The search for the Mac’s perfect word processor has ended. There is no such thing. There was, but those days– WriteNow and Bean came the closest to perfection– are gone. As we move into the 21st century we face a growing list of mini-word processors. Notes apps. Apple ensures that Mac, iPhone, and iPad users have something to use to write; notes, novels, letters, reports, or research papers with Notes, TextEdit, and Pages; all three of which sync up and play nice-nice on each iDevice via iCloud.
When it comes to capturing and organizing either snippets of text, notes, ideas, mini-documents, the options are too numerous to mention even the best. None are perfect, most have minimalist features so they’re easy and quick to master, and a growing number are priced via the trendy new subscription model.
Take Bear as an example. This is a delightful mini-word processor, aimed as much at writers as anyone, works on all three iDevices, but the luxury of features and cloud sync comes at a price– monthly or annual but always ongoing. Bear is much like Notes but with more features attuned to writers than note takers.
At the other end of the scale is the free Simplenote which runs on macOS and iOS. It’s fast, elegant to the point of simple (duh– the name) but not a writer’s tool to encumber you with typical or traditional word processor features. If Bear owns the high end of notes, Simplenote works at the other end of the scale. Bear is updated frequently, but perhaps simple is simple enough, Simplenote hasn’t been upgraded in almost a year.
For that reason I keep looking at other note taking apps that border on the mini-word processor. SnipNotes is a notes taking app with a few unique features which make it more valuable than Bear, more usable than Notes, and notably different than typical Mac, iPhone, or iPad notes apps. SnipNotes looks like Notes but doesn’t act like notes.
As you write or drag and drop snippets of text or images or whatever into a note, it recognizes what you’re doing and offers additional actions or options. For example, if there’s a phone number in the SnipNotes text you’ll be able to dial the number on your iPhone (or Mac and iPad). Addresses can be opened in Maps. Email addresses can be opened in Mail. Calendar events open in Calendar. Airline flight numbers get tracked. The actions can be customized, too.
SnipNotes organizes files in the traditional way– left sidebar– and it’s easy to get to from the Mac’s Menubar. Most features I use are compatible and cross platform– what works on the Mac works on iPhone or iPad, but there are differences. For example, 3D Touch and Touch ID on iPhone but not iPad or Mac. SnipNotes has an Apple Watch app so you can view important notes without pulling the iPhone out of your pocket.
Caveats? Two. First, it does not sync (yet) with Dropbox. I use iCloud and iCloud Drive, but Dropbox syncs files almost immediately while iCloud can take an hour or more (Photos, I’m looking at you). Apple still has issues with sync. Second, the learning curve. SnipNotes has a new paradigm because it does more than just notes, so it takes some time to get used to the options, which also means a disrupted workflow.
Just remember; nothing improves without change, but SnipNotes is an improvement if you don’t mind making an adjustment in how you do what you do with notes.