I (re)started life as a graduate student a couple of months ago now and I’ve been using the opportunity to drastically revamp my notetaking techniques. My system is still under construction, but this is what I’ve got so far:
- General notetaking: Voodoopad
I fell in love with Flyingmeat’s little, nifty app when it was first introduced to me. So much in fact that I splurged the 30 bucks for it when I reached the limitation of the free version (15 pages max IIRC).
- pros: lightweight, easy to use, really easy wiki-like functions and a great search function.
- cons: only very rudimentary support for drawing sketches and figures. Not the greatest for handling pictures and screen clippings.
- organizing PDFs and other reference material: EagleFiler
- pros: great support for tagging and folders and subfolders, lets me read my PDFs in skim instead of in Preview.
- cons: world’s ugliest icon (almost shameful to keep it in the dock), not the most intuitive tagging system in the world.
other contenders for this post: Circusponies Notebook, Evernote, Tiddlywiki
I started out with Yojimbo solely because it had an awesome name and BareBones makes some killer software (textwrangler FTW!). I never disliked Yojimbo, but the number one killer for me was when I realized that I couldn’t open my PDFs in skim instead of in Preview. EagleFiler just opens with whatever program is set for default in your OS. Nice integration. Handles powerpoints and such as well.
Other apps considered for the job: Yojimbo, nice and orderly folder structure
- Overall General mind-dump: Evernote
I’m very fascinated by Evernote. It’s in beta at the moment and a closed beta at that, but you can sometimes find invitations floating around the blogosphere. I got in through an article in Wired and I’ve seen them offer up invites on jk-mobile.com as well.Evernote shows some awesome promise at being a dump for all the things that would otherwise occupy your mind. I’ve note done any thorough testing, but as a replacement for random files scattered across my desktop and notes in the post-it dashboard widget it’s awesome. There’s a desktop client (for both osx and windows) and various mobile clients as well. You write your notes, send e-mails, do screen dumps, take pictures and dump them into Evernote which in turn lets your organize and tag them and (drumroll) makes everything searchable. Even your photos and screendumps. It’s an awesome technology that has worked very well so far for me. I took a photo with my mobile of a job-listing I saw at school. E-mailed it to my Evernote and when I came home it was searchable (even if the pic was grainy as heck). I’m impressed. It’s still in beta and does weird syncing errors and crashes sometimes. But it shows great promise. Hopefully they won’t make it too expensive when it leaves beta.
- pros: Awesome app, pretty icon, text recognition in pictures!
- cons: Beta-symptoms. Mac client still not as packed with features as windows counterpart.
There are more stuff to be covered about this in the future, but that’s for another writeup. How to handle to-do’s, e-mail etc. will be covered here some other time.
In conclusion it’s sad to say that there is no OneNote 2007 killer for the mac. There are some awesome apps made by indie-developers, but the “do-it-all” notetaking app is nowhere to be found. My Eee (which was the last pc I’ve had with windows on it) had Onenote 2007 installed and while the dimunitive screen made a lot of stuff harder than it should be there was a lot of good stuff to be said for the program. I still think there must be Mac-developers out there who can best it. After all they’d be building it on the world’s best operating system, right?