Blog Post

Note Taking Application Faceoff

Stay on Top of Enterprise Technology Trends

Get updates impacting your industry from our GigaOm Research Community
Join the Community!

Whether you’re writing a simple article for a blog, piecing together the next blockbuster hit, or penning a 500 page romance novel, there are quite a few options for helping you get all of that information organized and drafted. There really are enough to chose from with a wide enough range of options that you’re sure to find something to fit your needs.


Journler is one of the more full-featured applications in it’s genre. It’s got everything from iWeb integration to video/audio note recording.

The aspect it takes on note taking/writing is in the form of a journal (hence the name). So while its main function certainly is geared more towards daily input, it still works very well for information gathering and jotting notes.

My only beef with Journler is that it’s current version feels like there are some loose ends that just aren’t tied up. There is a fairly major update coming soon that could fix these issues.

Journler is free for non-commercial use and $24.95 for commercial use.


Scrivener from Literature and Latte is a solid app that really is perfect for writing books, manuals, a thesis, or anything that has many parts to it.

One of it’s major features is called Corkboard. The Corkboard view lets you arrange notes (like index cards) to create a quick outline of parts/chapters to whatever it is you’re writing. This feature really helps with organization.

Scrivener will cost you $34.99.


Writeroom, which we’ve previous covered, is the minimalist cousin to all of these applications. It’s the modern day equivelent of an old-school typewriter.

It provides distraction-free writing by blacking out the entire screen and giving you a blank “canvas” to just start typing. Ultimately it’s TextEdit with flair.

Writeroom is free to download and $24.95 if you feel inclined to support them.


Mori is probably the closest thing to an actual notebook in terms of interface and organization. It’s a no-frills way to organize thoughts, lists, photos, and any other basic information or media.

Mori uses Apple’s CoreData technology which gives it the capability to hold literally 10’s of thousands of notes and still stay blazing fast.

Mori is $39.95 for a full license.


xPad is a light notepad application. If Mori is a full, 8.5×11 notebook, then xPad is it’s 6×9 little brother. It’s perfect for quick jots during a class or office meetings.

Its feature list is short, but that’s one of its strong points. The only real unique features it has are simple text highlighting and strikethrough, which are perfect for note jotting.

xPad is freeware, so you have no excuse for not giving it a whirl.


Circus Ponies’ NoteBook is the mother of all note repositories.

Your entire experience is started by telling NoteBook what project you’re working on. Whether it’s project management, research papers, or script writing, it has a template to help you on your way to organization paradise.

NoteBook has a fairly active community of people and has some great features like system-wide contextual menus and paper-like tabs.

NoteBook is $49.95 for a standard license and $29.95 for an academic license.


Bare Bones (makers of such popular apps as BBEdit, Mailsmith, and TextWrangler) bring you Yojimbo.

Yojimbo is one of those apps that you just wonder how you lived without. It ties itself in to many area of the OS and with it’s spotlight-esque information capturing area, it gives you no excuse not to store all your random tidbits of info and notes.

It’s Notes feature is great for writing articles (I’m writing this article in it) and provides other great features like encrypted storage, tagging, and bookmarking.

Yojimbo will run you $39 and is a must-have.

99 Responses to “Note Taking Application Faceoff”

  1. hi all,
    interesting thread. Can’t comment on the ones listed, but I will say that DEVONthink is wonderful… do check it out. Very powerful app, which I’ll stick with because it does it all and it’s very well supported.
    I kind of miss StickyNotes, which was like Stickies but more so. Then Chronos changed it around completely, and ruined it for me.

  2. There seem to be two omissions here, CopyWrite by and MacJournal by Mariner Software. I currently use CopyWrite for longer work and MacJournal to compose blog posts, notes, journals, emails, etc.
    Both have full-screen capability.

  3. While I was getting all Grammar Cop earlier, I forgot to say thanks for the all-in-one-place list. I’ve been trying to find a good note-taking app, and this article and the attached comments are very helpful.

  4. One that I was surprised to see not mentioned is sidenote. I’ve been using it for the last six months or so, and love it. Sidenote is great, because it is always there, ready for you to write notes, but, when not active takes up zero screen real estate. Just mouse over to the side of the screen, and out pops sidenote. Best of all, it is free.

  5. Uetzicle

    No matter how many different note takings apps I download and try, I always come back to Notational Velocity ( Its interface is the simplest I’ve ever seen of any app.

    It has none of the glitz the other apps have (though it’s not ugly). It only does plain text (but I consider that a strength, not a weakness). It takes just a little bit of time to ‘get it’. These could be reasons why a lot of people take one look and ditch it. But its workflow is very smooth and seamless. As far as quick note taking goes, Notational Velocity can’t be beat.

  6. This wasn’t so much of a face off as it was just a list. I have done the Pepsi Challenge with almost all of these apps plus many others and other than the price being about $10 to $20 higher than what it should be I have to say that Mori is the one that worked best for me. Of course I am not just taking simple notes. I use Mori for note taking, journal writing, fiction writing, to do lists, list of stuff I have or need to buy, and plenty of other things.

    Another good one you missed is iOrganizeX which is what I used before finding Mori. I choose Mori over it though because Mori has a more flexible organizational structure. Where I used to have like five or six different iOrganizeX files (one for every project/task) now I have only two Mori files (one for personal stuff and one that I share with a friend working on those projects with me).

    Yojimbo would be great if it could sync in some other method than just .Mac. I found that its usefulness was severely limited by that.

    For really fast small notes I also use the Yahoo! Notepad Widget. I hacked it so that it will refresh from the online Yahoo! Notepad service every couple of minutes and me and a friend use it to keep each other synced on our projects and to pass notes back and forth across the internet. It is accessible through the Widget or from a web site so we can use it no matter what platform we are on. Now if we could just find something similar that we could host ourselves instead of having to go through Yahoo!.