Text Notes

October 12, 2018

I take a lot of notes for work. Mainly notes about meetings:

  • Date
  • Location (if not a phone call, where was I, helps the memory)
  • Key Participants
  • Major Discussion points
  • Significant Decisions

I don't do anything fancy. No attachments, no embedded content, no tagging. Just straight-up text. A touch of Markdown, but rarely rendered Markdown, just bullets and headers in the text for organization.

My notes and my email archive are, in effect, my work “memory”. MailMate on the Mac for all email, fantastic search, but that is a topic for another post.

I need to be able to get to my notes, easily, on multiple platforms: Mac OS, iPad, iPhone. This involves finding existing notes (search), and adding new note content.

Like David Sparks I have tried a number of note systems over the years, including Bear and Apple Notes. Anything that doesn't store notes directly on the filesystem in text files doesn't last long with me. Bear was great, but I didn't like the files inside a SQLite database approach - having to run an export to have a backup was too much trouble. Besides, I have a dislike of app subscriptions, I can only subscribe to so many things, every month I am reminded to reconsider my decision. I would much rather a larger up-front purchase price, impulsive purchases are no-problem for me (a separate, but at least one-time, problem no doubt).

I was a long-time user of Notational Velocity and later Brett Terpstra's nvALT on the Mac with 1Writer on iOS - all text file notes stored in 1Writer's iCloud directory, nvALT pointed to that directory in Mobile Documents/ on Mac. It worked well, but development on nvALT long-ago ceased. Brett has said he is working on a successor to nvALT, which I eagerly await.

As of now my tools are

  • FSNotes $3 on iOS
  • Note files stored in FSNotes iCloud directory (sync)
  • The Archive $20 on the Mac, pointed at FSNotes’ Mobile Documents/ as the notes directory

The Archive has great UI, themes, and full-text search. So I can quickly find notes. FSNotes works well on iOS, able to find notes, and add content to notes from my iPad. FSNotes also has a Mac app, which works fine, and which I purchased to throw another $3 the developer's way, but don't use much.

My notes and text files are like weather apps, I just can't stop fiddling with new apps, new systems, new approaches. So as expected, in the course of writing this post, I stumbled across Falcon. It seems to have all I want? Looks like another day will be spent fiddling around with my notes system

Update Looks like Falcon hasn't been updated in over a year, I'll pass