One of the most frequently used apps on my iPod Touch is DataViz Documents to Go for iPhone/iPod Touch. Because I occasionally get asked about it on Twitter, where I’m frustrated by the 140 character limit, I thought I’d do a post describing how I use for both writing and editing.
Note: There are two versions of Docs To Go on iTunes. The more expensive one does something called Microsoft Exchange, whatever that is. I have the cheaper of the two, which does Word and Excel, currently priced at $9.99 (I think).
What it does: When you get the app, it gives you directions for setting up Docs to Go on your computer. It adds a DtG icon and a folder labeled Docs to Go to your desktop. You put your manuscript in the folder and it syncs to your iPod, formatting intact. (I’ll be using iPod because it’s what I use. Obviously applies to iPhone, as well.)
Now your manuscript is on your iPod. You can write new material or edit the current. Then you open the DtG on your computer, hit sync and the manuscript changes are magically synced. No wondering which is the current version.
How can it boost your productivity?
Let’s say your working at the computer and the scene’s flowing, but you have to go to the dentist and you’re always in the waiting room at least a half-hour. Sync Docs to Go, keep writing on your iPod, then sync again when you’re ready to work on the computer again. We eat out a lot, and if the guys get into a conversation that doesn’t include me, I can pull out my iPod and do a little writing. Or sometimes I just want to curl up on the couch with my blanket and my dog, without the the bulk and weight of the laptop.
There’s no emailing docs back and forth or cutting and pasting from a notepad program. Just a 10-second sync. The formatting remaining intact was a big selling point for me.
I also use it for editing. I can’t edit a manuscript on the computer, but since I’ve become a digital reader, I can edit on the iPod. While reading through the manuscript, if I find an error or a word I want to change, I just do it. I don’t need to make a note of it and remember to make the change on the computer.
The function menu along the bottom offers email doc, italics, bold, centering, find, replace, word count, etc:
A shot with the keyboard up and the function menu hidden:
You can turn it sideways and use the landscape keyboard (though I’m actually faster with the standard keyboard, strangely enough):
* I recommend creating the document on the computer. While Docs to Go preserves formatting, it’s a lot harder to set up the formatting with it.
* Docs to Go doesn’t use smart quotes (or whatever the curly, directional ones are called) or auto-fix hyphens into em-dashes, so you’ll want to F&R those before the final version.
* Once you’ve started racking up the pages, scrolling can be a pain. I always mark where I’ve left off with an “xx”. When I open the document I search for “xx” and go from there. Some writers use “tk”, another combo you don’t find in other words.
* If you accidentally make changes on both the computer and the iPod without syncing in between, it will tell you there’s a conflict and save 2 copies in the DtG folder, one with the date after the document name. I open the one with the date, then compare & merge with the other. It tracks the changes and you can accept or reject them. Then I save it and delete the one with the date.
* Yes, you can accumulate word count with the iPod on-screen keyboard. Obviously a real keyboard is fastest (but most inconvenient). Then, for me, comes handwriting. I find the iPod’s keyboard a little slower than handwriting, but I don’t have to type it all in later. And it’s better than not writing at all during those times I use it.
I think, if you’re an iPod Touch or iPhone user who writes, it’s worth ten bucks. And you can write it off come tax time.