Notebook App w/ Offline Storage

Discussion in 'Mac Apps and Mac App Store' started by Egk, May 11, 2015.

  1. Egk macrumors newbie

    May 7, 2014

    I've spent a lot of time agonising over finding a decent notebook app. I have found a few that I liked like Outline, Evernote and OneNote, but they have their faults. No offline storage (the only killer here for OneNote), annoying behavior (Outline), bad interface (Evernote), and there are so many that rely on sync or a subscription.

    I'm a bit dumbfounded, isn't there a decent notebook application that doesn't rely on sync? Essentially I just want to keep notes in a hierarchical order using folders, sub-folders and notes.

    I actually liked Apple Notes, until I moved a note from one folder and it deleted all the information within. No recourse, just all gone. Apple and sync, eh? :rolleyes:

    Are there any other apps that have decent text editing functionality, and a way to add links, images and store notes like I described above?

    I have tried the following:
    - Notebooks (hate the text editing functionality)
    - Simplenote (sync, nope!)
    - NoteSuite (tries to be more than necessary, last updated over a year ago..)
    - Notesmartly (tries to be everything, sync based)

    So... I know I am fuzzy, but ironically I just want very basic functionality. Any suggestions?
  2. exegete77 macrumors 6502a

    Feb 12, 2008
    A couple possibilities, both are far more than that, but one is affordable, the other on the expensive side [but it is much more powerful if needed].

    Scrivener [$45], a writing app, but it can do so much more. I have the entire curriculum of our seminary in one project. I keep all my blog posts in another, and another for book reviews. And I have only scratched the surface. Very usable interface, easy to move items around in folders, sub folders.

    Tinderbox [$245], multiple views of same data, linking, searching, etc. Again, it is high end but probably will outlive any use you can throw at it. Read some of the stories of its uses. You’ll be amazed.

    I have both, using Scrivener on a daily basis, and Tinderbox for specialized projects.
  3. sracer macrumors 604


    Apr 9, 2010
    Here's something I've posted in the past that might be helpful:

    I have settled on Notational Velocity-like tools with the plain text stored in DropBox.

    It is Cross-Platform
    • iOS: Notesy (WriteRoom, etc.)
    • Android: Draft
    • Windows: ResophNotes
    • OSX: nvALT
    • Individual apps can be swapped out as new/more functional ones appear without impacting the other platforms

    It is future-proof
    • Plain text is universal
    • Doesn't depend upon a particular application or file format
    • Highly compact and portable
    • Easy to migrate to a rich-text format

    Back in the day, I used tools like KeyNote, and RightNote after that... but those were Windows-only and standalone workstation only, so as I relied on my smartphone more and more (Windows Mobile) I needed to transition away from tools like that.

    I then tried EverNote. When EverNote started out, it was lean and very responsive... then it suffered from creepingfeaturitis and it is now a convoluted bloated behemoth, IMO.
  4. rhett7660 macrumors G5


    Jan 9, 2008
    Sunny, Southern California
    I agree with what you have said, having said that, I have found Notebooks to be the most useful followed by Evernote. Evernote to me has become way to bloated. I still have over a thousand notes in it and use it for a good majority of my work, but man it is a getting to be a pain. Especially with all the sharing crap they have put into it.

    Notebooks does suck at editing. It is bad, but I have learned to work around it's short falls and it has been pretty good for doing just that. Taking notes, keeping them in folders etc. I like the fact I can get it on all my devices (within the Mac realm of course). But the editing can be painful. Here is hoping they add some more functionality to it. The Developer has said they are working on it, but it has been awhile.
  5. nefan65 macrumors 65816


    Apr 15, 2009
    I'd be interested in what you find out as well. I used Evernote for a while, and even bought a year subscription to their Premium offering. But like others have said, it's become a tad bloated. I ended up rolling back to the built in notes that come with OS X. I can add notes, etc offline and they sync up when connected. I'm all Apple anyway, so it's already on all my devices. But the formatting isn't great, and doesn't really do pics, snips, etc. that well.

    I tried OmniFocus, and it's too much. I want it simple/easy, but some formatting. Hopefully the next release of OS X will add some features...?
  6. dyn macrumors 68030

    Aug 8, 2009
    No wonder OmniFocus didn't work. It's an app for a todo system (mostly GTD) which is something completely different than a notebook app.
  7. Egk thread starter macrumors newbie

    May 7, 2014
    Thanks for all the posts and suggestions! Here is a brief answer to them before I go on my own:

    Scrivener: It's great, I have tried, never really got into it unfortunately. Doesn't have the right feel
    Tinderbox: Seems to be everything and it's ugly :(

    Plain text is just a bit too plain. Although I agree on it being future proof, it wouldn't be suitable for me. I can be incredibly productive and write a lot, and I need ways to differentiate certain things I wanted to do (marking, tagging) very easily.

    Evernote has a horrible interface on the Mac and it's a death of 1000 papercuts (annoyances) every time I use it.

    Notebooks isn't viable due to bad editing. I spent most of my time brainstorming, organising and editing.

