By Jason Snell
April 18, 2018 11:59 AM PT
Last updated November 19, 2021
Writing on my iPad at home
If there’s one thing I’ve learned writing about tech, is that’s if I mention using any sort of accessory in passing without providing details, people will ask for the details. And so I was already planning on writing this when a reader inquired on Twitter about my iPad writing setup, which I mentioned in passing in a recent piece about mechanical keyboards.
How do you prop the iPad up? Smart cover?
— John Gruber (@gruber) April 18, 2018
So for Reader John and everyone else, here’s the story. My primary workspace is largely unchanged from when I set it up in 2014, though I’m now using a clicky keyboard and an iMac Pro now. I don’t do all of my writing from my desk, though; I’m a big believer in increasing productivity through a change of scenery1. Sometimes that involves taking my iPad outside, often to the Starbucks that’s five minutes from my house. In the summer I’ll attach the laptop-like Brydge Keyboard and go sit in the backyard.
When it’s not nice out, I’ll just relocate to the bar in my kitchen and write on my iPad. This workspace has evolved over the last year or two. When it started, I was generally using a Smart Keyboard or a random Bluetooth keyboard with a wooden iPad kitchen stand I got at Macworld Expo a few years ago, but I was never really satisfied with the ergonomics. I wanted the iPad to be a bit higher, and I was intrigued by the idea of writing with the iPad in portrait orientation.
(In the truest spirit of knowing that readers always have follow-up questions, I haven’t mentioned the app that I use to do my writing on the iPad mostly because it varies from day to day. For the longest time, 1Writer and Editorial have been my go-to apps. I wrote this particular story in Drafts 5, which just came out. When I’m painfully rewriting my novel I use Scrivener.)
A reader on Twitter suggested I buy this iPad stand on Amazon, and I’ve been using it ever since. It’s surprisingly sturdy. The base that approximates the foot of an iMac is metal, not plastic. A hinge lets me pivot the iPad up and down and likewise doesn’t feel cheap. And the clip mechanism—the stand comes with clips for large and small iPads—is strong enough to hold my iPad without any worry of it sliding out. Best of all, the thing rotates, so I can use my iPad in portrait (for more words on the screen) or landscape (for use with Split View) as I see fit.
Just before I bought the stand, I started using the Matias Mini Tactile Pro keyboard with the iPad here in the kitchen, attached via Apple’s USB 3 Lightning Adapter. It worked great, and I enjoyed the upgrade to a mechanical keyboard, but it was awfully fussy to bring out this keyboard connected to an adapter connected to a lightning cable connected to a power plug.
So I replaced the Mini Tactile Pro with the Matias Laptop Pro, a Bluetooth mechanical keyboard with a silver-and-black style that fits in pretty well with my iPad and its stand. Until I find something better—let’s face it, I appear to be collecting mechanical keyboards—this is my preferred writing environment when I’m away from my desk. At least until my kids come home from school, at which point I have to go back into my office and close the door.
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