EverNote Alternative with Local File saving or iCloud

Discussion in 'Mac Apps and Mac App Store' started by Dirtyharry50, May 29, 2015.

  1. Dirtyharry50, May 29, 2015
    Last edited: May 29, 2015

    Dirtyharry50 macrumors 68000

    Dirtyharry50

    Joined:
    May 17, 2012
    #1
    I am not especially happy with EverNote on 2 accounts. The first is formatting screw ups that seem impossible to correct short of cutting the note, pasting it into something else to fix it and the pasting it back. The second is I am not thrilled about being tied to their cloud service nor paying them a subscription for it.

    My needs are relatively simple. I for the most part just keep lists that are not very long usually or various notes that are also not very long (maybe a page or two max). The option to add graphics, web page clippings or full pages, links to web sites and other files and insert PDFs would all be nice but I can live without these things if need be.

    The big thing is I do not want to subscribe to a service, I'd prefer local storage at least as an option but I am fine with iCloud support if it has that. In fact iCloud support would be a plus. Export to standard .txt or .rtf would also be desirable for individual notes.

    I've been perusing the Mac App Store and cannot seem to find anything that fits the bill here.

    OneNote looks nice but requires a MS account and use of OneDrive for data storage. That is a turn off for me.

    SimpleNote could fit the bill despite being a little simpler than I'd prefer. The price is certainly right being free but it too requires their own cloud for data storage and I don't believe it allows export of any kind. So, it's as bad as EverNote is going to be in that I'll have to copy and paste all notes individually into say TextEdit to back them up. This is a pretty bad little workflow right here consisting of work I should never have to do.

    NotesTab Pro looks nice in some ways. It is simple and I like that your notes are always readily accessible from the menubar. The greatest problem with this app I immediately see is there is almost no organization of notes whatsoever. It does not support folders for notes or even tags to organize them by kind, etc. The only thing you can do is Star favorite notes to put them at the top of a list you cannot order otherwise. So at least your most frequently accessed notes are easy to find immediately. For the others you can do a search of the notes list by title. It does not appear to support searching within a note unfortunately. This one is close but no cigar too given it relies on their own cloud service.

    I don't understand why with iCloud providing a standard cloud experience on every OS X system all these notes apps go their own way with their own cloud services which cost them money besides, other than EverNote who I'm sure makes a tidy profit charging a subscription forever to access your data on theirs.

    This is how far I made it in an evening of searching the App Store and checking some older posts here on this subject in general.

    Does a decent, simple, relatively inexpensive notes app that uses iCloud and/or local storage exist for OS X?

    Oh, one last thing - while a companion iOS app with sync would be nice it isn't really all that important to me. For little shopping lists or reminders on the go so far the Apple Notes app has been good enough.
     
  2. Dirtyharry50 thread starter macrumors 68000

    Dirtyharry50

    Joined:
    May 17, 2012
    #2
    Later that same day...

    Well, further shopping around has led me to two choices that look nice and at the minimum satisfy my requirements and the winners are:

    Notability and Growly Notes

    Both of these seem very nice in their own ways. Notability does feature iCloud support but there are complaints of slow syncing issues and misc bugs in the recent user reviews. On the other hand it seems to get regular updates making improvements. With over 600 reviews it only averages to 3.5 stars though.

    On the other hand, Growly Notes while seemingly less popular (probably for lack of an iOS counterpart though one is in development for iPad) has earned itself a 4.5 star average out of 79 ratings. This app looks to be a very nice OneNote alternative given the folders layout and the way various elements can be placed in notes as desired. It does support syncing in various ways between multiple Macs but this isn't relevant to me personally.

    Growly Notes looks very nice but I am leaning toward Notability which more closely matches what I've been looking even though I'd say it is less fully featured that Growly Notes is overall. Considering Notability is just 10 bucks to get both the Mac and iOS apps in total and Growly Notes is only 5 bucks it isn't going to cost me much to try my first option and switch if I find myself unhappy with it for some reason. An important thing both of these can do is export notes to .rtf format making archival backups and transitioning to something else down the road a simple affair.

    Any feedback from users of either of these two apps?
     
  3. storagewarsale macrumors newbie

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    May 29, 2015
  4. Dirtyharry50 thread starter macrumors 68000

    Dirtyharry50

    Joined:
    May 17, 2012
    #4
    I think you meant Notesuite?

    This app hasn't seen an update since Feb 2014 and user attempts to contact the developer over various issues go unanswered. The conclusion of my reviewers on the app store is this app is dead and perhaps the company that made it is too.

    Thank you for the suggestion though.

