Notes from a Floating Life Thoughts about productivity, digital living, and leading a simpler life

Essential Web Tools for Living in Plain Text

A few posts back, I mentioned that I’d be making another attempt to live as much of my life as possible in plain text. I’m determined to do just that, and have been slowly but surely following the plan I laid out.

While I’m not a tool fetishist, I do know that one of the keys to success with a plan like this is having the right tools at my disposal. I have a laptop that’s my main work computer, but I also do a large chunk of my work using a Chromebook and a tablet.

Instead of transfering files around using a USB flash drive, I use a number of web apps that support plain text and make it easy to access or synchronize my work. Let’s take a look at the web-based tools that I find essential for living in plain text.

First up, Dropbox. It’s a service for synchronizing, storing, and sharing files. The great thing about Dropbox is that it’s easy to either upload file to it or use one of the many tools that work with Dropbox.

One of those tools is TextDrop. It’s basically an online text editor that enables you to create, open, and save files in your Dropbox account. TextDrop has few frills; it doesn’t need them. But it does support Markdown and MultiMarkdown, including a live preview of how text files formatted with them look when rendered on the web.

(Note: I’ll be explaining what Markdown is and why it’s useful in a future post.)

Another online text editor that I really, really, really like (did I mention I like it?) is is a simple, unadorned, and distraction-free tool for getting your words down.

As someone who writes, I take a lot of notes. No, make that a lot of notes. Plain text is great for that, and one tool I use is Simplenote. It has no real bells or whistles, but excels at storing information in plain text. You can add tags to your notes, and even back them up to Dropbox. On top of that, there are a large number of mobile apps that you can use with it.

As I mentioned several paragraphs ago, these are the web-based tools that I find essential for living in plain text. There are others, which I’ll try to look at in a future post. And if you have any favourite tools that you want to share, send me your recommendations on Twitter.

Thoughts? Let's start a conversation on Twitter.

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