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Summary:

As I mentioned in the My Netbook: The iPhone article, my iPhone is central to my life. But one area that’s been a challenge is getting text to and from it. As I mentioned in the article, most of what I write on the iPhone is […]

iPhone Mail IconAs I mentioned in the My Netbook: The iPhone article, my iPhone is central to my life. But one area that’s been a challenge is getting text to and from it. As I mentioned in the article, most of what I write on the iPhone is blog posts where any formatting is done after the fact. I find myself in situations where I need to be able to modify text from various computers and my iPhone. For instance, yesterday I was heading to the grocery store after work. I had a list going and my wife called and added her list which reminded me of something else, and then she called back and … well you get the idea.

I’ve flipped around between QuickOffice, Documents to Go, and Notes to handle this, but I was never satisfied. Notes and Documents to Go go require me to be on my Mac and sync to it. That’s overkill for a shopping list. I don’t mind the iPhone keyboard, but typing “2 cases of water” with another phone jammed in my ear is awkward; it’s much easier to just type it on my work computer. Plus, syncing often just feels like a bother, doesn’t it? Not to mention lengthy with the “let me me nip off to the pub while this backup runs” issue that’s back with 3.0.

What worked best was QuickOffice writing the file to an iDisk. But iDisk is all I would be using from MobileMe, and I just can’t get my mind around paying $99 a year for that convenience. Not to mention, handling simple text through the .doc format just seemed overkill. I could work off the cloud, but if I’m in a low signal area, I’m out of luck.

So, the solution I’ve found myself going with is using Drafts in the iPhone/Gmail web interface. I can create a draft, give it a title and merrily type away on the iPhone. When I save it, it syncs to my Gmail account where I can edit the draft on any computer that’s connected to the Internet. As long as I don’t put in a recipient, it wont get accidentally sent. I also don’t need to worry about initiating a sync; it all happens in the background.

How about you? What solutions to this problem have you found?

iPhone Mail Drafts

iPhone Mail Drafts

Gmail Drafts Screen

Gmail Drafts Screen

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  1. Drafts is fine and good… but did you somehow miss the fact that sending an email to yourself works just the same as Drafts?

    Not exactly an epiphany here.

    1. It’s a cleaner process for me in some areas. Here’s a better example:

      On the train in to work, I write 3 paragraphs of an article. I save the Draft in Mail. During lunch, I open the draft in Gmail, and add two more paragraphs, save the draft.

      On the way home, I write three more paragraphs, save the draft.

      I get home and copy it into whatever blog front end I’m working on and do final edits.

      It’s cleaner than just sending me a mail item, which I’ve done for reminders and the like.

  2. skellyrocker Tuesday, July 28, 2009

    I use the WordPress app – but then I am blogging on WordPress.com – don’t think it works if you have a separate WordPress powered site.

    1. You can in-fact use the the wordpress blog for say a separate domain (like mine cwanja.com/blog) as long as you are running WordPress as your blog frame.

  3. I use a pencil and piece of paper. AND it works when I’m talking on the phone. PLUS it allows me to channel my inner doodler while I wait.

    Convenience at its finest :)

    1. You’ve never seen my handwriting, have you? :)

    2. I’m with Mark on this. I have written nothing more than my signature ever since I was in 9th grade of high school.

      I saved up for 2 years, bought an iBook and used it all through high school. we had wi-fi and network printers at school so I never wrote anything. Now I’m 22 and can’t write anything and constantly put my j and s backward so instead of reteaching myself I just type everything.

      Things for Mac and iPhone for to-do
      Evernote for notes on iPhond
      notes (syncs with .Mac) for some smaller notes that don’t need to be kept for a long time.

  4. randal lyons Tuesday, July 28, 2009

    what about Tasks in iphone/gmail apps? never any danger of emailing anything off by mistake and sync’ed everywhere.

  5. Evernote would have been my complete solution for that. The email thing is a good idea as well though.

    1. I’ve had a problem with Evernote losing the carriage returns when I cut and paste the contents into a blogging front-end.

  6. After reading this article on DaringFireball, I got SimpleNote. Does exactly what you are talking about.

    http://daringfireball.net/2009/07/simplenote

    1. Thanks for that. I had meant to check it out, but forgot.

    2. Michelle Gill Max Sunday, August 9, 2009

      +1 here for SimpleNote. I, too, wanted to edit the text on my computer and get it seamlessly (ie without hassle) on my iPhone. And I can’t use wireless syncing because we don’t have it where I work.

  7. I was wondering why an Iphone user wouldn’t have Evernote. It’s easy to use, can be updated from everywhere (so your wife could go online, change your shopping list and you would see the updates instantly while shopping) and it syncronises your data.

    Alternatively, since you’re using Gmail, I’d suggest their Documents, as it offers similar features. Although I don’t know if that works with the Iphone, since mine is still on its way (from Italy), but I sure will get one of the mentioned ideas working.

    1. You can’t edit Google Docs via the iPhone.

      I’m a *heavy* Evernote user (I routinely push the limits of the free service). As mentioned above, the one time I tested it, I lost the carriage returns when I cut and pasted it.

      I use Evernote for just about everything else.

  8. Notes get synced via IMAP too… so edits in Mail.app’s notes on your computer will appear in your iPhone Notes mailbox (albeit read-only).

  9. also, the nice thing about Drafts is the sync happens in the background using Fetch — I don’t have to manually refresh it.

  10. Simplenote. It’s perfect for your needs.

  11. Forgot to add, it’s perfect in it’s simplicity too.

  12. The “Text Editor” iPhone app by Savy Soda can access, read and write Google Docs. However, I use the Quickoffice app since I already pay for and use MobileMe for other things. The iDisk access is great. Any time I create a file in Quickoffice, I create it as a .txt file because I do not like the .doc format.

  13. What to read on the GigaOM network Tuesday, July 28, 2009

    [...] July 28, 2009 | 11:45 AM PT | 0 comments OpenGoo: An open-source answer to Google Apps (OStatic) Using drafts to easily get text to and from your iPhone (TheAppleBlog) 32 ways to use YouTube for business (WebWorkerDaily) How many “Lost” [...]

  14. I use OmniFocus on my Mac and iPhone. I have different subcontexts under a context “Errands”, and I just list what I need and associate with the various contexts. So when I hit the drugstore, I see Pick up prescriptions, and when I get to the grocery store, I see Milk, Toothpaste, etc., each with a convenient checkbox.

    I can even set up recurring items, like Pick up the dry cleaning. Have to pay for the software of course, but it works great for me.

  15. Use Gmail Drafts To Sync Text On Your iPhone | Lifehacker Australia Tuesday, July 28, 2009

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  21. The Far Edge » Blog Archive » Use Gmail Drafts to Sync Text on Your Phone [IPhone Tip] Wednesday, July 29, 2009

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  23. thanks for this page.

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  25. Posterous + iPhone = Perfect Mobile Platform Monday, August 17, 2009

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  26. Haha bro, great minds think alike. I did a google search for: iphone notes to gmail draft . I think Gmail drafts would be a perfect place to store notes, but I’d like to be able to create them using a similar notes app and have them sync with gmail.

  27. I also use drafts with gmail on the iphone to start emails and notes while they are fresh in my mind, then continue them on my work pc later.
    But I have a problem where after I’ve saved a draft on the iPhone, it looks wrong on the PC because it has carriage returns at the iPhone rate. Does anyone know if I can prevent this happening? (other than using another app).

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