Sean Sperte

Plain text in a field

15 March 2012

Let me start off this post by ensuring you that I have, in fact, tried the notes app you use and love and think is the best and want to recommend to me. I’ve tried them all. A few I can recite, from memory: Byword, Elements, iA Writer, Quick Note, Note, Simplenote, Notational Velocity, nvAlt, Nottingham, Apple Mail, Write Room, VoodooPad, Notesy, Evernote, PlainText, OneNote, DEVONthink…

Maybe I’m being too ambitious, thinking I can have a simple text editor combo (desktop and mobile app) that is just the right amount of simplicity without sacrificing function. Maybe I’m naive to think that Apple’s Notes app on iOS is almost perfect, but would be better if it supported some form of simple organization scheme. Maybe I’m stupid to suggest that a desktop app feel like it was made for the Mac, but not weighed down with feature-bloat and mostly useless functionality.

Maybe not.

Here’s what, in my mind, would make for the perfect desktop and mobile combination note taking apps.


On the desktop it doesn’t take much. Notational Velocity is almost there, but drives me nuts with it’s strange (to the Mac) experience conventions. One example is with the creation of a new note – why in the world can’t I create a new note with ⌘-N? Those kinds of oddities or omissions are deal-breakers for me.

The perfect desktop notes app would:

Mountain Lion’s Notes app looks promising, but is limited by lack of organizational functionality. Same goes for the iOS version(s).


The perfect mobile notes app should be similarly focussed. Simplenote is near pitch-perfect here. It’s just plain text in a field. It has a simple organizational schema (via tags), is quick and light weight, and has search. It’s most glaring problem, for me, is its lack of desktop counterpart.

So, my ideal mobile notes app would:

(As an aside, can someone tell me why it’s so hard for an iOS app to support moving of notes/files from one location on Dropbox to another?)

The combination

When it comes down to it, it’s the combination of desktop plus mobile that I can’t seem to find. I actually don’t mind Evernote on the Mac (even though it’s overkill for what I want), but don’t like its iOS version(s). I like Simplenote on my iPhone, but there’s no version for Mac (and the iPad version is sort of ho-hum). I’m stuck in this no-man’s land of apps that get passable grades on one platform but flunk the other.

For me, a notes app combo must:

That’s it. That’s all it takes to win me as a customer. If you want to charge me $19.99 for each app, that’s fine. If you want to charge me $45 per year, that’s fine, too. As long as you deliver on those items I listed above, you can have my money.