Client Intake Form Automation -iPad

Current Situation

Part of my job is to do psychological assessments during which I have to ask a lot of different questions. Many of the client responses are similar. Thus, I have predefined answers and some require me to fill-in the text. I do all of this on a Mac.

I used to use TextExpander for this job. However, I stopped paying for TE subscription as the developers have added nothing useful over the past two years. As I was searching for a replacement, I discovered Typinator. This app is excellent. My main complaint is that there is currently no font size control option and the user prompt with fill-in text areas are too small. After about 90 minutes of intake, I get an eye strain. Nevertheless, I use Ulysses + Typinator for my intake workflow with clients.

I also administer a few pair based tests. I used to print them out and then scan them but nowadays I have them on my iPad. The clients use Apple Pencil to complete all of the paper tests and forms on the iPad.

Desired State

My current workflow works. However, it is annoying to take Mac and iPad with me everywhere I go. Thus, here is the question - can this be done on the iPad?


I want to stay away from TextExpander as is does not bring value to my workflow. The text entry within TE iOS app is clunky and all of the apps that support TE do not support fill-in prompts.

Editorial is perhaps the best app out there that gets close to what I would need to move from Mac to iOS. Unfortunately, it has not been updated in over a year and the developer is not responsive at all. Moreover, it does not support iCloud file sync.

Drafts 5 has some interesting potential but there is currently no way to enter a keyboard abbreviation (rep.mood) to have the prompt actions activated.

The only thing that I can think of right now is to create a PDF questioner with pre-defined answers to common questions and blank areas for longer answers. I would then sit down and copy the data from the PDF file into text using Ulysses and Typinator. This does look kind of redundant.

Any other ideas?

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I’m assuming this is related to your post over on the Drafts forum.

If you have a Drafts prompt in an action, you can trigger that action with a keyboard shortcut. However if you are looking for a text string entry to trigger a form then Drafts does not currently support that.

But, if you used a keyboard shortcut to trigger an action containing a prompt that allowed you to type in a text string, Drafts could then use that to offer up and display other prompts that would allow you to capture additional information that could then be inserted into the Draft. I’d advise setting up the other prompts as actions so you that it isn’t just one megalithic action but more modular.

If you were clever about the naming of the actions you also wouldn’t have to maintain a list of available ones in your trigger action. Just think about having your trigger string as part of the action name.

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Interesting solution but I don’t think that this would work for me. If there were a few prompts than this could work. However, my intake includes the client’s history, descriptions of the accident, and current level of functioning. Each section includes about 10 subsections with multiple questions in each one.

I use the following naming to keep track of things where “rep” stands for report.





And so on…

Each one expands to a window with multiple prompts or fill-in sections.

Here is how this looks in Typinator.

Have you considered using AirTable or TapForms? You would have to see if it is compliant with any standards you are required to adhere to, but I think they might actually suit your needs better than text expansion apps.


I agree with Rosemary. It feels like you’re trying to shoehorn in something that’s maybe not quite the right fit. It sounds like you might only find true satisfaction with a bespoke solution. :man_shrugging:

In regards to the complexity you are referring to of multiple sections, tabbing between them in a text expansion tool would probably simply equate to entering arcoss multiple sequential prompts in tha above sort of approach purely in Drafts prompts.

The ubiquity of TextExpander across the platforms I use (Mac/iOS/Windows) is why I’m a contented subscriber.


I agree with Rose on the use of a web form tool. Recently built an intake form Jot Forms for a client in the mental health sector that had drop down menus and conditional formatting to help expedited filling if say a set of questions were “no”. Then the user wouldn’t need to read through questions that did not apply. Once the user hit submit, then all this sync’d to a Google sheet where they then built various reports. For some of the clients they interacted with, I built in a function to have the completed form print to PDF so the client had a copy of their submission.

There are so many options with these form tools, like integration with apps like dropbox, salesforce, slack and a host of others. Lastly, since it appears your capturing health related info, Jot Forms has security feature which comply with HIPAA rules if your based in USA.

The problem with the form-based approach is that in the end, I will get raw data about the client. The same can also be done by creating a PDF file with predefined answers and then circle the answers with an Apple Pencil.

When using fill-in text within a pre-set text template, I can enter the client info and the output will be exactly the text I need for the final report.

For example:

“Mr. XX has been able to attain (prompt) hours of sleep nocturnally.”

With a form, I don’t think I can do this - have a prompt in the middle of a sentence.

You might not get the prompt in the middle of the sentence, but you can have the output be whatever you need - that’s the point of the form.

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Quick example with Airtable.


Resulting table:


Sorry for the delay in getting back, since my last reply I learned my brother-in-law passed away very suddenly and we have had to focus attentions there.

In looking over your question and what I believe your trying to accomplish, can you clarify a few things. Are you wanting to be totally on the iPad or can you go back to your mac at some point? I ask this, because I found a cool " data merge" tool from here . It uses the place holder text in pages along with a numbers document to insert values where ever you choose. I currently use this to support my wife her clinical teaching she does. She takes her iPad I the field and capture attendee data on a “jot Form”. This data is then saved to a Google sheet. From there, I open it in Numbers and I open a pages document / template for the certification document and then run the merge tool. It takes the data and fills in the info to the certificate, converts it to a PDF, then attaches it to an email to be sent to the respective attendee. The merge tool also creates a save folder for all the certificates, ( where ever you choose ) on your Mac. I send this to my wife to be then sent to accreditation agency for permanent record.

Now this is just a very high level summary of how this tool works. Here is a link, , to a screen cast of the workflow in operation that I made to connivence my wife how much better this was compared to her filling out each cert individually and then emailing them.

In using your iPad in the field with a Jot-Form, you capture the data and then later run the merge tool to insert the data in what ever kind of report style you like, taking care to place the “place holder text” where each respective data point needs to go. This works with either a one word data point or a paragraph. I have successfully done with 50 words on the mental health form I built where client history was explained versus a checked box.

If your not locked into a preset report form, your Jot-Form intake form can be printed as a PDF straight for the web app with out needing the merge tool. But in reading your examples, you eluded to needing a more narrative style report and then you would need to create a form document / template in pages to then run the merge tool as detailed above.

I am uploading a sample of what the PDF form version might look like. Now this is just a sample, so your final report would reflect the data point your monitoring.

Now I can’t take credit for all of the workflow, that goes to Sal Soghoian for making the data merge tool available on the Automator website.

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