What App/System You Use For A General Journal?

Discussion in 'Mac Apps and Mac App Store' started by Traverse, Mar 22, 2015.

  1. Traverse macrumors 604

    Traverse

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    #1
    By journal, I don't mean like a daily diary, but I wanted a central place for my general thoughts, ideas, things to remember, and the like. Basically, just a general journal. I want to be able to have folders to categories things (i.e. "Opinions," "General Thoughts," etc.)

    I've been using Write with markdown, but the iPhone app has never been updated and I'm not a huge fan of writing in Markdown. I've considered Apple's Notes app, but that's not readily available for backing up (you have to go into the system library and copy the folder to back it up.)

    I've spent 1.5 years trying various apps and services. What do you use for a general journaling app?
     
  2. firedept macrumors 603

    firedept

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    #3
    I'll second MacJournal. Benn using it for about 6 months and have been pretty happy with it.
     
  3. zhenya macrumors 603

    zhenya

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    #4
    OneNote.

    Or Evernote.

    I prefer OneNote by and large because it's such a good digital representation of a notebook. Everything goes in there for me; from writing to screen captures, to research to recipes, to trip planning. Anything I want to remember.
     
  4. saberahul macrumors 68040

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    #5
    Sublime Text; simple text editor that I can organize into files/folders/tags in any way I like. Might be too basic for many.
     
  5. Traverse thread starter macrumors 604

    Traverse

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    #6
    The iOS versions have bad reviews, but I may be dropping my iPad anyway.

    ----------

    Have you considered OS X's Notes app for basic functionality?
     
  6. Traverse thread starter macrumors 604

    Traverse

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    #7
    How does MacJournal save your notes? Are they individual files in the Finder that you can backup or saved in a proprietary package file?
     
  7. beachmusic macrumors regular

    beachmusic

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    #8
    Might be to much of a diary but what about Day One?
     
  8. MisterMe macrumors G4

    MisterMe

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    #9
    MacJournal allows you to maintain multiple journals. Each journal is a file that contains all entries for that journal.
     
  9. Traverse thread starter macrumors 604

    Traverse

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    #10
    I've tried that, but it was too much of a daily diary like you said. I need a general writing app.

    ----------

    Thanks. I tried to download the trial from their site but it said "The Disk Image is Not Recognized" and wouldn't open.

    ----------

    It also has 1 out of 5 starts in the MAS! :eek:

    But it looks very interesting.
     
  10. zhenya macrumors 603

    zhenya

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    #11
    Really, check out OneNote. It's a fantastic digital representation of a paper notebook and extremely straightforward and easy to use. It's also one of Microsoft's core products, so there is no concern about support going away or them making massive changes that destroys old note compatibility. In the last year they have gotten extremely aggressive about updating it, and it's now available in highly functional versions on OSX, iOS, the web, and of course, Windows. You can access and edit any of your notes from any of those platforms, and everything just seamlessly stays in sync.

    I've said for years that OneNote was Microsoft's best-kept secret. They are finally starting to get really serious about marketing it.
     
  11. JoeFkling macrumors regular

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    #12
    I have used Day one but not a regular daily user. But the iCloud sync across devices works well.
     
  12. sracer macrumors 603

    sracer

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    #13
    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

    I know that you said that you don't like MarkDown, but I use it sparingly and when it makes sense.

    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.




    OneNote is great. And it has come a long way. I'm using it for those things where plain text notes are not sufficient.

    But one of the downsides of using OneNote (but not unique to OneNote) is that it is highly proprietary. If a file gets corrupted (and it has on occasion) there is little if anything that can be done to recover the data... often the entire notebook is lost.

    For those who are cross-platform: The capabilities of OneNote differ depending upon the platform. That can be quite irritating.


    For most people these aren't issues... but for those of us who are cross-platform and rely on such a journaling type tool, it is something to be aware of.
     
  13. Traverse thread starter macrumors 604

    Traverse

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    #14
    Thanks for the suggestions. I've done quite of bit of googling and Notational Velocity always comes up.


    These are excellent posts as well. I like the plain text/folder hierarchy system because it's readily able to be backed up. With certain apps like OneNote you can't get to your actual work and, like you said, if the program fails you could lose everything.

    OneNote's export to PDF function is also very inconsistent across platform :mad:

    Exporting the same note from OS X, iOS, and Windows leads to completely different results.
     
