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Quick, take a note!

How do I do this on Mac? I’ve got a whole bunch of apps, but none seem to effectively solve this problem. The closest I’ve got is with DEVONthink, whereby holding CTRL-OPT-CMD-SPACE I get its Quick Note window. But I don’t really like this window. It’s ugly, and feels kind of ‘impermanent’. Weird, I know.

The Winner

On balance, the best option for me right now is Bear. I wish it had a typewriter mode and a specific pop-up window for ad-hoc notes, but it can at least create a new note with a system-wide keyboard shortcut (Bear must be running, though). That is syncs flawlessly across to iOS devices is a bonus that while not part of my testing criteria, is still very nice.

Update, 2019-02-16

I think I'm going to go with DEVONthink. I just want to get Bear out of my life.

See Also

I asked the community this same question:

  • @kaa: The Archive. Use the “Quick Entry” popup window from anywhere on your system to capture a thought. You have to configure the shortcut in the application preferences (⌘,) to make it globally accessible.
  • @teisam: Stickies(!)
  • @cm: Drafts for Mac (not yet available to me - I’m not a Drafts Pro subscriber).
  • @twelvety: Quicksilver prepends to a file in Dropbox. (Of course, I use Launchbar and could do this!)
  • @nitinkhanna: Apple Notes.
  • @jeremycherfas: The Archive.

Testing Notes

I’ve looked through the apps I already own to see what already might fit the bill. I’ve excluded apps that use a document model, because I don’t want to futz around saving individual files. It needs to autosave to a location, or offer a library.

While some apps could be made to work with Automator, Keyboard Maestro, or some other combination, I’ve decided that to be out of scope.

I thought I was leaving Bear. I had previously cancelled my auto-renewing subscription. I had moved my content out of it. Yet, it seems to tick all the boxes, for this problem and for others that I’ve had. A problem is that when using the hotkey, it steals focus from an existing note, because it doesn't bring up a new, dedicated window.

The other dark horse is VoodooPad. I’ve always had a soft spot for this app. I bought copies for Mac and iOS when it was owned by Gus Mueller, but never found a place for it in my workflow. But I love it. It’s an app I have an unreasonable desire to use. Maybe this could be a reason to support Primate Labs and buy a new license.

AppProsConsiOS SyncPriceMy Ranking (1-5)
DEVONthinkIntegrates with all my other document storage. Has quick key activation.Pop-up is ugly. Still need to manually choose the correct inbox for storage.With iOS appOwn5
BearVery attractive and has separate shortcuts to bring the app forward and to create a new note but this takes focus from the existing note.First line always starts as an H1. No typewriter editing mode.With iOS app$21.49 per annum5
The ArchiveAttractive pop-up window ready to take notes.Overkill for my limited use case. I would need to commit to it for everything.Dropbox/Files$32.995
VoodoopadHas a pop-up entry field that saves notes to a specified page. I want to use and love this app.Awaiting the first major update from Plausible Labs.With iOS appUS$24.994
Launchbar and text file prepend/appendI use Launchbar a million times a day already and it can do this.Have to program my fingers to do this and it takes a few more keyboard presses than ideal.Dropbox/FilesOwn4
UnclutterHas a relatively effective quick note area.Not interested in the other elements it offers.NoSetapp3
NotebooksSelf contained system but with open files access.No quick entry method.With iOS app$29.992
CuriotaRich text, so can include all sorts of media.Too many clicks to get to taking note content.FilesFree2
StickiesBuilt in to the system.Just no.NoFree2
NotesExists across the Apple ecosystem.Yellow paper and no shortcut keys.With iOS appFree2
AgendaNone noted.Wrong metaphor for this task and no keyboard shortcuts.With iOS app$24.991
iA WriterAlready using this on iOS.No quick entry method.With iOS app$46.991
SimplenoteIt’s simple and reliable.Limited keyboard support and no hotkeys.With iOS appFree1
UlyssesAlready own and use this for work writing.No quick entry method.With iOS appSetapp1
jotting.txt · Last modified: 2019/03/05 00:07 by admin