Suggestion for using an iPad app to solve Metas

This is a place to learn about the Muggles community and some of the terminology we use. It also contains suggested strategies for solving meta crosswords, as well as a repository of all past WSJ crossword contests and solutions.
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HunterX
Posts: 231
Joined: Fri Dec 04, 2020 9:17 pm
Location: Philadelphia, PA

Suggestion for using an iPad app to solve Metas

#1

Post by HunterX »

Summary:
In the event this might be helpful to others, this is the method I use to solve the metapuzzle in my iPad note-taking app. I use GoodNotes, but there are undoubtedly many others that would work equally well. Note: Your results may vary depending on the apps you use.

I import both a PDF version of the puzzle and the completed grid from the Wall Street Journal iPad app into my note-taking app. This gives me the ability to use multi-colored highlighters, draw circles and arrows, and take notes around, a clean version of the completed grid, or on the PDF clues. You can also copy the grid to have multiple versions of it in order to try different rabbit holes, preserving what you’ve tried in case one of them turns out to be the correct method. Also, I use a stylus with my iPad as it is much more effective than a finger when it comes to writing/drawing. While the instructions may seem long, it's actually pretty easy and doesn't take me long at all.

Here are the general steps, which I will explain in further detail below:
Step 1: Get the PDF version of the WSJ CC Metapuzzle and put it on your iPad
Step 2: Load the puzzle PDF into a versatile note taking app on your iPad
Step 3: Solve the puzzle in the Wall Street Journal iPad app
Step 4: Take a screenshot of the completed grid and import into your note-taking app
Step 5: Use the app’s features to highlight, annotate, circle, draw lines, and do whatever works to solve the meta.

Step Details

Step 1: Get the PDF version of the WSJ CC Metapuzzle and put it on your iPad

Method 1: Go to WSJ.com on your computer to get PDF file for the puzzle. When you pull up the puzzle to work on it, instead of solving on the webpage, click on “Download PDF.” You can email the PDF to yourself so that you can access it on your iPad.

Method 2: You can also navigate to the puzzle on wsj.com on your iPad and download the PDF directly there, but I find this tediously slow. (I don’t see a way to download the PDF within the Wall Street Journal iPad app.)

Step 2: Load the puzzle PDF into a versatile note taking app on your iPad

I use GoodNotes, and have for years. But there are other apps that undoubtedly allow you to do the same things. Notes Writer appears to have the capabilities as well. The main features you want are to be able to import PDF files that you can then annotate, and import screenshots in the same file (“Notebook” in GoodNotes).

I “prep” my app by having my Metapuzzle Notebook open to the last page (which would be the last puzzle). This gets it ready to import the PDF when sent by my email program. If you used Method 2 in Step 1, you can skip the next two paragraphs.

If you used Method 1 in Step 1, when you click on the PDF file in your email on your iPad and it displays the image of the puzzle, you should see a box with an arrow pointing up in the upper right corner (depending on your email program). This should give you the option to import the PDF into your note-taking app. Scroll through the apps and it should allow you to “Copy to…” your note-taking app.

Send to Goodnotes.png

You should then have an option for where to put it in the app. In GoodNotes, I am given the option to “Import Above” or “Import Below.” Since I prepped my app by opening my metapuzzle notebook and setting it to the last page, I select the latter so it is at the end of the notebook.

You could also save the PDF from your email to a file location on your iPad and import it into your note-taking app. If you did this, or if you used Method 2 in Step 1, open your note-taking app and import the PDF file inside the notebook where you want it.

Step 3: Solve the puzzle in the Wall Street Journal iPad app

If you don’t use the Wall Street Journal app, you could solve the grid in the note-taking app. However, depending on the app you use, it could be annoying to write down-answers. GoodNotes does allow you to create a zoomed-in writing section at the bottom of the screen, but you have to drag the zoom-box down for each letter. It is designed more for writing left to right. Another downside to this method, unless your note-taking app has “layers,” is that you will be highlighting or writing on top of your grid answers, such that if you want to erase a highlighting, you might also erase your answer.

The Wall Street Journal app allows you to check your grid when you are done. (Assuming you feel it is “ethical” to check for correct grid answers.) Once you have completed the grid, you can click the “Menu” link/button in the upper left to show the list of puzzles, then re-select the metapuzzle to bring up the grid without your last-selected word highlighted. This gives you a clean, completed grid. (At least it does on my iPad.) This also ensures that the virtual keyboard is not showing. You want the area below the grid to be blank for notes.

Step 4: Take a screenshot of the completed grid and import into your note-taking app

When you have the clean, completed grid on your screen, hold down the power and home buttons simultaneously. This will take a screenshot. (Your iPad may differ depending on the model.) The screenshot usually then appears as a tiny thumbnail in the lower left corner. Click on it and it will expand and you will have the option to “Save to Photos.” There is also a button at the top-right, as described in Step 2, that allows you to send the screenshots to various apps or via email, etc., but it does not offer the option to send to GoodNotes. So I just save it as a photo.

Once saved as a photo, go into your note-taking app and import the screenshot. GoodNotes uses a plus-sign and gives you two import options (above/below).

Importing.png

Step 5: Use the app’s features to highlight, annotate, circle, draw lines, and do whatever works to solve the meta.

You can:
  • Highlight themed clues on the PDF file. GoodNotes has 5 highlighter colors. It also has a feature that “straightens” or otherwise correct your drawing, allowing you to draw straight lines (line or highlighter) and perfect circles or nice ovals.
  • Highlight various grid answers/letters.
  • Write notes (either typing in a text box or just hand-writing) in the blank space under the grid.
  • Add a blank page to write out thoughts/ideas.
  • Copy the completed grid and start highlighting something else!
Samples:

King me.png

Puzz PDF.png

Endnotes.jpg

I See Right Through You.png

Summer Wear.png


Hope this is helpful. PM me with any questions.
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MamaE
Posts: 108
Joined: Tue May 05, 2020 6:15 pm
Location: Maryland

#2

Post by MamaE »

I just wanted to say that I went out and got the good notes app and an Apple Pencil after reading this and I am absolutely loving this method!

I have a different virtual notebook for each of the series of metas that I do (WSJ, MMM, MGWCC etc.) and when a new puzzle hits I simply open the notebook, copy and paste pdf and my answer grid and start note taking and highlighting like a crazy woman. It’s a great way to see things in the grid.

Thanks so much for the tutorial @HunterX ! You’ve made one muggle’s life easier and helped save many trees! ;)
- Just puzzling it out here in Delmarva :D
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