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Here's what’s in this Wonder Tools post:
🧑💻 My take on Craft.do, a new app I use to turn notes into polished handouts
🧶 See examples of how people use Craft.do + resources for getting started
🔮 My takeaways from the reader survey more than 150 of you responded to
More of my recent resources:
Jumpstart your journal — my take on Day One and new ways to journal
New journaling ideas — Read my 🐦 Twitter thread with 10+ ways to journal
Create a video this summer🏖 — Try these useful new video editing tools
Curious about new writing aids? Try a surprisingly useful AI tool for writing
Handcrafting digital notes with Craft.do
Craft is a stellar new tool for creating notes and documents. I love using it to design handouts. I also rely on it to compile messy notes into more readable summaries. Without this cleaning-up step my notes are tricky for me to make sense of later.
Craft’s standout feature is letting you create elegant documents by neatly tucking in multiple sub-pages.
The sub-pages show up as gorgeous “cards” that open up your additional material. You end up with a streamlined, eye-catching one-pager that’s organized and easy to read, with as many layers of content tucked within as you like. That lets you digress or branch in new directions when necessary, adding sub-topics without making your doc feel long or muddled.
Examples of documents made with Craft.do 🎨
Scroll through the following docs to see how Craft enables nice-looking sub-pages. I’ve selected these not to highlight their content but to illustrate Craft’s design functionality.
Welcome to Meditation Yoga by Jai Cheswick
A Craft version of Bill and Melinda Gates’ annual letter by the Craft team
A photo page with dance photos by Lois Greenfield, shared by Christopher Curtis
A Craft version of Tesla's Master Plan Deux by the Craft team
Six things I like about Craft 👍
It’s easy to create, edit and share notes and docs on an iPhone, iPad, Mac or the Web. Roam and Mem.ai, two other new services I like, don’t work well yet on mobile.
Craft streamlines long documents by enabling you to organize material within attractive sub-pages and thumbnail cards. The sub-sections use thumbnail previews more elegant than in any other notes tool I’ve seen. Here’s an example:
To save time, Craft lets you link to any block of text you've already written in the app. That means you don’t have to type the same thing in multiple places. You can just link to the other place you referenced it. Just type the @ sign and start typing in a word or two to find the bullet or block of text you want to link to in your new note. The block linking isn’t as powerful as Roam’s, but it’s still handy.
Craft plays well with other apps. You can export any document you’ve created as a PDF, Word doc, markdown, as a nicely-formatted email, or to services like Bear, Ulysses, Things, NotePlan or Day One (which I recently wrote about). You can also import
Craft is thoughtful about making sure your data remains yours, securely, backed-up, exportable, and private (until & unless you share it). Here’s Craft’s summary statement on data ownership and accessibility.
A new feature allows you to create notes quickly for any calendar item, if you link your calendar. I find that helpful for taking and sharing meeting notes, though I’m not yet relying on Craft for all daily notes. I’m using it mainly to create clean versions of specific notes and docs I intend to share with others.
A few more examples of Craft documents 🖌
A guide to Mac Catalyst apps for developers, by the Craft team
A draft syllabus outline from teacher Jeremy England
Notes for a home renovation, recipes and a shopping list by the Craft team
A few limitations of Craft 👎
It's not yet available for Android or Windows, though the Web app is in beta.
You can insert nice-looking bookmarks to Web content, but you can’t embed videos, maps, Tweets or other social content on Craft pages as you can in Notion, Coda or even Almanac, another new document creator.
It’s still relatively new, so the feature set will take some time to develop.
Free to start and for light use
$45/year for full use, with additional storage space and design elements
50% for educators and students
A few tips on using Craft for the first time
Start by creating a text note as you would in any other note or document tool. You can make bullet or numbered lists, checklists, or plain text. You can also add images, links to other sites or whatever else you might add to a document or note.
Then add a few bullet points, a file, paragraphs of text, or images on a related theme. Select them and hit [
Command-G] to group them together. Or right-click and select style > card to make them into a special card.
Once you've tucked some sub-pages or cards into a document you'll wonder why other tools don't make it this easy to make streamlined pages. Got a doc
Here’s a short video of me creating a page in Craft 👇
Leave your email here if you’d like to join a live Craft lesson
Notion remains a good alternative if you use Android or Windows or if you need table features or other things Craft doesn’t yet have. Here’s my post about why Notion is so useful, and how to start using Notion.
Takeaways from the reader survey
Thanks to more than 150 of you who responded to the reader survey with about 3,000 total agree / disagree / compare votes and comments. This input is valuable. I’ve already made several adjustments based on your observations.
Many of you had positive things to say. A few offered constructive critiques. The gist of many of the comments was that these weekly posts are useful. Here's what I learned from your collective responses.
The #1 most agreed-upon statement in the survey was that it’s helpful when I include negative aspects of tools, not just their strengths. I’ve added a section to each new post focusing on the limitations of whatever services I write about.
Bullets, examples and how-tos have value
Readers agreed with a survey respondent’s comment: “I like the no-nonsense bullet points that tell you what you need to know without reading too much.” There was additional consensus around the value of examples of how to use tools, pricing info and how-to tips.
Themes are helpful
The consensus was that themes make things easy to find later. It’s helpful, many noted, that I do the research and try things out to save you time, money and effort. Some of you also said a database of all the tools noted would be helpful.
New suggestion box
Many of you want to be able to submit recommendations. So now you can easily suggest a site, app, or service with a sentence about why/how it’s useful.
I’m reviewing many other observations you shared. Those will help me continue to refine the newsletter in the months ahead.
Thanks for reading! Have a splendid week ahead. Say hello on Twitter @jeremycaplan