  14. zhenya macrumors 603

    zhenya

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    #15
    I have been using OneNote heavily for about 10 years, including in our organization where we share many notebooks across the entire organization and many of them are gigabytes in size. We have never, to my knowledge, lost a notebook to corruption (and I would know as I'm the sys-admin). The files can be backed up just like any other file, so even if one is corrupted, you can revert to a previous version.

    Yes, the file is proprietary, but really, so what? That's the price you pay to get far more capabilities in your software. If it's some unknown startup asking me to use their proprietary file type, then yes, I'm wary, as I have no idea how good their programming skills are, or how long they are likely to be around supporting their program. In that case, plain text might be a good idea - but then you are paying the price of not being able to include anything but text in your notes. My digital life consists of a lot more than plain text. When it's Microsoft Office defining the file type, I'm a lot less worried about that. I don't worry about my .doc or .xls files being a 'proprietary' format. Do you?

    Features do differ a bit across platforms, but with Microsoft's new strategy of making their software available anywhere at any time, that has changed dramatically in just the last few months. And in any case, any of the versions they offer give way more flexibility and options than restricting yourself to a text file.

    The thing that is of most value to me in program like OneNote is that it expressly gets me away from individual files, which are difficult to manage, and easy to lose.
     
  15. sracer macrumors 603

    sracer

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    #16
    And with that reversion back to a previous version all data that was added since that save is still lost.

    Your experience of never losing data in OneNote may be true for many, but not for all. And since you are a sys-admin you know that all software contains bugs, no matter how mature. Visiting the Microsoft forums would confirm that yes, even OneNote has bugs... bugs that can compromise data.


    I'm puzzled by your defensiveness regarding OneNote. It's as if any observation about it that is not glowing is taken as a personal affront. I was quite clear as to why and when I use plain text files and when I use OneNote.

    My observations and concerns about OneNote may not be applicable to your use, but that doesn't mean that is has no merit for others.
     
  16. zhenya macrumors 603

    zhenya

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    #17
    My personal and our business backups happen throughout the day, some as frequently as every 15 minutes or so; others in real-time. You can lose data in a text file that becomes corrupted or gets deleted - with the same exact results - you lose all data up to your last backup. OneNote has the further safety of having it's own internal recycle bin, and it keeps a page version every time you change the page. So as long as the entire notebook isn't corrupted, you have access to those backups as well.

    Sorry if I come across as defensive - I'm really not. I have no issue with you using whatever you like - I'm just pointing out that a lot of the issues that people perceive with a program like OneNote aren't really issues any more than they are with any other file type.
     
  17. Partron22 macrumors 68000

    Partron22

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    #18
    I use Yojimbo as a general Journal/junk folder. It comes with various predefined document types; notes, passwords, Images, bookmarks, websites etc., and you can create your own. Beyond that, you can tag your various entries with keywords that'll show up in a nicely alphabetized list. Search works on either one particular note, or every note in your database. The latest version does efficient (non-iCloud) cross-device syncing, if that's something you want.
    Yojimbo's a good solid piece of software written by the same folks that gave us TextWrangler and BBEdit.
     
  18. JuryDuty macrumors 6502

    JuryDuty

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    #19
    For me, it's all Evernote. I've tried a TON of other apps, but so many of them aren't available on all devices, include unique backend code instead of just using standard fonts, etc. You can't go wrong with the simplicity and robustness of Evernote.
     
  19. sarah11918 macrumors member

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    #20
    For personal jottings (notes, reminders, rough drafts, snippets etc) that are just text and that I want synced between my Mac and my phone/tablet, I use Simplenote as a back end for the main storage/sync and different clients for accessing the notes.

    On my Mac, I use MetaNota. It hasn't been updated in a long time, and it's not one of the better known apps, but it's perfectly fine for writing and organizing through tagging (no folders, just tags. Not my preference, but it works well enough).

    At the time, Simplenote didn't have its own Mac OS client, but now it does. Each have their advantages depending on what you want to use the notes for. Simplenote allows you to one click "publish" your note where it can be viewed if people know the URL. MetaNota has a few editing features that I like. There are other Mac clients that sync with Simplenote, too, (Notational Velocity being one of them) and there's always the web interface for accessing directly through a browser.

