On a Related Note (Pun Intended)

Yes, I know I have already declared the issue settled. But it is not. First, in my previous article about note taking I mentioned that the reviews of Notebook in the Mac App Store complained about a tendency of the tool to crash unexpectedly1. I dismissed this critic as inappropriate but after using the tool for some more time I have to admit that the reviewers have a point.

Yes, I hereby declare that Notebook has an annoying tendency to crash and, yes, I’m not going to tolerate this behavior. In other words, the deal is off and I’m still in the process of unearthing my favorite note taking tool on the Mac platform.

I could go back to the other candidates and reiterate in giving them another try. Or else, I could have a look for more tools that probably fit my needs. That said, I could also review my overall point of view towards note taking and probably gain some more insight from a changed position.

In other words, instead of looking for the best way to take notes, I could go one meta-level above and think about the question of what, the heck, is note taking according to my understanding.

Previously, I was pretty much focussed on the creation and administration of textual notes and this pragma is directly reflected in my last article. But wait, could it be that there is more to that? What about going beyond textual notes and include gathering content of web pages, documents, pictures, etc. in one environment?

There is one candidate covered by my previous article that comes with this ability: Journler. this may be the perfect fit but there could be similar choices that probably do an even better job. This bring us directly to the question about what’s wrong with Evernote especially as it comes with a syncing ability among different clients, among them an iOS client.

Yes, this may be a good idea would the Mac client not be ugly but buggy as an anthill at the same time. And still, there are cases where Evernote actually is a good choice but I’m not going to make it my preferred choice of note taking app.

Another search session revealed the existence of Yojimbo and Together. I like the conclusion of one review of both tools that attributed Together as “Yojimbo on steroids”. And indeed, on the first impression both tools look very much alike, with the difference that Together comes with more functionality (e.g. it can create links to resources as opposed to copy them into the library).

And also with respect to the creation of textual notes, Together comes with more options to decorate and structure the text. This ability is certainly in line with my original requirement to have a rich editing environment for textual notes.

Anyway, I got an evaluation license (valid for two weeks) of Together and toyed around with it. So far, I’m quite pleased about what I have seen so far. Contrary to Notebook, Together comes as a “real” Mac app that does not care to mimic a physical note book2.

I like the way how search within Together is integrated with Spotlight and dictionary lookup. This, and the integrated spell-checking, assists me nicely in the creation of notes. For a reason, the app does not (yet) sync with iCloud. Nonetheless, I’d like to see iCloud integrated with Together.

The bottom line of all this is that, in a relatively short amount of time, I have completely changed my personal conclusion about note taking on the Mac but as a fun fact I note that, again, the currently preferred solution does not very much resemble OneNote. I shall take notes how the story continues.

  1. Yes, every crash is unexpected.

  2. I have to admit that using Notebook I have developed the disturbing tendency to go with the Chalkboard font and thus, to some extent, acknowledge the idea of going with a physical metaphor. This is no longer the case with Together, here I find a regular sans serif font more appropriate.