Ever wanted to keep your notes together and not create a bunch of text files which would eventually be strewn across your hard drive? Ever wanted more than just the ability to enter text, but also the possibility to include photos or other media in your notes?
If that’s the case, take a look at our roundup of some of the most used note taking apps for Mac. We will cover both basic and complex applications, leaving you the choice of what fits your needs best.
Be sure to take a look at our companion roundup over at iPhone.AppStorm, looking at note taking apps for the iPhone.
Stickies on your Dashboard or Desktop
No time to check out a new app (or no money to buy the one you like)? Well, if it’s simple note taking you want, why not use the apps that come with every Mac? Go to your dashboard and try out Stickies. You can put as many stickies as you want on your dashboard, give them different colors and change the font face.
Alternatively, if you are not a dashboard person, there is the “normal” app right in your applications folder that will display notes on your desktop. You can make those notes translucent so they won’t cover up whatever windows you have open. It’s quick, it’s simple and it’s already on your computer.
An incredibly simple solution, Notational Velocity is a really wonderful application for storing simple notes. They’re saved as text files (or HTML if you prefer), and the application fully supports synchronization with Simplenote and/or Dropbox.
Save-as-you-type means that you don’t need to worry about regularly saving a note you’re working on, and searching for notes is built-in as the primary way to navigate and control the software. It’s completely free, and I’d highly recommend it!
Unobtrusive but always present, the app sits in your menu bar and waits for you to shove (drop) information onto it. Supporting many different file formats, Shovebox helps you to stuff information into one place and sort it quickly by putting it into folders and tagging it.
The QuickJot window can be called from anywhere on your computer and allows for quick text entry. Additionally, Shovebox has an iPhone app that syncs with the desktop version, allowing you to take (your) notes wherever you are.
Spark goes for a very minimalistic approach and, if you really only want a place to quickly jot down notes, the tiny app will let you do just that without burdening you with a flood of options.
You can enter notes, give them a title and add a due date if there is a time constraint. Additionally, you can arrange your notes into groups, but that’s about it. For simple note taking, it’s also really all you need.
Somewhere between the more powerful organization apps that follow and the simple note taking apps mentioned before lies Caboodle. While being able to handle multimedia files, it focuses mainly on text notes and their organization.
The user interface is clean and intuitive; overall the app reminds of the now unfortunately no longer maintained Journler. If you don’t feel comfortable with a full blown information organizer but need a little more than just text notes, give this app a try.
More than a simple note taking app, Yojimbo is a comprehensive information management app which allows you to store all kinds of files. Through a quick input panel, you can enter information into the app from whichever application you happen to run at the moment.
Two nice features are also the Yojimbo Drop Dock which sits to the side of your screen and on which you can drop items and have them automatically sorted into collections, and the ability to print PDFs directly into the app. If your needs require more than simple note taking, give Yojimbo a look.
As the name implies, Together helps you not only with simple text notes but with all sorts of files. Similar to Yojimbo, Together has a tab called “Shelf” which sits at the side of your screen and allows you to quickly input information.
The application has powerful organization features which include not only smart collections and tags, but also color codes and ratings. You can also easily import web content by archives or printing to PDF. Overall, Together, seems to allow for a more granular organization of information, but give it a try to see if it fits your work flow.
A very powerful information and note organizer, similar to Yojimbo and Together, but has the additional functionalities of actually recording voice memos, videos and photos right from inside the app.
Also, the dedicated iPhone app called NoteLife syncs not just via WiFi, but actually makes good use of MobileMe, so you don’t have to remember to sync the desktop and mobile databases every time you added information. If this information exchange is essential to you, you should definitely take a look at this app combination.
Don’t get fooled by the name or the simple user interface of myDiary. Beneath that somewhat colorless shell is some raw information management power. As the name suggests, myDiary offers password protection to keep your data private, but you don’t have to restrict yourself to diary entries.
You can write notes, add images (also take them right inside the app), attach videos and many different file types. While it may not sport the best eye candy, myDiary is worth serious consideration if you are looking for an information manager not too cluttered but also not too simple.
Circus Ponies NoteBook combines eye candy and functionality into a beautiful user interface. The app can help you with managing your notes, but also holds up when it comes to more complex tasks like project or task management, writing/preparing a paper, collecting multi-media files etc. The app comes with various templates which will help you get started quickly.
So, throw away that legal pad and put Circus Ponies Notebook on your Macbook instead. Additional hint: if you are just switching from the PC and are used to Microsoft OneNote, this application will most likely make you feel right at home.
Similar to the other, more powerful information organizers mentioned above, MacJournal has an additional feature that makes it stand out from the crowd: blogging support for such popular platforms as LiveJournal, Moveable Type, WordPress, TypePad and Blogger.
In this regard, this application might be of heightened interest to you if you collect information for your blog anyway – with MacJournal, there’s no need to jump between different applications when you try to get your next blog entry written.
DEVONNote is often viewed as the note organizing app for the Mac and should be mentioned in this list as well. For simple note taking needs it’s overwhelming. It does require quite some time to go through all the options and settings, which is necessary to be able to harness the entire power of the application, which includes clipping data from different file formats, interconnectivity of notes via wiki links, integrated browsing and much more.
Make sure to compare between the three versions – Note, Personal and Pro – to find the right level complexity for your needs.
Evernote provides a rather unusual approach to note taking – it stores the information in the cloud. You are not restricted to text notes, quite the contrary: Evernote lets you add images, webclips, snapshots or even voice recordings.
But the true strength of the solution lies in its support of many different platforms: you can add information via a desktop application that runs on both the Mac and the PC, but Evernote is also available for the iPhone, Android, Palm, Windows Mobile or Blackberry. Really, there’s no technical excuse for you not using it.
What is a note, really? It can be just a line of text, a photo or – if your needs a little extraordinary – it might be an entire chapter for a book, an article or a dissertation. WriteRoom prides itself with offering a distraction free writing environment and it does so by offering a full screen writing experience.
So, if you feel that big idea forming in your head, start up WriteRoom and be sure that the app will do nothing to sidetrack your thoughts. By the way, it does have an iPhone companion and can sync with it through SimpleText.ws.
As with WriteRoom, Scrivener is made for big notes and suits the needs of writers and researchers especially well. It brings with it a ton of options to store all kinds of files and import information even from websites without any hiccups. It’s strengths are in the organizing and outlining features (storyboarding) that will appeal to anybody who has to write lengthy texts.
Made with writers in mind, Scrivener can help you to keep track of all the information you will acquire for your piece and offers a development environment that can help to bring your novel or research paper to a happy ending. It also imports text written on WriteRoom for the iPhone via the SimpleText.ws sync.
This is by no means an exhaustive list, but it should give you a good start into the field of note taking. It comes all down to you knowing what you need your note taking app to do for you!
If you use or prefer another system, be sure to let us know in the comments.