Top 10 Essential Mac Note Taking Features

When evaluating a Mac notes app, some features are more important than others. Here are the 10 most-essential features to look for when selecting a Mac note taking app.

  1. Support for Attachments

    The ability to include documents in your notes is critical, because not all notes are textual. For example you may have important information stored in a spreadsheet or PDF.

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  2. Outlining

    Storing notes as a simple list, or even a simple hierarchical list, quickly breaks down as you accumulate more and more notes. Outlines are not the only way to manage large amounts of information, but they are one of the best and perhaps the most familiar.

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  3. Clipping

    Clipping refers to the ability to “clip” content into your note taking app while working in another app. For example, while performing web research it’s convenient to clip your findings without switching away from your web browser.

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  4. Rich Text Notes

    Mac OS supports rich text (i.e. multiple fonts and ruler settings) so most note taking apps include it, but not all. Without rich text you lose the basic ability to even bold or underline content, which can be crucial features in certain situations.

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  5. Task Management

    There’s often no clear distinction between a note and an action item, so the ideal note taking app lets you turn individual notes into action items that appear on your calendar.

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  6. Advanced Search

    The more notes you accumulate the less effective simple text searching becomes, because you end up spending your time sifting through reams of search results.

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  7. Multi-Document Note Storage

    Note taking apps take two approaches to storing your notes: multiple separate documents and databases. The problem with a single database to hold your notes is there is no separation between your personal, private, work, or confidential notes – they are all jumbled together in one place. It can also be tricky to move your notes when migrating to a new computer, because the database repository is not usually stored in an obvious or visible location.

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  8. Offline Note Access

    Offline note access, meaning the ability to view your notes when not connected to the Internet, is absolutely critical. When an app requires an Internet connection you can find yourself unexpectedly cut off from your notes (imagine settling in to do some work on a long flight only to discover your notes are unavailable). If an app requires Internet access it also means that your notes are stored on someone else’s servers, not your computer, so their security is out of your hands. You will also not have access to your notes if those servers go down or the databases lose information.

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  9. Voice Recording

    Voice recording refers to taking notes and simultaneously synchronizing a recording of the person speaking to your notes. Having a complete audio recording of a note taking session and the ability to start playback of that recording from any point in your notes helps reduce instances of missing or incorrect information. Indispensable when taking notes during class lectures or business meetings.

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  10. Sync with Mobile Device

    These days it’s crucial to have all-the-time access to your notes, so syncing with an iPad or iPhone is essential.

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