Old habits are hard to break; especially if they’re very good old habits. Take the common, everyday notebook, for example.
Add a pencil or pen to a spiral bound notebook and we could more properly observe, analyze, and organize the universe. Take that same metaphor to your Mac or iPad—the digital notebook—and you create a center in your known universe where everything comes together.
Ancient Old Meets Digital New
For Mac users, the notebook metaphor has been around a few decades. Any little app like Stickies or TextEdit becomes a notetaker, a digital repository for thoughts, ideas, to-do lists, meeting notes, classroom notes, and so on.
This is the story of the mother of all Mac notebooks.
Notebook is at once recognizable because it looks like a notebook on your Mac’s screen.
It is an app that is instantly usable because you already know how to use the basics. Point, click, write gets you started with an onscreen notebook.
I once worked for an engineering company where the executives—mostly engineers—used spiral bound notebooks to capture and store (and repeat when necessary—you know engineers) everything from every meeting, every conversation, every idea, every problem, every solution.
Mother Of All Mac Notebooks
Notebook is exactly like the familiar spiral notebook but takes the capability of note taking and information gathering far beyond what you expect. Start by creating a new notebook and choosing a design.
A notebook stores information. Unlike pencil or pen and a paper notebook, Notebook stores digital information—notes of text, collapsible expandable outlines, videos, audio, graphics, entire documents, and links to everything else.
Drag and drop elements and move them around the screen. Click to enter text anywhere. Add graphic diagrams, flow charts, even sketches using the included pre-built shapes and styles. Click the speaker button next to any note and start recording the audio—either the speaker or your own background notes. Audio can be sent to iTunes for playback in iPhone or iPod or iPad.
Import a PDF document and annotate right on top. In other words, you have a Mac notebook that captures almost anything, stores it in a familiar notebook metaphor (complete with organizing tabs), gives you a table of contents, and lets you retrieve anything, any time with a click.
Search And Receive, Give And Take
Notebook stores, which is good, but it also retrieves, which is better. What good are the notes without an efficient way to find what you meticulously stored? Spotlight finds text and other flags on your Mac, but you have to wade through an ever growing dump of data. Notebook’s Multidex indexes not just the text in your note but relevant attributes.
That means it knows when something was changed, what keywords you gave it, what attachments it has, and so on. That makes finding just the information you need much faster and easier than Spotlight.
Notebook also shares. Export any notebook as a website for easy online browsing.
Or, export the notebook as a PDF document so anyone can view your notes.
As good as it is, and as long as I’ve been using it, there are two major drawbacks with Notebook. The first is the learning curve. Simple notebooks are easy, but the app has so many features (alarms, syncing, buttons, file types, etc) that it can be overwhelming unless you start slowly and build.
Second, we’re quickly becoming a Mac mobile society which means the need for iPhone and iPad versions that sync back to the mothership—Notebook on your Mac. Circus Ponies has solved half of that problem with an attractive iPad version, but no iPhone version yet.
Notebook isn’t your father’s spiral bound notebook. It’s the mother of all Mac notebook apps, with a modest price tag (lower for the academic license and family packs). All it needs now is an iPhone counterpart.