Dark Mode Tips

Dark Mode Tips

A few people have written to ask how I created the dark mode screenshots for the Storyist 4 Sneak Peek post. Now that Storyist 4 is out, I thought I’d take a moment to describe that process (it’s straightforward) and offer some tips for using dark mode on Mojave.

In short, to create the screenshots, I simply combined different standard accent colors and desktop pictures.

Choosing the Accent Color and Desktop Picture

Mojave lets you choose the accent color that is used to tint the buttons and other controls in the system. You’ll find the setting in the General pane of the System Preferences window. The choices are Blue, Purple, Pink, Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, and Graphite.

The desktop pictures are available in the Desktop & Screensaver pane. Not surprisingly, Apple provides desktop pictures that look great with the different accent color options.

For the screenshots, I chose:

  • The blue accent color with Mojave Night.
  • The purple accent color with Flower 4.
  • The orange accent color with Flower 5.
  • The pink accent color with Flower 7.

If you click on the gallery above and compare the screenshots, you’ll notice a subtle effect: The hue of the toolbar and page background changes slightly to reflect the average color of the desktop image. You’ll get this effect with your own desktop backgrounds too, so experiment with photos from your albums.

Choosing the Text Editor Properties

By default, Storyist 4 displays light text on a dark background in dark mode. This is usually what you want if your project is just text. However, if you’re designing for print, or you want complete control of text color, you might want to see dark text on a light background. To accomplish this, open the Storyist Preferences window, select the Appearance pane, and select “Use light appearance” for the text editor.

As you see in the screenshot, you can also set the application appearance to be always light or always dark independent of the system appearance.

Special Considerations for Text in Dark Mode

When the text editor is in dark mode, text having the default text color (black) is automatically changed to white. However, text having another color will not change. You may run into this, for example, if you import text that is dark gray instead of black. You can easily change the text color to work in both light and dark mode by selecting the text and clicking the “Set Text Color Automatically” button in the font color chooser in the inspector.

If you have other questions, let me know. And good luck with your projects.


Working with the Files Interface

Working with the New Files Interface

Don’t be surprised if the new start screen in Storyist 4 for iOS looks familiar. It should. Starting in version 4, the Storyist home screen is essentially the Files app with a few important additions. If you’re not familiar with the Files app, you’ll find information about how to use it in Apple’s tutorial.

Here are some of the new features it brings to Storyist.

Edit in Place

If you’re a long-time iOS user, you know that files originally “belonged” to the app that created them. One side effect of this model was that you needed to copy a file to another app before editing it in that app. If you weren’t careful, you ended up with multiple copies of the file in different apps and needed keep track of which modifications were made in which app. Some apps still operate this way.

However, when using apps that support the “edit in place” Files functionality (like Storyist 4 does), you can edit a file wherever it is stored without having to copy it. This means you can organize your work in whatever way suits your project while avoiding the multiple copy problem.

3rd-Party Cloud Storage Providers

Another main feature of the Files app is that it gives 3rd-party cloud storage providers like Box, Dropbox, Google Drive, and OneDrive a single, Apple-approved, way to integrate their services with iOS.

While Storyist 3 supported only iCloud and Dropbox, Storyist 4 can use any provider that supports the Files app. For example, Box, Dropbox, Google Drive, and Microsoft OneDrive all support the Files app.

To set up a 3rd-party cloud storage provider:

  1. Download and set up the cloud storage app.
  2. Open Storyist 4.
  3. Tap Edit in the Locations list.
  4. Turn on the cloud services you want to use.
  5. Tap Done.

Folders, List View, Tags, and Searching

Storyist 3 showed all of your files at the same level as a grid of icons. Using the Files interface in Storyist 4, you can

  • Organize your files into folders.
  • Display your files as a list.
  • Tag your files with a label or color.
  • Sort by name, date, size, and tag.
  • Search across all storage locations on your device.

Share Sheets

The Files interface works with iOS share sheets so you can

  • AirDrop your files to other devices.
  • Send a copy of your file using Messages, Mail, or 3rd-party apps that provide a share extension.
  • Share your work with collaborators using iCloud Files Sharing. (More on this below.)

To share a file:

  1. Tap Select.
  2. Tap the file you want to share.
  3. Tap Share.
  4. Select the sharing method.

iCloud File Sharing

iCloud Sharing lets you share files you’ve stored in iCloud with friends and collaborators who have an Apple ID.

As with iCloud Photo Sharing, you can

  • Give access to the file to anyone with a link, or only to those you invite.
  • Set permissions to let them make changes or just view the file.

Recent Files

The Files interface gives you quick access to recently edited files both in the app and on the home screen.

To see your recently edited files in the app, just tap the Recents tab on the Storyist home screen. To see them on the home screen, press and hold the app icon.