    I keep going back and forth between the two I am considering as they both look good for my purposes in different ways but in each case covering the most important basics I was looking for.
     
  5. storagewarsale macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    May 29, 2015
    #5
    NoteSuite

    Yes. That's what I meant. I rarely use it but thanks for your info that the app is "dead":)
     
  6. Michaelgtrusa macrumors 604

    Michaelgtrusa

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    #6
    Have you considered Outline?
     
  7. Dirtyharry50 thread starter macrumors 68000

    Dirtyharry50

    Joined:
    May 17, 2012
    #7
    It's not dead yet!
    Yes it is!
    Is not!

    ;)
     
  8. Dirtyharry50 thread starter macrumors 68000

    Dirtyharry50

    Joined:
    May 17, 2012
    #8
    I wasn't aware of this app. Thank you very much for pointing it out. I went to their site and read up on it. Unfortunately, they do not currently support iCloud and have not made any commitment to doing so although there is a user wish list I guess where it is an item being voted for.

    This looks to offer excellent organizational capability and I like the way the UI looks from the screenshots I saw. Fortunately, for this they offer a 14 day trial on the site so I downloaded that and will give it a spin. The only worrisome thing in particular here is from what I could tell it only exports directly to PDF? I learned a long time ago that one is wise to think about data portability always and while I don't mind proprietary file formats, there needs to always be a way out of them to a common standard at some point down the road.

    Anyway, I wrote to them about that and any plans for iCloud. Meantime I'll check the demo and see what I can find out there about exports. Otherwise though, it does have local saving which is good and I guess I could use DropBox but I really wish those guys weren't so all or nothing. I do not need anywhere near a terabyte of cloud storage and don't want to pay a $100. annually for 100s of gigs I won't be using. On the other hand, the free 2 gigs is rather small. It's a shame they don't sell in increments of say, 100 gigs annually but no.
     
  9. Michaelgtrusa macrumors 604

    Michaelgtrusa

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    #9
    CircusPonies Notebook is worth a try also. You may want to look into one called Together for Mac.
     
  10. Dirtyharry50 thread starter macrumors 68000

    Dirtyharry50

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    May 17, 2012
    #10
    Thanks. I'll go check those out.
     
  11. simonsi macrumors 601

    simonsi

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    Location:
    Auckland
    #11
    What do you need that the Notes app doesn't do?
     
  12. MLinneer macrumors regular

    MLinneer

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    Mar 18, 2013
    Location:
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    #12
    Much like the OP, my note taking needs are fairly simple. A grocery list, some web clippings to research further later, a new birth in the family to add to Reunion later. For most things, Notes works just fine. It updates fast on my iPhone and forces me to keep it simple. If needed, I can print notes without having to reformat everything too.

    I use Evernote for web clippings and Safari's Reading List for whole pages I want to refer back to later. Again, keeping it simple and trying to concentrate on the information rather than the format. I can also print from Evernote without having to waste time reformatting to fit on a page.

    For larger projects, I use Pages and Numbers. I save locally and copy to iCloud if I think I'll need it on another machine or my iPhone. Numbers especially is nice for projects. I keep project related lists, budgets, expenses, and notes on separate tabs and it helps keep everything organized. Being able to adjust a budget or update an expense worksheet while I'm in the store has saved me a lot of work later.

    I've tried OneNote but it doesn't work for me. The tab layout and free form methodology is nice, but it's implementation I find lacking. The worst thing is printing. OneNote doesn't shrink notes to fit within page margins. And the file size can get huge on a large notebook. I've found myself waiting 2-3 minutes while a notebook syncs.
     
  13. Dirtyharry50 thread starter macrumors 68000

    Dirtyharry50

    Joined:
    May 17, 2012
    #13
    Notes is far too simple for the collection of notes I have. It's great for little reminders when I am out and about and just small random bits of info I need to remember short term. It has zero organizational features and no export which are important to me. It's great for what it is and I do use it but it isn't enough for the library of various lists and information I keep in various related groups of notes. Also, as I noted above some added features would be nice as well although they weren't essential.
     
  14. Dirtyharry50, May 29, 2015
    Last edited: May 29, 2015

    Dirtyharry50 thread starter macrumors 68000

    Dirtyharry50

    Joined:
    May 17, 2012
    #14
    I have since fired up Outline trial version and it is a very nice app that is really focused on text notes with a well done UI, great organization and lots of nice features that make bringing in outside data simple along with too many more to list here.

