Desktop, laptop, iPad, iPhone.. – more often then not you feel like you might have too many gadgets. You are constantly searching for a website you glimpsed at only 2 days ago, and unable to find it in the browser history – so you wonder – Was I on my laptop when I found that article? Or was I on the iPad? Or maybe it was a Twitter link that I clicked on my iPhone.. ? Also, that quick note I had.. where on earth did I save it.. and on which device?
To get you sorted in this digital mess, we present to you the 5 most important tools you can use to de-clutter your digital existence Evernote, Simplenote, Dropbox, Push the Page and Instapaper:
I have already told you about Evernote and how I’ve been trying to use it as a digital information manager, gathering my links, snippets, texts and quick notes. While the software’s user interface is not impressive, one can’t deny that Evernote is a real powerhorse, able to store pretty much everything you send to it, and even automatically tag the images/photos to allow for text search inside them. The main advantage of using Evernote is as a powerful sync tool of information files – be they text notes, web snippets, photos or other documents. The clients for iPhone / iPad / Android will sync these, so you can always access your data on the go.
Whenever I mention Evernote on my Twitter posts, there are always some replies like “Yeah.. Evernote is nice.. but I kind of prefer Simplenote“. Unlike Evernote, Simplenote only lets you edit and sync text notes, but does so with style and a fast minimalist user interface. It only has a web interface(a great one) and clients for iPhone & iPad (there are no official desktop clients), but there are 3rd party apps that fill the need(such as the highly recommended free editor Notational Velocity)
You surely remember Dropbox from my previous articles. The ease of use of the desktop client and the free official clients for iPhone & iPad make it a perfect tool to keep most things in sync across your various devices – so if you save a file from your computer, you’ll be able to retrieve it afterwards from your iDevice. If you want it the other way around, there are many apps with Dropbox integration to help you: for instance the free PlainText iPhone/iPad text editor or the $0.99 iPad text editor Clean Writer (developed by yours truly) that will save your text notes directly to your Dropbox account.
To be honest, this is the real reason why I wrote this post in the first place. You might have heard of all these other apps, but chances are you haven’t yet heard about Push the Page. It is an amazing free app that does one simple thing.. but does it extremely well. Kind of the thing you didn’t know you missed until you see it. What Push the Page does is help you send, instantly, a link from your desktop to your iPhone or iPad.
Let me explain this a bit.
Imagine you are browsing the web on your computer, looking for a pasta recipe, which you want to cook tonight. When you finally find it, you usually have 3 options:
1. you can take the laptop with you in the kitchen. But you probably don’t want to, ’cause there’s no place for it there, and it’s too risky anyways
2. you write it down on paper, so you can take the paper with you. But it’s time consuming, and kind of beats the purpose of all the gadgets in the house
3. or, you can open that web page on your iPhone or iPad, which are much more suited to help you in the kitchen(being smaller and more kitchen-proof than a laptop)
In order to open that same web page on your iDevice, you used to have 3 ways : a. either type the url on the device to match the one on your computer, b. email yourself the link, or c. save the link in Evernote or Simplenote, open the Evernote/Simplenote clients on your device, sync, then finally click the url in the latest note.
Push the Page brings a 4th, most direct variant: all you do is, on your computer’s browser, click on a bookmarklet and the page’s address is instantly sent to your iDevice. You’ll get a notification and tapping it will eventually load that page in the browser. Free, quick and painless. All you need is to set up an account on www.pushthepage.com, download the free Push the Page apps on all your devices, set them up and drag the bookmarklet to your browser’s Bookmarks bar. Easy peasy.
Like its headline says, Instapaper saves interesting web pages for reading later. It’s more than a bookmarking tool, because it actually saves the web pages content, strips off advertising and clutter and magically saves the web article’s actual content, so that you can read it later. What’s best is that there’s a free iPhone client app (or a $4.99 iPhone+iPad universal app) that will retrieve these articles from your account, for you, so you can read them even offline, using your favorite iDevice. I can’t recommend Instapaper enough, and I think it’s probably the greatest web-related invention since the RSS reader. But that’s just my opinion.