NotesTab 3: The Best Note-Taking App in Your Menu Bar

Taking down notes, whether by hand or on my computer, has always been an integral part of my workflow. Capturing information wherever and whenever, notes always in handy considering that I have such a short memory span to work with.

As such, note-taking apps like NotesTab are of great interest to me, and since version 3 of FIPLAB’s note-taking menu bar app is available for download, I thought I’d take a look at what has changed and what features were added since reviewing it a couple of months back. Likewise, the pro version offers several additional features to make the note-taking experience even better, which I will touch on later in the review. If you’re hesitant to spend an extra $4.99 for the upgrade, but would like to know what you’d receive if you do, read on.

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NotesTab 3

notestab official website

NotesTab official website.

FIPLAB have certainly invested a lot of time and effort in rebuilding and improving NotesTab. Dubbed as “Note taking finally done right,” the Mac version is redesigned from ground up with a handful of changes to its overall UI.

NotesTab now has a much better-looking icon and retina support, perfect for those working with the latest retina-display MacBooks. Text is much bigger in size and easy to find, the dashboard itself is wider with more room to work with, and its core features remain intact, such as dynamic search, favorites, share via email, the anchor button, and keyboard shortcuts.

notestab export

Export your notes to RTF or TXT formats.

The note itself is a welcoming refresh of its older design. The lighter background color works well with the text, plus you get to export to RTF and TXT and delete notes via right-click. Ads have been removed from the bottom portion of the app, giving it a nice “pro” feel to it.

Overall, as a tool to capture sudden bursts of creativity, reminders, and things that you shouldn’t forget, NotesTab 3 makes the note-taking experience much more interesting while maintaining its core functionality.

NotesTab Pro: A Huge Difference

While I believe the free version is enough for day-to-day note-taking, the real difference is in the additional features that come with the Pro version.

Priced at $4.99 on the Mac App Store, NotesTab Pro brings you a set of new features to enhance the note-taking experience in various ways. Apart from these key feautres, NotesTab Pro allows you to summon the app or create a note using keyboard shortcuts, provides an ad-free service and many other useful options. Let’s break each feature down.

Real-time Cloud Sync

notestab universal

Sync NotesTab across the Mac, iOS, and Windows 8.

NotesTab 3 made its comeback alongside two new versions: iOS and Windows 8. With NotesTab Pro, you can sync all of your notes using the app’s real-time cloud synching service and make them accessible on any three devices.

As such, having cloud sync enables you to create and read notes even when you’re away from your computer. You can have your notes on your iPhone, iPad, and/or Windows 8 devices, and so can take them with you with ease. If you’re the type who’s always on-the-go, this will definitely come in handy.

Full-screen Editing

notestab full screen

For a boost in productivity, go full-screen mode.

The second notable Pro feature is full-screen editing. The app completely transforms into a desktop-like app, filling up the screen to get you to focus solely on your notes. You have your list of notes and the search bar on the left and the wide notes editor on the right.

Once on full-screen mode, you’ll see several of the basic features at the bottom of the window—formatting options, share/delete a note, and sorting options to name a few. To add a new note, simply click on the plus button at the top rightmost part of the app.

Detachable and Resizable Window

NotesTab Pro has the freedom to move around your desktop, as compared to the free version in that it is tied to the menu bar. You can drag NotesTab to a spot on your desktop where it sits and runs silently. To call it out, use the keyboard shortcut Ctrl+N or click on the app’s menu bar icon.

notestab resizing

Resize NotesTab easily.

You can also resize the NotesTab window depending on how large or small you want it to be. Just hover your cursor to the corner of the app and drag.

Styles, Themes, Opacity Control

NotesTab Pro brings to the table more customization for both notes and the user interface as a whole. It comes with two themes, Wood and Dark, and allows you to control the opacity of the app when set against everything else on your desktop.

notestab opacity

You can control Notestab’s opacity.

You can change the font face and size of your notes by going to the app’s Preferences. You’ll see various options that you can tweak to suit your needs, and at the bottom of the list is the note font (6 different fonts to choose from) and size (i.e. 12, 14, and 16).

