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Shelf Apps on the iPad

Working on an iPad with iOS 11 is now more mainstream than ever before. With the improved multi-tasking features and slide over you are able to handle several apps at once without issue. You can read a news article, take notes on it, and watch a video all at the same time.
Notes, Safari, and a video on the iPad in iOS 11

But there’s one problem you have with this new found productivity with the iPad: How do I save things to use in other apps?

Sure you can copy and paste text, or even use Drag and Drop to move things to their respective places, but what if you have several things you want to take from multiple apps and bring them to one singular app? Most people would say that you need to do it one by one in each app switching back and forth between them. However, with shelf apps you no longer have to worry about this.

Shelf apps are pretty self-explanatory but invaluable to someone who gets multiple sources, links, and text when researching and browsing the news. Instead of keeping a mental note, or even an actual note, on where the things are you can simply use Drag and Drop and put them in a shelf app and bring them over to to where you want them to go.

Here are some real world examples you can use with shelf apps.

Example 1: Uploading Documents within Safari

When you run a WordPress blog or website, or anything online requiring you to upload photos and other documents for your posts, it can be a pain to figure out the best way to upload them to your WordPress server.1For me, I tried desperately to figure out a way to run a Workflow to automate this process but with my lack of knowledge on how these things work on the back end and not being a huge fan of FTP for several reasons I eventually gave up and started uploading them within WordPress on Safari. Before Drag and Drop that meant finding the image or other document, uploading it to either iCloud or Dropbox so I can pick it within the document browser in Safari then uploading it leaving a copy of this image in my cloud service for me to have to delete later.

Leaving these digital breadcrumbs all over just so I cam upload an image wasn’t ideal. It made me have to schedule time just to clean out my folders and make sure everything I needed uploaded was taken care of.

Now, however, it is as simple as finding the image in my photos, dragging it to my Shelf app of choice, Yoink (currently in beta), and saving it there along with anything else I needed to upload to the site. It made it painless to gather everything I needed, including links to sources and other items I was using for my articles.

Once I was ready to upload what I needed to, it was as simple as logging in, and using Drag and Drop between Yoink and Safari to drop them in the file picker to upload.

While this issue doesn’t necessarily handle the breadcrumb situation fully, I find it easier to select images in my Photos to delete after I am done uploading them than using a cloud service app to delete my items. The Photos app is much more user-friendly than Files or Dropbox, and it has the “Recently Deleted” fail-safe In place just in case I decide I need that image or video again.

Example 2: Reading List

As someone who gets their news through several sources including Twitter, my RSS reader, and email, I need a place where I can save these items for later reading. Now, this site doesn’t have a Pocket plugin by accident. I use Pocket for nearly all of my read-later needs. But the Share Sheet seems antiquated now with the advent of Drag and Drop and I wanted to see if a Shelf app could make this more enjoyable.

Not only does Pocket allow you to Drag and Drop saved articles and links from the app to somewhere else, but you can also Drag and Drop links from Shelf apps into Pocket.

Pocket with Drag and Drop

While I am not surprised it is available, I am stunned by how much I like this setup more than the Share Sheet. Being able to manipulate items like this with my fingers is just so satisfying. It is like you are working with the tech in a sci-fi movie that is based in the distant future where a mouse and keyboard seems as laughable as not knowing what to do with the seashells.

Example 3: Task Management

Finally, you can use Shelf apps for task management. We all have several “IN boxes”, whether it is Slack, email, text messages, or physical paperwork you need to address. You can throw all of these things at a Shelf app and it handles things like a dream.

With things like email and texts, it is as simple as dragging the message or text you need to save into Yoink, or even entire emails with the Mail.

However, with a little bit of forethought you can actually digitize the paperwork you need to do and save it to a shelf app for processing later in your task manager of choice.

To accomplish this you just need to take a photo of the document or use a scanning app like Scanner Pro by Readle. From there you can share the image as a PDF or several photo options like JPG or PNG and save them in your task managing app of choice either directly in the share sheet or you can add it to your Shelf App for later usage if you so choose.

Being able to digitize paperwork isn’t a new-found invention with iOS 11 but being able to go through and scan a bunch of paperwork and saving it to a shelf app like Yoink makes it much easier to get all of your scanning done in one go. Not only can you save time and just scan everything at once, but processing things with a shelf app instead of a share sheet or Photos allows you to quickly throw what you scanned into their respective buckets on your device.

Conclusion

Shelf Apps are not just a welcome addition to the iOS workflows, but they’re also breaking ground. How you can get things done with iOS has changed forever because of how versatile these kinds of apps are and just how much time it can save you. You just need to have some forethought and really look at how you do things on your devices and how Shelf Apps can make that more efficient.

If you are looking to get a Shelf app, you can find out more about the specific apps available over at MacStories.

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Let us know what you are doing with Shelf Apps by commenting below!

  1. I am sure this can be used on other websites not running on WordPress, but I have only tested this on WordPress.

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