    After Notes messed up a note for me I won't rely on it again. Apple and sync? Just no. I'm actually trying to find ways to get off Apple (not hardware) due to it. It wouldn't be so bad if one had proper support, but it's incredibly lacking.

    OmniFocus isn't for taking notes and keeping them, it's for creating projects and project actions. I use it, but I want something complementary for my project notes.

    I have actually decided to bite the bullet and go for Onenote actually. The only thing I hate about it is the sync issue, but none of the other applications was up to par with it anyway. Most of the other applications either did too much or too little, or had annoyances that would just piss me off little by little.

    Since Onenote is what I want, except for the sync part, I decided to go for it. I'm not happy, but there aren't any good alternatives (that I found) and I'm tired of spending time looking for now.
  8. sracer macrumors 604


    Apr 9, 2010
    I still have issues with OneNote reliably syncing. It drives me nuts. As for plain text, the apps that I use also support markdown so I can do some basic formatting... enough to differentiate things but not so much that it bogs me down.
  9. rhett7660 macrumors G5


    Jan 9, 2008
    Sunny, Southern California
    Did you happen to setup another email account that has had the notes function? This happened to me when I setup another gmail account and left the notes on it. It took away one of my notes. Random at best, but it did happen to me also. Other than that one issue the notes have synced without any problems. I have since turned off the note functionality in all of my email accounts with the exception of my main account and I have had no issues with the syncing.

    One thing I can say about notebooks, even though it is lacking, if you are skilled in markup (i know enough to get me by), the markup capabilities are nice. However if you want to embed a document or picture, that is something different all together. That is where Evernote excels in my book.

    OneNote is ok. I seems to work better in a MS environment than one that is mixed.

    Let us know how you like it after you have had a few weeks or months to play with it!
  10. Egk thread starter macrumors newbie

    May 7, 2014
    I didn’t set up another email account. Everything was Apple-only.

    Even with markup it’s not good enough, I need to highlight, tag to-do’s and things like that.

    A pure MS environment is what I am mostly used to (growing up with it), though there are a few apps that keeps me from using it. It’s not really that much of a big deal, except that I’m still having issues with bluetooth and wireless. Decided to buy a wired keyboard since it’s so bad. Really disappointed, but that is another topic.
  11. dyt1983, May 13, 2015
    Last edited: Jun 6, 2015

    dyt1983 macrumors 65816

    May 6, 2014
    edit: to remove personally identifying information not relevant to the thread.
  12. rhett7660 macrumors G5


    Jan 9, 2008
    Sunny, Southern California
    Interesting, again let us know how it works for you! Will be interested in hearing the results. :)
  13. tacticalvi macrumors newbie

    Oct 24, 2013
    I was in this situation about a week ago. Spent hours and hours researching and trying different applications out. Although far from perfect, I went to OneNote in the end.

    My reasons (I'm a uni student using it for taking uni notes):

    • It's more of a notebook than a scrapbook. It's great for writing and much better than Evernote in this respect. It has some decent formatting options (but missing line spacing which I find quite frustrating). I know many advocate Markdown instead but in my experience, Markdown is great for writing for the web but for note taking, it's just lacking.
    • Access everywhere. There's a Mac, Windows, Android, iOS app. And there's an online version.
    • Can access offline.
    • Great structure. You can create notebooks > section groups > sections > pages

    Some things that I don't like about it:

    • Slow-ish sync. It's not terribly slow but definitely not as fast as Simplenote.
    • Can't export to word on Mac version.
    • No line spacing format.

    Why I didn't choose:

    • Evernote: Poor export options; 60MB per month sync limit for free account; no offline access on iOS and Android apps for free account; cluttered and confusing interface but this can be resolved by using Alternote.
    • Text files / Markdown: somewhat frustrating to write for taking notes and adding images. Manually organise files.
  14. rhett7660 macrumors G5


    Jan 9, 2008
    Sunny, Southern California
    Agreed, until you learn markdown and are good at it, it is can be very frustrating. Interesting another person is going to OneNote.
  15. Egk thread starter macrumors newbie

    May 7, 2014
    I have been surprisingly happy with my choice. Despite the differences (and lack of local notebooks) in the Mac/Win version, I am happy about it.

    They have a website,, which serves as a place for OneNote users to vote on important functions etc. I'd rather fight for local notebooks and function parity, than using an alternative I won't be happy with.

    So far I have been very happy with my choice, especially after I found OneNote on Uservoice. I do believe that the crew will listen to those that want certain features (though it could be crushed by upper management, like local notebooks).

    It will also be interesting to experiment with the iPhone and iPad version. I bought a stylus and will test it, and I will update here once I have sufficient experience.
  16. Fuchal macrumors 68020

    Sep 30, 2003
    I was about to leave Evernote, but Alternote stopped me. I really like using it.
  17. rhett7660 macrumors G5


    Jan 9, 2008
    Sunny, Southern California
    This looks good! My only fear, is if they do not get enough business it will be done, and since it isn't built and maintained by Evernote, well we would be out of luck.

    But I like it! Might have to pick it up.

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