Yoink is the app I use on my Mac every day as a temporary spot to park files, snippets of text, images, and URLs. By itself, Yoink for Mac has been a fantastic time-saver. The latest updates to Yoink for iOS and the Mac, however, have been transformative. There's more that can be done to support the cross-platform use of Yoink, but Handoff support, which makes it simple to move data between my Mac and iOS devices, and several other new features have already added a new dimension to the way I use the app and embedded it deeper into my day-to-day workflow than ever before.
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I use Gladys as my go-to shelf app on the iPhone and iPad, but I'm also a fan of what developer Matthias Gansrigler is doing with Yoink on iOS. Yoink is a popular drag and drop assistant for macOS that launched earlier this year on iOS with an iPad app that, like many others, took advantage of the drag and drop APIs in iOS 11 to offer a mix of a shelf app and clipboard manager.
At WWDC, I was disappointed that the iOS 11 announcements didn't include a shelf where content can be temporarily parked. When Federico and Sam Beckett made an iOS 11 concept video earlier this year they included a shelf, which felt like a natural way to make touch-based drag and drop simpler. I found the omission in the iOS 11 beta somewhat surprising. On the Mac, people use the Desktop as a temporary place to stash items all the time, and without a Desktop on iOS, a shelf that slides in from the edge of the screen seemed like a natural solution. In fact, it’s a solution that has an even more direct analog than the Desktop on macOS that makes a solid case for implementing something similar on iOS: Yoink, from Eternal Storms Software.
When I put together an article for MacStories on my Mac, Yoink by Eternal Storms Software is what brings order to the messy process of creating screenshots. You see, I like to use Spaces on my MacBook Pro to separate my writing environment from other apps I’m using to produce screenshots. But between Spaces, apps, and the Finder, things get cluttered fast. By being available wherever I am on my Mac, Yoink gives me an easily accessible spot to park images as I create them, so that when I’m finished, I can incorporate them into an article all at once, which saves me time.
Back in September I reviewed the first version of Yoink, a utility by Eternal Storms Software that greatly enhanced Lion's drag & drop support by adding a virtual "shelf" to the side of your screen to store temporary files you needed to move elsewhere. From my review:
Yoink is a drag & drop assistant for Lion, in that it provides you with a virtual “safe zone” to temporarily store files — or rather, links to them — you want to move from one location (say your desktop) to another space or full-screen app. Yoink doesn’t “copy” a file, or multiple ones, to its shelf: it only acts as a bridge between the original file, and the destination of the drop.
In its first version, Yoink was primarily meant to provide a better way to move files from the Finder to full-screen apps -- that is the reason the app was built with Lion APIs from the ground up. Yoink 1.0 undoubtedly offered a quick and elegant way to move files around apps and desktops in an intuitive manner; Yoink 2.0, released today, is a huge step forward that now allows the app to accept almost any kind of input from OS X, from text to images and web clippings from any app.
In accessing content from apps, Yoink has become more than a simple tool to temporarily store files that need to be moved around full-screen apps -- think of Yoink 2.0 as a secondary, visual clipboard that can accept almost any kind of file you throw at it. In my tests, besides dropping content from apps into Yoink's shelf, I've copied links, text and images from Safari and Chrome, and successfully watched Yoink create text clippings and full copies of the images ready to be pasted anywhere on my Mac, both in the Finder and other apps. Rich text from a web browser is converted to .textclipping once imported in Yoink, and you can easily re-export everything to the Finder, or into another app that accepts text, such as TextEdit or Twitter's compose window. Want to tweet a famous quote by The Beatles? Drag text into Yoink's shelf, open your client of choice, and drop your previously copied text. How about quoting someone else's words on your blog (and this is something I've been looking forward to)? Drag text into Yoink, fire up your blog's editor window, drop text.
Yoink's new drag & drop system works with almost any app and any kind of content -- you won't be able to preserve the exact formatting of a rich text document when copying, but it surely works very well as a lightweight solution to quickly save plain text files.
Yoink 2.0 brings a couple more interesting additions besides improved drag & drop. The interface has been redesigned to have more linen and the app can be assigned a keyboard shortcut; more positions for Yoink's window have been added and files shouldn't be lost anymore if they're moved from their original location. One issue I had (and already reported to the developer) was with an alias I moved from Dropbox to my Desktop, which didn't resolve correctly in Yoink and displayed a permission error. The error is likely happening because of some restrictions from Apple's sandboxing technology or the fact that the alias came from Dropbox -- Yoink 2.0 is capable of resolving aliases and, in fact, it worked fine with a file that was originally stored on my Desktop.
Last, Yoink now comes with File Stacks, a neat way to drag and drop multiple files into Yoink's window and have the app combine them into one item in the shelf. This can be very handy if you're dealing with multiple images and PDFs and you want to get them quickly out of the way.
