I save a lot of stuff into OmniFocus: bits of text, URLs, emails. I used to save favorite tweets into it, too. The app’s Quick Entry panel is so easy to invoke and so well-integrated with core parts of OS X that, most of the time, I find myself clipping information that shouldn’t be into OmniFocus at all. However, I also find the process of manually going through that information beneficial to my workflow: it allows me to mentally and practically separate actionable items (tasks) from things to read and things to write (Instapaper material and my future articles, essentially).
I have created a simple AppleScript to send the selected OmniFocus task to a text file. The script is meant for how I use OmniFocus; hopefully you’ll find it useful as well. Feel free to modify it.
Typically, when I decide to go through my OmniFocus inbox, I find a lot of tasks that are actually ideas of things I want to do or write. Ideas don’t go into OmniFocus. Until those ideas become actionable items, I send them to a text file so I can elaborate on them and see if they can evolve. Like I said, most of the time those ideas are for new articles.
I store all my notes in a single Apps/ directory on my Dropbox. Based off the same AppleScript, I have created a Keyboard Maestro macro to create a new text file for each processed task; this is for ideas I know will turn out to be single, standalone articles. For ideas I’m not so sure about, I prefer to append them as text to an Ideas.txt file I keep in Dropbox as an “everything bucket” for inspiration. (more…)
nvALT is a free note-taking tool with some great features for plain text and markdown editing. It serves as the foundation for my plain text workflows. It stores all of my text files in an environment that is lightening fast for creating and searching through notes. I use nvALT as a repository for everything.
I already know what you’re thinking: “Justnotes looks a lot like nvALT.” You wouldn’t be wrong in thinking that Justnotes is visually reminiscient of Notational Velocity and its poweruser fork, nvALT, but it wouldn’t be fair to judge without getting hands on. I’d posit Justnotes as an alternative to TextEdit on OS X — it’s a container for creating, sorting, and archiving text files. Otherwise, Justnotes is simply the desktop counterpart to Simplenote… With a twist.
Although modern word processing programs can do some amazing things—adding charts, tables, and images, applying sophisticated formatting—there’s one thing they can’t do: Guarantee that the words I write today will be readable ten years from now. That’s just one of the reasons I prefer to work in plain text: It’s timeless. My grandchildren will be able to read a text file I create today, long after anybody can remember what the heck a .dotx file is.
I’ve been increasingly using TextEdit with Marked for writing everything that shows up on the website, and I know Federico recently put Byword (in combination with OmniOutliner) to the test with his great MacBook Air review. No matter what tools I use, whether it be TextMate, iA Writer, or another app, I’m always writing in Markdown and writing in text files. These text files are saved in Dropbox or some temporary workspace (which I consider to be my alternate directory to the Desktop).
Honestly, the best way to get started with plain text before you invest in another app is to simply open up TextEdit, hit ⇧⌘T, and start typing. David makes a strong case for nvALT, which you might like better since you can have the best of both worlds: accessible plain text files in the file system in a big container that makes it easy to search through everything you’ve written (as a bonus, these files can be tagged and synced to your iPad and iPhone via Simplenote).
A lot of hard work has gone into the latest release of nvALT, including better Multi-markdown 3 support (MMD3 has to be installed locally of course), a shortcut (⇧⌘L) for inserting links, Simplenote tag sync (which the author notes may choke on large note collections), the ability to pin the preview window when moving across apps (^⌘P then click the pin at the bottom of the window), and Textmate-like auto-pairing that will complete brackets for you as you type. (Pretty nice eh?)
Also available are browser extensions for Safari and Chrome that can get webpages and text into nvALT. The extensions allow you to interact with webpages and links to dumps its textual contents or selection into the text editor — nvALT can run text through Instapaper’s mobilizer to clean up the results as text splashes into view. Personally I’m not so big about dumping webpages into nvALT, but the extensions are available to download from elastic threads.
In nvALT’s future, Terpstra promises better Lion support for fullscreen mode (shown in my screenshot but I’m using a SIMBL hack which you can find here), bouncy scrolling, and more.
You can download nvALT 2.1 and read about all of its features here!