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Monday, February 09, 2009

Notetaking Tools Help Needed

I recently engaged in a conversation with someone who suggested I was way behind the curve in adopting a better notetaking tool. They picked up on my comments in Better Memory about still using notepad for taking notes in lots of cases.

There are a lot of tools out there in this space. I've looked at EverNote and OneNote quite a bit, but I'm not convinced yet that they fit well enough for me to adopt.

Requirements -
  • Desktop Search Integration. I currently use Windows Desktop Search and would prefer that I can find notes via the same mechanism that searches my email and documents.
  • No Lock In. I need to believe that I could get my notes out of the system later if I decided I needed to switch tools.
  • Better Copy to Clipboard. Includes links along with web contents when you clip.
  • iPhone Notes. Nice to be able to take notes on the iPhone and have that come across into the system. I don't need all my notes available to me on the iPhone.
Curious any thoughts? Right now, I'm leaning towards trying OneNote, but I'm concerned about Lock In and that I don't believe there's any iPhone support? Should I just wait for another year until it matches these requirements better?


Anonymous said...

Although it is an extra step, remember that you can always e-mail your iPhone note and then paste it or attach it to whatever application you are using.

OneNote does a lot. But, like most Microsoft products, I find it resource intensive and at times a bit slow.

Anonymous said...

Yes!!! I'm a former One note user. Loved the program, hated the lockin after I switched to mac and iphone and I'm still waiting too. There's lots of decent programs, but nothing that integrates web audio desktop and iphone. Apple should have done it through their .me cloud program, but not yet!

Dr D said...

If you have switched to the Mac, you might try Circus Ponies NoteBook.

Grouchal said...

I think evernote is really good - it really puts your notes in the cloud and makes them accessible anywhere - this will sort out your iPhone want.

The only problem with using evernote with a tablet PC is that you cannot always get at those notes on every device. They are fixing this though.

If you want only to keep notes on a Tablet PC - and possibly a Windows phone then go for OneNote.

Seriously though - there is only one option for the future: Evernote!

Unknown said...

I've actually gone a different route because I never really have gotten much value from the structure lots of these tools push. I'm a much more visual person, and I've found mind maps created with tools like MindJet MindManager are much better tools for me than the more traditional notetaking tools. In terms of your requirements, though, there aren't a plethora of mind mapping tools for the iPhone (MindMaker and iBlueSky are the only ones I'm aware of and they've got some room for "maturing").

Anonymous said...

I swear by EverNote, but it took a while. I bought a tablet PC back in 2005 and very quickly became addicted to OneNote. I also bought a lightweight notepad that had a special piece, feeding my handwritten notes back into OneNote on my PC via USB. I was set.
Then I switched to the Mac. In order to use OneNote, I had to install a virtual Windows machine. OneNote does sync between machines, but that is it.
I have since fallen for EverNote because it better integrates with my life.
- I can clip things from the Web directly to EverNote, no matter what machine I'm on.
- I can access Evernote locally on my PC, my Mac, my iPhone (via the iPhone app), and via the Evernote web site when I'm away from my own computer.
- I take notes on my little Vaio on Evernote, the local app, during conferences. When I get home, those notes are synced up to my local app on my giant Mac - my main PC. It was a painless process for me.
- I can take notes and photos on my iPhone and send them to Evernote via the Evernote iPhone app.
- I can organize via Notebook or tags, both of which work well for me.

Anyway, it's the synchronization between all of my devices that sold me. On my tablet, I can also handwrite notes. And finally, I was able to import all of my OneNote notebooks neatly into Evernote.

Oh, I can also share notes publicly from Evernote if I want, which I also appreciate.

vicki said...

I'm not sure what kind of notetaking tool you need, but I use Zotero. You might want to try that if you are looking for a way to keep sources, notes, and other information all accessible on the web.

Anonymous said...

Interesting and challenging requirements, 3 of which I've thought about except the clips, needs clarificatio.
* email and documents --
using Outlook or yahoo email or gmail? or some | all of them?
* no lock-in --
sure, how about a relational db
sits in the back?
* clips --
what if a piece of info exceeds
the real estate of what is visible?
mere screen capture may not suffice or I could be missing something here.
* i-phone
It's understanding.

Sujan Patricia said...

Rumors of an Apple tablet – essentially a large iPhone or iPod touch, may launch in September 2009. But is it just a bigger iPhone or a totally new package, I don't know!

Rick Dearman said...

I recently wrote up my top 5 note-taking tools:

Top 5 Note-taking Tools

I think for your purposes you might want to look into the ZIM tool for windows. Because it outputs text files it is searchable via your google desktop and is a brilliant tool for creating quick links.

It is basically a desktop wiki. I have been using it on Linux for awhile and I've had some good reports about the Windows version.

It should for Mac users, although I haven't really investigated that since I don't have a Mac.