    One huge problem with Outline is that the only file export it supports is PDF. So moving to another app down the road which most of the time is inevitable with the passage of time, there is no way to export a common file format such as .RTF that I'd expect most apps of this kind to import. Being able to export my data frozen in time within a .PDF doesn't help me in this case. I can see the value of that export existing but not for my intended purpose here. Everything else I have looked at offers .RTF and various other file format exports.

    Unfortunately, while they support three cloud options including DropBox, they do not support iCloud. It really frustrates me seeing this over and over again with these apps. They'll support DropBox, Box, MS OneDrive & Sharepoint but not iCloud on a Mac. In fairness, a big selling point of this app in particular for some users is compatibility with OneNote data files living on OneDrive but since OneNote is now free in the Mac App store, I'm not sure how compelling that feature is anymore.

    Since this app will allow local file storage of your data that is a huge plus in my mind that largely negates the lack of iCloud. Since I keep Time Machine running constantly 24/7 whenever the system is awake, I am good in terms of local backups. For occasional archival backups, I can just copy the data file to iCloud drive.

    So, once again close but no cigar.
     
  15. simonsi macrumors 601

    simonsi

    Joined:
    Jan 3, 2014
    Location:
    Auckland
    #15
    Oh cool, just none of that was in your original requirements. Notes has folders but that is it and only an export to pdf.

    I've tried various other apps and use OneNote for more complex stuff and Notes for simple...
     
  16. Dirtyharry50, May 29, 2015
    Last edited: May 29, 2015

    Dirtyharry50 thread starter macrumors 68000

    Dirtyharry50

    Joined:
    May 17, 2012
    #16
    In other news, I remembered that I've had MacJournal version 6 (most current) for a long time now and stopped using it when I lost interest in journaling. Okay, became too lazy for journaling.

    I thought, I'll take a look at this app and see how it might handle notes. Actually, it doesn't look too bad even though that is not it's intended purpose. One can have multiple journals with multiple entries (notes) within each journal thus giving me the basic organization I want. This app saves locally or will sync to DropBox to share data with its companion iOS app.

    So, I thought I'd just visit the app store and review comments there about it that are current for Yosemite, etc. Well, I read 8 comments there, note a one star average for the current version and read the reviews that all mention data loss, in all but one case linked to an upgrade of the iOS version and so pointing to a sync problem being the issue somehow for the Mac version to lose data.

    This is so typical of Mac App Store reviews. Users going insane over a problem but nobody indicating working with the developer on fixing it and recovering their data in this case. If these people read the app's manual, checked the app's support knowledgebase easily accessible from the same place they left their reviews or just looked through the app's menus, they would know that by default it redundantly backs up its data locally on a daily basis and I believe having looked at mine, the default is for 21 days it does this before it replaces the oldest one and so on.

    So, these folks obviously don't think they need Time Machine I guess and they don't know that they have 21 days of backups easily accessed in the app stored locally. I find it very hard to believe all their data is gone in even one single case as such since nobody reported a hard disc failure which of course wouldn't be the developer's fault but then again, anything goes on the internet. Somebody probably would blame the guy.

    All that said, I do feel a wee bit less confident in this app now for a showstopper that bad to have occurred at all. I could try it. I do backup regularly and I even know where my backups are.

    ----------

    You're right. I was kind of thinking out loud as I went and really didn't specify what I wanted very well so it was a good question.
     
  17. Dirtyharry50 thread starter macrumors 68000

    Dirtyharry50

    Joined:
    May 17, 2012
    #17
    And the winner is... (drumroll)

    Growly Notes!

    This does everything I want and a lot more which I might find useful as I experiment with its features and perhaps broaden my note keeping horizons.

    Considering the functionality on offer with this app it is a steal for only 5 bucks. There was some interesting info about the developer on their site. He's been developing Mac software since 1984 and at one time worked at Microsoft in development and management before moving on to other positions.

    On their site which is easily accessible from the Mac App Store page there's also a nice collection of very simple, basic apps and games to download and enjoy for free if any are useful to you. None of these have any kind of nagware, ads, in-app purchases, etc. They are just simple, free apps and games that could be nice for some home users.

    I grabbed a little grocery list manager along with backgammon, solitaire and free cell games. Since I have parrots myself, I got a kick out of the cards that have parrot pics on them.

    Anyway, later on I hope the various comments and feedback here are helpful to someone else searching for something along the lines of what I was.

    Thank you very much to those kind enough to offer helpful feedback and advice. It's always much appreciated.
     
  18. Dirtyharry50 thread starter macrumors 68000

    Dirtyharry50

    Joined:
    May 17, 2012
    #18
    Just thought I'd update for anybody interested. I went through the process of moving all my data from EverNote to Growly Notes today. While I was at it I took the opportunity to improve its organization too. The app is loaded with nice features but it is also easy to just use the most basic stuff initially too. It includes a really nice help note file that fully documents the app in a friendly, easy to understand way.

