I never got Notes syncing working between my Mac and my iPhone. To the best of my knowledge, no one ever has. Notes on iPhone wasn’t great anyhow: Marker Felt? Seriously?
But I’m always taking notes. Things to keep track of, lists of restaurants I might want to hit in Paris, various phone numbers and info I might need to access quickly. General note taking stuff. I keep my shopping list in a different set up (Splash Shopper). To Do (aka, the world of GTD) is in other apps.
Option 1: Notational Velocity (Mac) and SimpleNote (iOS)
This is the combo I’ve been using for a while. I think it was probably the one recommended by John Gruber of Daring Fireball.
- I already have it set up.
- I already know how it works.
- It works seamlessly.
- Notational Velocity is just a list of notes. There’s no hierarchy, no organization. It’s just a notepad! I could tag every note or something to organize them better but…I’ve found no really simple way of doing it, and I now have about 100 notes, most of which I haven’t looked at in a long time.
- It’s easier to see how notes are grouped in SimpleNote, but only if I have every note tagged (I can look at a list of tags). If I don’t, I can’t find the notes I’m looking for that way.
- NV has no easy way to create a new note. Sometimes I just want to create a new note and start typing. I haven’t found the “New Note” capability. I can easily “Paste as New Note…” but I don’t always want to have to paste something to get started. I just want to type. I have often gone over to SN, created a new note there, and had it sync back to NV so I could type the info in via my Mac.
- When you create a new note in NV, the first line of the note becomes the name of the note. Changing the name of the note is not immediately obvious. (You don’t do it in the note itself. Even if you change the first line of the note, the name remains what it was when it was created. You have to go up to the list of notes to change it.)
- Syncing happens through SimpleNote’s site, and I think I paid a yearly fee for that. Possibly this fee was merely to remove ads, because I am all about no ads on either machine.
Option 2: Evernote
This is the one it seems like everyone uses. Nina told me she loves it and uses it for everything, although she said it’s “more useful for long term notes rather than just short term lists”
- The Mac and iOS versions are both very good-looking. Yes, style counts.
- Hierarchical organization is simple on both versions.
- Syncing appears to be instantaneous.
- The ability to access your notes while offline–say, while on a plane–is only available to premium subscribers ($45/year). I don’t doubt that Evernote needs to make money, and being able to use your notes anytime you want to is a pretty killer feature.
- After Con #1, does there need to be a #2? I haven’t used it enough to see about more cons. I don’t want to get really involved, unless the whole shebang is so awesome I need to double-down.
Option 3: Any straight text editor (Mac) and WriteRoom (iOS)
By “straight text editor,” I speak not of its sexuality (what any editor–text, human, whatever–does on its own time is its own business) but an editor that just handles text. Default save is to a .txt file. Not a word processor illed with the funky stylistic goodness. No, an editor that just does text: BBEdit, TextWrangler, TextEdit, or even WriteRoom for Mac (which has the advantage of being a full-screen, dedicated writing environment).
- I really like the way WriteRoom on iOS looks and feels. Very simple, yet still elegant.
- I have several dedicated text editors on my Mac already.
- Syncing via DropBox is relatively easy. (I had a terrible time getting it set up, when I’ve never had a problem before with DropBox…and then suddenly the whole thing worked. No idea what happened there.)
- All these various combinations and possibilities… Is this the best combination of applications and apps? I don’t want to get invested in a new setup only to move to something else.
- There’s no way to sort other than the folder hierarchy — no tags or categories or anything like that.
- Syncing via DropBox: the whole kerfuffle last year over DropBox’s change in its TOS makes me nervous about it. I wish more apps offered an iCloud alternative. I wish iCloud were better enough that it was a reasonable alternative.
So. Those are the three list making setups I’m considering at the moment. Any suggestions for better setups? To head off the obvious: No, I’m not going to use whatever “notes” setup Google offers. We don’t have to get into it here, but…that’s not happening. I also need app setups I can use offline.
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I also need to straighten out keeping a journal and keeping a list on the computer/iPhone setup too, but I’ll save those for future posts.