moccanote: Intelligent Note Syncing

There are two ways I get a job done: I keep copious notes from start to finish and do really well, or I don’t take any notes and I fail miserably. This means I’m utterly dependent on some sort of notes editor at all times, and if it has syncing, well, that’s even better.

I’m always on the lookout for a better way to do what I do, including keeping notes, so I was happy to give Moccanote a spin. With an uncluttered interface and iCloud sync with the companion iPhone app, Moccanote is definitely a contender. Can Moccanote’s notetaking and organization features cause me to jump ship?

Make a Note of It

There are two easy ways to create a new note, either from the menu bar icon or by clicking the plus sign to the right of the Moccanote window. You can get that accomplished in the File menu, too, which is where you’ll also be able to import notes. If you’re importing notes, though, they’ll need to be in plaintext or Markdown format or already in Moccanote’s file format.

This is a new new before I've saved it.

This is a new new before I’ve saved it.

Creating a new note only gets you a blank note, though. If you just start typing, the note’s content will become the note’s title, too, but you can always change that by clicking inside the title field. Add an image to your note by clicking the camera icon, but you’ll only really get a thumbnail next to the title.

Moccanote is a plaintext editor, so there aren’t any toolbars to let you change text styling or indent or add fun curlicues. It does support Markdown, however, which lets you set inline styles with hashes and asterisks. If you’re not familiar with Markdown, it may just look like a coding mess, albeit one that’s fairly easy for the layperson to read, but there are lots of quick start guides and references if you’re interested to learn. If not, you can just tap tap away in unstyled text, too, and be none the poorer for it. For those who choose to use Markdown, you’ll see your styling after you’ve saved your note and have it selected in the main Moccanote window.

I used Markdown and now my note looks pretty spiffy.

I used Markdown and now my note looks pretty spiffy.

Warning, Will Robinson! Moccanote doesn’t autosave. Thankfully, Moccanote won’t let you close a note without prompting you to save, but you can close the entire application without hearing boo about losing all your unsaved notes, so keep that in mind. To save, just click the button in the bottom left of your note; it’ll be glowing blue if your note hasn’t been saved yet.

Organization

So you’ve got yourself a nice-sized pile of notes but you don’t know what to do with all of them. They’re all in a big clump, and they’re not very well organized. Well, there’s a few ways to fix that. Moccanote uses “stacks,” or note collections, and you can create as many as you want. While you’re writing your note, click the arrow in the bottom right and choose the stack your note will live in or create a new stack to organize similar notes, and your new note will be filed away.

These are my note stacks, separated by project or how I use them.

These are my note stacks, separated by project or how I use them.

If you already have lots of unfiled notes in your Moccanote inbox, you can still shift those into your stacks without having to edit the individual notes. Select the note or notes you want to move and then click the down arrow in the bottom toolbar beneath your inbox or right-click on the notes. You can then choose whichever stack to which you’d like to move your notes.

Sometimes you’ll find you have notes that are of significant importance or that you access frequently. Rather than sort through all of your stacks, you can add those notes to your focus stack. Whether you’re editing the note or viewing it in the Moccanote window, click the star next to the title to add it to the focus stack. To see all of your focus notes, click Focus in the stack list.

These are my focus notes, because they're super important.

These are my focus notes, because they’re super important.

And Yet, it Syncs

Though I looked at the Mac app, Moccanote works best when its syncing between devices, and the devices you can sync Moccanote on are your Mac and your iPhone. The two apps, the Mac and the iPhone apps, will have to be purchased separately, but once you’ve got them installed and configured for iCloud in your preferences, you’ll be able to share notes between your two devices. If a thought occurs to you while you’re out and about, you can jot it down in Moccanote on your iPhone and have it on your Mac when you get home. Alternately, if you create a note or list on your Mac and need it on your phone, Moccanote will make sure its there for you.

Moccanote uses iCloud to sync, and there were a few great reviews in the Mac App Store praising the seamlessness of Moccanote’s iCloud sync. I had some trouble, though, what the developer called an iCloud “hiccup,” and couldn’t get Moccanote to sync initially. There’s no support documentation, though the developer is working on that right now, but my emails for assistance were answered almost immediately, an experience backed up by App Store reviews.

Here's a look at a note in edit mode, which works a little differently than creating a new note from scratch.

Here’s a look at a note in edit mode, which works a little differently than creating a new note from scratch.

After several tries that just didn’t work, restarting both of my devices fixed the problem and got sync going for Moccanote. While it would have been great if Moccanote’s sync had worked out of the box, it may not have been the app’s fault. Even if it was, the developer was on hand to sort out my troubles quickly and get me going with Moccanote.

Final Thoughts

Moccanote is a nice little notes syncing app, with a very trimmed down interface. If you’ve tried some of the other note editors and they were all just a bit too much for you, Moccanote may make a nice change. The layout is simple and attractive, but most importantly, it’s incredibly easy to use with very little learning curve.

There’s no web app to go along with Moccanote, just the Mac and iPhone apps, so if you depend on browser access or need to sync to another device, you’ll want to hold off on making the switch to Moccanote. If you find, however, you’ve moved away from using browser-based notes apps, as I have, and rely heavily on your Mac or only need to sync to iPhone, Moccanote will make a refreshing change from some of the bulkier notes apps.


Summary

Clean and attractive note-taking with iCloud sync for the iPhone. The developer is responsive and actively working on the app.

9
  • Lê Hùng Thiện

    $10? This app is good and beautiful. But I prefer nvAlt. It supports Markdown, deathly simple and it FREE.

  • cpu2k6

    I use Simplenote. Easy to use dashboard app. There is also an app for iOS. And if your iDevice is out of reach, you can simply logon on the webinterface. And ofcourse it’s free!
    https://simple-note.appspot.com/signin

    • gregol

      Yep! And for 10$ you have Justnotes on your mac that will sync with Simplenote very nicely!

    • Lê Hùng Thiện

      Yep, Simple note + Dashnote is a perfect couple :))

  • Thomas Bruhl

    I think even from the comments above it becomes obvious that there are more than enough note taking apps out there. Why would we need yet another one (regardless of how beautiful or fast in its syncing it might be) is beyond me.

    • http://pauladupont.com Paula DuPont

      All of the apps mentioned above so far are Simplenote clients, which is a great service, but not everyone wants to use Simplenote. This is an alternative to using Simplenote (or Evernote). Hope that helps!

  • David

    Because unlike nvALT , Moccanotes has stacks which are very useful for visual people who don’t remember all their tags and want to browse their stacks visually.

    Because Simplenote has horrible syncing services.

    • http://pauladupont.com Paula DuPont

      I really liked the stacks, too, and I agree with your comment below that they’re a lot less cluttered than Evernote’s interface. I haven’t completely given up on Evernote, though! ;)

  • David

    And in case someone will mention Evernote:

    Because Moccanotes is not as cluttered as Evernote and it allows you to have all your notes offline on your iPhone without paying $45 annual fee.

  • Reid Leamaster

    I would agree that not everyone wants to use Simplenote for plain text. Especially the iOS versions.

    • http://pauladupont.com Paula DuPont

      Thanks, Reid! I agree. :)

  • Amanda

    This app sounds looks and sounds promising. I do hope, though, that they implement many of Evernote’s features… i would like pdf and image handling, in addition to text manipulations. :)

  • Eric Cotrina

    I bought the companion iPhone app and iCloud syncing is broken. Every time I would enable it within the app it would just wait for a minute and then crash.

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