Macworld Masterclass: Edit and sync documents on the go

Create a document on iPhone, edit it on iPad, tidy it up on a Mac…

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  • Plaintext Main Intro
  • Plaintext1 Step 1: Meet PlainText
  • Plaintext2 Step 2: Linking to DropBox
  • Plaintext3 Step 3: Type some text
  • Plaintext4 Step 4: The Document Menu
  • Plaintext5 Step 5: Creating a folder
  • Plaintext6 Step 6: Deleting a file
  • More stories
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Intro

There’s no shortage of ways to edit text on an iPhone or iPad, but few apps do it as elegantly as Hog Bay Software’s PlainText. There’s no fancy formatting, fonts or themes; instead, you get a pared-down way to create and edit text files that can be stored on a free Dropbox account and synchronised automatically with any device that’s linked to the account. Create a PlainText document on your iPhone, edit it on an iPad, tidy it up with TextEdit on your Mac and then apply the finishing touches using Microsoft Word or Apple’s Pages word processor. PlainText is ad-supported, but these run unobtrusively along the foot of the screen, and the in-app purchase price is only £1.49 if you want to get rid of them. Do it. Apps this good deserve our support.

Vital Info

Device: iPad, iPhone, Mac, PC…
Difficulty: Beginner
Time required: 10 minutes

What you need

Devices for editing/syncing
PlainText app (free/£1.49)
Dropbox account

Next »

Next Prev Plaintext Main

There’s no shortage of ways to edit text on an iPhone or iPad, but few apps do it as elegantly as Hog Bay Software’s PlainText. There’s no fancy formatting, fonts or themes; instead, you get a pared-down way to create and edit text files that can be stored on a free Dropbox account and synchronised automatically with any device that’s linked to the account. Create a PlainText document on your iPhone, edit it on an iPad, tidy it up with TextEdit on your Mac and then apply the finishing touches using Microsoft Word or Apple’s Pages word processor. PlainText is ad-supported, but these run unobtrusively along the foot of the screen, and the in-app purchase price is only £1.49 if you want to get rid of them. Do it. Apps this good deserve our support.

Vital Info

Device: iPad, iPhone, Mac, PC…
Difficulty: Beginner
Time required: 10 minutes

What you need

Devices for editing/syncing
PlainText app (free/£1.49)
Dropbox account

 

Step 2 of 7: Step 1: Meet PlainText

PlainText is free. Grab it from the App Store and tap the app to launch it. It opens on to the Documents screen and shows two documents: Help and Tips & Tricks. Along the bottom are buttons for configuring PlainText, searching through documents, and creating new files and folders. Tap the cog button to get started.

 

Step 3 of 7: Step 2: Linking to DropBox

Although you can use PlainText solo, it’s more useful when linked to a Dropbox account. On the next screen, tap the Dropbox menu item and then Link to Dropbox Account. (Don’t have one? Go to www.dropbox.com, sign up, then come back). Enter the details of your account into the space provided and tap Link.

 

Step 4 of 7: Step 3: Type some text

Hit Settings then Close to return to the document list. The app creates a new folder in your Dropbox called PlainText to store your documents. Let’s create a new one. Tap the New Documents button at the bottom right, give the document a name and then tap anywhere in the main window. Type some text.

 

Step 5 of 7: Step 4: The Document Menu

Tap the heading at the top of your text and you’ll see the Plaintext menu. From here you can print via Airprint, email the text, rename the document, count the number of words or force a sync with Dropbox if you’ve just written something you think is particularly worth saving.

 

Step 6 of 7: Step 5: Creating a folder

Tap anywhere on the screen to close the menu and then hit the Back button. From the main documents list, tap the Create Folder button. Give the folder a name and select Done. Tap the Back button and you’ll see it’s been added to the list. Folders are differentiated from documents by a light grey arrow.

 

Step 7 of 7: Step 6: Deleting a file

We’ve created two entries called ‘Fishing stories’ (a document and a folder), so let’s get rid of one. PlainText uses the standard iPhone method to delete unwanted items: swipe your finger left to right over the entry you want to remove and tap Delete. The item will also be deleted from Dropbox at the same time.

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