Lastly, you have three basic note formatting options to add emphasis to your notes. You can bold, italicize, and underline important information or words. you can select and use basic keyboard shortcuts (Cmd+B/I/U), or use the bold, italicize, and B, U, and I buttons found at the bottom of the window.

Distinct Improvements

Compared to how NotesTab was when I reviewed it back in March, the latest version is a leap forward with pro features that enhance the user experience. Moreover, the guys at FIPLAB are definitely on the right track, so much so that a user who desires flexible and a dynamic note-taking experience would have to try NotesTab Pro out.

Of course, on its own, NotesTab 3 is a breath of fresh air with plenty of room to grow. As such, users can rest assured that the app is under active development and taken care of with great dedication.

Your Thoughts

What do you think of the latest updates to NotesTab? Would you be willing to upgrade to the Pro version? I’d love to hear from you in the comments.


NotesTab 3 brings to the table a beautiful and slick user interface and options to make note-taking flexible, convenient, and fun to do. The Pro version offers many other features on top of the basic ones, including real-time sync, detachable window, and more font styling options.



Add Yours
  • Great article, Stef, thanks! I didn’t know about this one, looks interesting.

    • Thanks, Pierre! It is. Comparing it to the earlier version I reviewed, NotesTab 3 is a huge improvement.

  • Thanks for the awesome review Stef!

    We have even more tastefully added features and improvements coming early 2013.

    Also, NotesTab Pro is on sale for the Holidays, you can currently pick it up for $2.99 rather than the regular price of $4.99 :)

    • Thanks for the heads-up, Rishi!

  • Been using NotesTab for about a two years now. It has to be the most used app on my Macbook. It’s so easy to bring up if I’m on the phone and need to take a number down quick, or if my wife wants me to pick up something, I quickly type it in NotesTab. I’ve also made a bunch of list with it too, to keep track of say, apps I want, groceries, etc.. Though I think I like the design of version 2 better than the latest one. But that’s a minor detail.

    • Thanks for sharing, Blair. I agree that convenience is what makes NotesTab a great note-taking app, considering we have big contenders like Evernote that works the same way.

  • Nice review, trying it out now.

  • Wow! I didn’t knew about this app! It seems so useful and cool that Inwant to try it right away! If I wasn’t so attached to Catch Notes on all my devices I know I will be switching to this app as in Today.

    Great review Stef! Keep the good work!

    Great App guys. I will be downloading it today!

    • Thanks, Albert! You can always try the free version of NotesTab 3 to see if it works for you. Let us know what you think of the app right after.

  • Nice review as always Stef,

    Curious to know your opinion on how this stacks up against systems that use plain text for notes, such as nvALT, Justnotes etc.


    • Thanks, Pedro! I’m glad you found it useful. :-)

      The way I see it, HTML formatting on NotesTab is just about emphasis. If the content of the note can stand on its own, I think we can do away with the formatting options and just create notes in plain text.

      I haven’t tried the new (paid) version of Justnotes yet, but admittedly nvALT would still rise higher in terms of features & ease of use.

  • nvALT and Dropbox. Sorry to be a Debbie Downer but nvALT is the ish.

  • It looks really neat! But how easy is it to make illustrations, diagrams and insert pictures while taking notes in a lecture? I notice that there are so many “Notetaking” apps and so many “Writing” apps, most of which, make it easy to organize one’s notes and the apps, luckily, makes it nice and easy on the eyes, which is also important IMHO.. but creating and inserting all other elements than text? I rarely want to “reread” my notes later if they all consist of text… and if I am not using my notes later, they are of poor use for me… I’m using a mac right now, but earlier when I was at high school I used to take notes with Microsoft OneNote.. Which was a bit rough on the edges, needed tweaking, and some of the features of Word and PowerPoint but besides from that, it was like a huge canvas, just waiting for me to make notes, draw lines, diagrams, write text and place it anywhere i wanted it to be. On top of that it let me arrange and group my notes, which I used to group my notes in Lectures, Classes and Semesters, which was pretty useful..

