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 July 2018.

Gear

  • 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

Software

This list will encompass everything from my job as a teacher, blogging, podcasting, and personal use. Since some apps are used for all 4, I have broken them up into categories based on type of tool instead of domain.

Email

Last year I wrote a post about my switch from Airmail to Apple Mail as my email client of choice. This has remained my choice, but I’ve heard from several people lately that Airmail is much more reliable than it was in the past. I’m getting tempted to try it again.

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’ve been using Things (iPhone iPad) since the end of last year, and am really happy with it. 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.

While a new version of Omnifocus has come out, I’m not even tempted to test it out. Things is serving me really well, and I can’t imagine switching.

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’m experimenting with the app Keep It for storing reference materials. If I decide to continue using it, I will share more on the blog.

Teaching

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.
  • [Agenda]((https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/id1370289240?at=1l3vwJx&ct=microblog) - I’m planning on using Agenda as my lesson planning app this school year. Its unique combination of note taking and calendar integration looks like it will be a really great tool.

Writing

Drafts 5 has become my writing environment of choice thanks to its powerful actions and modularity. I can quickly switch writing contexts from work to blogging to podcast show notes with a quick keyboard command and have all of my powerful automation available at a glance.

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.

Podcasting

While podcasting from iOS is not the easiest thing to do, I’ve managed to make it work for The Class Nerd Podcast.

I have to use multiple iOS devices during recording, but I make it work. I set my 10.5” iPad up with Ferrite Recording Studio and Apple Notes (where Robby and I write our outlines) in split view. I have a Blue Snowball microphone plugged into the iPad. My 12.9” iPad has Skype and Drafts open. Skype is where Robby and I talk, and I type up the show notes in Drafts. I can then edit the shows directly in Ferrite with my Apple Pencil.

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

After diving into Drafts 5 this spring, I knew I wanted a note taking app that could more easily be integrated with Drafts’s automation. Though there are some things I miss about Apple Notes, I have moved all of my notes over to Bear

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.

Maps

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.

Website

I host both my personal website and The Class Nerd on Manton Reese’s Micro.blog service, and use the Micro.blog iOS app, Drafts 5, or Icro to post.

Craig McClellan @craigmcclellan