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Posts tagged with "note-taking"

Vision Pro App Spotlight: My Favorite Ways to Take a Quick Note

One of the advantages of working with the Vision Pro is the flexibility of using your surroundings to spread out. Your entire room becomes your workspace, and if you’re in an Environment, your workable space expands even further. That makes it easier to keep a note-taking app open at all times than on any other device. In turn, that makes having an app to quickly jot down your thoughts all the more useful.

There are already quite a few interesting note-taking apps on the App Store, so I wanted to highlight a handful I like, each of which has something unique to offer.

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Vision Pro App Spotlight: Parchi Brings Voice-Created Sticky Notes into Your Environment

Parchi is a new visionOS sticky note app by Vidit Bhargava, the maker of the dictionary app LookUp. The app is a straightforward, but handy utility for jotting down a quick note using your voice.

When you start recording, Parchi's record button turns into a big stop button.

When you start recording, Parchi’s record button turns into a big stop button.

When you launch the app, you’re greeted by a bright yellow gradient window with a big record button in the middle. Tap it and start speaking to record a note. Tap again to stop, and your audio recording will transform into a yellow sticky note with your recording transcribed into text. Once created, you can drag notes around your environment, leaving them in places where they will serve as valuable reminders. In the bottom corners of the note are buttons to play back your audio and delete the note.

The All Parchi view.

The All Parchi view.

You can also access all of your notes from the app’s main UI by switching from the ‘Parchi Recorder’ view to ‘All Parchis,’ which displays each of your notes as a horizontally scrolling collection. The ‘All Parchis’ view also includes a search field for finding particular notes in a large collection.

Leave notes where they make the most sense within your environment.

Leave notes where they make the most sense within your environment.

I love Parchi’s simplicity and ease of use, but I’d like to see it expanded a little too. The smallest size note is still somewhat large. It would be great if I could shrink them even further with the text transforming into a play button when there isn’t enough room to display it. I’d also like to see Siri and Shortcuts support added to make it possible to create a note without first opening the app. Finally, a copy button would make Parchi a better complement to task managers and other apps by allowing text to be moved to other apps as needed.

Overall, though, I’ve really enjoyed using Parchi. It’s the kind of quick interaction I appreciate when I’ve got something on my mind that I want to jot down without interrupting the flow of whatever else I’m doing.

Parchi is available on the App Store for $2.99.


Obsidian’s Importer Plugin Lets You Move Your Apple Notes to Any Note-Taking App That Supports Markdown

As Club MacStories members know, I’ve been spending time the past few weeks decluttering my digital life and setting up systems so it’s harder for things to come undone again. One of my strategies to make life easier for ‘future me’ is to minimize the number of places I store things.

For notes and articles I write, that means Obsidian. In the past, I’ve resisted putting every text file in Obsidian because the app’s file management tools haven’t always been the best. Part of that historical weakness is undoubtedly the result of Obsidian’s emphasis on linking between documents. Fortunately, Obsidian’s folder and file management tools have come a long way. Paired with Omnisearch, a powerful third-party search plugin, I’ve overcome my hesitation and gone all in with Obsidian as an editor and text storage solution. So, when I heard that Obsidian’s open-source import tool had been updated to work with Apple Notes, I thought I’d export some of my notes to Obsidian to get a feel for how well it works.

The Importer plugin.

The Importer plugin.

Apple Notes doesn’t have an export option. Instead, as Obsidian’s blog post on the Importer plugin update explains, it stores your notes in a local SQLite database. The format isn’t documented, but the developers of the plugin were able to reverse-engineer it to allow users to move notes and their attachments out of Notes and into two folders: one with Markdown versions of your notes and the other with the files attached to your notes. The folder with your notes includes subfolders that match any folders you set up in Notes, too.

Importer is an Obsidian plugin that can be downloaded and installed from the Community Plugins section of Obsidian’s settings. The Importer’s UI can be opened using the command ‘Importer: Open Importer,’ which gives you options of where to save your imported notes, along with options to include recently deleted notes and omit the first line of a note, which Obsidian will use to name the note instead. Click the Import button, and the plugin does its thing. That’s all there is to it.

When you run Importer, it requires you to confirm where your Notes are stored, which is easy because the plugin takes you there itself.

When you run Importer, it requires you to confirm where your Notes are stored, which is easy because the plugin takes you there itself.

I ran Importer twice to see how well it worked in practice. The first time was on a set of more than 400 notes, many of which hadn’t been touched in years. The import process was fast, but it failed on 36 notes, and it wasn’t clear from the plugin’s interface whether that caused it to get stuck part of the way through or if the plugin just skipped those notes. I don’t know why some of my notes failed to import, but the results weren’t too bad for an undocumented file format of an app with no official export feature.

Importer isn't perfect but it's close enough given my large collection of old, rarely touched notes.

Importer isn’t perfect but it’s close enough given my large collection of old, rarely touched notes.

The import process is non-destructive, meaning it doesn’t delete the notes in Apple Notes. I took advantage of this by deleting everything I’d just imported into Obsidian. Then, I went back to Notes and cleaned them up a bit, deleting old notes I didn’t need anymore and reducing the total note count to 149. I re-ran Importer, and this time, I got no errors. I haven’t checked every note, but based on a spot check, the import process looks like it was successful.

The end result of using Importer is a folder of Apple Notes and related subfolders, plus a folder of attachments.

The end result of using Importer is a folder of Apple Notes and related subfolders, plus a folder of attachments.

One limitation of Obsidian’s Importer plugin is that it requires you to use the Obsidian app. However, the beauty of plain text is that once you have a folder full of Markdown files, you can use them with any app that supports Markdown, so it’s a tool worth considering whether you’re an Obsidian true believer or not.

That said, I don’t intend to abandon Apple Notes completely. It was easy to move a bunch of reference notes to Obsidian, where they’ll be easier to use alongside other notes. However, Obsidian’s Achilles heel is its lack of a workable system for collaboration. Until there’s a fast, secure, and simple way to share and edit notes with others, I’ll still use Apple Notes’ sharing feature. For everything else, I’m in deep with Obsidian because the portability and flexibility of plain text combined with a rich selection of third-party plugins make it the best tool for the sort of work I do.


Shiny Frog Releases Bear 2.0

Today, Shiny Frog launched Bear 2.0, a ground-up rewrite of its popular note-taking app for the iPhone, iPad, and Mac that has been years in the making. The new version has been rebuilt with a custom text editing engine and introduces a long list of features, including:

  • Tables
  • Section folding
  • Tables of contents and backlinks
  • Footnotes
  • Nested text styling
  • Sketching
  • Sidebar pinning
  • Link and PDF previews
  • Image cropping and resizing
  • Custom fonts and new themes
  • And more

A lot has happened in the note-taking world since Bear was first released on the App Store in 2016 and won over writers with its modern design and Markdown-friendly features. Block-based editors like Craft and Notion have become popular as have a long list of plain-text editors, like Obsidian and Roam Research, that support wiki-style linking.

With Bear 2.0, Shiny Frog seems to be trying to thread a needle by maintaining the elegant design of the Bear 1.0 while accommodating the advanced features of more recent entrants to the note-taking category. That’s not easy to do, but I like what I’ve seen in my early use of the update.

Today’s update comes with a new price structure too. Bear is available on the App Store as a free download but requires a subscription for some features. As Shiny Frog announced in the spring, existing subscribers won’t be charged more as long as they maintain their current subscription, but new users (and re-subscribers) will pay $2.99/month or $29.99/year.