The Mac is all about getting things done. It’s the digital GTD machine for the rest of us to get things done.
What do you use to organize and track your notes? An outliner, organizer, notebook?
All of the above? Stop looking. Here’s my favorite list of Mac notebooks, from high end to low end and in between.
Organizing, note taking, outlining are all personal ventures on the Mac. It is, after all, the most personal of personal computers.
Most of us have different styles of taking in information, tracking notes, planning tasks for projects, and organizing things.
No single Mac utility, regardless of how good it is, will capture the fancy of all of us.
My list covers those notebooks, notetakers, outliners, trackers, and organizers that are worthy of consideration.
In the middle range is Circus Ponies’ fabulous Notebook. Think of it as a digital legal pad that remembers everything forever.
Email, photos, graphics, documents, journal notes, images, all can be stored in Notebook.
The good news is that it stores and organizes almost everything.
The bad news is you have to learn how it does what it does to get it to do it.
AquaMinds is in tune with Mac users, as is Notetaker. It’s considered a personal note and idea organizer but does much more.
The learning curve is smooth and straightforward. Start with lists, outlines, notes, then move to collections of everything.
The similarities between Notebook and Notetaker are striking, so the spiral bound notebook metaphor is popular.
Sharing notes costs more money, and the Notetaker people have a place to collect. More expensive also means does more.
In this case, NoteShare comes off as more of a collaborative version of Notetaker. Others can share one of your notebooks from their Macs.
More money usually means more complexity. Not so with The Omni Group
For less than Notebook, OmniOutliner is similar in function, if not form. Remember outlines from school? That’s OmniOutliner.
Headings, subpoints, sub-subpoints are the logical starting point, but inside each you can cram in whatever you want.
Tasks, tracking projects, pop-up lists, notes, and more? More complexity can cost more. OmniOutliner Professional adds sections, styles, a clipping service, audio recording, and templates.
Most of us take care of our details—notes, lists, outlines, and other information—using some sort of process we’ve developed through the years.
Jumsoft’s Process expands on the familiar hierarchical layout of most note and outliner applications with an attractive all-in-one interface.
Whatever you can grab or link can be attached to Process, and rearranged on a whim. PDFs, links, email, documents, movies, music, photos.
There’s even a built in calendar and the all-important Action menu, plus iCal sync. Process is for Tiger and takes advantage of OS X’s built-in CoreData to manage all your data.
At the lower end are a host of notetaker, outliner, notebook applications that give less, cost less, but come with a lower learning curve.
Vortimac’s Memoir has a simple interface that lets you organize the application the way you organize yourself.
Hog Bay Software’s popular Notebook is no more, but a more flexible Mori has taken place as a superb tool with many faces.
You get to determine how you want Mori to organize; simple, complex, nested categories as folders, nested, nested, more nested.
More is easy, very easy to get started, and can grow to take on more complex requirements as your needs and abilities grow.
Billing itself as a note pad, Tropical Software’s TopXNotes takes a slightly different approach to layout and organization, but with good results.
The outline metaphor is still in TopXNotes, but the look and feel is different, with more emphasis on notes and lists, rather than outlining.
The similarities among apps on my list appears to be text entry, an outline view, and flexibility. CodePoetry’s Notae is different and focuses on notetaking, as in word processing with styles and features.
More attention is paid to editing functions, importing and exporting text for other applications.
If notetaking is number one, Notae deserves a look.
Working on documents is important, otherwise, why are so many notes and documents organizers available? And why are they so good?
xPad is inexpensive as notetakers go, but combines more of the features of Apple’s own TextEdit and Stickies, with other document features, and organizing tools.
The auto save feature is particularly handy as is the export of documents to your iPod. Now all we need is a bigger screen on the iPod.
No single application gets the nod as Best of Breed, because all do what they do very well, and, since your mileage may vary, and your organizing and notes requirements vary, I’ll narrow the list to my three favorites.
Tops in function and complexity is Circus Ponies’ Notebook. The familiar legal pad look and standard outline approach is hard to be. So is the list of features. So is the learning curve.
At the low end is the gem of the group, Hog Bay Software’s Mori. Mac applications should be elegant and intuitive and not clutter your mind with the “how do I do this?” syndrome.
Mori is flexible, powerful, but very easy to get going, and quickly adapts to your way of organizing.
Up and coming and right in the middle of the pack is Process 2. Extensive feature list, easy learning curve, and Mac-like way of handling information.
You can’t go wrong with any on the list, you may not do better, you will not have more fun trying to track your notes, outline your projects, and manage all you touch each day.
What did I miss? Does your favorite top these favorites? Share your experience and suggestions with others.