March 4, 2010
Do you have hundreds of Word or text documents scattered all over your desktop, each one with a nugget of information, or last week’s meeting notes, or contents of an article you want to save for possible future reference? And then you realize that you’ll never be able to find the contents from any one of those documents again, because they’re so poorly named and organized?
Note-taking software gives you one convenient place to store all that loose info. The best software can incorporate PDFs, images, and text so you can store absolutely everything. The application also needs to have a way to easily arrange and search for information.
Here are our 7 current contenders for best note-taking and -organizing applications, in alpha order. “Best” is a subjective mix of simplicity of use, ease of search, visual beauty, and range of customization. Most have free trial versions available on their sites.
1. DevonThink, $50
This is more of a storage database than a true note organizer. It can store items in numerous formats.
2. Evernote, $5/month or free for ad version
This is the only one of the 7 that has a monthly-fee model (or it can be free if you don’t mind looking at ads). Data syncs with the “cloud,” so you have access to your info on the web too. It also syncs with Windows, BlackBerry, iPhone, and Android.
3. Mori, $40
Mori allows you to group your notes into folders, and/or create outlines. It also has tons of customization options.
4. NoteBook, $50
NoteBook uses the metaphors of notebooks, pages, dividers, and tabs as the method for organizing information. It comes with some basic templates for common uses, and is set up specifically for to-do lists and outlines as part of your notes system.
5. NovaMind, $49 for “Express” and $149 for “Pro”
This is mind-mapping software, which means it focuses on visual diagrams as a way of organizing information. It’s especially useful for brainstorming.
6. TopXNotes, $40
TopXNotes has over 100 templates for financial info, shopping lists, software serial numbers, and others. Organizes by groups, categories, and index. Can set up auto-save so you don’t lose any valuable data while you’re working on a note.
7. Yojimbo, $39
Bare Bones is the same company that created the much-loved BBEdit. Info is organized by collections and tags; you can use theirs or customize your own. You can encrypt sensitive information as necessary.