    It seems like making a notetaking app is pretty trivial and everybody wants to make an app like that, but so few really takes it to takes it to that level where it is commonly useful..

    Is there anybody who knows where to look for an App like that for Mac?

    Thanks a bundle ^___^

    • Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Nadiim. NotesTab 3 is definitely not an app for all, so it’s understandable that it wouldn’t always be able to meet other people’s needs.

      I can’t think of an app that allows you to create illustrations and diagrams on the app, but I would suggest Evernote for note-taking that goes beyond writing down text. You can take shots of actual illustrations, diagrams, and sketches and send it to Evernote, and add corresponding text to each note on the app. You can also create audio notes for voice memos and the like.

    • Nadiim,

      There are three apps I’d compare to Onenote, mainly in terms of that free-form “write anywhere”, blank canvas design.

      Curio is the one I use most – the new version is very nice. You can write anywhere, insert images, outline, mindmap, free-hand draw, put in tables, insert audio and video, even use project management tools if you like. It also integrates with Evernote which is fantastic. I use Evernote to collect various scraps of information and pictures and for little notes when I’m on the move. Curio for me is akin to a scrapbook where I like a large canvas of images and information to creatively display ideas. With the latest version it seems the space is ever-expanding like One-Note too, which was my biggest gripe of earlier editions.

      Growly notes also fits into this category. It’s based on the OneNote notebook concept and also allows for free-form note-taking (along with picture/diagram/audio/etc). I know people who use and love it for Uni/School notes.

      The third I’m putting here is different but offers the same “free-form” note-taking. It’s only for text though. The maker of Scrivener (awesome writing program) has put out a beta verion of Scapple (currently free).
      It’s basically an expanding space for what I’d call an ‘Idea dump’. When I have ideas for a story, I write them all down. At that first stage, I just like to see them on a page and I don’t care about organising them into any meaningful order; It’s actually kinda fun to just have random ideas all over a page…but I do need organisation for later. Currently, I do that idea dump in Curio also, however Scapple could potentially offer a better place for this since I can do the dump and also utilise the program to gain slightly better organisation later – being able to move around the text easily and make links between ideas in a visual way that allows more flexibility than a mind map. (This can be accomplished with Curio but perhaps not as easily).

      I’d recommend trying all three of these programs to see if they offer something you might be looking for. The problem with note-taking applications is that different people have different requirements. I have different needs based on what the note is for. Little snippets or notes I access frequently go in NValt which is always open and doesn’t take up much CPU/Ram, synced with Dropbox and also editable in an outside editor (I often use Taskpaper for a better outline view or when I have longer notes I’m working on sometimes go into Byword).
      My Uni class notes go in Evernote but when I’m working on an Academic paper, notes go in Nvalt or Scrivener, I also outline in OmniOutliner and occasionally Mindmap. I have Skim notes and use Devonthink for its search capabilities. I have yet to discover a good Academic workflow.
      Story ideas happen across Evernote (for clipping), Curio (for everything listed above), NValt (so I can keep text ideas always at my fingertips), and occasionally across any number of other programs (mindmap/outline/ etc).

      I always try out new Note programs if I can, just to see if it’s going to offer me something new/handy. IMO there is no perfect application. But the above apps have all found their place in my life.

  • nvALT + Notesy + Dropbox = BEST of All !

  • Hi Stef:

    This app seems cool, but I’m hesitant to buy. I’m a law student and looking for the perfect app (Word Notebook Layout doesn’t cut it for me anymore).

    Do you think this app would be good for a law student who is constantly taking notes? I also need to create outlines for each class, would this app be good for that?

    Thanks for the article!

  • The article was really interesting. I bought this app about a month ago and love it. Its totally convenient. For the long storage of information I simply put a note in DEVONTHINK. However, for quickly grabbing info no matter what desktop I’m in, you can’t beat this app.

  • I like the CamNote app with an Infinity Binder.
    Simple. Cheap.