Note-Taking ApplicationsApril 15th, 2007
Over the last couple of weeks I tested various note-taking applications. I was looking for software to help me to better organize my typical daily notes, memos, ideas, to-do lists and to clean up the myriads of text files that I have used for the purpose. KeePass is perfect for saving and organizing passwords, but there are many other important snippets of text that didn’t have a good home. The criterion is that I wanted a free, light-weight and portable note-taking application to help me be more productive. There are hundreds of on-line tools, but I prefer off-line tools for this purpose and I also discovered dozens of sticky note applications which I find generally messy. Wherever I looked, EverNote showed up and it turned out to be my favorite, but other applications that I reviewed include TiddlyWiki, NeoMem and wikidPad.
EverNote can easily capture, store and quickly access common everyday memos like to-do lists, expenses, telephone numbers, and Web clips. With EverNote you can save your notes in categories, which really behave more like tags. It supports text, HTML, images and drag & drop type functionality. The EverNote database can be encrypted and you can also encrypt text within a note. Another nice feature is neat printing functionality – something that is missing from many similar tools. Itâ€™s not as light-weight as I had hoped (the portable version is about 12MB in size) and it took me a while to familiarize myself, but now I love it!
When I first discovered TiddlyWiki I saw it as a very neat piece of HTML code, but didnâ€™t really see a purpose for it. More recently I realized its use as a note-taking application. Itâ€™s highly portable and has amazingly cool functionality for a single HTML file. Some users have complained that it becomes slow when it grows too large. There are also many enhanced versions like GTDTiddlyWiki and MonkeyGTD, both Getting Things Done adaptations of TiddlyWiki.
wikidPad isnâ€™t portable and itâ€™s also not really light-weight, but itâ€™s another very popular choice. Itâ€™s a standalone desktop wiki and actually very neat and fun to play with. It’s main feature is the ease with which you can cross-link notes, but it lacks rich features and the ability to copy and paste HTML and images.
NeoMem is like a word processor and database combined. Itâ€™s a more technical solution that allows you to define “classes” which describe the items that you want to store information about. It’s a good application for storing structured lists, but I found it too complex for regular note-taking.
For a comprehensive list of mostly on-line tools, check out Fifty Ways to Take Notes. I left out Microsoft OneNote because it’s not free and some other solutions, like ZuluPad don’t offer much in their free versions. For now I am going to stick with EverNote.