jb… a weblog by Jonathan Buys

Taking Notes

I loved Yojimbo for many years. I still think it’s the most “Mac-like” app for taking notes and storing data. The best thing about it was that when capturing data with the hotkey, it would look at your clipboard before presenting you with a UI, and customize the UI for the data. It was fast, fit in perfectly with the Mac, and was rock-solid reliable.

But, time passed, things changed, the iPhone changed computing forever, and Yojimbo just didn’t keep up. it didn’t adopt a widescreen view, it didn’t offer iCloud sync, it didn’t have an iPhone app, it didn’t adopt the new UI widgets for the toolbar, it didn’t adopt Markdown, etc…. It still works, but it feels old and stagnate.

I’ve talked to the devs a few times, and they always give the same feedback. No future plans for an iPhone app. No plans to change anything, just to keep it running as is. So, I too started looking elsewhere.


Great app, really, but holy cow is it deep and complicated. It can do so much, whenever I spend a significant amount of time using it I start to feel overwhelmed and start questioning how much I really need a single app to do everything when there are individual apps that do things better. Like the text editor, and the PDF markup. Hazel can automatically file things for you, although not based on AI, but it does a good job.

The ability to capture text and web archives is good. And if you really need deep textual analysis of your data, this is the way to go. If not, there are other alternatives.


Did you know Evernote use to be an app that was just one long page? That might have been an early beta or something, I don’t know. Anyway, again, for capturing text and web content, it does a great job, but it’s not really Mac-like, and it’s still a bit of a roach motel for data. Also, I’ve run into weird limits on things when I really start digging in. For me, I’d rather my data stayed on my Mac in a format that I can move around. Except…


My current favorite for managing text, some images, and some captured web content. It doesn’t save web archives, but the Safari plugin will grab the text of the page you are looking at and try to extract the text to Markdown. It does a fair job. Great for storing bits of code and random pieces of information that I know I’ll need later.

Apple Notes

Rich text formatting leaves something to be desired, but syncing is solid and Notes does a good job of being a reliable place to put data. If Apple merged the best of Notes and Bear we’d have a winner. That stupid textured background always annoys me though.

Eagle Filer

A lot like Yojimbo, but it gets updated far more often and keeps data in an open format. Unfortunately it also suffers from the same drawbacks in sync and iOS companion apps. And it also looks dated to my eyes :man_shrugging:t2:.

Everything Else

Let’s not forget crowd favorite Simplenote + NVAlt, which I suppose is still a thing but I’m not sure Brett is ever going to release that updated NVAlt replacement. Then there’s Microsoft’s OneNote, which Circus Ponies blames for killing their Notebook app. If you’re into Microsoft, I guess that’s another way to go. There’s Keep It Together, which I think was renamed just “Together”, and I think abandoned. There’s StickyBrain, which became SOHO Notes, which is now Notelife… I guess? Oh, and let’s not forget the new hotness of Agenda, which combines Notes and a Calendar.

The Finder

Overwhelmed? Me too. That’s why I just went back to the Finder. I feel your pain, I really do. I’ve tried every application, method, and system out there to manage my data, and I still don’t have a perfect system. If Yojimbo was modernized and an iPhone app created, I think I’d have it, but as it is, Bare Bones just doesn’t have the motivation to work on it.

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