Taking Notes With iTunes?
There’s a lot of Mac software for taking notes, but one thing 99% of these apps have in common is an iTunes-like user interface. As you know, iTunes presents a single window with a category list on the left, and a content area on the right. Selecting a category like “MUSIC” from the left fills the content area with all of the “music” items in your iTunes library.
For some reason, Mac developers have decided this is the perfect interface for presenting notes. For example, Evernote lists what they call “notebooks” on the left. Selecting a “notebook” from the left fills the content area with a list or grid of notes, and the content of the currently-selected note. I singled out Evernote here, but again, pretty much all Mac note taking software you care to look at has a similar design. Some apps take the flat category list a bit further and let you build hierarchies of categories (essentially folders and subfolders to hold your notes).
Now this iTunes-like interface is actually reasonable – up until you fill the app with a lot of notes. At that point you have a problem, because there’s no organization.
What about the folders and subfolders on the left? Quite simply that’s not organization, because if it were we’d all be using the Finder to manage our notes.
No, folders and subfolders, while better than a flat list, are no substitute for real organization. And that’s why instead of trying to shoehorn notes into an interface designed for music libraries, we worked to develop an intelligent solution. Ours starts with the notebook metaphor of sections, subsections, and pages. Each page can hold text, attachments, to dos, URLs, and anything else. You can structure your notes using the outliner that’s built into each page, place your notes “freeform” anywhere on the page, or use a combination of structure and freeform. It’s this at-first-glance simple but actually very deep user interface that makes NoteBook the only app that actually lets you organize your notes and documents, and do so in whatever way makes the most sense for your task.
When it comes to choosing a note taking and organizing app, steer clear of the copycat iTunes notes apps that have brought the wrong user interface to the party. Life is too short, and your notes are too important.