    On Android, I now use the actual Simplenote client, but I was using "Notational Acceleration" which was based on Notational Velocity before the Simplenote client existed. Again, there are a few mobile choices for Android, so there probably are a handful for iOS, too. But on Android, I find the SimpleNote app is just fine.

    I've found the whole thing to be extremely reliable. I can't recall one single problem with Simplenote syncing in the years I've used it. Notes are locally on my devices even when not connected to wifi, so I can always access them, and work offline and sync later.

    Now, these are simply text-based notes that I generally don't share with anyone, and don't print etc. (although both those things can be done). I really only use it for personal writing, rough drafts that I'll then copy and paste into another program for real writing or jotting down notes. But for those purposes, it has been as reliable as I could have hoped for.
     
  20. Traverse thread starter macrumors 604

    Traverse

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    #21
    Why use Simplenote for sync when you can sync .txt files using Dropbox or OneDrive?

    ---

    EDIT: I never realized how popular Simplenote is. It continually came up when googling potential apps.
     
  21. neutrino23 macrumors 68000

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    #22
    I second the support for plain text. I used to keep notes in a word processing app but ran in to version issues (not too terrible). Plain text is great.

    Depending on what your exact needs are you might try setting up a simple system using plain text files (I like Tex-edit Plus but others work) and folders to organize things. This way you can test out some organizational ideas without having to commit to an app.

    If you have the skill you could write some simple AppleScripts or use Hazel to automate the organization. You could have a sort of inbox and when files were dropped in there the scripts would automatically store them and maybe document the location in your journal.

    When I was running sales reps in Asia I setup something like this with Applescript. I could clip an email then automatically send it to the appropriate file and folder.

    Currently I keep a simple diary in a plain text file. I use AppleScript to automatically plug in the dates.

    An added feature is that I can use spotlight to find the appropriate year file when searching.
     
  22. sarah11918 macrumors member

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    #23
    For me, it's because Simplenote (or whichever client you use to access it) is actually an editing app in addition to being the sync app, and I quite like using the apps I have for it to do the actual writing.

    I'm not thrilled with using Dropbox on my phone because (and maybe it's just that I'm not a super-experienced Dropbox user) I have to go into the Dropbox app, navigate through my folder system to get the file I want, open in and select in which app I want to open it, and then I get the file. I'm guessing there are ways to keep certain folders on your phone in sync with Dropbox, but it's not something I really ever got into since that's not how I use Dropbox. (I use it for other things, but not really text stuff.)

    Right now, I "simply" open the SimpleNote app and I'm reading/editing an up-to-date, instantly-syncing version of the file right away.

    It's the same thing (though not as cumbersome) on the laptop. Yes, I could have a plain text file in Dropbox that's easy to find and click on in Finder, but then I still need to choose which app to use to edit/view the file. And honestly, right now MetaNota is my app of preference as a quick text editor anyway (though as a result of this thread I'm giving the official Simplenote Mac app another go), so I feel like I'm skipping a step I'd otherwise have with Dropbox.

    And, I also have the option of logging in to Simplenote online in any browser and editing right within the website, too. Accessing Simplenote online via the browser is also an editor, not just a filesystem. (It doesn't come up often, but being to access things through any old browser is a good option to have when you travel, for example, and sometimes want to use a hotel's business centre's computer for something.)

    So, syncing .txt files when I don't really have a text editor I like any better than these clients just doesn't make a lot of sense for me. Of course, I understand why people like to have text files around and in their cloud/folder systems.

    For my purposes, with it being more of a scratch pad, a place for rough drafts or random exerpts of writing, things to remember that aren't to-do list urgent etc., Simplenote serves me very well.
     
  23. sracer macrumors 603

    sracer

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    #24
    That's the key right there... your purposes and what servers you well. These type of solutions are highly personal... they should sync with how we work in order to be most effective. Sharing our thoughts and solutions can help others form theirs. Thanks for your input.



    On a technical note...
    Notesy, WriteRoom, PlainText, etc. on iOS all can sync with Dropbox... no need to launch dropbox to access those text notes. They usually have a configuration setting that sets the "root" folder within the Dropbox folder tree where notes are stored. These apps automatically cache the notes to the local device. They do the syncing from within the app... no need to manually set Dropbox to sync any files.
     
  24. Traverse thread starter macrumors 604

    Traverse

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    #25
    Does anyone use the default OS X Notes app? :/
     

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