I'm on a new quest in how I use the iPad and it can be best expressed with one word: Simplicity. I've always considered myself a "power" user of Apple tech. Of course this is a relative term but I'll just describe it, in this context, as this: I've always used my Macs with a goal as doing as much as possible with them. I used a seemingly limitless variety of apps and utilities. I tinkered. I installed betas. It was practically a goal to break things so that I could fix them. I enjoyed troubleshooting. But I was also concerned with getting things done.

My early use of the iPad was similar. I jailbroke my first two iPads primarily so I could share the cellular connection to my Mac. I immediately installed any app that might allow me to do my "work" on the iPad. From finance tracking to website updating to blogging to graphic creation to database apps. Of course I'm still curious about the possible solutions apps can provide for the tasks I need to do but I've recently realized that I often have the most success with a more straightforward approach. Just as Spotlight gradually replaced Quicksilver and LaunchBar on my Macs, I'm finding that Apple stock apps such as Notes are often be my best option.

I've used Notes quite a bit over the past few years and no doubt, it began as a fairly simple app. But Apple has nurtured it into an app that is, in its current iteration, really very capable. Interestingly, during the same period, I also tried using Evernote more than a couple times but I never quite settled into it. I could understand why so many people used it given its extensive feature list but it never quite clicked for me. My typical use with Apple Notes was saving text notes and the occasional link. I generally did not need to add attachments (on a Mac I preferred to just put any files such as pdfs or images in the Finder) and didn't need to share or collaborate with anyone. I bumped into it's limitations on occasion but it was never enough to stop me from using it.

The best way I can describe my use of Notes is that it is my catch-all for text and links, often as a sort of shared clipboard between devices with an easy way to share out via Messages, Mail or any number of other apps. One unfortunate limitation, links saved in a note seem to export with any method. Any effort to copy/paste or to use a share sheet to send a saved link and any text in a note, removes the link and only results in the plain text of the article title. Not very helpful and a bummer because this could be useful in a lot of different ways. Almost every other attachment can be shared out along with any text I've added to a note. One limitation of attaching documents such as pdfs, Pages or any other document that might have editable text is that they are not indexed. Not a deal breaker but it would be nice. In my personal use I don't tend to accumulate lots of notes with attachments because I tend to use them for projects rather than long-term storage.

More often than not when I create a new note it is a text capture via a share sheet from another app. Quite a few notes are for projects or clients and they might be something that I just scribble in and delete a couple days later or they might be longer term. In the past I've tried different apps for tracking time on client projects but several months ago I realized I wasn't all that happy with the apps I'd been using for such tracking. I decided it might be easier and simpler to do this tracking with a note and I was right. It's worked out great. I have a "Timecards" note and every project gets tracked there. Each project gets a section and anytime I work I log it with a simple line item: Date Time Description in that section. Simple and efficient. Eventually those line items get entered into an a FileMaker Pro invoice.

I've only had a need to share notes via the collaboration feature on a couple of occasions but it has worked well in those instances. It's a nice feature to have when I need it.

A lot of Apple nerds have been raving lately about Bear. I gave it a try and it is a nice app but it's not for me. Between Apple Notes and Ulysses much of what I do with text is covered. In the past I've also tinkered with Drafts and for awhile I used Byword and Editorial as a part of my gathering and writing process but not lately. While I've not yet deleted those three apps I likely will. I've not used any of them in quite some time and doubt I'll have any need of them in the future. They are superfluous. As I whittle down my folders of apps I am enjoying a certain confidence in the fewer tools that I choose to keep.