Students and professionals have a revolving door relationship with task and note taking applications. Very rarely is there one application that fits every need a user might have. SideNote was sent to us by developer Daniel Wee as a contender in this complex market. Contenders like Apple’s own Stickies – or powerhouse Evernote – make this a difficult space to succeed in.
Does SideNote have a place in today’s information collection station? Let’s take a look.
The developer of this application was kind enough to give us a free promo code, but I purchased this application for $0.99 during their back-to-school promotion. This application appears to be targeted towards the audience of people who want a more grown-up approach to the native Stickies application on your Mac. Unlike Evernote, it does not provide complex note organization or powerful editing capabilities.
If you are looking for a more complex note taking experience then this application is not for you. The idea behind SideNote is to create a simple interface for quickly capturing text. I used it as a visible clipboard for copy/pastes while editing articles and searching for available domain names. It is a lightweight application with a limited feature set that does exactly as the developer promises – simple note taking.
What It Does
When you launch the application, it immediately creates a little side tab that can be clicked to reveal the notetaking panel. Taking notes is an easy task utilizing several keyboard shortcuts or available buttons on the bottom SideNote panel. Each note is time stamped and is listed from top to bottom in the order the note was created. Making good use of keyboard shortcuts, most operations SideNote offers can be done quickly and efficiently.
SideNote also gives users an ability to anchor the notetaking panel to remain on top of all other open windows. This ability, along with the transparency settings, come in handy when referencing notes you may have collected in other applications. The note panel itself is resizable (to an extent), and you do have the option of placing the collapsable tab on either side of your desktop. Lastly, you can opt for a white or black theme while controlling font size, type, and window transparency. I did not have the opportunity to test the advertised iCloud support, but the developer did include it in the 1.1 release.
Where It Falls Short
There are some notable things about side note that will remove it from contention for occupying serious note taking tool boxes. Although this application has iCloud support, there is no native IOS companion app to manage or take notes on the go. The developer doesn’t market this application as being an “all-platforms” tool, but it would open up a range of possibilities if this process was available. I also found that getting notes out of SideNote was not as easy as getting them in. For example, if I want to copy the contents of a note, I need to double-click the note and then select the portion I want to copy. I would like to see a dedicated button or keyboard shortcut that allows a user to quickly capture the entire note onto the clipboard.
A critically absent feature is the ability to search through your notes. I would imagine that if SideNote became littered with notes for particular project, it would be easy to get lost without some basic search options. Not to worry, however, as the developer has confirmed he is working on adding search in a later release. Lastly, and this is a personal nit pick, this application resides aimlessly in the menu bar. I love most menubar applications, but clicking on the icon only opens up the SideNote panel. At a minimum there should be an option to open up preferences or quit the application entirely. Multi-monitor support is lacking as I could not find a way to move the SideNote tab to another screen.
This is a decent application for basic note taking tasks. SideNote certainly has a lot of ways to grow, but I did find myself appreciating the simplicity of it for basic copy/paste tasks. The developer does a good job in keeping things simple, but I believe some additional work is needed to keep pace with the intuitive UI expectations that most Mac users have. Would I replace the Stickies application with SideNote? Absolutely.