A very quiet revolution began a couple of years ago among Apple users.
It started with Dropbox, the cloud service that turns a normal folder into a magic syncing carpet for all your files. Dropbox quickly became ubiquitous on Macs, iPhones, and iPads. (The rest of this article will assume you have Dropbox installed on your computer and mobile devices.)
Then some brilliant nerds wrote some elegant apps. These apps did one thing: They edited text files in Dropbox.
Why is this cool? Because text files are easy (for both human and machine), small, and workable on any computer ever created. And while syncing other kinds of stuff like contacts and calendars is hard for computers, syncing text files is relatively simple.
As the revolution was fomenting, David Sparks said, “Plain text: It’s timeless. My grandchildren will be able to read a text file I create today, long after anybody can remember what the heck a .dotx file is.”
So what can you do with text? Any kind of writing, notes, lists, or snippets. I use it instead of Apple’s Notes app. I write all my blog posts and newsletters in text, and also a lot of emails when I care about what they look like.
Start with TextEdit
There are growing options for text editors out there. But let’s start with Apple’s own TextEdit. This will go really fast, I promise.
You can find it in Spotlight or Applications.
Open TextEdit > Preferences. Click here…
Change the default format to plain text.
Close the Preferences window.
That’s it. Just create and save files as you would any other document.
When you start, they’ll look like this:
Plain ol’ blank space, ready for you to fill it. And just like any other document, you should put them in Dropbox. Create a folder in Dropbox called Text.
Open up Dropbox on your phone or tablet or another computer, and your file is there. You can refer to your notes, or copy text from them to paste into another app.
In Part II, I’ll show you how to edit that text on your iPhone and iPad.