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.
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.
I think I'm going to go with DEVONthink. I just want to get Bear out of my life.
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.
|App||Pros||Cons||iOS Sync||Price||My Ranking (1-5)|
|DEVONthink||Integrates 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 app||Own||5|
|Bear||Very 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 annum||5|
|The Archive||Attractive pop-up window ready to take notes.||Overkill for my limited use case. I would need to commit to it for everything.||Dropbox/Files||$32.99||5|
|Voodoopad||Has 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 app||US$24.99||4|
|Launchbar and text file prepend/append||I 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/Files||Own||4|
|Unclutter||Has a relatively effective quick note area.||Not interested in the other elements it offers.||No||Setapp||3|
|Notebooks||Self contained system but with open files access.||No quick entry method.||With iOS app||$29.99||2|
|Curiota||Rich text, so can include all sorts of media.||Too many clicks to get to taking note content.||Files||Free||2|
|Stickies||Built in to the system.||Just no.||No||Free||2|
|Notes||Exists across the Apple ecosystem.||Yellow paper and no shortcut keys.||With iOS app||Free||2|
|Agenda||None noted.||Wrong metaphor for this task and no keyboard shortcuts.||With iOS app||$24.99||1|
|iA Writer||Already using this on iOS.||No quick entry method.||With iOS app||$46.99||1|
|Simplenote||It’s simple and reliable.||Limited keyboard support and no hotkeys.||With iOS app||Free||1|
|Ulysses||Already own and use this for work writing.||No quick entry method.||With iOS app||Setapp||1|