I am not as crazy about note taking on my Mac as I am on my iPhone. On the iPhone I struggled for a long time to find the perfect notes app, on the Mac though, eh, I mean I need something to take notes but I never really use notes apps on my Mac.
On my Mac I need a few things: something that I can quickly open and drop text into, that syncs with my iPhone notes app of choice, that is fast and light weight, that doesn’t bug me when I look at it.
That’s all I really need, most ‘features’ in Notes apps will never get used by me on my Mac.
For quite a while now I have been using Notational Velocity and it’s offspring nvALT. Both are great tools. The latter is far more than I need and want in a Mac note app, but I have been able to ignore those features and just use what I need.
Then I got a little note from the developer of Justnotes, asking if I would try it out.
It’s been my default app since I tried it out, so let me try to explain why.
As I explained above I don’t use notes apps on my Mac as often as I do on my iPhone, so here’s how I typically use those apps: I jot down little snippets of things that I might need to look at again in the future. Key word there is “might”, I usually don’t look at these snippets after I jot them down.
I just hit a Keyboard Maestro shortcut and a new note opens with the date filled as the name/title and then I jot down the name/number whatever I want to archive. I close the app.
Maybe, maybe, once a week I look back at my notes to get something I need. More often months go by before I try to find a note that I need. I want my notes synced to my iPhone for those just in case scenarios, because typically if I am looking for a note, I am not looking for it on my Mac.
Truly note taking on my Mac is minimal and mostly a transparent process.
Notational Velocity / nvALT
The reason to move from these two apps is pretty simple for me:
- Ugly icon.
- I don’t like the UI of the app itself, the dual purpose search/create new notes field has always bugged me.
- Both of these apps don’t work particularly well with the KM macro that I use to pre-fill the note title because of that omnibar thing.
These are my main gripes with NV type apps, but they were never a big enough deal for me to explore other options.
When I was invited to try Justnotes I was surprised because I never looked around and I didn’t realize how much those little things really bugged me on a daily basis in Notational Velocity. With Justnotes those little things are mostly gone and I am really liking it.
Justnotes syncs using Dropbox, you can tell it what file types to open, and you can use more than one folder in Dropbox for the sync of a note (the same note can only be in one folder or the other, not both) which is a clever trick for some.
These are neat features and they work well, but they are not the reason I actually like Justnotes.
I like Justnotes because the search bar is not an omnibar that also creates new notes. Creating a new note and searching are two different actions — that fits with my mental model of how a notes app should work. I much prefer this idea and thus Justnotes.
The overall UI of the app is simple, clean, and OS X. It’s great. The app requires more memory than Notational Velocity, but not enough to worry about as we aren’t talking about 100s of MBs.
Justnotes isn’t perfect, but it does have some cool features that note takers will find of interest, such as:
- Ability to archive notes (instead of deleting them so that you can still get access to the notes).
- Simplenote syncing (if used you can favorite notes and thereby keep them at the top of the list).
- Import your notes from Evernote.
- Open individual notes in their own window, a trick I am really liking and that allows me to use Justnotes more as a scratchpad too.
There’s a lot of little nice things in Justnotes and like I said — it’s now my default notes app.
If you are a note person, this is worth checking out. It’s $5.99 for a limited time in the Mac App Store1 .2
Update: I forgot to mention that the way Justnotes names files is odd. It names them with what seems to be a random string when you use Dropbox — this will be really annoying if you go by notes names in iOS apps. So beware of that. Personally it doesn’t bug me because I just use search and notes previews in Notesy, but I can see how this is a deal breaker for some.