The Tot icon
I have wanted to love Drafts for years now. I like the idea of Drafts; a place where you input text and then you process it later, letting you capture the ideas before they run away, like a digital scratch pad.
But Drafts has become a little too intimidating for me. I love it, I really do, but I don’t use it, because I’m afraid I’m using it wrong. There are so many options, so many ways I can “process” my text when I’m done writing.
And whenever I open the app I start messing around with settings. What if I want to export to this blogging platform instead of that blogging platform? Should I write my own write.as plugin so I can export to my blogs directly from Drafts?
So as much as I love and respect Drafts, I can’t use it.
When I worked for a large non-profit corporation some years ago, we had the honor of having Clayton Christiansen talk to us about “disruption”. His thoughts are well documented and well regarded, of course. What I learned from that little seminar, roughly an hour long, is that the disruptors will usually have a few key features:
- Fewer Features than the established version
- Cheaper than the “better”, older version
- Simpler than the established version
So, for me, that is what Tot is to Drafts.
Tot is a little program that lives on Apple devices. It’s free on Mac OS, $20 (one time payment) for the “iOS” family of devices (iPad and iPhone together. I miss the old branding.) It syncs via iCloud, meaning you don’t really need to think about synchronization ever.
And it only has seven possible files.
You get seven little dots, one for each file. If you’ve written in a “file” the dot is a colored ring. If you’re writing in a file currently it’s a filled dot. If the file doesn’t have any text it’s an empty gray ring.
Tot’s very simple interface.
You get very very basic markdown formatting:
- (links secretly work: if you type a markdown link it will be rendered when you look at it in fancy-text mode)
- That’s it.
Tot is designed to be small and out of the way, so you can “put your mess in it” as they say, and then move on.
But how do you process your text afterwards?
⌘+A, ⌘+C, ⌘+V
That’s it! Copy. Paste. If you really need a way to move text around you can use the usual Apple-style “Share sheet” to send the text to another program using that technology, but it’s plan text. Why bother?
Tot doesn’t intimidate me. I type on my phone or iPad or computer. When I’m ready to process an idea I copy it into Obsidian or Scrivener or the Write.as editor. Then I clear the file, ready to use it for something else.
It reminds me of my other favorite simple way to write things: the Alphasmart Neo2. A physical device that only does words, and only has eight files (well…… eight active registers, you can save files….)
The simplicity of the interface frees you up to do what matters: overcome writer’s block. Which of course is best done by just writing instead of fiddling around with settings and options.
If you write on Apple devices give Tot a look. it's simplicity is its greatest strength.
I’m publishing this as part of 100 Days To Offload. You can join in yourself by visiting 100 Days To Offload.