Home Screens – John Voorhees


John Voorhees (Twitter) joined MacStories in 2015. He is an editor and regular contributor to MacStories and the Club MacStories newsletters, co-hosts AppStories, a weekly podcast exploring the world of apps, with Federico Viticci, and handles sponsorship sales for MacStories and AppStories. John is also the creator of Blink, an iOS app that creates links for the iTunes Affiliate Program. So John, show us your home screen


What are some of your favorite apps?

My Home screen is organized to put my most-used apps within easy reach. I’m left-handed, so that means the lower left corner of the screen is where my most heavily used apps live.

If I’m mobile and using my iPhone, you can bet I’m listening to podcasts or music. My daily podcast player is Overcast because I love its Smart Speed feature, but I also use Castro, which added amazing drag and drop support with iOS 11. 

Apple Music has come a long way since its early days. I’ve found that the algorithmic playlists are much more closely aligned with my tastes than in the past and I’m a fan of the new social features. Every few days I find myself browsing through what friends are listening to, which is a fantastic way to expand your musical horizons.

My iPhone is also all about communication. Messages is the primary way I chat with friends and family, so it gets the coveted first position in the dock. 

Slack is where conversations with MacStories team members happen. It’s where we plan the Club MacStories newsletter, post links to interesting news stories, and coordinate article assignments. 

Airmail can be a little buggy at times, but its customization and third-party integrations can’t be beaten. I keep it just out of easy reach and don’t use badges because I don’t want to be dipping in and out of email constantly, but I also need to have it readily available.

Tweetbot is always close by too. I don’t view Twitter as the productivity sink that most people think it is. It can be if you let it, but at least half of the time I spend in Tweetbot I consider research because it’s where I find leads on apps to cover on MacStories. That said, it’s also where I kick back to joke around with my friends as a break from work.

Most of my Home screen consists of work-related apps. Blink is an app I built that I use for creating iTunes affiliate links to the apps I write about. I keep up with the latest Apple and tech news with Inoreader, a highly customizable RSS reader and save stories I find interesting in Pocket for reading later and linking to on MacStories or our weekly Club MacStories newsletter. Other research material is stored in DevonTHINK To Go or Apple’s Notes app. I’m in Safari on and off all day, so it’s in my dock as is my task manager, Todoist, which is where all my work and personal tasks go. I’ve tried many task managers and always come back to Todoist because it’s so easy to get tasks into it and to collaborate with others. My ‘Bidness’ folder is full of ‘money’ apps for my banks, PayPal, Stripe, TransferWise, and Xero to name a few. 

What app makes you most productive?

Ulysses is the app that I spend the most time in each day whether it’s writing for MacStories and Club MacStories or preparing materials for AppStories. I don’t use it frequently on my iPhone, but for quick edits and rough drafts in places where I don’t have my Mac or iPad, it works in a pinch. The two other apps that make me most productive on my iPhone are Working Copy, which we use to share and collaborate on writing projects with the MacStories team, and Workflow, which automates the setup of each week’s Club MacStories newsletter.

How many times a day do you use your iPhone/iPad?

It varies depending on whether I’m in front of my Mac. If I’m on my Mac, my iPhone gets used to respond to text messages or run a Workflow, but if I’m away from my Mac, my iPhone gets used whenever I’m not occupied by another task.

What is your favorite feature of the iPhone/iPad.

My favorite feature of the iPhone is the ability to work anywhere and stay in touch with others. Before I left my day job as a lawyer, I ran every aspect of my side hustles from my iPhone. I also have friends who are scattered across the globe who I’m lucky if I see once a year. Whether we’re catching up on what each other has been doing or collaborating on a project, the iPhone is the glue that connects us. 

If you were in charge at Apple, what would you add or change?

I’d start by bringing inter-app drag and drop to the iPhone. I understand why Apple chose to limit dragging items between apps to the iPad, but apps like Castro and Bear have demonstrated the power of in-app drag and drop on the iPhone, which would be even more powerful if there was a way to drag items between apps.