October 13, 2022

QB 011: Note-taking and Knowledge Management


Jack wrote that Personal Knowledge Management is exhausting.

I found myself agreeing with his conclusions.

I made the mistake of reading “How to Take Smart Notes” by Sönke Ahrens and browsing the forums and that sent me on a spiral of worrying about atomicity, what to do about “fleeting” notes, how big is a Zettel? and so on. In other words, I was more concerned with finding the proper method of managing my notes rather than focusing on what was actually in them and what they were for.

That is such a nice line. “I made the mistake of reading”How to Take Smart Notes" by Sönke Ahrens…" Must admit that I made the same “mistake.”

The reality is that it is easier to obsess about the process and the details of the knowledge management system than it is to consume/create knowledge. A whole bunch of folks are selling systems geared towards managing knowledge. Giving these people money makes you feel that you are doing something productive. You are starting on the route to becoming knowledgeable. Bullshit. You are kidding yourself and you are wasting your money.

Worry about the content of your notes. Concentrate on the thinking. Forget the process. Keep writing.

macosxguru at the gmail thingie.

Note: Thank you Brett Sayles for the image.

October 3, 2022

Notebooks 3 IconNotebooks 3 Icon

Notebooks 3 Adds Links to the Arsenal

Product: Notebooks
Price: $39.99 (Upgrade from previous version is free)

I have written about Notebooks before. Notebooks a Multi-Pronged Toolset for macOS and iOS - Bicycle For Your Mind.

Notebooks is misnamed. When you see the name, Notebooks, it conjures a note-taking application. Notebooks can be used to take notes but it can do more. It can be your writing app. You can think of it as a competitor to Ulysses.

You can use Notebooks for taking notes. You can also use it to write long form documents and the program will handle that without much friction.

Notebooks lets you write in plain text, formatted text or Markdown. I am interested in its abilities to deal with Markdown and that is what I am going to cover in this review.

Notebooks WindowNotebooks Window

Improvements to Notebooks 3

  1. Support for MultiMarkdown.
  2. Support for wiki-links of the [[…]] format.
  3. Open documents in separate windows or tabs.
  4. You can view and edit external documents by dropping them on the Notebooks icon in the Dock or in the Finder.
  5. Checklists and clickable checkboxes are supported.
  6. A TOC feature.
  7. Access to files/documents. Pin on Top. Favorites. All additions which make the process of working on documents easier.

Suggestions for Improvement

Notebooks supports macOS system settings like two spaces turn into a period and the first letter of a new sentence is capitalized. It supports typewriter scrolling and provides a beautiful environment to write in.

The only suggestions I have for improving the product are:

  1. Versions support from the OS would be nice.
  2. Integration with Marked 2 would be welcome.


Notebooks has always been a product I am fond of. This new version is better. The linking and back linking makes Notebooks more useful.

I appreciate the developer not charging for this update, but it is significant enough an upgrade that I would have gladly paid for it.

I recommend Notebooks heartily.

macosxguru at the gmail thingie.

notebooks macOS
August 2, 2022

PlainPad IconPlainPad Icon

PlainPad Is a macOS Compliant Text Editor

Product: PlainPad
Price: $1.99

PlainPad “is a clean editor for plain text files,” is how the developer describes it.

PlainPad WindowPlainPad Window

Two things struck me about PlainPad:

  1. macOS compliance.
  2. Customizability.

Let’s discuss these in detail.

macOS Compliant

  • PlainPad supports Services.
  • It supports the macOS feature, Versions. You can switch back to a previous version of your document if you want.
  • It supports “Lazy typing.” Two spaces turn into a period. The first letter of a new sentence is capitalized. You have to set this up in the system Keyboard>Text preference pane.

iA Writer supports these. Typora supports these. Obsidian doesn’t. Nor does BBEdit (it does support Services). I was amazed to find a cheap little text editor so macOS compliant.

