In the past few months, I’ve found myself looking for a better way to take note of things. Right now, I’m using Simplenote, but just the Web app and not a native one. So that means there’s no Launchpad icon unless I use something like Fluid, which I really don’t want to do at this juncture since I already have too many little Web apps in my collection. To that end, I turned to the Mac App Store.
Welcoming me was Notefile. It was sitting happily in the New and Noteworthy with no user ratings, so I thought I’d give it a try. As always, you’re going to be wondering whether it’s worth the $4.99 and your time. Carry on reading to find out.
Put Down Those Thoughts
From the start, Notefile is an extremely minimal app. There’s no setup process, the developer doesn’t push its other apps in your face, and you’re presented with a small and simple window in which to place your ideas. There’s literally nothing more to it than that, though there should be. I’m surprised the developer didn’t include any formatting options, rather it be Markdown or some other sort of code. Definitely not rich text since that’s annoying even in iCloud Notes, but some way to format notes would be useful.
Is the dock icon annoying you? Go to Preferences, click the Dock drop-down, and click Menu Bar. You now have a menu bar note app.
Other than basic note-taking, there’s a secret feature within Notefile that most people don’t know about: calculations. While exploring the app’s menus, I discovered a CMD + = (that’s the command and equals keys) shortcut that belonged to the “Calculate” function. Intrigued, I dug deeper into the feature by experimenting. Eventually I found that Notefile has the ability to solve basic mathematics problems. If you write out something basic like what I have above, select it, and use the shortcut I just mentioned, the app will instantaneously replace it with the solution. Nifty, eh?
Pick Them Up on iOS with iCloud
By default, iCloud sync is enabled in Notefile; the developer clearly wants to make sure you don’t lose any of your precious ideas. Just like with Apple’s noting service, you can type something on your Mac to see it appear on your iOS device seconds later.
Alternatively, you can view your notes on Junecloud’s Web app, but you’ll need to disable iCloud for that. Go to the app’s Preferences, click the Sync tab, and click Switch to Junecloud to start things off. You’ll then need to create an account unless you have one already. I think access on all platforms is a great idea, but having to create an account makes things less simple. Notefile should really just start off asking which way you want to sync things instead of you having to manually do so later.
Deleted Notes are Still There
Remember that time when you deleted a note from iCloud and never saw it again? That doesn’t happen with Notefile, mercifully. Instead, the app keeps a 90-day history of everything you’ve deleted in case you didn’t mean to whisk it away to the dustbin. If you’re looking for the history pane though, you’ll likely not find it because there technically isn’t one. The developer has instead hidden the function away within Find.
CMD + F, as you know very well from other apps, will let you search for anything you’ve ever written in Notefile. It doesn’t matter if you were under the impression that your note had been obliterated, because it’s still there. Oh, and you can’t delete something from the app’s history either, which means that you can’t exactly delete a note. There should be an option to turn this on or off just in case there’s sensitive information inside peoples’ notes. I don’t care if it only takes up a few kilobytes of space — privacy is at stake and a warning should be issued before keeping information.
A Beautiful User Interface
Genuine and attractive design is something every app should have. I’ve reviewed a few notes apps before, one of them being Justnotes. With that app, I couldn’t find anything special about its user interface. Good design is always a plus for any app; bad design is most definitely the worst thing a piece of software can tout, but luckily most don’t. Junecloud did a superb job of designing this app with just the right amount of simplicity, giving it a unique feel.
As you make your way around Notefile, you’ll see the beauty of the app. It’s a less bulky version of Mountain Lion’s Notes with more focus on the content than being skeumorphic. That’s always been my problem with Apple’s official note-taking app: it’s trying too hard to be like a real notebook. What’s the good in this? I don’t see the purpose and it doesn’t fit in with the rest of the operating system. Sure, there are Calendar and Contacts which have the same issue, but they are only two apps.
Best of all, the entire app is optimized for Apple’s Retina MacBook Pro. If you happen to be a lucky owner of the device, this will be a big advantage when compared to most notes apps out there. It also makes it a more worthy alternative to the official Mountain Lion app since apps like the aforementioned Justnotes are still lacking this graphical perfection.
A Solid Alternative to iCloud Notes
Now really, is this app worth your time and the price of a cup of coffee? Only if you’re looking for something different. I think the app is excellent in terms of aesthetics and user experience. It does lack in features though, and a good lot of them at that. I hope the developer will implement some of the things I suggested in this review because until the app gets them, it’s not much better than using Simplenote or any other service/app out there.