What is the best calendar, to do, and notes app for my situation?
December 13, 2013 3:47 AM   Subscribe

I have macs, and several iOS devices (including iPads) What would be the best setup for using a calendar function, to do function, and notes?

I also have domains and web hosting if that would be relevant...but its seriously not necessary.

I know this is really basic stuff, but I'm kind of new to this. Previously I'd been using a system of emails to do the above...so its about time I upgrade to a more efficient system.

I'm pretty sure there can be one comprehensive app that will do all of this. The focus here will be on getting me to UTILIZE whatever system I'm using, rather than thinking "oh...well it will take me a bit to write this down...better just email myself".

Anything that would allow me to collaborate with another user? Anything I should stay away from? Any other suggestions? Anything I'm missing?
posted by hal_c_on to Technology (10 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
I have not used it, but look at Awesome Note. It looks like it hits everything, except perhaps collaboration.
posted by yclipse at 4:25 AM on December 13, 2013 [1 favorite]

Things syncs well across devices (they provide their own "cloud" sync solution) and has a quick input method that's as easy as making a note in any other app. I have the same problem vis. actually using the tool, but there's nothing stopping me but me.
posted by Devils Rancher at 4:39 AM on December 13, 2013 [1 favorite]

I use Awesome Note (aka aNote) and it does all of the things you mention - sync's across multiple devices including via Google Docs. It has a calendar function and can store info in a variety of styles, such as to-do, diary/journal, notes, calendar appointments etc.

About a year ago I had trouble with the sync function and I semi-abandoned it so it is no longer a crucial tool for me but I do still use it for a limited set of tasks and I haven't had the same sync issue since then.

ps. I tried a large number of other apps with little to no success before settling on Awesome Note.
posted by HopStopDon'tShop at 5:15 AM on December 13, 2013

I generally subscribe to the notion that the best software products do one thing well. So, in your case, I think you're looking at two or three separate apps. I've played around with a lot of the software in these categories on OSX and iOS over the past few years, so here are my thoughts.

First, I think that GTD apps like Things, Nozbe, etc. (there are a million) are hugely bloated pieces of software that try to do too many things and end up not doing any of them well. I tried to use a few of these, but found that I simply stopped using them after a few days because they required so much work from the user. I've found Evernote to be similarly bloated and useless.

By far, the best notes app on iOS and OSX is Simplenote. It has long been a favorite of a lot of tech writers, and it recently had a complete overhaul with the release of iOS 7 that made it even better. It offers full-text search, apps across platforms, fast syncing, the ability to share notes with multiple people (even non-Simplenote users), and a way to retrieve past versions of notes. It's fast, and it's everything you could want from a notes program.

For awhile, I cycled between a few to-do apps. Clear was a favorite for awhile, as was Begin. After awhile though, I found that I was not using these apps, so I deleted them. Now, I keep a to-do note pinned to the top of my Simplenote list, so it's the first thing I see when I open the app. I use that for keeping track of long-term projects, but for short-term things, I've found that nothing beats a pocket notebook and pen. I also found that a lot of other things that I used to keep in my to-do list were much better as calendar events. That's me, though. You might find that Clear or Begin is perfect for your needs.

As far as calendars go, I really love Sunrise. It syncs up with your Google and Apple calendars, and it has a really beautiful and informative way of presenting information. It's integration with Google Maps is also a huge plus. It's also free, so it's definitely worth trying out. I vote for Sunrise, but Apple's default calendar app on iOS 7 is much improved, and definitely usable.

Hope this helps!
posted by rensar at 6:08 AM on December 13, 2013 [1 favorite]

Posted this before, but we maintain a comparison list of task managers that may be helpful.

Personally, I use Remember the Milk. It doesn't have a native Mac client, but you can fake one with Fluid. I like RTM for the simplicity of entering tasks and using shortcuts to set dates, tags, etc in one typing string. It also integrates with Evernote, which is my default brain-dumping ground.
posted by youknowwhatpart at 7:15 AM on December 13, 2013

For calendars, I let everything sync through iCloud using Apple's native calendaring system, although on my iPhone I am using Fantastical.

For notes, I have a folder in dropbox set aside. On my Mac, I hook into this with NValt. There is an embarrassment of riches for Markdown-capable, dropbox-synced notes apps on the iOS side. Here's a massive comparison table that you can winnow by feature. I have used WritingKit, WriteUp, and Write, and they each have their pros and cons. One nice thing about this setup is that there's zero lock-in and it's easy to experiment. Depending on your nerdosity level, Editorial sounds like a fascinating option, because you can actually script it in Python.

I don't make heavy use of to-do lists per se, and Apple's own Reminders is good enough for me. I do use Trello for a group action-item tracker, and Anylist for shared grocery/packing lists.
posted by adamrice at 7:46 AM on December 13, 2013 [1 favorite]

I use nvALT, which you can sync with Simplenote or Dropbox or whatever you want. I'm hesitant to use simplenote on the desktop, as it has no clear location for file storage, and I want to be able to control my own files. I think this is just as suitable as a Todo app, just an eighth of a smidge more effort.

For calendaring, I use google calendar as a backend, Apple's Calendar to handle the syncing, and Fantastical for input/calendar editing. Fantastical is great for quickly inputting events, it's got a natural language parser that works really well.
posted by Maecenas at 7:53 AM on December 13, 2013

I use Google, Wunderlist, and Evernote, respectively, to do this. So does my husband, including shared gcals, Wunderlists, and Evernote notes.

I don't require very extensive calendar management, but I do like Sunrise as suggested above.
posted by Lyn Never at 9:00 AM on December 13, 2013

Nice to see so many other mentions of the same set of apps I've tried. I've given up on Remember the Milk and Wunderlist, as well as a bunch of other items here. Right now I'm using:

Calendars: Shared Google calendars (one for each family member) as well as shared iCloud calendars. I use the native Mac and iOS calendar applications, but love Fantastical on my phone.

Notes: On my phone right now, I have Simplenote and PlainText, but the one I really like is Vesper. Still no notes syncing, but "real soon".

To Do lists: So, so many. The native Reminders is not bad, and I liked Ita, but I find myself resorting to notes in Vesper. For shared grocery lists we use Our Groceries, which has been very convenient so far.
posted by RedOrGreen at 10:31 AM on December 13, 2013

Asana is a to-do list app specifically designed for collaboration among teams. I've been using it for about four months and I'm enjoying it more as a personal to-do list than as a collaborative tool, although its collaborative functionality is definitely impressive.
posted by Bobby Bittman at 12:08 AM on December 15, 2013

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