At $2.99 on the Mac App Store, Yoink remains a fantastic way to enhance Lion's drag & drop with an app that acts as a temporary scratchpad/visual clipboard for content that you want to copy, move elsewhere, or simple save for later. Highly recommended, you can get Yoink here.
As I noted in my MacBook Air 13-inch review, the smaller the screen, the better full-screen apps get on Lion. For those still unaware of the new feature, OS X Lion comes with the possibility of enlarging applications to fill the entire screen -- thus the name "full-screen mode" -- so that, similarly to iOS, users can focus on one app at a time. Whereas some full-screen apps can look comically large on bigger displays such as a 21.5-inch iMac or Apple Thunderbolt Display, I found that smaller screens make more sense in regards to full-screen mode in that you don't feel like you're wasting available pixel space. Apple's system applications have already been updated to take advantage of full-screen mode, and we've seen third party developers starting to play around with the new API as well, coming up with interesting solutions to modify the user interface accordingly to full-screen mode.
Personally, I have enjoyed using apps like Evernote, Sparrow and Reeder in full-screen mode on my MacBook Air. With a four-finger swipe, I can easily switch between these apps, and go back to my main desktop where all my other application windows reside. However, as full-screen apps live in their own separate graphical environment, I wished on a couple of occasions that Apple would implement an easier method to move files between spaces and full-screen apps in Lion. Rather than delving into the technical details of drag & drop and APIs, here's a practical example: say I run Sparrow in full-screen mode, and I need to quickly drop an attachment onto a new message window. I could use the app's "attach file" dialog, but drag & drop would be more intuitive. On Lion, there's no simple way to drag files from Desktop 1, and drop them into a full-screen app. In fact, the "easiest" trick I've discovered to achieve such a functionality is to click & hold a file, hit the Mission Control key on my MacBook Air's keyboard, select a a full-screen app and wait for it to "spring load" (e.g. the window flashes and after a few seconds comes in the foreground), then drop the file. Clumsy and slow.
A new app by Eternal Storms -- makers of Flickery and ScreenFloat, among others -- called Yoink, aims at improving Lion's behavior with drag & drop and full-screen apps. Built from the ground-up with Lion-only APIs, Yoink places an unobtrusive, translucent "shelf" at the side of your Mac's screen every time you start dragging a file. Drop the file in there, switch to your full-screen app with a gesture, get the file out of the shelf. Done.
Yoink is a drag & drop assistant for Lion, in that it provides you with a virtual "safe zone" to temporarily store files -- or rather, links to them -- you want to move from one location (say your desktop) to another space or full-screen app.
Yoink doesn't "copy" a file, or multiple ones, to its shelf: it only acts as a bridge between the original file, and the destination of the drop. So, back to my Sparrow example: I can select a bunch of files from my desktop, drop them into Yoink, switch back to Sparrow with a gesture, and get the files out of Yoink. Very simple. This works with any full-screen app, any space -- Yoink works wherever you can drop a file. In fact, nothing stops you from using the app as a drag & drop utility for your Finder windows instead of full-screen apps, although the app is clearly focused on the latter.
In my tests, I've found Yoink to be very lightweight in memory footprint, and easy to use. The app only appears when you start dragging a file -- you won't see its window all the time -- and you can customize it to sit on the left, or right of the screen. Alternatively, you can tell Yoink to quickly move next to your cursor as you drag a file, then go back to screen's side. Yoink can store multiple files, Quick Look them, and let you scroll and select multiple items with CMD-click.
Yoink is available at $2.99 on the App Store, and you can head over the developer's website to check out a demo video and get a better idea of the app in action. If you work with full-screen apps on a daily basis and you'd like to enhance Lion's drag & drop support, Yoink is a must-have.
On this week's episode of AppStories, we each pick an aspect of our MacStories work and break down the apps, workflows, and processes we use to accomplish it.
- Yoink - Simplify and improve drag and drop on your Mac, iPad and iPhone, and speed up your daily workflow.
- Linode – High-performance SSD Linux servers for all of your infrastructure needs. Get a $20 credit.
Last year when I wrote about my must-have Mac apps, I was coming off a tumultuous year that started with a daily commute into Chicago for my old job and ended with me working from home. As the year came to a close, I was exploring what that meant for the way I work on the Mac.
That process continued into 2018. With the number of new things I took on in 2017 and the transition to indie life, I made the conscious decision to step back and settle into my new life. That wasn’t easy. There’s a natural tendency to take on everything that crosses your path when you go out on your own, but I’ve seen too many people fall into that trap in the past. Instead, I concluded that 2018 would be the year to improve the way I already work by refining existing workflows and reevaluating how I get things done, including on the Mac.
