Goodbye Ulysses

My love hate relationship with Ulysses is finally over. It’s been over a month since I canceled my Ulysses subscription and deleted it from my Mac, iPhone, and iPad. I haven’t missed it one bit. The combination of Bear and iA Writer for my writing projects has worked out well. If you want to read all I’ve written about Ulysses, good and bad, you can find it here.

The new Fantastical 3 offers a free version

I started using Fantastical in 2014. I have it on my iPhone, iPad, and Mac and in my opinion, it is the best calendar app out there.

With Version 3 Fantastical has gone to a subscription business model. I know, another subscription. But I think Flexibits has handled the transition well. They have taken care of existing users as well as offering a free version. If you have always wanted to try Fantastical now is the time.

Another benefit of a subscription is a free version of Fantastical. That’s right, we now have a free version of Fantastical. It’s basic, but if your needs are simply to look over your schedule, add the occasional event using the famous and magical Fantastical parser, then you will be quite happy.

Now for those of us who have been using Fantastical. Do we have to move to the subscription model? The answer is no.

And what about our existing customers who bought our apps in the past years to get us to this point? Some have called us crazy, but we call it doing the right thing. All of the features from your prior purchase of Fantastical 2 will continue to work with the new Fantastical. That’s right: your new apps will automagically detect your existing purchase and provide a special unlock of the features you already paid for. This means you will continue to get bug fixes and support for some time to come, too.

This means existing users like myself will be able to use the free version but with all the features that we’ve already paid for.

I’m not going to write a review here but if you would like to learn more take a look at the articles listed below.

Fantastical 3 steps out of Apple’s shadow – Six Colors

Fantastical 3 Review: The Best Calendar App Just Got Better

Fantastical Field Guide | MacSparky Field Guides

Bear notes app iCloud sync

I’ve often wondered why when apps have issues with iCloud sync I never have an issue with Bear. I’m looking at you Apple Notes and Ulysses.

So I decided to reach out to Bear’s developer for a response. Here’s what they had to say.

Bear support:

At the very begging of Bear development, we tried different solutions for synching and we also tried with just iCloud but it was very clear to us handling attachments and conflicts was really problematic and synching the whole database exposes users to a concrete risk a data loss.

We don’t use exactly iCloud to sync notes, we use CloudKit, which shares the same servers with iCloud, but allow us to sync with a query-like API instead of a file-based paradigm like iCloud, DropBox or Google Drive. Here more info about CloudKit https://developer.apple.com/icloud/cloudkit/.

My last question was are there different methods of deploying CloudKit?

The API set is only one but is very versatile. Basically you can consider it a remote CoreData framework with more options. Check the private/public part of the documentation for an example.

I asked the same question of Ulysses support.

Ulysses support:

Thank you for reaching out. We are sorry it took us longer to reply.

Up until version 12 of Ulysses, the subscription as well as the sheets and settings had been synced via iCloud Drive. Since version 13, only the sheets (including all attachments) and settings are synced via iCloud Drive whereas the subscription is now synced via CloudKit.

I hope this clarifies it. If you have any further questions, please don’t hesitate to reply.

It appears that Bears sync is more reliable because they use CloudKit to sync notes instead of iCloud Drive as Ulysses does for sheets (including all attachments).

Holiday Sale: Save 50% on all Enpass password manager plans

This is directed at those of you who are in the market for a password manager. I’ve been using Enpass for several months and am very happy with it.

I’ll mention that Enpass moved to subscription a few weeks ago but they also have a lifetime license and with the sale you, can get a lifetime license for just $24.99.

A special deal for the Holidays: 50% off on all Enpass plans

Enpass will be on sale with a discount of 50% on all app stores – while you can get a lifetime license for only $24.99, you can also get an Enpass Premium subscription starting for as low as $0.49 per month. And, of course, the full-featured desktop versions of Enpass – macOS, Windows, Linux – are completely free.

Note that this is a limited time offer, starting from December 24, 2019 and valid till January 2, 2020. So, don’t wait and unlock the full version of Enpass at this special discounted price. Spread the word to help your friends and family members get started with safe and secure password management.

My 2020 Must-Have Mac, iPhone, and iPad Apps

Each year towards the end of December I summarize in a post, on this site, the Mac, iPhone, and iPad apps that I will be using for the next year. This is always one of my most popular posts.

This year instead of a separate article for Mac apps and another for iPhone and iPad apps I’m putting them all in one article. I indicate in parenthesis under the app title where I’m using the app Mac, iPhone or iPad.

During 2019 I tried a lot of different apps. Some I liked and switched to and others I tried, didn’t like and stayed with what I’d been using. I hope you’ll discover a new app or two that will improve your workflow or make you more productive.

My setup:

  • MacBook Pro (early–2015 13”)
  • iPhone 7 Plus
  • iPad 5th Generation
  • Apple Watch 44 mm Series 4

Here’s my software and what I use it for:

Safari
(Mac, iPhone, and iPad)
Safari is my browser of choice. It just works best on macOS. I use Firefox when a site doesn’t play nice with it.

