Dear Aunt TUAW: Help me take notes at school

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Dear Aunt TUAW: Help me take notes at school

Dear Aunt TUAW,

Now that most of the country's college students are going back to school, I need recommendations for note-taking software for my Mac. In the meantime, let me say, "Boo-hoo Microsoft for not making OneNote for OS X."


Kenny M

Dear Kenny,

If you're looking for an OS X app that hits many of OneNote's sweet spots, consider the US$39.99 Pear Note from Useful Fruit. Developer Chad Sellers tells TUAW, "Pear Note is often looked at as a more focused Mac alternative to OneNote."

If you record lectures as you take notes, Pear Note may be the app for you. It integrates your typed notes with audio, providing many of the same kinds of note-taking features as OneNote.

Timestamps for each keystroke allow you to associate what you typed with what was being said at the same time. Just click on the text notes to jump to the point in the recording when you typed it, and start listening again to that topic.

If you plan to use an iPad and a Mac, the upcoming Pear Note for iPad will coordinate with the Mac version via Dropbox. Do recognize, though, that Pear Note is for creating notes, not organizing them.

Sellers says, "I wanted people to be able to use whatever organizational tool they like with Pear Note. So, some organize their notes in folders on the filesystem, some throw them all in Documents and use search to find things, and some use Yojimbo, Together, or Evernote to organize them."

Now, if you're more of a visual scribbler than a listener, Auntie suggests the $29.99 Circus Ponies Notebook.

Notebook shines in its ability to add diagrams, flow charts and sketches to any page and provides full stylus integration. You can import PDF documents and add notes on top of that material.

Plus, you can "...'clip' selections from web pages and other apps straight into your Notebooks," according to Circus Ponies' marketing text. Notebooks stores the URL with the clip, allowing you to return to pages that you've taken notes on.

Perhaps your prefer an outline approach? Auntie's got a suggestion for you, too. How about the $39.99 OmniOutliner? It provides excellent outlining tools.

OmniOutliner lets you collect and organize information using a traditional outliner on steroids. With it, you can build multi-columned documents that include many spreadsheet enhancements, so your outlines can come to life. If you're a bullet-point style note taker, OmniOutliner probably provides all (if not more) the functionality you need for in-class organizing.

Got another OS X note-taking app to recommend? Drop a note in the comments, because Auntie loves hearing from you.


Auntie T.

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