THIS WEEK'S SPONSOR:

Kolide

The fleet visibility solution for Mac, Windows, and Linux that can help you securely scale your business


Organizing Everything With Plain Text Notes

Organizing Everything With Plain Text Notes

nvALT

nvALT

In a guest post for Macworld, Macdrifter’s Gabe Weatherhead shares some tips about his note-taking workflow, based on plain text files.

Like everyone else, I need to keep track of lots of bits of information. Some of those bits are as simple as the brand of salad dressing my wife likes; others are as complex as an outline for a multi-year project at work. Whatever the size, origin, and purpose of these bits, I keep track of them all by saving them in a reliable system of plain-text notes—a system that enables me to find any bit of information whenever I need it, in a form that makes sense to me when I do.

My workflow is similar to Gabe’s one. I store all my notes – rigorously in plain text format for data portability – in a single Dropbox folder, and I use a variety of apps and hacks to work with these files on the device at hand. The advantage of working in plain text is that I never have to worry about file conversion and corrupted databases – and when combined with Dropbox, it really all just works. Plus, I can stay assured that, twenty years from now, an archive of my notes will still be there, as plain text – like PDF – will likely be around.

On the Mac, like Gabe, I use Brett Terpstra’s excellent nvALT to switch between all my notes. I don’t use tagging, but I do use Alfred to peek inside the contents of my plain text files to find links or bits of text I had previously saved (like favorite tweets). Occasionally, I might write in TextEdit or Byword, but generally – no matter the app I’m using – Markdown previews are handled by Terpstra’s other insanely useful app, Marked. On iOS, as I recently explained, I tend to access my notes with a combination of Nebulous Notes, Writing Kit, and WriteUp depending on what I need. To quickly save notes into Dropbox, I rely on Drafts, which was recently updated to version 2.0.

I like plain text because it lets me write and access my notes the way I want to. As David Sparks once wrote, it’s timeless. Make sure to read Gabe’s post here for some great tips.