When it comes to note taking and note collecting, Evernote is one of the most popular apps out there. It comes with tons of features such as web clipping, screen capturing, basic note editing, and even creating presentations to ensure that its users can easily collect notes, snippets, bookmarks, images, PDF, or anything. But as powerful as it is, Evernote has flaws of its own.
The Flaws and the Alternatives
While Evernote has all the essential note-taking needs covered for average users, more serious writers can use more features that are commonly available on other note-taking apps. For example, it’s strange that Evernote users have to go through hoops just to see the word count. There is no way to create headers (H1, H2, H3, etc.), so users have to settle with the combination of bold and font size as the more inconvenient substitute. Support for Markdown is also missing.
Evernote is considerably better than the alternatives in the searching department. But you need to shift the mindset from notebook-based to tag-based organization to get the most of Evernote’s advanced searching ability. If you are organizing your notes using stacks of notebooks, your Evernote will become piles of clutters in no time.
To get the missing note-taking features and different ways to organize your notes, you can switch to other note-taking apps. There are plenty of alternatives that you can choose such as Simplenote, One Note, Letterspace, or even the blog-centric DeskPM. But many of us have invested our time and effort into building our personal Evernote, and switching means restarting the process from zero.
Fortunately, there’s Alternote (OS X only). This Evernote-based note-taking and organizing app will let you retain your Evernote collection while giving you more features and a better writing experience. It’s like using Evernote with on steroids.
Focus on Your Writing
As the name suggests, Alternote is an alternative Evernote client and uses Evernote data. You can include all of your Evernote notebooks in Alternote if you want to, but for me, doing that destrous the purpose of using the alternative client in the first place. The beauty of Alternote is that you can select which notebooks that you want to use. It means you don’t have to bring all your clutter and can focus only on a few notebooks that matter instead.
To do selective syncing, you can go to “Preferences” (Command + Comma), select the “Sync” tab, and “Check” the notebooks that you want to work on.
Another Alternote feature that can help you better organize your notes is the color tagging. This feature will help you quickly see which tags are assigned to which notes just by glancing at them. You can add color to your tag by right-clicking on the tag and choosing “Change Color” and selecting the color you want to use from the pop-up menu.
Alternote also comes with the minimalistic full-screen “Distraction-Free” mode to help you focus on nothing but your writing. To activate it, move your mouse pointer to the top right of your note and click on the right icon.
Along with the distraction-free switch, there is the “Font and Color Scheme” menu next to it. You can choose one of the available fonts for the display of Alternote, adjust the font size, set the spacing between the lines, and change the background color between light and dark (Day and Night Mode) to better suit your working environment and to be easier on your eyes.
If you want to make your note public or print your note, you can use the “Share” button. To undo the action and make your note private again, click the button once again.
The last button on the top-right menu is the “Star” button to favorite your notes. You can use this button to mark the notes that you access the most – maybe your favorite articles or the writing that you are currently working on. These starred notes can be accessed quickly via the “Starred” entry on the left sidebar.
As additional tips, if you hover your mouse on the bottom of the screen, you can see the word count and the tags. You can also add tags here.
Playing with Editing and Headers
If you write for the web, the ability to create a quick header is crucial. Evernote doesn’t give you the option to do that, but Alternote does. You just have to highlight the word or phrase that you want to turn into a header and choose the Header from the pop-up editing menu. If the H1 and H2 from the quick-editing menu are not enough, you can use the “Format -> Insert Header” menu to access up to H6.
Other editing options that can be accessed from the quick menu are bold, italic, insert link, ordered and unordered list, and checkmark.
Those who are familiar with markdown can also play with it in Alternote. For example, if you put two “#” symbols in front of a phrase, Alternote will automatically turn the phrase into H2. At the moment Alternote hasn’t fully supported markdown, but the developer promises that it will in future versions.
Is Alternote for You?
Alternote is still in its early stages, so a few tiny bugs here and there are to be expected. But in general, it’s working fine. I’ve just played with the app for a while and am already loving it. Other than bug fixes, one feature that I hope to be added in the future version is more color options for the tags.
The app is available from the Mac App Store or directly from the developer for US$ 6.99. If you are looking for a free Evernote alternative to jot down light notes, the app might not be for you. But if you write a lot, especially for the web, and you rely heavily on Evernote for your notes and data collection, investing in Alternote will be worth it.
Have you tried Alternote? Or do you use other Evernote alternative? Share your thoughts and opinions using the comments below.