    I'm very pleased with my choice here. Having seen what it can do I think I am going to take advantage of some features to tie in data from various sources and make better use of this then I did of EverNote which did offer some of the same features but not in as appealing a way for me personally. The thing with EverNote I think is it is very business and work focused which is great if that is what your needs call for. Mine are really home oriented and related to my various interests and pursuits, etc. That said, Growly Notes would also be excellent for work as well, particularly if one chooses the "serious" look. It offers two appearance styles. One looks more like a traditional business app and the other is very colorful (you have complete control over the color scheme and can use various provided note templates or roll your own). It's easy with a preset to tone down the color for a happy medium. I like the fun colorful look myself. It's nice how flexible this app is such that you can really make it your own as to how you like to structure your data and what you want to store and how.

    Great stuff. It's incredible the guy only asks for 5 bucks for this. It's worth a lot more.
     
  19. TinHead88 macrumors regular

    TinHead88

    Joined:
    Oct 30, 2008
    #19
    Well, I got to this thread a bit late but just wanted to add...
    I have been using MacJournal for many years now and never had a single issue. I think it's a great app and the developer is very responsive (I asked him about a small UI issue once and he was very helpful and quick to fix the issue). It has all the features you were looking for except iCloud sync. The only reason I started looking for another app was because I wanted all my notes to be available on all my devices and, like you, I found anything other than iCloud sync unacceptable.

    My solution ended up being Notability. I have made some suggestions to the developer(s) and they told me that my ideas were already in development. Apart from some minor UI issues it ticks all the boxes for me. I would recommend it should you need iOS syncing in the future.
     
  20. Dirtyharry50 thread starter macrumors 68000

    Dirtyharry50

    Joined:
    May 17, 2012
    #20
    I'm happy with Growly Notes as i mentioned above but I'd agree that Notability looks like a nice solution for those needing access to their notes on the go. I more wanted that just for automatic data storage in iCloud so while nice, local saving was fine as I can periodically copy up the file(s) to iCloud Drive.

    Thank you for the info about Mac Journal. I'm glad to hear it is working fine on the Mac. That all sounded like a sync problem and of course, the app already protects against data loss even for those who neglect to save themselves with TimeMachine.

    An update on Outline which I found to also be a very nice looking app with great organization and nice UI is that I wrote to them about iCloud support and they got back to me starting an update with that functionality is in the approval process now for release on the Mac App Store. The significant remaining issue I had with that app was .PDF only exports as I recall. I wrote back asking for clarification on that and any future plans to support other formats such as .RTF for export. I'll try to remember to report back here on that when I hear from them.
     
  21. coachingguy macrumors 6502a

    coachingguy

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    #21
    It might be overkill for what you do, but have you ever looked at DEVONthink? My students use Notability on their iPads for note taking and working with PDF's and then they have it to automatically back up to their school issues Google Drive accounts. Notability has many back up/storage options.
     
  22. Dirtyharry50, Jun 3, 2015
    Last edited: Jun 4, 2015

    Dirtyharry50 thread starter macrumors 68000

    Dirtyharry50

    Joined:
    May 17, 2012
    #22
    Thanks for the suggestion to consider DEVONthink. That looks very interesting. I made a note to myself to look into that further in the future.

    Although it is an ancient app that really wasn't all that like what DEVONthink appears to be at first glance, I was reminded of Lotus Agenda when I was reading about it. As I recall it was the first application of its kind and spawned the term personal information manager (PIM) back then. I wondered if you might recall it as well. I used that when it was new and while complex to get a handle on at first it did some wonderful things for me. This was an MS-DOS app that I probably ran on a then speedy 286 computer.

    I really like their EasyFind app by the way.

    I'm pretty happy with Growly Notes for my purposes for the time being overall.
     
  23. Dirtyharry50, Jun 3, 2015
    Last edited: Jun 4, 2015

    Dirtyharry50 thread starter macrumors 68000

    Dirtyharry50

    Joined:
    May 17, 2012
    #23
    In other news, I got a reply from the folks who make Outline indicating my suggestions related to export would be forwarded to the developers. I'd included my reasoning in that data portability is important with any app you invest a lot of time into generating data with.

    So, I guess we'll just have to stay tuned for updates on that one. The lack of export would absolutely rule it out for me personally.

    I am just adding this info as it came in for the benefit of anybody else looking into the options for notes apps.
     

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