Notes, Part 3

After thinking about a new notes app some more and looking at a bunch of different notes apps, now I am thinking that syncing with Google Docs might not be so bad. In particular, NoteMaster is cheap (99 cents, but has a free version you can play around with that lets you sync 8 notes), and syncs only with one folder in Google Docs, so I can keep any other docs separate. With Google in the mix, I can import notes from text files and edit them online from pretty much anywhere.


Here are the ones I was looking at after searching for “notes” or “memos”:

  1. 4Notes, $4.99, backs up to website
  2. ActiveNotes, $0.99, turns iPod into web server so you can edit notes on your computer
  3. Awesome Note, $3.99, syncs Google docs, but more geared towards to-dos
  4. BigNotes, $0.99, has password protection
  5. DigiNotes, $1.99, uses DropBox for notes
  6. MemoBook, $1.99, this is the one I had been using
  7. Memos, $7.99, syncs Google docs
  8. Memos, $0.99, really just a bulletin board for sticky notes
  9. mNotes, free, doesn’t do categories
  10. Moes Notes, $2.99, more geared towards audio notes with GPS tagging
  11. MyNotes, $0.99, support website is a parked domain
  12. Note Board, $0.99, another bulletin board for sticky notes
  13. Note Me, free, can’t import or back up notes
  14. NoteLife, $4.99, syncs with SOHO notes, audio, video, buggy
  15. NoteMaster, $0.99, syncs Google Docs
  16. Notes, $1.99, freehand doodles or notes
  17. Notes Secure, $0.99, password protected notes
  18. Notes+, $1.99, syncs to computer, but can’t import notes
  19. Notespark, $4.99, syncs to a website, can import notes
  20. Notsu, $3.99, does checklists, can e-mail notes to people
  21. SimpleNote, $4.99, syncs with website and desktop, free version has ads
  22. Springpad, “free”, the cost is they push “offers” to you
  23. Sticky Notes Pro, $0.99, puts sticky notes on the lock screen
  24. TikiNotes, free, has a alternate keyboard that I didn’t think was effective
  25. WriteRoom, $4.99, syncs with WriteRoom.ws (on Google?)

Anyway, NoteMaster lets me password protect any folder of notes that I want which is good because that means I only have to get involved with passwords if I open particular notes, not all the time. And while the app always opens where I was last, if I am in a protected folder or note, the app doesn’t re-open there.

I went ahead and wrote a routine in Access that will save the notes archive I imported from MemoBook to individual text files. Also the advantage of Google is that it won’t likely go out of business like a third-party website might and is less likely to start charging money or sell my information (or have it stolen). Also there are a few apps that sync with Google, so it would also give me the ability to switch to a different notes program if this one goes bad or a better one comes along.

NoteMaster is also huge: 18 MB. But it does let me do some fancier formatting, add pictures, headers, backgrounds, etc. I don’t know that I will use any of that, but I can if I need to.

The downside is that only Google Docs are synced so all of the notes would have to be converted. I can upload text files to Google, but they wouldn’t be synced unless they are converted to Google Doc format. As long as I don’t get to carried away with formatting, I can even export Google Docs to text format (or Word and others) as a zipped archive, so I can do all of them at once. That’s pretty good.

I played around with it just now. If I upload files with a .txt extension they can either stay as text files (and apparently can’t be edited) or can be converted to Google Doc format. If there is no extension on the file, then Google won’t let me see the contents or edit it, but I can download it if I want. Even if I say Google can convert it when uploading it, Google doesn’t try because there is no extension on the file. Since the title of the notes is the file name, all of my note titles will have to end with .txt. I can rename them by hand over time, but that’s kind of a bummer.

7 thoughts on “Notes, Part 3

  1. I got everything moved over to NoteMaster yesterday. This is definitely the best buy in notes apps. Way, way cheaper than Evernote or Simplenote, even cheaper than the very basic, infrequently updated MemoBook.

