Part 2 - Writing - iPad as my main computer

It's been almost a week since I got my new iPad and decided to work iPad-only and I've been enjoying the experience very much. I started with setting up my 7 cloud services which not only help me keep only the relevant stuff on my iPad but also sync beautifully with both my iPhone and my Mac. Today I finished compiling the #12 issue of the Productive! Magazine entirely on the iPad and wrote several articles so I'll focus on how the iPad works as a writer's machine.


The hardware: iPad + keyboard

Most of the time I type using the on-screen keyboard and funny enough it works pretty well. I can "almost" touch-type which is actually surprising. I can type pretty fast on this thing.

However, for some serious typing (like this blog post) I tend to use an external Bluetooth keyboard for two reasons:

1) I can really touch type and don't think about it at all
2) I can see the entire screen and actually use the iPad in the portrait mode which is simply designed for typing.

My keyboard of choice is the ZaggKeys Flex keyboard and it's amazing. I believe it's the lightest and the smallest Bluetooth keyboard out there and it has an amazingly cool "keyboard cover" which serves as an iPad stand. Brilliant and very useful.

Up on the picture you can see me reviewing the interview I did with Jason Womack - and both my iPad and my iPhone are supported by the Zagg's stand.

The other cool thing about the keyboard is that it doesn't change my iPad into a "netbook" just like other "folios" or "covers" do. I still prefer to have "just the iPad with smart-cover" and use the keyboard occasionally.


When I check emails and process them to zero, I actually like to have my iPad flat on the table to "touch" the emails with less effort and have the keyboard handy in case I need to fire up a quick reply. Although very often I process to zero and write short replies with just the on-screen keyboard.

Writer's apps and the cloud.

Just like I mentioned in my last post most of my writing is done in Simplenote and stored in its cloud there. Simplenote is an elegant writer as such. However sometimes I need to write "richer" articles and this post I'm writing in "Markdown" so I decided to use a different setup.

1) I set up Nebulous and AI Writer to use Dropbox and have a folder there called "MarkedTexts" where I save Markdown-powered text files.
2) I like to write in AI Writer 'cos it's more elegant than Nebulous and has the "focus-mode" which I love.
3) Later for final editing I switch to Nebulous because it also has a preview of Markdown.
4) Once the post is ready I quickly paste it to Pages to catch the spelling mistakes. Once that's done, the article is saved in Nebulous again (in Dropbox). From there I "email" the article to Posterous.
5) That's it. I've been typing it on my Zagg Keyboard having the iPad in horizontal position. Sweet.

As a bonus I paste all of my articles to Simplenote to be able to access them quickly with Simplenote's ultra-fast search.

Bonus - Scrivener

I'm currently exploring some ideas for books and have drafts for three books in Scrivener on my Mac. Thanks to suggestions from Augusto Pinaud I've managed to sync my Scrivener drafts with Dropbox and Nebulous to be able to edit them on the go with my iPad.

iPad is a pretty slick writer's machine

I'd say that after a few experiments iPad can be a pretty powerful writer's machine. It's focused interface, relatively big screen and full-screen apps... together with a good keyboard make it a very light and very portable writer's studio. Here's to me finishing at least one of the drafts and finally shipping my first ever full-blown book to you :-)

Have you ever tried writing on the iPad? What's your setup?

P.S. Here's one of the guys who wrote an entire book on the iPad without an external keyboard:

Posted on Friday, April 13, 2012 (ipad,ipadonly)

Like this post? Subscribe to my newsletter, and every 2 weeks you'll receive updates from me. You'll also get you my latest book for FREE as a thank-you: "No Office Apps: How the Nozbe team uses modern technologies to communicate better and get more done.".

Tomasz Mioduszewski
Apr 17, 2012 18:05
As for me - It's a strange way of thinking. Especially as far as you talk here about productivity. Writing a blog post in 3 different text aps, sending from another mail app... Does it sounds productive? Not for me. Especially this step of pasting the text into the Pages to check spelling. Well... Microsoft word introduced in1995 background spellcheck. And now, in 2012 you say that your productive flow consist marking all the text, copying to the clipboard and pasting to spellcheck app and again back... No. It's not productive for me.
And trying to invent the wheel of other flows - it may be interesting as a challenge but not as a method of working.
Michael Sliwinski
Apr 17, 2012 18:24
You got me there :-) I'm still learning the "flows" of the iPad and seeing I need a lot more integrated way of doing things :-) I agree that pasting to Pages was lame, but the integrated spellcheck on the iPad still kinda sucks... It's a cross between iPhone's and Mac's spellcheck.

It's an experiment, I'm learning and will see how productive I can be on this thing. Thanks for your comment Tomasz!

Aug 23, 2012 22:31
I recently bought the Logitech Ultra Thin Keyboard cover and I don't know what I would do without it, or why it took me so long to get it. Actually, I do know why. I didn't want to spoil the natural good looks of the iPad. This one makes the iPad look great!

I also put the iCarbons Black Carbon Fiber Skins on both the iPad and Logitech and they make it all look like a mini Mac.


Michael Sliwinski
Sep 17, 2012 16:23
I recently gave in and also bought the Logitech Ultra Keyboard and I'm loving it. Especially for writing in portrait mode. It also helps that I can use it on my lap if I need to. Thanks for your comments AChurchNerd!