Notebooks for iPad, Windows and Mac – Good apps, Nice discount

So, back at the end of 2010, I got a newcomer notetaking app called Notebooks for iPad. I was desperately looking for something that came close to the power and usability of OneNote, which is still my favorite writing app. Notebooks for iPad turned out to be a great find and not only do I still have it installed, I still use it on a regular basis. While I still think OneNote is the unsung hero of the Office Suite, there are some issues. It’s only been recently that Microsoft has done any serious work on OneNote for iPad and even then, it’s not exactly thrilling. Also, OneNote has only recently broken free from Office and not can you easily get it standalone, but it’s now free. While this is excellent news, the .One format isn’t exactly the easiest thing to work with. Only OneNote can read it. It’s not like a .Doc file that anything more powerful than Notepad can open. While OneNote is still awesome, there are some compatibility issues.

Enter Notebooks which has folders called Books and articles called Notes. You can create a hierarchy and organize your notes, blog articles, journal entries and whatever else you like to write on. I dare say you could get a first draft of a book put together in it.

It was just recently that I went back to the Notebooks for iPad website to see if maybe they finished work on the Windows versions and low behold not only has it been released, but it’s been updated several times. Now that’s a stroke of luck, I can write articles and notes on the iPad and have them sync over to the desktop with Dropbox (or vice versa). And they all come across as .Txt, .Rtf or .Html which just about every app out there can read.

It actually gets better and a tiny bit more complicated. Since those early days, there is now a Mac involved in the process. We use Macs at work so I do plenty of notetaking on that machine as well. How do I get those notes from Mac to Windows without making a mess of things? Turns out that’s no big deal. There is a Notebooks for Mac as well and all three use the same file format.

The simple thing to do is buy a copy for Mac and Windows and get all my bases covered. As luck would have it, Notebooks for Windows and Mac has just had a price drop. The app is very reasonable at $20, but is now on sale for $14. While the Mac and Windows versions are ironically not quite as powerful as the iPad version (not many times you can say that sort of thing) both work very well and give you a clean writing environment. They both support Books and the folder structure. They both hook into Dropbox so all your documents and hierarchy will be synced. And they both the same look and feel so you don’t have to relearn how to use an app when switching platforms.

Within the desktop versions you get spellcheck, filtering, searching, formatting and even a fullscreen mode so you can concentrate on writing and not worry about chat messages blinking or envelopes showing up in the taskbar to say you have new mail. It’s not the same thing as trying to write documents in Word, but then again, I haven’t used Word for a couple of years now because it has become such a bloated mess that actually prevents me from writing.

OneNote is still an amazing app, although I still use the 2007 version because of my intense dislike of the new "look and feel" of apps. Notebooks for Windows is simple and straightforward and looks like an application some half drawn tile that feels the need to spin and scroll.

I have since bought both the Windows and Mac versions of Notebooks and still have the previous version of Notebooks for iPad. I believe the new version of that has just had a price reduction as well, so I might make it a trifecta of new apps.

If you want some good note taking software that works across multiple devices and operating systems, I recommend giving Notebooks a try. Keep in mind, it’s a simple app. It’s about taking notes and writing, not formatting the hell out of documents, making charts or tables. That sort of thing comes later in the writing process. If you want to get your ideas down and do it without getting bogged down in useless menus and features, Notebooks is a much better choice.

Notebooks for iPad, Windows and Mac

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