I sincerely believe that one of the reasons for the slow descent of information managers, or anything buckets, has been the absence of modernization. Opening an application of this sort is often a strike from the past. A visit to old design trends and a user experience that didn’t catch up with the evolution. We ended up with powerful applications with plenty of features, without a reasonable way to manage them.
Among them all, Together stood up on their previous versions, overcoming as one of the better thought-out information managers for the average user. Yet it held its share of issues. The new version is a wave of change that came out of nowhere to improve our data library organizations. This refreshing update covers several disabilities and lights up the path to the use of iCloud sync, a long expected getaway card from the Evernote servers.
Let’s talk about buckets
Anything buckets are often criticized for attempting to cover way too many functions, not focusing on any of them and offering a shallow experience. I won’t deny the veracity of that statement. Yet, the goal of these applications is not to be everything; instead, they simply pack many resources to cover any gap from your workflow. I tell you that because if you use it as a replacement for Finder, you’ll become frustrated and be blinded to the real benefits that an anything bucket may bring.
Ok, time to cut the nonsense and talk about Together. As you open the app, you’re welcomed by an intro and quick access to the release notes and help documentation, but let’s skip that. What comes next is an application designed up to the standards of modern OS X. Everything is cleaner, plenty of the icons without much text — which may actually encumber some new users, although if you’re familiar to the previous version, there’s no surprise here.
Navigation is divided in three panels, as in almost every other app these days. In the first one, the Source List, you have access to your groups, smart groups, folders. You can switch between groups and tags on the bar above the panel. One thing that’s new here is the Inbox, where unclassified files lay, waiting to be organized. Unfortunately, nothing’s changed on Together’s tags library, and you can’t narrow down your results by selecting more tags.
The biggest surprise comes from the second panel, the Item List, where you find the items from the selected folder or search results. I praised Evernote for its thumbnail view, as the best way to visualize files nowadays; now, Together comes with Thumbnails and Lists as displays, with the option to visualize in Portrait or Landscape. You can resize the thumbnails as you wish, which moves Together one step forward on this field.
The third panel, Preview, where you can visualize your selected item is where they got most inspiration from Evernote. Name of the file, tags and a button to add as favorite on top. The Info field, which used to be a whole panel for itself, became a bubble, just as in the green elephant. Items can be opened in tabs, which stay above this main screen, just like Safari. Then there’s the Tab Exposé to show all your tabs on a screen of thumbnails, which is a pretty neat new feature.
Filling your library with all your stuff
Honestly, by this section solely you can say if an information manager is good or not. At first, items can be created within Together, besides the usual suspects you may have in mind already, Together 3 comes with Stationeries, which are templates based on kind. It comes with simple picks at start: plain text, rich text with attachments or without, still you’re free to create your own.
The truth is that no one actually wants to see an anything bucket unless we’re doing a deep search through our files, most of the time we’ll be importing stuff from outside apps. As expected, items can be included via drag and drop, Bookmarklets and the Services menu. You can configure a global Import Hot Key to send files straight to your Inbox. I tried several times and I couldn’t upload any file through this method, a problem I hope will be fixed in the next update.
To use the Import Hot Key on the Mac App Store version you must first download and install the proper Import Scripts.
The hot shot is definitely the Shelf, most buckets have one of this sort, but Together is the only that nails it. It is a tab on the sides of your screen where you can drag files onto and organize them in your library. Together revamped their shelf and kept most of the features which made it great in the previous version. Besides including new files, you can navigate through your favorites, search your library or even create a quick note.
Searching through your files
Last time I wrote about Together it was for the round-up of information managers here at Mac.AppStorm, I listed three bad considerations about every application and all of them for Together were related to its search features, so, yes, I was quite excited to see what they did to this section.
Besides the aforementioned search through the Shelf, which is pretty basic and doesn’t offer any control, the search within the application now allows you to search exclusively by name, label, tags, comments or contents, between all groups or only inside a selected group. You can select as many parameters as you wish to improve your search results. Put that together with Smart Groups and you can dig through your library as much as you want.
iCloud sync and so much more
The most exciting news about the new version of Together is the viability to store your library on iCloud, leaving us all hopeful to get a iOS version soon, which is on plans with no timeframe. Of course, using iCloud comes with its own share of restrictions, such as not being able to reveal the files on Finder, nor importing old libraries into iCloud. Still, it is nothing that may come in your way unless you have a very specific workflow.
It is worthy to suggest that, if you’re familiar with the previous version, to check the full release notes, where you’ll find every little bit of information about saved versions (it is kinda buggy as I tested, but Together promises to store past versions of your modified files), file encryption, creation of multiple libraries and other features.
Together has always been a heavyweight among information managers, still most of its most complex resources were hidden on the simplicity of the interface. The major improvement of Together 3 is the new organization of items and how everything feels accessible. And, of course, the spark of a future method to access our libraries from iOS.
Together lets you keep everything in one place. Text, documents, images, movies, sounds, web pages and bookmarks can all be dragged to Together for safe keeping, tagged, previewed, collected together in different ways and found again instantly.8