Tapping a file in the Recents lists opens it in the app.

Version History

One thing that the Files app doesn’t offer is access to previous versions of your file. Storyist 4 lets you view and restore previous versions stored in iCloud and in the Storyist folder in the “On My iPad” location.

To view the previous versions of a file, press and hold the file icon and select Versions from the popup menu.

If you want to return to an older version of the file, just select the file and tap Restore.

Note that version history is only available for files stored in iCloud and for files stored in the Storyist folder on your device.

If you’re using a 3rd party cloud storage provider, you may also be able to get version history from the provider’s app or website. For example, both Dropbox and Google Drive support this feature.

For more information, see the “Backing Up Your Work” section in the Users Guide.

As you can see, the Files interface brings some powerful new file management features to the app. Storyist 4 for iOS offers a free trial, so download it and take it for a spin!


Working with Snippets

Over the course of a draft, you probably type the same character combinations hundreds if not thousands of times. Why not let Storyist type them for you? Storyist can insert multi-line text snippets (bits of text) with just a few keystrokes.

Try this:

  1. Make sure tab shortcuts are enabled.

  2. Place the cursor at the start of a blank link.

  3. Type “lorem” and then press the tab key.

When you press the tab key, Storyist replaces “lorem” with

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Cras non libero vitae tortor ullamcorper pharetra. Suspendisse fringilla consequat augue, nec hendrerit orci tincidunt in. Ut leo nisl, bibendum quis porta sed, porta a leo. Aliquam et ante lorem. Nullam vel lectus tellus, quis luctus mi. Nam non eros sit amet sem ultrices consectetur eu malesuada felis. Mauris rhoncus interdum eros nec aliquam.

Now try this:

  1. Place the cursor at the start of a blank link.
  2. Type “na” and then press the tab key.

This time you’ll see the following:

What are the bubbles? Placeholders!

  1. Press tab again to highlight the dialog bubble and type some dialog.

  2. Press tab again to highlight the name bubble and type a character name.

  3. Press tab again to highlight the end of the line and press return.

Here is an example:

Using the snippet editor, you can quickly define define your own snippets. To view the snippet editor, choose Storyist > Preferences and select the Text Editing pane.

To add a new snippet:

  1. Click the + button.

  2. Add a name and tab trigger (abbreviation).

  3. Enter the replacement text.

To create a placeholder bubble, just wrap the placeholder text with <# and #> like this: "<#dialog#>?" <#name#> asked.<# #>

You might use snippets for:

  • Character names

  • Locations

  • Dialog

  • Terminology

Go ahead and experiment!


Working with the Versions Browser

You probably know that Storyist automatically saves copies your project as you write. Did you know you can interactively browse these saved versions and grab bits of text to paste into your current version?

Try it:

  1. Open a project you’ve been working on.

  2. Choose File > Revert To > Browse All Versions. This opens the Versions browser (shown above) and displays the current version of your project on the left and a stack of the previous versions on the right.

  3. Click the arrow buttons to navigate through the stack of previous versions.

  4. Click a previous version to enlarge it. The project view and search functions become active, and you can find what you’re looking for and copy it. After you exit the browser, you can paste the text into your current project.

If you’ve you made extensive changes you no longer want, or you inadvertently delete something important, you can restore your entire project to a previous version. Just navigate to the desired version and click the Restore button.

Time Machine

If your project is stored on your local hard drive, you can use the built-in Time Machine support to browse not only the versions on your local disk but also the ones stored on your remote Time Machine disk.

Follow the instructions in the Time Machine pane of the System Preferences window to get started.


If your project is stored in iCloud, the Versions browser can show versions that were created on another device. Say you’re on your Mac and the changes you’re interested in were made on your iPad. No problem! Just open the browser in Storyist for Mac, locate the desired version, and click “Load Version.” You can now copy (or restore) from that version.


Storyist and iPad Pro

Judging by the questions coming in to the support address, quite a few Storyist users are considering purchasing an iPad Pro to handle their day-to-day writing tasks. Here are some answers to frequently asked questions to help with the descision.

Does Storyist support the larger iPad Pro screen?

Yes. Storyist for iOS supports the larger 2732 x 2048 screen. It does not simply scale up the pixels from a standard 2048×1536 screen (something you’ll see on an app that hasn’t been updated with iPad Pro support). This means you can use the extra space for your text or for another app via Split View.

Does Storyist support Slide Over, Split View, and Picture in Picture?

Yes. You can use Slide Over, Split View, and Picture in Picture in Storyist.

  • Slide Over lets you temporarily overlay a second app on the right side of the screen.
  • Split View lets you display two apps side-by-side, and interact with both of them.
  • Picture in Picture lets you continue watch a video in a small, movable window while you write.

