hemingway web-app, showing where you write in passive voice, or when you are using words that have preferred alternatives. So instead of saying something is “very large” it could show you something like “enormous” or “gigantic” making for it to be a much more pleasing thing to read.

Jeff’s post inspired me to try out Marked 2’s writing and grammar tools, which I had forgotten. In fact, I used Marked 2 to see some suggestions for improving the post you’re reading right now. To use Marked with MarsEdit, select the “MarsEdit Preview” menu item from within Marked.

In general, my blogging workflow on the Mac is a bit more basic than Jeff’s workflow. I use Ulysses on iOS, but not on the Mac. Instead I write and publish directly from MarsEdit when on the Mac. I, too, use the MarsEdit extension Quick Post extension in my browser.

One reason I don’t use Ulysses on the Mac is because I like MarEdit’s preview function, which uses your site’s CSS to show you what a post will look once published. I also favor MarsEdit’s ability to browse and grab links to posts located on my server. Once you publish a post, you can’t retrieve it or interact with it from within Ulysses.

Both Ulysses and MarEdit are great tools. It comes down to which features are important to you.


Screenshooting on the iPad Using a Keyboard →

Dr. Drang:

As you probably remember, ⇧⌘3 on a Mac takes a screenshot of the whole screen and ⇧⌘4 turns the cursor into crosshairs so you can select a rectangular portion of the screen to capture.. On the iPad, ⇧⌘3 captures the whole screen, just like the Mac (and just like capturing with the top and volume up buttons). The ⇧⌘4 shortcut also captures the whole screen, but in a neat analogy to the Mac, it immediately puts you into editing mode so you can crop the capture down to a smaller size.

I use these keyboard shortcuts all the time on the Mac. Am I the only one who didn’t know they worked on the iPad, too, if you have a keyboard attached?


Mailbutler Review

Mailbutler Logo

Don’t give up if you lament the lack of advanced functionality in the default Mail app on Mac, as there are a number of third-party plugins available which add features to Mail. One of the more comprehensive plugins is Mailbutler, a tool that lets you snooze messages, schedule messages to be sent later, attach notes to messages, set follow-up reminders on sent messages, and more.

Mailbutler works not only with the Mail app on Mac, but also with Gmail if you use Chrome as your browser. I’m using Mailbutler with the Mail app on Mac. Although the Gmail version appears to work similarly in my limited testing, this review is written from the perspective of an macOS Mail user.

Read more


The Friction of an iPad for the Middle User →

Gabe Weatherhead at Macdrifter:

I don’t count bloggers and podcasters as normal iPad users. There’s a different kind of drive for these folks. Part of that drive is being able to write about their impressive accomplishments with an iPad. That will always take some of the sting out of losing hours trying to figure out how to upload a file to a website.

Gabe Weatherhead was writing about a post by Thomas Verschoren, who highlights some of the limitations of iOS. Weatherhead’s comment got me thinking about how iOS usually satisfies the needs of power users and basic users, but not those in the middle. Power users cook up workflows with tools like the Shortcuts app to overcome almost any hurdle, and casual users never run into those hurdles in the first place.

It’s the people in between who need to get over those hurdles, and don’t want to build a tool or workflow to do so. They just want something that works. The iPad won’t be a laptop replacement for those users until those gaps are filled.

Most users aren’t like us. They don’t want to have to build a workflow that, in their eyes, is a Rube Goldberg machine. Most of my automation workflows on the Mac are to speed up processes I can already perform without automation. Too many of my automation workflows on iOS are to perform tasks I couldn’t otherwise perform at all. 1


  1. Siri Shortcuts, not to be confused with the Shortcuts app, is the exception to this.