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.
Justnotes wins big as a Simplenote client. Clean like the Simplenote website, Justnotes provides a list view and search bar in the sidebar for sorting through notes, while a blank whiteboard offers unlimited space for writing plain text. Notes can be tagged (delimited by commas or spaces) and starred to pin notes to top of the sidebar. In construction, Justnotes isn’t disimilar from an iPad app. Unfortunately, a fullscreen Justnotes won’t fill up the display, leaving wide spaces of linen underneath the app’s odd fit.
Where Justnotes makes its big differentiator from the aformentioned apps is that Justnotes can sync to several locations at the same time. So while you *can* use Justnotes strictly as a Simplenote client (which it’s great at), you add additional Simplenote accounts or choose folders on your Mac to write notes in. Put simply, you can write notes that link to multiple directories, whether they be online or offline, within Justnotes. This means that repositories of daily notes, work related diatribes, and reviews such as this one can be linked to distinct locations. Every folder or Simplenote account that Justnote syncs too is clustered together in the sidebar. The creation and arrangment of the “lists” you sync are managed through the app’s preferences. Favorites and tags don’t apply to locally synced folders.
As a text editor, Justnotes’ management options are minimal. While keyboard shortcuts are plentiful and explained in app, sort options are accessed through the gear button along with manual sync and a preferences menu item. Notes themselves can be archived off, and must be deleted a second time from the Archive to remove them permanently. Archived notes simply stay in the background and can be accessed through the Archive tab, while the Notes tab shows all of your working documents. Sharing options are few: text can be exported as a PDF or to your mail client, but that’s it.
Where Justnotes excels is at its ability to aggregate several working folders into one app that manages all of your text files. On the other hand, users looking for free Simplenote syncing would’nt find too many reasons to move away from Notational Velocity. Without Markdown support or previews, Mac centric writers familiar with the syntax won’t find much in Justnotes either. I like Justnotes’ style, and I certainly believe that it makes for a richer alternative to OS X’s basic writing utilities. I think Simplenote users will find themselves right at home with the interface, as it provides nothing more and nothing less than what the online service itself provides. Justnotes is currently $5.99, but will go up to $9.99 after the introductory promotion is over. If you’re interested, act now by downloading Justnotes through the Mac App Store. As a note, Justnotes’ folder syncing only works with OS X 10.7.3 or higher due to be compatible with Apple’s sandbox.
Update 12:28 PM: Clarified that Justnote’s folder sync features only work on 10.7.3+. The app will run on any version of Lion.