Customising Keyboards in Drafts

This is a quick tip for Drafts on iOS that I cannot believe escaped me for this long!

Drafts is a great application for capturing information quickly on your iPhone/iPad and then moving it to the application of your choice. Myself, I use it as an entry point for almost all of my thoughts. It's a great gathering point, which I empty at least once a day. Most of the entries go to OmniFocus 2 however I also use it to post ideas to Evernote, send messages to family and colleagues and as a scratchpad for thoughts and ideas that need separate processing. When I perform my weekly mind-dump, everything goes into Drafts before I even think about what I want to do with that information. Capture first, process later.

The on-screen keyboard in Drafts has a customisable top row for frequently-used actions. For some reason, I thought this was a fixed collection of actions, but No! If you scroll to the far right of that row, you will see the magic pencil icon, which in Drafts means Edit.


When you press this Edit button, you are taken to a screen that allows you to edit the keys displayed. You can change the order as you would expect by long-pressing the action you wish to move, then sliding up or down (or, click Edit in the bottom right hand corner). However, to add your own action, you need to press the + button in the top right hand corner

You have options here to choose a Command, Label, Text, Script, Run Action or Visit the Directory. As I've usually already created the Action, I choose Run Action.


Now, I create a long-form description of the action (to allow for easy referencing when it is listed in the Edit window) and choose the text that will be displayed on the key (Label). Clicking the + button next to Action Name allows you to choose one of your pre-configured actions to set.

If you use an external keyboard, you can assign a Keyboard Shortcut to this action which will run the action as soon as the shortcut is invoked. This is something I use a lot on my iPad. I use the same shortcut on both Mac and iOS for sending text to OmniFocus and this allows for some great consistency across devices.


Customising that top keyboard row in Drafts seems like a small win, but when you use it for the first time, I guarantee your mind will automatically start thinking of other ways you can use this feature to save precious time.