From Evernote and Springpad to Google Keep, and the never ending list of iOS note apps, don’t feel too embarrassed if you use more than one program for keeping track of notes, thoughts and to-do lists. You certainly need to do your homework when it comes to selecting a notebook app that is right for you.
One of the newest kids on the writer’s block is Theory.io’s NoteSuite for Mac ($4.99, limited introductory price) and iPad ($1.99, also introductory). While NoteSuite definitely doesn’t have the third-party support of the more popular applications referenced above, it does have a few unique features that are absent from these top-selling apps.
As you may expect from a note taking app, NoteSuite’s user interface in both versions consists of two columns. In the main column is a text editor and above this are the font style tools alongside folder and tag management controls. Both versions provide the ability to view and manage your content manually, or automatically arrange by date or title.
Both versions accept images, web clippings, PDFs, Word and iWorks documents. Checklist notes can also be added and – unlike Evernote – you can resize and move around images in a note page.
It is possible to import and export notes and other documents via email, Dropbox, and services like Pocket and Instapaper (though the latter requires a subscription with Instapaper). Unfortunately, you can’t attach a URL link to a note because there’s no web-based version of NoteSuite, as there is with Evernote.
Like other notebooks, NoteSuite notes can be moved or copied to other folders but the drag and drop features of Evernote as absent. It takes two clicks to “Place” a note in another folder. You also can’t select more than one note at a time to move or delete.
Smart Folders, Web Clips & To-Dos
NoteSuite does have one sweet feature that Evernote doesn’t have: smart search folders. These are similar to smart playlists in iTunes or smart folders in SOHO Notes. When you create a folder you get the option to enable it to automatically include notes and files based on keywords you set for it – talk about a nice little time saver!
Using the smart folders feature means you no longer have to spend time manually organising your notes, especially if you often add notes that share a set of related keywords.
Similar to Evernote, NoteSuite for the Mac also contains a web clipping feature that you can access from the toolbar of Safari, Chrome or Firefox, using an installed browser extension.
The iPad app doesn’t include a similar web extension or bookmarklet, unfortunately. Instead you will need to first copy the URL to your iPad’s clipboard, then launch NoteSuite. From there it will bring up the clipping feature which allows you to tag and the choose whether to clip the entire webpage or just the article.
NoteSuite also serves as a lightweight to-do manager, which gets its own separate tab section. Whereas Evernote recently added a Reminders feature to its latest (beta) Mac application, NoteSuite is more fully featured in this area. There is a separate section for to-dos where you can create to-do lists, and attach notes, files, and folders from NoteSuite.
You can also schedule reminders, due dates, and recurring dates, as well as assign to-dos to people in your contacts list.
For the most part, NoteSuite for the iPad mirrors its OS X counterpart. You can sync all your NoteSuite content between your devices so that folder structures, tags, and to-do lists are all kept up to date. I experienced a problem with the iCloud sync, however, and had to reboot my Mac in order to for the syncing process to occur (though this could have been iCloud’s fault).
The iPad version of NoteSuite comes with drawing tools, which allow you to mark up or draw on documents or photos without modifying your original.
The pen tools work fine and are smooth, but I was surprised that a simple highlighter was absent from the app’s menu bar. For PDF documents, NoteSuite also contains a feature for viewing a thumbnail, full table of contents (if it’s available in the document), and bookmarks. These features are absent in the Mac version.
No Trial Version
Unfortunately there’s no trial versions of NoteSuite, so be sure to read up on the features to see if it provides the solutions you need for a notebook. Though I use several notebooks for all types of purposes, I may add NoteSuite to my arsenal for managing a single project that I work on throughout the year.
I think without a web version of NoteSuite, it’s not a complete replacement for Evernote or Springpad. Then again, you may really get hooked on the smart folders feature and the application’s simple user interface.
What do you think of NoteSuite? Can it replace Evernote or Springpad? Add your thoughts in the comments, below.