Back to School, Back to Note-taking

Simplenote As mentioned in my post about WorkFlowy, Simplenote is my preferred note-taking app. It was one of the first apps I downloaded on my Mac when I bought it back in 2010. It came as a recommendation from my brother as a “must-have” app, esp. for school.

Simplenote is a minimalist web app. It does a really good job at keeping things simple. There’s a limited amount of formatting (bold, italics, strikethrough). This might concern you. I know it drove me a bit crazy at first, but it’s actually something I’ve come to appreciate because it keeps note-taking plain and simple.

Key Features of Simplenote

Tags. Use tags to help organize your notes. You can also tag people to share with them.

Go back in time! Press the ‘clock’ button to access backup versions of your notes.

Share. Press the ‘send’ button to publish a note for others to see. All changes get synchronized. Share a grocery list with your family or housemates.

Pinning. Got a really important note? Press the ‘i’ button to pin it to the top of the list.

Trash. Deleted notes go in the trash. You can restore them if you want, or empty the trash to get rid of them forever.

Search. Search through your notes by title or content.

Secure. All your notes are synchronized securely via encryption; however, they are stored in plaintext so you can search them.


As of now, Simplenote can be downloaded for iOS devices. I believe they are currently developing for Android and maybe even Windows Phone.

However, there is more than one way to take advantage of Simplenote. A variety of other developers have produced apps to take advantage of Simplenote on Mac and Windows computers. Simply vist the Simplenote downloads page to view the comprehensive list.

In the past I’ve used Notational Velocity (Mac) & ResophNotes (Windows). Both are excellent and take advantage of the features of Simplenote. Notational Velocity is especially minimal. It comes with some extra useful features including:

Spell check. And auto-correction.

URLs. NV automatically recognizes URLs and makes them clickable.

Secure note entry and local storage encryption. Alternatively, instead of enabling local storage encryption, you can store notes as individual files so that they are searchable via Spotlight.

Unordered lists. Simplenote will automatically detect unordered lists if you add a symbol (say a dash “-“) to te beginning of at least two lines in a row and indent in at least one tab stop. Hit enter and it will add your symbol.

It might take a while to get used to the limited functionality. Admittedly, sometimes I really want to make a table or insert an image. But 90% of the time, Simplenote is just what I need. Not to mention, I can take notes anywhere and I always have them with me.

Notational Velocity


  1. Sorry buddy, but SimpleNote does not encrypt your notes. It encrypts the transmission of them to and from their servers. But both on their servers and on your local device they are in plain text. Anyone with access to either your device or their servers (i.e. SimpleNote staff) has access to all your notes in plain text.


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