    One problem that has cropped up so far is that one of my often used notes is a list of stocks I have organized in a table with the purchased price and the prices at which I would sell or buy shares. On the Palm I used tabs, but the iPhone doesn’t seem to like tabs (doesn’t even have a Tab key on any of its keyboards). I set it up as tabs in the Google Doc, but when it synced, it converted the tabs to spaces. So I thought I would use Courier font and make an ASCII table, but Courier isn’t quite monospaced for some reason and the font itself is very light and can’t be bolded.

    Another note I use a lot has gasoline prices to enter later into GasBuddy and it was nice that I could make that font really big which will make editing it in the car easier.

    Even though it is more powerful than MemoBook, it opens into the last used note almost instantly whereas MemoBook took a couple of seconds and opened only to its home screen of categories.

    I think I managed to crash it one time (the program just quits), but I didn’t lose any information.

  2. I don’t think so. It’s not a word processor or anything. So you just pick one font and size for the whole note. If you go into Google Docs and modify one word to be bold, I think that formatting would end up getting lost, just like the tabs (I’m not sure about that; it might maintain the formatting in Google, but I’m thinking if I changed it on the iPod it would overwrite the Google version and lose the formatting).

    Reading a little about NoteMaster, it seems they upload to Google in an Open Office format (.odt). But I’m sure it is greatly simplified since you can only have one font and size, one type of header, images, and lists (numbered, bullet, and check lists). Plus a background. I wonder how they let Google know it is odt without giving the file an odt extension? That would have been useful in getting rid of my .txt extension. But there must be a way because Mac docs wouldn’t have a .txt extension.

    Well, I went back to my old memo in MemoBook which had tabs and copied a tab to the clipboard and pasted it into my NoteMaster note and it seems to have worked so far. As long as I don’t change it in Google, it might stay that way. But I would bet if I change it in Google, it would convert the tabs to spaces again when it brings it over to the iPod.

  3. iTunes posted my review of Notemaster twice, so I tried to delete it, but I will want to post it back at some point, so here it is:

    I have hundreds of notes that I use to keep up with all kinds of things. I brought these to the iPod from my Palm. I used another notes program for a little while because it allowed categories, imports, and could back up the notes on my computer. But Notemaster is so much better. It really gets all of the user interface stuff right and I can just jump in (it loads pretty quickly) and edit a note that I am reading and it saves my spot when I leave the program. It syncs with Google Docs by just pressing a button, though you don’t have all of the word processing capability of Google Docs on these notes (better to use the Google docs sync folder for backups, typing long notes, or importing and exporting notes; it doesn’t really sync that well, for instance all tabs are converted to spaces when they come over from Google). They are still pretty much just notes, but enhanced with a header style, background art, lists, and pictures. You can’t bold a single word, for instance. That’s fine because I was happy with just text on my Palm. I spent a weekend evaluating dozens of notes programs and decided this one is the best value. Since I bought it, that decision has only been reinforced. I also like being able to give different notes personalities by using a different font or size (applies to the whole note) or background.

  4. Notemaster stopped synching with Google Drive recently. I guess Google made a change (they’ve recently upgraded security) and locked Notemaster out. Notemaster released a new version, but it is only compatible with IOS 8.0 and my iPod is still on 6.0 and can’t be upgraded. So I started looking around for a new app, downloaded one, and it didn’t seem to do anything, but now I had given it my Google password. So I changed my password and deleted the app. I went in to Notemaster to see if it could log on with the new password (I realize this is very unlikely) and it didn’t, but I noticed in the setting that Notemaster could also sync with Dropbox. Hmmm . . . I went to Dropbox, set up a free account, and I’m in business! Or I’m in the process of being in business. I’ve uploaded 385 of 526 notes. I’m sure I can do more with Dropbox, but right now I don’t really care.

  5. I moved my Yahoo Notes to Google Docs years ago. I keep most of my static records in Google Docs. But I do most of my day-to-day note taking using Evernote, in part because I do so much screen snippets throughout my day. Evernote has largely replaced my physical notebook, and I access it via web, Mac, and iPhone.

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