October 25, 2015

Leafnote - One to Avoid

(Originally posted on 2014-12-07)

One thing it does well

Leafnote does one thing well. If you have a project (a collection of documents) and its contents are broken up into different sections (each individual document), you have the ability to move the sections around in your document. Conceptually, every section, is its own document and you can determine the order of the project as a sequence of different sections. So, effectively, you write the sections, then you order the sections into the best order that you can conceive. Then you export. This is a feature shared with Scrivener, Ulysses, and every other outlining program in the marketplace. Other writing programs let you achieve the same effect, but it is not as smooth and easy as in Leafnote.

All the other things

Nevercenter, the developer describes the product as "super-minimal." They are not kidding.

There is no preference panel. None. You don't get to choose the font you write in. You don't get to tweak the look of anything. You don't get to do anything to customize the appearance. You have to work, as is.

That has some benefits. Like I said before in the review of Desk, the developers who design these minimal apps believe that preferences are distracting and they are interested in reducing all distractions. A commendable goal, however, I like writing in Nitti, and if I am going to be staring at the screen for hours on end, I want to see the font I want, and not some arbitrary font chosen by the developer.

There is no typewriter scrolling. No dark mode. No ability to change the font size. No ability to change the leading, the amount of vertical space between lines of text. Nothing. The developer makes no effort to provide an environment conducive to writing. I am writing this review in Leafnote and I already have the start of a headache. The font is too small, the space between lines is too scrunched and it is uncomfortable to be here.

What is even more disturbing is that there is no find function. If you have any number of notes, you are going to have to find the right one you are thinking about. That exercise is going to be manual. I have no words to describe how painful that process can be. This is a product designed by someone who doesn’t write much, or has a much better memory than me.

This is a non-standard writing app. It doesn't support some of the basic features you take for granted in any text editor/note-taking/writing program. This is not a comprehensive list of all the useful stuff which this application does not support:

  • Doesn’t let you select a word and hit ⌃ + ⌘ + D for dictionary lookup.
  • Doesn’t let you hit ⌘ + + or ⌘ + -, to increase/reduce the font size.
  • Doesn’t implement a find function. You have no ability to find anything in this program. The find function does not exist. So the find exercise is completely manual.
  • Doesn’t let you move a line up or down. You can move sections up and down your master document if you have broken up your content into sections, but individual lines? Only through cut and paste.
  • No sort fuction.
  • No fullscreen option.


Leafnote provides a demo for you to try out. You can try it out.

My recommendation is to avoid it.

If you are looking for a writing/note-taking app, you will do much better with a whole slew of alternatives available in the marketplace. This is not a comprehensive list of alternatives which are better than Leafnote at providing you a better designed writing environment:

People who disagree with me

Leafnote: A text editor that's powerful in its simplicity | TUAW: Apple news, reviews and how-tos since 2004

Leafnote review: Focus on writing, not on how to use the app | Macworld

Taking note: Leafnote

macosxguru at the gmail thingie

Leafnote Mac OS

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