Is Simplenote the best notes app or is it too basic?

Which is your favourite app for storing notes? Google Keep? Microsoft OneNote? Evernote? There are dozens, perhaps hundreds of notes apps so you have to be brave to launch yet another, but here we have Simplenote from Automattic, the company that produces the blogging and website software, WordPress.

Simplenote is designed to be simple and it certainly looks very basic when the app starts up. The buttons, menus and functions are minimal, giving it a very clean look with lots of white space.

There are three columns and the notes appear on the right. Click the plus button at the top of the window and you can start typing in a new note. The middle column shows the first couple of lines of the note and you can scroll through the notes, and select them to view them. It is useful to make the first line of the note a descriptive title.

Notes can be text or web links. If you right click an image on a web page and select Copy, then paste it into a note, the URL is inserted instead of the picture. Clicking the link shows the picture in Safari, but it would be better if you could paste in images.

At the bottom of the note on the right side of the window is an area where tags can be entered. Tags are listed in the first column below All Notes and Trash.

Tags are very useful and they enable you to organise notes into groups, projects, collections, work and personal, or whatever categories you want. Select a tag on the left and only notes with that tag are listed.

Simplenote for Mac

The three dots in the top right corner display a menu and it shows the number of words and characters in a note, and when it was last modified. Pin to Top enables sticky notes that stay at the top of the list, which is useful.

Collaborate on notes

The Collaborate... menu option is interesting and when this is selected, you are prompted to enter email addresses at the bottom of the window just before the note. An email is automatically sent to the people inviting them to view and edit the note. They can view it without Simplenote, but they need to log in to edit it, which is fair enough.

Simplenote for Mac

Publish your notes

Publish to the Web turns a note into a web page. This is really easy and the page and hosting are all sorted. You just click the menu and it’s done. You are given the URL and then you can share this with whoever you want. This facility could be used to make notes public. Not everyone wants to see your shopping list, but it could be useful for information pages for products and services.

Simplenote is a lot simpler than rivals, but for some people that is the attraction. The tags make it easy to organise notes and the collaboration feature is brilliant for teams, groups, work colleagues and so on.

The colour scheme, or lack of it, is a major irritation with the program. The white and grey colour scheme makes some interface elements nearly invisible they are so hard to see.

Simplenote is available for free on Mac, iOS, Android and Kindle, and all your notes are kept in sync between the devices without having to configure anything.




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