Quick thoughts on using a Trackpad with iPadOS 13.4

Yesterday Apple released iPadOS 13.4 with advanced cursor support. I immediately downloaded 13.4 to my iPad and paired my Magic Keyboard, Trackpad and Mouse.

I’ve been using my iPad with the Trackpad for a few hours now and can say this will change how I use my iPad. One thing I will mention is that my original Magic Mouse didn’t scroll. A Magic Mouse 2 is required for full mouse support.

Now I can see an iPad replacing my MacBook Pro as my main computing device. That said, I’ll be considering a new iPad. I’m not sure which one at this point but I’ll decide after I’ve used my existing iPad with the Trackpad for awhile.

All that said, I’m going to have to make some adjustments to my workflows since a lot of what I do on my MacBook Pro involves using Alfred, Keyboard Maestro, and Hazel. A lot of what I do with those apps can’t be replicated on the iPad. I’m sure I’ll find ways to work around it though.

To get started, I found this 9to5 Mac YouTube video very helpful.

I’m looking forward to Tuesday

On Tuesday, March 24, 2020, iPadOS 13.4 will be released. Why am I so looking forward to this? Well, 13.4 will have advanced cursor support which means a mouse and trackpad will now work with my iPad. I’ll be trying this out and that will be a welcome diversion from worrying about COVID-19.

We have seen that with iPadOS 13, which was the first version to introduce mouse support to the iPad, but the implementation was extremely limited. This will change with iPadOS 13.4, which brings a new way to use a mouse or trackpad on the iPad.

The cursor will be a small semi-transparent circle instead of a regular pointer, which will come up only when you need it. That means once the user stops moving the cursor, it will disappear from the screen so that the focus continues on the content.

It also disappears when it is over certain interface elements, such as buttons and icons of the Dock. These elements will be highlighted with a different shape so you know the cursor is there, and you can just slide to access other options.

I think that at some point I would like to be iOS only? This may get one step closer to doing it.

Raindrop.io for bookmarks

For the last several years I’ve been using Devonthink Pro for bookmarking. With the introduction of Devonthink 3, which is a paid upgrade, I decided to look for a different bookmark app/service. Why? I didn’t want to pay the upgrade price and I wanted a truly cross-platform app. Devonthink is a great app and is a lot more than just for bookmarking but it is first and foremost a Mac app with an iOS app that is limited by comparison.

Enter Raindrop.io. I came across Raindrop.io while reviewing Federico Viticci’s My Must-Have Apps, 2019. He sums up the app quite well:

To sum up: I wanted to find an app/service that would help me save links from the web, organize them with folders or tags using a good-looking UI, and find them again with ease. Raindrop.io, which has been around for several years at this point and is in active development, ticks all these boxes: it’s a web service that comes with a desktop web app, browser extensions, and native mobile apps; links are automatically saved with rich thumbnails and descriptions extracted from the original webpage; you can organize links in collections, tag them, and choose from multiple view and sort options; you can also customize the look of a collection by choosing from thousands of icons. Here’s where it gets better and why Raindrop.io is ideal for my needs: on iOS, links open with Safari View Controller, not a custom web view; and, if you pay for the Pro version, you’ll be able to upload your own images, create nested collections, and rely on the service to find duplicate or broken links for you.

I decided to give the app a try. I’m using the free edition of the app which meets all my needs. So for now, I see no reason to pay for the Pro features. If your looking for a bookmarking app/service give Raindrop.io a try.

Spotlight on iPad

I find myself using my iPad more and more lately. That’s because I’m discovering that there are things that I do on my Mac that I can also do on my iPad. The trick is discovering that these things exist.

For example, I use Alfred on my Mac. I recently discovered that the iPad has Spotlight which I can use to do many of the things that I use Alfred for on my Mac. I use a keyboard with my iPad so I can quickly invoke Spotlight with the keyboard shortcut ⌘ + space bar.

Now here are a few things that I do with Spotlight on my iPad:

  • Launch apps
  • Search files and folders
  • Search the App Store
  • Search the web
  • Search maps

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

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.