Taking Notes
March 10, 2004 5:33 PM   Subscribe

It's embarrassing but a real need: Is there a simple one-click way, freely downloadable or hidden somewhere, to keep a permanent notebook while surfing and writing? I'm on an imac with OS X/Safari. [More inside.]

I'm afraid that, apart from one-time-only cut & save, I still have to jot down my comments in a little notebook I keep next to the keyboard. What I'd like is something I could click which would keep all my cuttings, addresses and thoughts. Thanks beforehand for any suggestions and explanations.
posted by MiguelCardoso to Computers & Internet (32 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Stickies? Or do you need something more organized?
posted by zsazsa at 5:39 PM on March 10, 2004

Do you know you can type in anywhere, then highlight it, hold down the apple key and just drag it all to the desktop? I keep all sorts of notes and things there.
posted by amberglow at 5:42 PM on March 10, 2004

This is not the answer you are looking for at all, but Microsoft OneNote (a part of Office 2003) does exactly that (and more), and has totally changed my computer use patterns. It's the first piece of software to do so since I got introduced to the concept of a web browser.

Disclaimer: I work for Microsoft.
posted by blindcarboncopy at 5:52 PM on March 10, 2004

StickyBrain is great. Through a contextual menu you can save anything you select in any app and StickyBrain will automatically tag it with the URL where you pulled it or other info if it's not from a website. I use it for exactly the purposes you need it for, Miguel. You can also get it free if you are a .mac member although it is no linger listed as a freebie at .mac, it actually still is free.
posted by anathema at 6:01 PM on March 10, 2004

Try this migs, it sounds like it can do what you want. It also has a Services menu item, so can take text from any application.

PS: Ignore the screenshot on the download page. If you turn off toolbars and some of the more esoteric stuff, you've basically got Mail.app for storing notes. The interface is slightly funky in places - there are some tiny icons that sit in the status bar and that don't have clearly defined roles, but the developer likes 'em that way (I asked him).
posted by bonaldi at 6:20 PM on March 10, 2004

OS X comes with something called TextEdit. It's in your Applications folder. Save a file called notebook, and type away. There are lots more programs with lots more functionality like tabs and cross linking, but if you just want someplace to put notes, that'll do it for you.
posted by willnot at 6:28 PM on March 10, 2004

I've heard good things about Omni Group's Omni Outliner.
posted by kirkaracha at 6:58 PM on March 10, 2004

If you want to get really tricky, set up a wiki, then keep it open in a tab.
posted by hyperizer at 6:58 PM on March 10, 2004

As far as I'm concerned, Notational Velocity is a reason to switch to Mac. Since you're already on a Mac, you're in luck. It's free.
posted by dobbs at 7:19 PM on March 10, 2004

I second the vote for Notational Velocity. It is the biggity bong.
posted by tcaleb at 7:21 PM on March 10, 2004

MacJournal is another option. I used it for general note-taking on my last Mac. (Haven't set it up yet on the new one.)
posted by mcwetboy at 7:27 PM on March 10, 2004

I use Project Builder which comes with the Developer Tools. It's meant for coding, but it organizes notes quite well. Just a little copy and paste magic. More about using it this way here.
posted by Mo Nickels at 7:33 PM on March 10, 2004

You can also get it free if you are a .mac member although it is no linger listed as a freebie at .mac, it actually still is free.

posted by Mo Nickels at 7:40 PM on March 10, 2004

Looks like I spoke too soon, Mo. Sorry. For a while after StickyBrain was removed from the .mac page if you clicked on the other Chronos deal (F10 Launch Studio) on .mac it would bring you to a page where StickyBrain was still available for free.
posted by anathema at 8:38 PM on March 10, 2004

Response by poster: I'm sorry, but I remain baffled. I downloaded everything suggested (many, many thanks!) but all the solutions imply what I would call an "interruptive energy", cutting the flow and asking for titles and stuff.

I guess what I wanted (the equivalent of a permanently available infinite page which would automatically register and accumulate the comments I'd jot down) doesn't exist.

Perhaps a notebook next to the keyboard is best? At least you can refer to it and get everything in its proper order?

