App to replace old-school notecard method
December 1, 2018 4:34 PM   Subscribe

I currently use Bear as my primary notetaking tool, and I like it a lot. However, I've lately been thinking about a method of notetaking I used to use in school that was based on organizign 3x5 cards. I figure there must be an app that works this way.

I don't know what the proper name is, but I picked it up from a professor of mine. He'd write his notes on 3x5 cards and then "tag" them by sorting them into a box organized with tabs for various topics.

I figure there must be a digital solution for this. Bear lets me tag my notes, but it's at the level of the entire document. What I'd like is a way to split everything up into discrete notes so that the next time I am working on or writing something related to a specific topic, I can pull up the tag and see all of the individual notes I have on that tag.

I'd really like something that works for Mac and iOS, and that syncs between devices. Any ideas?
posted by synecdoche to Computers & Internet (10 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
Might Google Keep work for you? I use it a lot.
posted by Schmucko at 5:06 PM on December 1, 2018 [1 favorite]

Seconding Google Keep - it can be as complicated or simple as you want it to be and access it anywhere.

(I first heard of Merlin Mann's "Hipster PDA" (index card-filing system) back in 2004 and it got me through my twenties in a nice way. )
posted by Merinda at 5:27 PM on December 1, 2018

Was the notecard method like Umberto Eco's How to Write a Thesis method?

(Google Keep is all I can think of)
posted by batter_my_heart at 5:59 PM on December 1, 2018

This is exactly what Notational Velocity is for. Or Simplenote, but Notational Velocity is the platonic ideal of elegantly designed (if aesthetically 2010ish) simplicity.
posted by tapir-whorf at 5:59 PM on December 1, 2018

posted by Tamanna at 8:25 PM on December 1, 2018

Ulysses has “sheets” that can be as short as one line. Instead of being organized at the level a document you can tag and group the sheets and “glue” them into longer pieces that you can view in a continuous scroll. The “filters” feature would also help you do what you want, I think. (Note: it is a subscription, but the one fee gets you both the iOS and Mac versions)
posted by delezzo at 10:52 PM on December 1, 2018

There's a very niche MacOS app called The Archive which is explicitly a digital recreation of 3 x 5 notecard style systems, including automatic linking between cards. It's a really, really nice note taking app, but it doesn't yet have an iOS companion app, which limits its usefulness quite a bit.
posted by Happy Dave at 1:19 AM on December 2, 2018

Also you could probably do this with Scrivener, which allows you to add links to other documents (cards) within the body of the document, has custom metadata for every document (so you can go to town with colour coding or whatever), has a really good iOS app and is also an incredibly powerful word processing and organisation app.
posted by Happy Dave at 1:23 AM on December 2, 2018

Bear can do what you want it to do, you just need to make more discrete notes and keep the tag (and subtag) system active. Swapping to other suggest apps (Evernote & Simplenote) won’t do you any good, they have the same features (actually, possibly slightly less in a not-so-good way) as Bear (in a less pleasing aesthetic in my personal opinion). Ulysses is a bit more advanced and can also do what you want (as mentioned by delezzo) but I actually moved from Ulysses to Bear earlier this year for a few minor reasons.

Additionally, you could probably try Trello.
posted by Baphomet's Prime at 10:17 AM on December 2, 2018

Technically you could do this on Mac but probably not iOS. Probably not up your ally but just maybe.

I use Vim and the Vimwiki plugin to do 80x24 (character) 'cards' approximating the 3x5 experience. It's basically just a function/mode of my preferred editor. Other editors might have the same Wiki type functionality but probably have the same no iOS app problem. (but they do mostly all export to HTML so you can browse. Or you could be fancy and save your Wiki to Dropbox or GDrive and edit them by other means from your device.)
posted by zengargoyle at 11:30 AM on December 2, 2018

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