Drafts 5 - A Fresh Look from a New User Perspective

What is Drafts 5?

The first time I heard about **Drafts**, I was like "okay, so there is another note taking app in the App Store. Yay." Of course, I didn't know much about it, but after testing it, I realized I was wrong.

Drafts goes beyond of what we call "a note-taking app". If you want to use it like that, you actually can, because it's entirely user-friendly. However, if you want to do great things with it — and that's the hope — you totally will.

Although it's a bit hard to describe the app, I can say that it handles whatever text you have well. It works perfectly whether you want to use it as a starting point (that is, an inbox for your ideas), or as a text editor for different formats, or even — and that's where Drafts shines — as an automation tool for your texts.



Drafts' interface might contribute to the idea of it being a simple app. If you scratch the surface, you'll probably see a normal note taking app. But that's a good thing, because it shows that you don't need a complicated UI to accomplish great things with one app.

The design is clean, modern and in just some taps, you understand how the basic things work in the app.

With the PRO version, you can choose whether you want the light or dark mode (or something in between, such as sepia, gray and so on). You can also set the themes to change automatically from light to dark and vice versa, depending on the lighting of the environment.

In the Appearance menu, you have a lot of customizable options, such as Syntax Highlighting for the current draft or as a default for all the drafts. Also, it’s possible to set the font, font size, line height, paragraph spacing and others.

The syntax highlighting is a great feature since you might want to write your texts in Markdown, Plain text, Taskpaper and even JavaScript. Then, you'll see the texts popping up in different ways depending on which one you choose.


Customizations and Automations

The two main reasons that make Drafts stand out are the automations and customizations.

How many times have you wished to have this or that formatting option in a note taking app, but you could only use the native ones? Bold, italic, header — those all might be there, but you might need more.

Drafts lets you customize all the row above the keyboard with the actions you want to apply to your text, whether they're markdown options, codes for scripting, processing tools such as archive, or whatever action you might need.

Actions are a big part of what Drafts is. Some of them you‘ll probably see in other apps, like copying and pasting, copying to clipboard, exporting, and so on. But you can also find some intriguing ones such as [searching a term](https://actions.getdrafts.com/g/1BU) on Google, YouTube, Amazon, etc.; sharing options for a bunch of different task managers like OmniFocus, Todoist, Things, various calendars and cloud services as well.

For that, Drafts has a pretty neat directory of Actions and Action Groups for you to add to the app. Plus, if you have the PRO version, you can create your actions or modify the default ones or the ones you've found in the directory.

There are some great automations you can have with actions that are just phenomenal. For example, you can set an action for publishing on Twitter with a predefined hashtag, or you can place an action for sending text (or email) to a particular person or group of people, and a lot of other things. 

So that you know, you can work with actions that come directly from the Workflow app — that means the possibilities are almost infinite.

And the great thing is that you choose where Actions or Action Groups live. That is, they can live in the row above the keyboard — so you can access them quicker — or on the sidebar. Either way, they will make a huge difference when dealing with any text.



Drafts is a well-made app. If you want to use it to store your notes, you can do so, and in an organized way.

Everything you start writing goes to the "Inbox." Once you've sent it somewhere else (iMessage, email, export to cloud service, shared to a social media, etc.) you can automatically or manually archive it. If you think you’ll need to use a draft recurrently, you can flag it and access it from the "Flagged" tab.

Tagging is a great way to organize and find your texts. That is why on Drafts you can add tags to your notes, and also filter one or more than one at the same time. This feature is especially useful when used together with "Workspaces", available on the PRO version.

Within a draft, you have an impressive feature for organizing your text: the "Arrange" option. With it, your lines or paragraphs are converted into blocks of content, which can be dragged up and down, so you can rearrange them. This feature is so great that I think all the note taking apps should adopt it.

## PRO version
With the free download of Drafts, you can enjoy a lot of its great features; however, you can do so much more if you pay for the PRO version.

Once you’re a PRO user, you can create and edit Actions, choose different themes and icons for the app and enjoy some extra widgets and sharing extension options. Also, you will be able to use enhanced URL Automation and workspaces.

If you love organization, this last one will be a pleasant surprise. You can create different workspaces and have distinct settings, color, icon and preferred tags in each one. 



Everything I’ve just described can be considered the pros of the app. But now, the hard part: talking about the cons.

The app is perfect for handling all sorts of text, but unfortunately, it doesn't support images — at least not in a direct way. You can use the Workflow app to help you with that, but you can't attach images or drag and drop images or files to the app, which would be nice.

One not so great thing about Drafts 5 is that instead of paying once for it (as it was in Drafts 4), this is another app with a monthly fee. Don't get me wrong, I love supporting the developers, and I think they deserve it, but if you're already paying monthly for some other apps, just this US$1.99 can make a difference.

At last, I believe I can say that the app is so good that one negative aspect of it is the lack of a Mac version. I believe it's on the way and I look forward to testing it.


Is it worth it?

Agile Tortoise does a great job creating this fantastic app, that is both beautiful and useful at the same level.

Its automations and customizations do make a difference when writing and sharing your notes.

But it all comes to affordability and usage. Are you sure you're going to use it on a regular basis? Can you afford this monthly fee? If so, go for it. The app is extremely well made, and the possibilities are enormous. The good thing is that you can always apply for the 7-day free trial for the PRO version to see if it fits your needs.

Also, if you love coding, I know you're going to have so much fun with it. And if you do, make sure to share the actions and group actions you've created with me because I love the infinite possibilities Drafts gives us.


Availability & price

Drafts 5 is available on the App Store for iPhone, iPad and Apple Watch, as a free download. If you want some premium features, you can subscribe to the PRO version for US $1.99 a month or US $19.99 a year.

Written by Priscila Klopper (TEKSide Contributor)

Listen for her audio review of this product by subscribing to the App Chat podcast.

For more on Drafts, watch the Drafts 5 Overview below.