Downloading an archive of drafts?

Is it possible to download an archive of all or selected drafts? If so, how?

On iOS:

  1. Slide open the drafts pane on the left.
  2. Tap select.
  3. Select the drafts you want to export.
  4. Tap on Operations.
  5. Select Export.
  6. Select the export format.
  7. Select a destination on the share sheet.

Alternatives would use an action to run against selected drafts.

Perfect! Just what I was looking for. Thank you.

I’m trying to export all my drafts to individual text files. When I do the above all I get is one large text file containing all my drafts merged into one document. Anyway to get a text file for each draft?

To export to individual files, you should configure an action to write a draft to a file with the destination/file naming convention you want to use - e.g. to a specific folder in iCloud Drive, to Dropbox, whatever - then use Select > Operations in the draft list to select the drafts you wish to export and “Run Action”, selecting that action to run on all of them.

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Hello and wishes for a great 2020.

Why would you make the decision to not include such functionality by default (plus not being able to open/edit a draft in an editor of choice)? From my point of view it feels like I’m trapping my data and being forced to adopt only Drafts “ways” of editing. For me, taking notes in plain text is a core workflow choice because (mostly) of the portability and plethora of tools I can use without compatibility issues, so –in principle– it makes it impossible to justify the aforementioned design choices.



I’m pretty sure from some of the things Greg has alluded to in previous posts (my apologies in advance Greg if I’m mistaken on this) that a lot of it comes down to the functionality and efficiencies gained from using Apple’s CloudKit which provides the storage and sync foundation fr the app.

Doing some of the things that Drafts does, without the database approach that CloudKit is providing behind the scenes, would just not be possible to the same extent if it were purely based on individual files. I suspect that many of the same sorts of reasons that broader sets of applications and systems use databases over flat files apply here.

But there isn’t any trapping of data as far as I can see. You can capture and import data, and Drafts has been an app from the very start all about getting text out to the right places. The app provides ways to build whatever you need and it has some simple import/export tools built in.

For many people these days, they have been adopting it as a place where text lives and remains, and I wonder if that’s where the feeling of data lock-in is coming from when larger volumes are hosted in Drafts? For me personally, Drafts remains a place where text starts, or perhaps passes through on its way somewhere else. For me it isn’t a final destination, just a stop ff point.

Hey Sy

Thanks for chiming in. We have different use cases, as I care about a central store for my notes, with a strong feature set (that is provided thanks to “actions” and more), markdown/text format for future proof portability, and a decent UX on iOS and macOS.

many people these days […] have been adopting it as a place where text lives and remains, and I wonder if that’s where the feeling of data lock-in is coming from when larger volumes are hosted in Drafts?

I would think so.

As for my points …
I am not sure how being able to bulk export notes as individual files, in a simple way, is a problem with CloudKit. I can already:

  • export individual notes
  • merge multiple notes into one (and export that individually)
  • presumably, write a script that will do the bulk export

So, why not have a built-in bulk export capacity (with tags by the way) of notes as individual text files?

To me, this seems like a conscious design decision, and when coupled with not being able to –easily– cross-trip a note (as with “Open In”) it makes me feel like Drafts is nudging me to keep within.

I concede that “trapped” is hyperbole, but “hindered” is not. But, as they say, “caveat emptor”, and so it is my mistake that I didn’t check a deal-breaker feature –for me– (full text “freedom” of sorts) before diving into Drafts.

Thanks again!


If your primary interest is in editing files, Drafts may not be a good match for you. It does not edit files.

There’s no default export to individual files, because it’s not at all clear what such a feature would look like. Drafts has a database. Each draft has a lot of meta data (location information, action history, versions). It does not have a “file name”. It does not even have a file format (you might have some .md, .txt, .js, .taskpaper or other formats you might want to export). Decisions would need to be made about what information to include and it what format to export…which would vary by users needs. More or less anything is possible with actions.

The built in options to bulk export to JSON or CSV cover all the draft data, and are formats which can easily opened in and parsed by spreadsheets, database tools, and scripting languages - so I’m not sure where any lock-in exists. Much less than most competing notes platforms (Apple Notes, Evernote, Bear, etc.).

There are always trade offs in decisions about storage. Files offer flexibility, but impose a lot of limitations and structural cruft (naming, folder location selection) and are less easily used in queries and for storing related information.

No worries one way or the other.