Tools of Choice

A little while back, Matt Birchler shared a post about the apps and services he uses to do his work. I also noticed similar information on his about page. I thought this was a really good idea. My goal is to keep this as up-to-date as possible for my usage.

So here are the tools I’m using as of February 2018.


  • 2015 12.9” Space Grey iPad Pro (1st Gen) - Stays on my desk at work connected to a Smart Keyboard
  • 2017 10.5” Gold iPad Pro - My portable device for everything from meetings to monitoring students to reading on the couch.
  • Space Gray iPhone X
  • Space Gray Aluminum Apple Watch Series 3 with Cellular


This list will encompass everything from my job as a teacher, blogging, and personal use. Since some apps are used for all 3, I have broken them up into categories based on type of tool instead of domain.


I recently wrote a post about my switch from Airmail to Apple Mail as my email client of choice. It’s only been a couple weeks since the switch, but so far I’m really pleased with the choice.

At the beginning of 2018 I started using SaneBox to help me stay on top of my email. I love its SaneLater folders and snoozing capabilities.

Task Management

When I first discovered GTD, I started using OmniFocus to handle my tasks. I then spent some time in 2Do as well but for almost a year using Todoist.

I have just begun using Things (iPhone iPad), and am really happy with it so far. It’s got a beautiful design, and is the right balance of simple and powerful for me. I’ve written a longer post about the change here.

It definitely helps me feel less stressed.

File Storage

I went all in with iCloud in 2011 when it first launched thanks to its promise of my iWork documents syncing between multiple Macs and iOS devices. In 2014, iCloud documents turned into iCloud Drive, and was given priority status on iOS. Though that has changed with iOS 11, I still opt to keep my files there.

When I began working as a teacher, I discovered that my school district gave teachers 1 TB of free storage in OneDrive. I now use this at work so I can easily share Office documents with teammates. Now that OneDrive’s iOS app works with iOS 11’s Drag and Drop and the Files app, it’s even better to use.


I use several apps as tools for teaching, and only for teaching.

  • GoodNotes - I pair GoodNotes with an Apple Pencil and Apple TV to model writing on the board for students. I have also been testing using it as a bullet journal for lesson planning until my Studio Neat Panobook arrives.
  • Airtable - I have a database in Airtable that houses all of my guided reading data for students including assessments, groups, lessons, and notes.


Everything I write for The Class Nerd is written in Ulysses. I also use it to write my parent newsletter every week.

When writing, I will often make mind maps in MindNode to help brainstorm and plan. It helps my visual brain to frame my posts. Even this page was originally laid out in MindNode.

Password Management

I have been a 1Password user for almost 4 years, and my wife and I use a family plan. I never have to worry about remembering a password or how secure my passwords are. It keeps my family’s information private as well as my students’ data.

Note Taking

Apple’s improvements to its Notes app with iOS 9 came at a time when I was already growing frustrated with Evernote. I made the switch and never looked back. The handwriting capabilities, and now Drag and Drop with iOS 11 make it a fantastic app.

Photo Management

Since I already had storage purchased in iCloud, using iCloud Photo Library made sense. I haven’t tried Google Photos, so I don’t know what I’m missing in terms of machine learning in organizing photos. However, I’ve been really happy with how well my iOS devices manage my photos, especially since face syncing was introduced in iOS 11.


Again, sticking with the Apple bandwagon, I’ve used Apple Maps since they debuted in iOS 6. They always get me where I want to go, and having them tied into the system makes them an easy choice for me.

Fun Stuff

My twitter client has been Tweetbot for a good 5 years now. I’m apparently one of the few people who likes his purchased and streaming music in one place, so Apple Music works perfectly for me. I listen to podcasts in Overcast (as of this writing, Smart Speed has saved me 139 hours). I get my weather on all devices from the snarky Carrot Weather.


I run The Class Nerd on Squarespace. While working with Squarespace from iOS is terrible, the bang for your buck is too appealing for me since this is just a hobby.

I host my personal microblog on Manton Reese’s service, and use the iOS app to post.

Craig McClellan @craigmcclellan