note taking

Speaking of Notability, it’s $1.99 in the Mac App Store

If you're looking for a note taking app that can handle lists, checkboxes, images and hand writing, then Notability is a solid choice and may be even better since the price is a shockingly low $1.99.

Notability is very good for putting together lists and checking the items off one by one. It's also easy to organize notes into groups or projects. From there, each project can have multiple notes associated with it.

You can highlight text in different colors, add sound recordings and export to a couple of different formats such as PDF and RTF.

There is also an iPad version so there will be no problem in creating notes on the Mac then looking them over in the iPad while in a meeting. I have done that a few times and it works well.

Again, if you're looking for a good note taking app, Notability is worthing looking at, and now at really low price.

Notability for Mac and iOS

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DevonThink – The most powerful note taking application I have ever used

Truth be told, calling DevonThink a note taking app is like saying a Lamborghini is a neat car. In reality, DevonThink is a document management application which note only creates notes, but track documents, images, web pages, RSS Feeds and just about any other file you have on your system.

Originally I was stored code snippets in Boostnote and project documents in Freeter. I then had some documents tracked in Pagico and some in mini note. But that is too many notes and too many places to look for them. Then DevonThink came in and stored them all.

Since it is document centric, it stored files in it’s own database, or multiple databases. I now have a Project database, a Development database, a Review database and within each is a series of folders with notes, PDF files, documents, spreadsheets, shell scripts, document templates, diagrams, links, source code for Java and SQL, JMeter config files and every other digital note I have created.

In fact, everything goes into DevonThink because it is all searchable. I store PDF files, requirements documents, Jira links, test plans and all my project documents together. No more looking in multiple places or storing a little bit here, a little bit there.

As an example, for my latest testing project I created a new folder and created notes with links to the Jira requirements. I created notes for the SQL queries I needed to verify my results. There was a link to the test plan I was going to follow. Additionally I had a list of bug reports and outstanding issues. For reference, I had screenshots of what things should look like so I could check we had all the buttons and column headers.

This makes keeping up with the project so much easier. Everything is in one place, even if the documents are completely different.

There is also DevonThink To Go for iOS. I have a copy for my iPad which I use in meetings.

The list of features is impressive, almost overwhelming. With Black Friday sales coming up, with kids going back to school, with projects wrapping up for the end of the year, now is a great time to invest in some document sanity.

What’s more, there is a brand new version of DevonThink available. Version 3 has just come out with all new features, a new look and lots of improvements. If you collect a lot of data, DevonThink is a tool well worth investing in.

DevonThink for Mac

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Notetaking across my Macs with Fiplab Mini Note

Since I now have a collection of Macs, taking notes on one machine, but then using them on another is something that needs to be considered. While Dropbox is the way to transfer big items, it’s not the best for getting meeting notes from the laptop to the desktop. However, using Mini Note by Fiplab makes this very easy.

The usual scenario goes like this, I take meeting notes on my MacBook, but then need those on my main machine. Or I find something at home and want it available at work. This is very easy with Mini Note. I can create notes in a new section, put in links or text, then using the built in sync service, the notes are available to all my other machines that have Mini Note installed. It’s automatic and near instantaneous.

There is no shortage of note taking tools for the Mac, but I really like Mini Note because it’s lightweight and extremely focused. It’s not for storing documents, or writing proposals, or making tasks, or keeping a journal. It’s to write down information as quickly as possible in a very convenient way. It stays out of the way until needed, then disappears into the background.

I’m able to grab article links, snippets of code, write down questions, or paste something useful and make it available everywhere. I honestly use it dozens of times per day across several machines.

I will also say that if a note stays in Mini Note for too long, I consider it to be a keeper and it gets added to DevonThink Office. For me, Mini Note is for quick ideas, notes from a meeting, notes from a class, links and other snippets. And for that it’s excellent.

MiniNote – Notes on your Mac – Done Right with Cross Platform Syncing!

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RightNote Standard and Professional on sale for 50% Off

As I build up a new writing workflow, I need a new tool to replace Microsoft OneNote since it’s still the 2007 version and isn’t getting updated or supported. I’m not going to install the new version of OneNote for a variety of reasons including I don’t like the way it looks and I have privacy concerns in regards to how Microsoft is treating it’s latest apps. Microsoft is getting far too entrenched in this idea that simply because I use one of their apps, whatever I do with it or create with it is somehow theirs. I prefer to keep my data local and I prefer to make sure it stays mine.

With that, I have brought in RightNote as my new multi-purpose, multi-tabbed writing environment. Like OneNote, you can create multiple "pages" to organize ideas and separate out topics. From there, each page can have multiple notes in a tree structure that can easily be moved around and organized. This will be useful when I’m putting together a technical document and I need to make changes to the workflow order.

Since RightNote is a fully RichText environment, it also allows complete freedom in formatting and the type of content such as images, tables, charts, styles and spacing. In many respects, RightNote combines the power of OneNote with the editing features of Microsoft Word.

For example, the Pages and tree structure on the page are like OneNote, while the formatting, tables, margins, spell-checking, line spacing, indents, styles and images are like the features of Word. And if you say OneNote already has those features, I would respond with, that’s the point. RightNote has all the features of the version of OneNote I love, while still maintaining a UI and usability that the new version has lost.

To me, RightNote is in so many respects the same as OneNote without losing all the features that makes OneNote great. I can structure longer pieces of writing, move documents around, add images and add formatting just like I can in OneNote. However, I can also export all that information with ease so that it can be edited on the go with my iPad or edited at work on my Mac. RightNote supports exporting out to Plain Text as well as RTF, DOC and DOCX. Unlike OneNote, I’m not locked in and can move information around with ease.

Additionally, since RightNote uses it’s own proprietary database file format, it means I can password protect my more important documents away from prying eyes. This allows me to work with financial information as well as work sensitive data without worrying about who sees it. Of course, when it comes to regular writing, it also means I can lock it away until the piece is ready to be seen.

I bring all this up of course because RightNote Standard and Professional are on sale for 50% off. That is an excellent deal for a program that offers so many features. I’ve been toying with the Freeware version for awhile now, but I have upgraded to the Professional version to get the full feature set and support future development.

RightNote is a great "content creation" tool and if you’re looking for an app that lets you write with freedom, yet is feature rich, RightNote is definitely worth looking into.

To get the latest version of RightNote Professional and take advantage of the sale, head to the RightNote site – http://www.bauerapps.com/ and use Coupon Code RNT-ICYV-DEC during checkout to get 50% off. The sale lasts until Dec 24th, so you have a couple of days to check it out and see if it’s right for you.

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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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