Enpass
(Mac, iPhone, and iPad)
Gotta have a password manager.

Fastmail
(Mac, iPhone, and iPad)
I’ve been using Fastmail for email for over 5 years. A few weeks ago I also started using it for calendar, and contacts. On my iPhone and iPad, I use the Fastmail app. Unfortunately, Fastmail doesn’t have a Mac app but with Unite I turned the Fastmail web client into a native Mac app. I’ve written about Fastmail here.

Fantastical 2
(Mac, iPhone, and iPad)
Fantastical is my calendar app. It integrates perfectly with my Fastmail calendar appointments and events.

Things 3
(Mac, iPhone, and iPad)
I use Things 3 for task management. I love the simplicity of how it works. I wrote about it here.

Due
(iPhone and iPad)
Due is where I keep all my reminders.

Drafts 5
(Mac, iPhone, and iPad)
I’ve been using Drafts for several years. It’s my multi-purpose writing and note-taking app. I often use it as the first stop for most everything I write and then use Drafts actions to send what I’ve written anywhere I want to. I’ve written about how I use Drafts here.

Bear
(Mac, iPhone, and iPad)
I’ve been a Bear pro user since the inception of the app. It’s where I keep all my notes and lists. For now, it’s also where I’m doing my writing. And for plain text I use iA Writer on my Mac and 1Writer on my iPhone and iPad.

Marked 2
(Mac)
Marked is the markdown previewer app I use side by side with my writing app.

Grammarly
(Mac and iPad)
I use Grammarly for proofreading my stories for grammar and punctuation.

Yoink
(Mac, iPhone, and iPad)
Yoink speeds and up my workflow by simplifying drag and drop. I’ve written about Yoink here.

Copied
(Mac, iPhone, and iPad)
Copied is my cross-platform clipboard history manager. I’ve written about it here.

Reeder
(Mac, iPhone, and iPad)
Reeder is what I use for my Feedly RSS feeds.

Pocket
(Mac, iPhone, and iPad)
I’m now using Pocket instead of Instapaper for reading later. I wrote about why I switched here.

Tweetbot
(iPhone and iPad)
Tweetbot is for Twitter.

Day One Journal
(iPhone and iPad)
Day One is where I keep a lifelog.

Alfred
(Mac)
Alfred is Spotlight on steroids. I’d be lost without it. I’ve written about it here.

Keyboard Maestro
(Mac)
Keyboard Maestro is another app that I couldn’t live without it. I use Keyboard Maestro keyboard shortcuts to launch apps, open files and folders and automating actions. It has a learning curve but once you start to get the hang of it you can do some amazing things. I’ve written about Keyboard Maestro here.

Dropbox
(Mac, iPhone, and iPad)
Dropbox is where I keep files that I want to have available on all my devices. It’s also where syncing happens for apps like Alfred, Keyboard Maestro, and Due.

PDFpen and Hazel are key apps for my paperless workflow. I’ve written about my paperless workflow here.

Scanner Pro
(iPhone and iPad)
Scanner Pro is also part of my paperless workflow. I use it to scan paper documents into PDFs with OCR that look clean and professional.

App Cleaner
(Mac)
AppCleaner is my app uninstaller. I use it because it deletes all the junk that gets left behind when you just drag the app icon to the trash.

Moom
(Mac)
I use Moom for window management on my Mac.

Witch
(Mac)
Witch is my Mac app switcher.

PopClip
(Mac)
I use PopClip to manage what I do with selected text. I’ve written about PopClip here.

Bartender 3
(Mac)
Bartender is the app I use to organize my menu bar. I’ve written about it here.

ScreenFloat
(Mac)
ScreenFloat is my app for taking screenshots and storing them.

TunnelBear VPN
(Mac, iPhone, and iPad)
TunnelBear is my VPN for security on public WiFi and web browsing privacy.

PCalc
(Mac, iPhone, and iPad)
PCalc is my stock calculator replacement. I use it for its additional features and customization.

Apple Activity app
I use the Activity app with my Apple Watch to track all my daily activities.

Drafts for Mac now supports actions

I’ve been using Drafts for several years. It’s my multi-purpose writing and note-taking app. I often use it as the first stop for most everything I write and then use Drafts actions to send what I’ve written anywhere I want to.

This week Agile Tortoise released Drafts 16 for Mac which now supports actions and multi-window. This makes me very happy. With the addition of actions, I can now use Drafts on my Mac just like I do on my iPhone and iPad.

Actions!

The full power of Drafts actions, previously only available on the iOS version, are now available for Mac! Integrate with many popular apps and services, and manipulate your drafts and text with scripted actions!

If you use the iOS version, all your existing actions will automatically sync to the Mac. If not, a default set of actions will be configured.

Actions are available through the action pane to the right of the main window, via the “Actions” menu, or the Action Bar 19.

Moving away from iCloud continued

Previously I made the following changes:

Since then I’ve made a couple of additional changes:

As a side note, you may be wondering why I’m still using Bear since it uses iCloud for sync? Well, I’ve never once had a sync issue with it. It just always works in spite of all the other issues I’ve had with iCloud sync.