Additionally, Storyist uses the new Shortcut bar on iOS 9 to display extra keys and other shortcuts. Unlike the old extended keyboard row (available in many apps on iOS 8), the Shortcut bar is able to use the full width of the screen for the active view, which means your extra keys are still available to you when you’re using Split View.

Does Storyist support the new Apple Smart Keyboard?

Yes. The Smart Keyboard works great with Storyist. In fact, in the last post, I mentioned that Storyist 3.1 added a bunch of new keyboard shortcuts that make getting around even easier. Here’s a sample.

Navigation shortcuts

  • Use the arrow keys to select files or index cards.
  • Use return to start editing a selecteded file or index card.
  • Use ⌘ 1 and ⌘ 2 to switch between text and index card mode.
  • Use ⌘ option T to open and close the project view.
  • Use ⌘ [ to navigate back in your browsing history.

Text Editing Shortuts

  • Use ⌘ control C to insert a comment.
  • Use ⌘ option L to insert a link.

Press and hold the key to see some of the available shortcuts. You’ll find the complete list in the documentation.

Does Storyist support the Apple Pencil?

Yes and no. Storyist does not do anything special to support Pencil. However, it does work great with several 3rd party “keyboards” that provide support for handwiting input. MyScript Stylus, for example, is perfect if you want to write “long hand” for a change of pace.

If you have other questions, please feel free to send a quick email to the support address.

Taking Advantage of the New Keyboard Shortcuts

With iOS 9 now available and iPad Pro with Smart Keyboard on the way, it’s a great time to mention the new keyboard shortcuts in Storyist 3.1 for iOS.

As many of you know, Storyist for iOS has long provided shortcuts to make text editing with an extenal keyboard a productive experience. Version 3.1 brings a bunch more to the table. Here’s a sample.

Navigation shortcuts

  • Use the arrow keys to select files or index cards.
  • Use return to start editing a selecteded file or index card.
  • Use ⌘ 1 and ⌘ 2 to switch between text and index card mode.
  • Use ⌘ option T to open and close the project view.
  • Use ⌘ [ to navigate back in your browsing history.

Text Editing Shortuts

  • Use ⌘ control C to insert a comment.
  • Use ⌘ option L to insert a link.

You’ll find the complete list of keyboard shortcuts in the documentation. Take ’em for a spin.

And if you forget a shortcut (and are running iOS 9 or later), just press and hold the key to see the list of available shortcuts.

Should I Store My Files in iCloud or Dropbox?

Storyist 3 for iOS can store files in (sync with) both iCloud and Dropbox. Both work great, but there are some subtle differences between the services. Which one should you choose? Here is some information to help you make your decision.


  • Works better with large Storyist projects. Storyist projects are zip archives. When you edit a project, Storyist saves your changes and compresses the project files into an archive for you. Unlike Dropbox, iCloud is able to tell which elements of the zip archive have changed, and sync only the parts of the archive that have changed to the cloud. If your project contains lots of images, storing your project files in iCloud could save considerable network time and battery life.

  • Easier Setup. If your iPad or iPhone is signed in to your iCloud account, you’re all set. There are no additional accounts to create or passwords to enter.

  • Better sync conflict handling on Mac. Since iCloud is integrated into OS X, apps like Storyist 3 for Mac that support iCloud can automatically update to a new version from another device or handle a sync conflict as soon as it occurs.

There is something to be aware of, however.

  • When you sign out of iCloud from the iCloud pane of the Settings app, files stored in your iCloud account are no longer available in Storyist. This may be what you want, or may scare the Dickens out of you. Note that when you sign out, your files are still safe in the cloud and will be available in Storyist when you sign back in to your iCloud account.


  • Keeps old versions of your files for at least 30 days. This is a big deal. Dropbox keeps old versions of your files in the cloud, so you can revert a change even after it’s been synced with your other devices.

  • Allows easier collaboration. If you have a cowriter or editor you can share folders and work together from a single folder.

  • Ability to change sync folders. You can change which Dropbox folder you sync with simply by re-running Cloud Setup and choosing a different folder.

The Dark Mode Cometh

If you’re running Yosemite, you probably noticed the beautiful new dark controls in the Notification Center and (if you found the “Use dark menu bar and Dock” checkbox in the system preferences) in the menu and dock.

Did you know that the dark mode user interface controls are available to applications too?

Starting in version 3.1, Storyist for Mac can take full advantage of the dark mode controls when running on Yosemite.

Here’s how to set  it up:

  1. Launch Storyist for Mac version 3.1 or later.
  2. Open the Storyist Preferences window.
  3. Select the Appearance pane.
  4. Select the theme you want to modify.
  5. Click the Interface tab.
  6. Check the “Use dark interface elements” checkbox.

That’s it. Whenever you switch to the theme you selected in step 4, you’ll get the dark mode UI shown above.