Apps that supercharge cross-platform text editing

There are an increasing number of apps that not only support both the iPhone (s aapl) and iPad, but also have an OS X version available. And when it comes to increasing your productivity across all three platforms, the developers at Hog Bay, Smile and Dropbox have taken it one step further, by also integrating with one another. Here’s how the three devs have teamed up to make cross-platform writing as painless as possible.

Distraction-free editing with WriteRoom

Hog Bay Software puts out a great distraction-free text editing app title called WriteRoom. Available on the iPhone, iPad and Mac, WriteRoom removes all menus, toolbars, and other user interface distractions from your view.

While it’s nice that WriteRoom works on all three platforms, you don’t want to get stuck worrying about which device holds the latest version. Enter DropBox. With DropBox, you can access your files in WriteRoom over the internet from each device. While WriteRoom on iOS natively supports access to DropBox, WriteRoom on OS X will require the use of the DropBox Mac client to help keep your files organized, but that’s a free download that’s easy to set up.

iPhone WriteRoom Setup

If you tend to leave your apps running on all three devices, one thing that you may need to do after making edits on your iOS device is select “Revert To Saved” from the File menu as you switch back to OS X. Going the other direction, the iOS version of WriteRoom will pick up on the edits you have made on OS X as you switch between active apps.

Revert To Saved

Unlike with  a few other DropBox-based text editors for iOS, I’ve also found that WriteRoom is capable of making edits when there is no network connectivity. There’s even a “Sync All Now” button on the DropBox configuration page for iOS devices. This will trigger a sync operation, and ensure that all of your devices have the edits you made while disconnected.

Save keystrokes with TextExpander

Smile’s TextExpander, which is also available on the iPhone, iPad and Mac, is another great tool for cross-platform productivity. Making every keystroke count, TextExpander has a user-configurable library of witty abbreviations that are used to replace the text as you type. It’s a little like a supercharged autocorrect. You type an abbreviation like “brb,” for example, and TextExpander will replace the abbreviation with “be right back.”  On OS X this works with all applications, as it is a system-wide service. TextExpander Touch for iOS depends on other app developers to support TextExpander’s API in order to bring in its abbreviation replacement features. Luckily, WriteRoom is one of many apps that support TextExpander’s iOS API.

iPad TextExpander Settings

TextExpander can handle more complex situations as well.  You can use it to insert the current date in any format you choose, and you can also control where the cursor will be placed after the abbreviation has replaced the text you’ve typed.  This is accomplished by placing a pipe character (“|”) in the definition of the abbreviation. Books like “Take Control of TextExpander,” websites like Alex Poslavsky’s snippet repository and even a video tutorial series can all teach you how to use TextExpander to its full potential.

Managing your abbreviation libraries on DropBox

Once you have TextExpander installed and enabled on your iOS and OS X devices, you will want to start selecting and defining what abbreviation libraries you want to use. You can use your own, but you can also grab predefined libraries in the app itself. Some even use TextExpander to automatically correct common misspellings and typos. Once you’ve decided which abbreviation libraries to use, you’ll want to keep them in sync on every device you type with. And that’s where TextExpander’s DropBox integration comes into play. You can configure TextExpander to sync its database of abbreviations to DropBox, so that any new abbreviation you define on your iPhone, will also be available for use on your iPad and Mac.

Sync To DropboxNot only have the developers of these solutions created great standalone products, but they’ve also created a collection of apps across all Apple platforms, which is the real key to creating lasting value for Mac and iOS users.