Zettelkasten Forum

iA writer shortcut for new zettels on iPad

Hi guys! I'm new here! I recently stumbled upon The Archive and immediately fell in love with its simplicity and great writing experience. Although I'm quite happy with my workflow on my iMac I'm having a hard time making a good workflow for creating zettels on my iPad. That's why I'm looking for help.

I've been trying to populate some front matter on a new note using this iOS shortcut for iAWriter: https://www.icloud.com/shortcuts/05a688e941954398aafab768f75966fc. The shortcut adds a filename following the convention used by The Archive and adds title, date, and tags. The problem is that it works sometimes while fails most of the time for no apparent reason.

As you can see image 1 (sucessful-shortcut.png) shows how it looks when the shortcut properly works, and image 2 (fail-shortcut.png) shows when it fails.

Do you have any insight into what's happening? If you use iA Writer, is there another way to add a front matter to a new note on iPad (other than manually)?

A simple workflow is really important for me to work with The Archive and iA Writer on the iPad, so if you have figured this out I'd love to learn from you. Thank you, André.


  • edited June 2021


    I started out using iA Writer to access my Zettelkasten from an iPad but then switch to 1Writer, as the workflow is smoother. Having said that, I still use iA Writer for other things, partly because it has a Mac app whereas 1Writer is only available on iOS.

    In regard to setting up "front matter" (or maybe what might be called a template) - have you tried using automatic text replacement? You go into System Preferences on your Mac, then Keyboard, then the "text" tab. From there, you can add a short form text which, when entered on any of your Mac devices, gets expanded to a lot more text. This text replacement definition gets synced to your iOS devices and works there as well.

    I use a program called NotePlan on my iPhone a lot, and that's the approach I use for a daily template. The short form text I type is "-daily" - when I type this in a text field, it expands to (minus the opening quotes on each line, which I inserted so that this post doesn't interpret it as Markdown):

    "# Activities

    "# Journal

    NotePlan shows this in its interpreted Markdown form as:

    I know this is pretty simple, but it saves me entering that text every day. You can obviously expand it to contain whatever text you want. You could set it up so that on each zettel, it would automatically fill in various metadata. This works just fine in iA Writer or 1Writer or any other Mac app that accepts a text field.

    For more information, see:


  • edited June 2021

    Thank you @GeoEng51. Text replacement seems to be a good solution for static structures like headings, however, it doesn't solve for dynamic metadata such as UID and date, that is what the iOS shortcut I referred to earlier tries to do but fails. Another reason for me using the shortcut is that it names the file with a UID, which is really handy since iA Writer normally names the file based on the first lines written. I've tried 1Writer and while it is a good solution to navigate the archive it doesn't work for me as a writing tool because it can't save notes in my zettelkasten folder, which lives inside the iA writer folder on iCloud and shows up as an External File Provider.

  • @alscardoso

    Yes, I understand the limitations of text replacement but thought the solution might get you part way to where you wanted to go.

    I’m wondering why you store your Zettelkasten in the iA Writer folder on iCloud. That is going to limit you accessing it from other apps. Why not store your Zettelkasten in its own folder on any cloud service? Then you can access its files from any app (including iA Writer). That’s what I and many others on the forum do. In my case, it’s stored on a folder in Dropbox, but you could use pretty much any cloud-based service.

  • Thank you @GeoEng51. I did that because I use iA writer as a one-stop shop for writing anything and The Archive can access the Zettelkasten folder in iA without any problems.

    I actually didn't know that iA could access external folders and I can see the value of keeping my Zettelkasten app-independent. Thank you for that tip!

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