If you require extensive, detailed meeting agendas and minutes, two Mac Store applications – both called Meetings – offer useful solutions not available in other OS X software.
Meetings ($12.99) by Exquisitus Inc and Meetings ($19.99) by Command Guru each offer a set of similar features, with a few important differentiating functions to tell them apart. Despite recently discovering the power of Evernote for organizing meetings, each of these applications include features not offered by the note-taking behemoth yet.
Both applications can be synced between OS X and their counterpart iOS apps, but I’ll be focusing on the OS X versions today.
Meetings by Exquisitus Inc ($12.99)
Exquisitus’ Meetings is an app split into three parts: one section for agendas and minutes (managed under the Active Topics section), a dedicated calendar (labeled Dashboard), and an Input section for a list of reminders, action items and meeting topics.
The application can be a little difficult to figure out when you first get started. To set up a new meeting, select File > New Meeting Topic, or click the plus “+” button in the sidebar. Unlike Command Guru’s Meetings, this program allows you to add the names and respective email addresses from your Contacts, which as you will see makes it easy to send out agendas and minutes.
Click on the small “+ Agenda Item” button to add the first agenda item for a meeting. Though you can also use the Shift+Command+G keyboard shortcut to add a new item, it would be even better if users could press the Shift+Return combination to quickly add agenda items as they type.
Notice that agenda items for this application include the ability to add a sticky note and attachment to each item, and a button for selectively indenting agenda items, two featured unique to this particular application. Individual agenda items can also be emailed directly from the application to all or selected meeting participants.
One of the advantages of using this application over the Evernote approach is that agenda items can easily be moved around. This is both useful when creating agendas and making changes to the agenda at the start or part-way through the meeting.
After adding all of your agenda items, click on the New Meeting button to set up the minutes. After meeting minutes are created, any changes to the agenda will have to be manually edited in the meeting minutes, so it might be a good idea to create minutes only after participants approve the agenda.
Another plus with this approach is that if your meetings regularly use the same agenda items for each meeting, you can simply click the New Meeting buttons to create a new set of minutes for future meetings. Of course, the agenda can also be modified for each new meeting.
As with agenda items, minutes can be emailed, exported to PDF or RTF, copied to the clipboard, or set up for Markdown HTML formatting. When agendas or minutes are sent via email, Meetings automatically inserts the email addresses, as well the meeting content. This is a feature missing from the application reviewed below.
Adding Actions and To-dos
One of the most important purposes of meetings is to identify what needs to be done and assign due dates. Exquisitus’ Meetings includes three useful ways to add reminders. You can use the File > New Action menu item, click on the Actions Items at the top-right of the meetings section, or add reminders in the Dashboard.
Using the Dashboard feature allows for assigning due dates to items, as well presenting other calendar events and reminders.
What’s also useful about Meetings is that all of your topics, agendas and minutes are kept in one application and exported to the equivalent Meetings iOS app ($4.99) [No longer available].
Meetings by Command Guru ($19.99)
Command Guru’s Meetings for Mac has a clean yet colorful layout, with an interface I found intuitive. Despite this costing $7 more than Exquisitus’ application, it’s not as fully featured for setting up and sharing agendas and minutes. Fortunately, a 30-day trial version of this application can be downloaded from the developer’s website.
To create a new meeting, select File > New, and add the title, date, and meeting location. There are sections of the user interface for adding names of meeting participants, preparation and agenda items, discussion notes, decisions, and tasks. You can also select to hide sections you don’t need. These are very useful, and a few of them are not available in the Exquisitus application.
Unfortunately, this application doesn’t connect to your Mac’s Contacts app, so you will have to manually input the names and addresses of attendees. There are also no keyboard shortcuts for adding agenda items, though there is a feature called “Smart Task” that when enabled allows you to input and add items using an assigned hotkey.
Another drawback to this application is that there’s no feature for using the agenda items for setting up minutes. So essentially you have to re-create the agenda items for the discussions, if you choose that approach.
The only export feature for this application is to email, and the finished export looks better than the layout produced by Exquisitus’ application. As mentioned, this program doesn’t insert email addresses and it also lists participant’s names vertically, which takes up an unnecessary amount of space.
Like Exquisitus’ application, Meetings also syncs to the equivalent Meetings iOS app ($4.99) via iCloud.
Both of these meetings applications provide a much needed solution not previously available in the Mac platform. And though there are several strong iOS meeting apps, it’s great that these desktop applications are accompanied by mobile versions that sync data, as typing iPad is not everyone’s idea of a good time. On the other hand, the iPad versions are great to have for reviewing content.
For other suggestions about planning and holding meetings, check out our free downloadable online meeting guide. We’d also love to know features you would like see added to these meetings applications.