Three events led me to work on my Mac more in 2018. The first was the 27-inch LG 4K display I bought in January. It was a big step up from the 23-inch 1080p one I had before and, combined with a VESA arm, improved working at my Mac substantially.
The second factor was our MacStories coverage of the App Store’s tenth anniversary. For it, we produced seven extra episodes of AppStories that were released in the span of one week, which kept me in front of my Mac recording and editing for long periods of late May through June.
Third, just after WWDC, I destroyed the screen of my iPad Pro thanks to the trunk hinges that invade the interior of the 2016 Honda Accord.1 I decided to hold out for the new iPad Pros, but that meant writing for four of the busiest months at MacStories without a good iOS work solution. I used a current-generation 9.7-inch iPad some, but it couldn’t compete with my LG display.
As 2018 comes to a close, the changes I’ve made haven’t been dramatic despite the extra time I’ve spent in front of my Mac. Instead, I’ve fine-tuned existing workflows and added new apps for specific tasks.
Below, I’ve broken down the 49 apps I use roughly by activity and function. I’ll mention where Apple’s apps fit into my workflow as I go because without them there would be a few big holes in the landscape of apps I use, but the focus of this roundup is on third-party apps, not Apple’s.
Putting together my annual list of Must-Have iOS Apps is an exercise in analyzing the trends of the year and considering which ones had the biggest impact on how I use my iPhone and iPad. Two years ago, it was web services and open APIs; last year, I focused on collaboration with the MacStories team and making my workflow consistent across devices; this year, there isn't a single overarching theme behind this list, but rather a collection of trends and changes that I've observed over the course of 2018.
First and foremost is the switch to a subscription-based business model by some of my favorite apps. As we noted in our look at the modern economics of the App Store earlier this year, it is becoming increasingly challenging for indie developers – the ones who make the apps we tend to use and cover most frequently on MacStories – to find a balance between reaching new customers with paid app updates and supporting an app over the span of multiple years for existing users who already paid once.
A subscription seems like an obvious solution: new customers can try an app for free and later decide to subscribe; longtime users of an app get to support their favorite app over a longer period of time; developers are more incentivized to keep making an app better thanks to the financial security provided by an ongoing revenue stream. Recurring subscriptions for all apps launched two years ago just before WWDC, and it feels like we've only now reached a point where more and more developers are willing to experiment with them. This major shift in app pricing wasn't always met favorably by longtime users of existing apps, which has resulted in developers testing different approaches such as optional subscriptions, bundles containing subscriptions and In-App Purchases, or even multiple ways to unlock the same features. In looking at the apps included in this list, I was surprised by how many now include some form of recurring subscription; I think this transition will only become more prominent in 2019.
The second trend I noticed in my usage of third-party apps is a strong preference for those that fully embrace modern iOS technologies. From Siri shortcuts (by far, the most important iOS developer framework of 2018) to Files integration and support for external keyboards on iPad, I tend to prioritize apps that eschew proprietary functionalities and adopt native APIs such as iCloud, the Files document browser, or Reminders. With iOS growing more powerful and complex each year, I think it's only natural that I've stuck with apps that shy away from Apple-provided solutions as little as possible; those frameworks are always going to be more integrated with the rest of the system than any alternative a developer can come up with, and I seek that level of integration because I enjoy the comfort of an ecosystem where all the pieces work well together.
Lastly, I've noticed some overall changes in the kinds of apps I consider my must-haves for iPhone and iPad. In the "pro" app department, the Photography and Development lists have grown to include apps such as Lightroom, Scriptable, Darkroom, and Halide – all new entries this year. One of my goals with the new iPad Pro is to use it as a workstation for editing photos and programming my own little additions to iOS; I felt like my increased usage of these apps warranted some changes in the annual picks. You will also find more apps designed to interact with macOS as a result of my purchase of a Mac mini (which I'm using as a home server for various tasks) and different utility apps as some of the old ones have been replaced by Shortcuts. An app that, by the way, I can no longer include in this roundup due to my self-imposed rule of not featuring Apple apps because they're kind of obvious choices for an iOS user (this also applies to Shazam, officially acquired by Apple this year).
Below, you'll find a collection of the 60 apps I consider my must-haves on the iPhone and iPad, organized in nine categories; whenever possible, I included links to original reviews and past coverage on MacStories. What you will not find is the usual list of awards for best new app and best app update, which we've relaunched as a team effort under the MacStories Selects name this year. Instead, at the end of the story you'll find my App of the Year, which is also joining MacStories Selects as an award that recognizes an overall outstanding iOS app that had a profound impact on my workflow over the past year, regardless of its release date.
Let's dig in.