The note app dilemma!

Hi everyone,

Hope you are all doing well and staying safe!

So, I’m sure this type of question has been asked many times before, but I thought I’d get some fresh input from you lovely people.

Like so many others, I’ve always looked for “the perfect” notes app, and gradually realising it simply doesn’t exist for me.

Ironically, I don’t really have many important notes to store, but have always loved the idea of “one app to rule them all”.

I’ve used Bear, which has the best UI for me - It’s looks make me want to use it, but the inability to re-order tags and the whole hashtag thing just didn’t work for me.

I also have Ulysses, which I’ve used for a few long form blog posts and a bit of other writing in the past - I do like it, and can see why people who need to use it regularly are very happy to pay for it. My subscription runs out in the summer, and I just don’t use it anywhere near enough to justify it.

I use OneNote with work, and whilst it’s OK - I find it unappealing to look at, and a bit clunky on the whole.

I often come back to Apple Notes, for the simple fact it’s on all 3 devices (Mac, iPad, iPhone), has collaboration capabilities, and generally does enough.

Drafts really appeals for it’s USP - The instant note to jot something down is pretty much what I’ve been using Apple Notes for - Drafts just saves a bit of time here.

The question I have, is are people using Drafts to store lots of notes (as if it were a note app like Apple Notes), or is it predominantly for text creation before being exported to another app?

I really don’t see the point in having Drafts and another notes app if Drafts can cope with both of these things.

I don’t have the Pro subscription yet, but I think that the Workspace feature will replace any sort of “folder” structure I would have had with another notes app?

So… answers on a postcard please?

For reference, 95% of my text creation and general work is on the Mac. Only a very small portion is on iOS (both iPad and iPhone).

Thanks in advance!

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There are lots of threads on the forum related to using Drafts as a note taking and storage system. Here’s a few for you to read through.

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I’ve read through all of those, and a few others across the internet that I’ve found.

But there aren’t that many current opinion (especially since the Mac App was updated to be as good as it is).

Am I right in thinking that Workspaces are my answer to having a visible “folder” type structure?

Why not spend the $2 on a subscription for a month to see if they work for you?

Workspaces are like smart folders. Drafts can belong to multiple workspaces. If you like to build yourself extensive folder hierarchies, Drafts may not be the place to do it. Personally, I use Drafts extensively as my inbox, but use iCloud Drive as my folder structure. I have actions that append drafts to various files in the file system. If I need to view or edit those files later, I use something like iAWriter or even just TextEdit to do that.

To take a step back, it sounds like you’ve done your homework. But the only way to find out what will work for you, is to try things out.

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I think this sadly sums up the situation!

I’m almost certainly looking for something that I don’t really need. The “hold” that Ulysses has on me is really just because I feel special that I get the discounted price… I’ve used it for the very few long form blog posts I’ve done in the past - But I could certainly use other options.

Considered it for my notes app, but it feels a bit clunky/fiddly to jot down “quick notes”.

I’ll give Drafts Pro a shot - The free version is possibly enough, but if I can use Workspaces to house the majority of my notes, I’ll be happy.

I struggled with the same, but ultimately let my reduced/legacy rate subscription expire. If I decide to go back to Ulysses in the future, I may well go the Setapp route.

I didn’t see you mention Agenda which is particularly useful if you want to structure a note history by dates you choose, and not just by dates of when the note was edited.

I use Drafts, Day One, iOS/iPadOS Notes, and others, but I find Agenda most useful for keeping a history of meetings with people.

Tim
15,641 days

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Interesting to see your note, Nick, because I have been asking myself the very same questions. I have fiddled around with all the same software. I’ve decided to park my zettlekasten in Drafts. The ease of getting things into it, the synchronization with my other Apple toys, and the powerful features it offers offset, for me, the risk that someday I might be stranded in an abandoned proprietary database.

As nearly as I can tell, Drafts could provide more Smart Notes / Zettlekasten surfing fun and discovery opportunities thanks to its tags and workspaces. The ability to use actions to move stuff to other apps, like Omnifocus or Day One, make it more powerful and handy than a plain text file system, at least for the things I want and need to have done.

I finally figured out, also, how to link two more more notes to each other using links to and from a given Draft to another. There’s a subtle difference between tags and linking. If you tag a bunch of Drafts you get a list when you search or workspace that tag or combination of tags, which by itself is pretty powerful. When you use links you are narrowing the connections a bit, as if to say, “Hey, as long as you a reading this note you should really take a look at this other one by clicking this link.” Tagging gives you a list of all ducks, or all brown ducks. Links connect Huey, Lewey, and Dewey directly, if for a given train of thought you might prefer that. And the two methods are not mutually exclusive.

So, for the power and ease and connectivity to other applications I use every day, I’m going with Drafts for my Zettlekasten.

Hey @timtcm - I’ve tried Agenda a few times since it launched, but it’s never really stuck for me.

I love the subscription model (a lot), and the developers seem in tune with their audience.

But “meeting notes” aren’t something I need, and the lack of flexibility/quick entry was a bit of a downer for me.

Looks lovely, like the idea, but not for me.

@jodysev, I don’t think my needs are as great as a lot of people.

I signed up to the Drafts Pro sub, and the Workspaces immediately suited me more than the standard version.

A huge amount of my writing ends up elsewhere, and I have a system set up so that any untagged note gives the “notification badge” on both iOS and MacOS.

I can’t stand those pesky notifications, so if I see it, I know I either need to delete the note (as I’ve already moved the contents elsewhere), or I need to tag the note for storage.

In the past, I’d have 100’s of short snippets in Apple Notes, that would be completely irrelevant to future me, as I’d already actioned them.

Looking into Zettlekasten a little more, and I’ve not explored linking notes yet!

What about Trello?

I like Trello, but never found it useful for note taking or note storing.

It’s way of working never really clicked with me.

As an aside - How are people linking notes on the Drafts Mac App?

Trello has an email-to-board/list feature that makes note capture as efficient as composing an email. In iOS/iPadOS now you can long-press on an app icon and choose a function before even opening it like composing a new mail message from the Mail app.

In another category, have you tried anything with iOS/iPadOS Shortcuts? I recently set up a shortcut to log a line of text to a file with a time stamp in iCloud Drive/Files. Drafts can do something similar with Dropbox.

Tim
15,642 days

Nope, I’ve never got around to utilising the shortcuts properly! Certainly need to look into it more.

Back to the “linking” of notes in Drafts - Is it simply a case of copying the url from one note, adding it to the bottom of another note and being able to move between them?

It doesn’t seem to work on Mac, unless I’m missing something?

Drafts URLs should work just fine on the Mac. Can you describe “doesn’t seem to work in more detail”?

I’m wondering if perhaps you are not using Link Mode mode, or have wrongly specified the URL.

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OK, definitely a user error there.

Working fine now.

How do people use “links”? I’ve never felt the need to do so in the past, but could very easily be missing something.

Is there a way to see what the linked note is (rather than just a URL), to give it some context?

You could always use one of the Markdown syntax options and then create Markdown links.