Though I have to confess I couldn't really understand how Stickies or Text Edit work - they keep asking me to organize stuff, when all I wanted was a continous "sheet", with no organizing or fuss.

I'm sorry if this sounds deranged... ;)
posted by MiguelCardoso at 9:06 PM on March 10, 2004

Miguel, why not simply open a Word document that fits as a sidebar on your desktop? Create the document in such a fashion that its page attributes fit perfectly with a 3 inch wide bar on the side of your screen. That way it never disappears, never becomes covered (because you'll fit the rest of your program windows to sit next to it), and you can save it at anytime. Plus you'll have the access of Word formatting and easy manipulation should you choose to print/paste later.
posted by BlueTrain at 9:18 PM on March 10, 2004

Sorry, Miguel, but it looks like your best hope is to wait for Opera 7/Mac to be finally released (or to just keep a normal text editor open, as has been suggested). [And yes, I never miss an opportunity to plug Opera.]
posted by kickingtheground at 9:25 PM on March 10, 2004

I'd like to second the vote for TextEdit, I almost always have a "notes" document open, and use it for everything from funny quotations to jotting down phone numbers to writing reminders for myself (knowing i look at the doc often). Not sure what organizational issues you are talking about, you just create a file and it works exactly like an endless page.

[on preview: BlueTrain has the idea, i just use textedit because i find it less cluttery than word for plain text notes]
posted by rorycberger at 9:32 PM on March 10, 2004

i just organize notes in a text file, but unlike the people who use textpad my editor of choice is subethaedit.

i do understand that xpad is pretty handy, but i haven't had a lot of time to play with it.
posted by boogah at 10:50 PM on March 10, 2004

Miguel, if you are willing to switch to Firefox Mozilla, they have an extension called Quicknote that lets you click and paste into a side panel.
posted by timyang at 12:59 AM on March 11, 2004

I am with others who are a bit confused about what you want, Miguel, that having any plain text editor open while you are browsing won't do... But I will point out VoodooPad (which looks megacool), for anyone else interested in this question. (Also note that there is "VoodooPad Lite" for free.)

If you did decide you wanted to try this, I bet you could get one of your smartypants MeFi Mac pals to help you with the installation...

On the other hand, if the point is that you don't want to bothered with saving the file every time you add a note, you may want to look at xPad.
posted by taz at 2:18 AM on March 11, 2004

posted by blueshammer at 5:11 AM on March 11, 2004

You can also have a text document (or any document) open automatically each time you start up, Miguel:

(from Mac Help) Open System Preferences and click Login Items. Click Add then select an application or document. Drag items in the list to change the order in which they open.
posted by amberglow at 5:18 AM on March 11, 2004

Similar products for Windows users?
posted by vraxoin at 6:16 AM on March 11, 2004

I use xPad, Miguel, and I have a feeling you will too.
posted by tenseone at 7:08 AM on March 11, 2004

Stickies, stickies, stickies. Migs- just create one long sticky along the side of your monitor. It automatically saves itself, and preserves state across reboots.
posted by mkultra at 7:48 AM on March 11, 2004

Yeah, stickies might be the easiest. There's even a Service menu item so that you can select text and shuttle it directly to a new sticky (cmd-shift-Y) from any compliant app.
posted by adamrice at 8:19 AM on March 11, 2004

Notational Velocity is great! thanks dobbs, thanks tcaleb
posted by matteo at 10:52 AM on March 11, 2004

No prob matteo. I think it's really easy to dismiss at first but to me, it's a dream. Glad you like it. I looked for years on Windows for something like this with no luck.
posted by dobbs at 11:04 AM on March 11, 2004

Response by poster: Wow, thanks!

Although I now have so many notebooks that it's like a whole new Internet spreading across my screen and having to decide between them is really cutting into my spontaneity. Nah, I'm trying out several of the nifty solutions suggested and am sure one will be ideal. ;)
posted by MiguelCardoso at 1:00 PM on March 11, 2004

Similar products for Windows users?
I use tsDesk, which I found out about here. It works extremely well, but the link to it seems to now be unavailable :-(
posted by dg at 2:42 PM on March 11, 2004

For Windows, there's The Brain.
posted by muckster at 11:21 PM on March 11, 2004

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