TopXNotes, or how to take notes like it’s 1999


It’s a flashback to 1995. Macs were still using Power PC in the far future. I was still using Windows at home of all things. And TopXNotes must have been created around this time. It has all the classic signs of.. well.. clasic-isms.

Now to be fair, this application is somewhat functional. You get 20 free demo runs, and after that you get reminded to register. Not bad in the terms of shareware. Documentation is there, and there is a lot of it in the Readme. The icon reflects what the app is about. You can take notes with it, and group them in multiple categories, once you figure that out. TopXNotes is decently powerful once you figure it out, but it could relay this to the user in better form. Billed as a modern notepad (I don’t know if I would call the interface modern), this application can do what’s needed if you take a few minutes to try it out.

The installation is straight out of the olden days though. It uses Stuffit to install, something I haven’t seen in a very long time, and which may cause you Tiger users problems. The installer has 3 modes. An easy install, a custom with only one option, and an uninstall which has 3 options. The reason I mention this is that the installer seems as though it’s not actually required. Once you install TopXNotes, you can move it around your hard drive as you please. You can move it to the top of the Applications folder, your Home directory, or even the trash if you like.

You will be presented with a basic note taking interface, sort of like TextEdit at first. You will also notice a small, sticky note window which I will name squishy. Later on, if you click on squishy, you will get a drop down showing you a list of notes. Or at least when squishy works you should see the list. Sometimes it only displays one of your notes, sometimes no notes at all. It’s really finicky, and without a way to turn it off easily is a really problematic part of the application.

The actual interface to TopXNotes feels rushed or less thought out than it should be. This app screams either Windows or OS 9, and I’m still not sure which. Some things didn’t seem very well thought out, such as the fact that buttons jumping in and out of existence can be jarring at best. Other things, such as the Note Organizer should be given more emphasis, as this is part of what makes this app different than others.

Squishy (the floating sticky nub) floats on top of other windows, but kind of doesn’t work right when you have it on top of other applications. It floats, but sometimes doesn’t list anything. Other times it just doesn’t list anything but the first note you create.

Other thoughts are that the design is either to fit with pre-os x design or with windows design. In either case, an entire interface revamp could really improve this application on the whole. Sharp edges on buttons, non-standard close widgets, and the way that the application switches modes all feel as though they could use a lot of improvement.

In all seriousness though, TopXNotes is pretty simple to use. A really neat feature which may help you to better organize your thoughts is groups. If you click Notes/New Group, this will allow you to add groups. You will need to have the Note Organizer expanded though.

Overall I would give TopXNotes a 2 out of 5 TAB Snow Leopards. This app has a lot of room for improvement, but is functional. I would highly recommend trying the competition before settling on TopXNotes, including Ulysses and OmniOutliner, both great applications for organizing your thoughts. Both have native interfaces, and present how to organize your thoughts in the way you want very easily.

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