PlainPad is Customizable

For a simple text editor, PlainPad is a customizable solution.

PlainPad Preferences GeneralPlainPad Preferences General

You can choose to auto-save your documents and choose a default extension for all your files. In my case, it is .md for Markdown documents.

PlainPad Editor>Font & ColorPlainPad Editor>Font & Color

You can choose your own font. I have been using the SF Mono from Apple. You can get it here. It is easy to read and I like it.

PlainPad Preferences Editor>SpacingPlainPad Preferences Editor>Spacing

You can tweak line height and paragraph height.

PlainPad Editor>CursorPlainPad Editor>Cursor

The iA Writer cursor in PlainPad.

PlainPad TypographyPlainPad Typography

This is where the magic for “lazy typing” happens.

PlainPad FullscreenPlainPad Fullscreen

You don’t have to see the text bound across the whole screen in full screen mode. You can define how wide you want the full screen window to be. Makes it possible to work in full screen mode.

For a simple editor, PlainPad does provide you with the tools to customize your environment.


If you are looking for an editor to grow into, the free-version of BBEdit is the better option. It is not as macOS compliant as PlainPad, but it is a lot more capable an editor.

If you are looking for a small, smart macOS compliant tool to take quick notes and have a text editing application within easy reach, you can use PlainPad. That is what I use it for.

I recommend PlainPad.

macosxguru at the gmail thingie.

macOS text editor
July 18, 2022


QB 010: A Few Questions

I got questions from readers on What Is the Best Writing App for Me? - Bicycle For Your Mind.

The main questions were:

  • Why did you stop using Obsidian?
  • Why did you recommend BBEdit, and not Sublime Text?
  • Have you tried Zettlr, or QOwnNotes?

Why did I stop using Obsidian?

  • The non-native nature of the product drove me batty.
    • Missed “lazy typing.” (Two spaces turn into a period, and first letter of a new sentence is capitalized.)
    • Missed the Services menu.
    • Disliked the way it dealt with Alfred expansions. I rely on Alfred for my text expansions and Obsidian will periodically choke on them.
  • Obsidian felt heavy to me. Everything is a little slow and Drafts, iA Writer, and BBEdit don’t suffer from that. I don’t know whether that is a function of Electron, or the number of plug-ins installed, or my old machine. Felt like I was walking through sand when working in Obsidian.
  • I am not convinced about the need for a graphical view. I never used that.
  • I miss block links, but it is not critical.

I have Obsidian installed and use it for certain tasks, but it is not a central part of my workflow.

One of the tasks I perform in Obsidian is to get the content from a webpage, convert to Markdown and save in my vault. I use a plug-in called kevboh/obsidian-pluck: Quickly create notes in Obsidian from web pages.. Slick.

Why did I recommend BBEdit, and not Sublime Text?

  • The advent of VSCode has changed the marketplace. I am uncertain about the long-term viability of Sublime Text. It is difficult to compete with a free solution. In that context, I couldn’t recommend Sublime Text for a new user. I have more faith in the longevity of BBEdit than I do for Sublime Text.
  • Sublime Text is a cross-platform application. BBEdit is more narrowly focused. It is a macOS only solution. That made me reason that it is probably protected from the market dominance of VSCode.
  • Of course, I might be wrong in this assertion, but that was the thinking behind my recommending BBEdit instead of Sublime Text.

Zettlr and QOwnNotes

I have tried both. I am not fond of either. Zettlr crashes on my machine too often and QOwnNotes looks too ugly.

Present State

Drafts is where I start a document. I move on to iA Writer for editing and tweaking the writing. I use BBEdit for large documents.

macosxguru at the gmail thingie.

Thanks to Anete Lusina

July 10, 2022

QB 009: Tyro Keyboard Maestro Macros

Product: Tyro — Keyboard Maestro Macros for Apprentices
Price: $1.99

This is unusual. Folks don’t usually charge for Keyboard Maestro macros. In fact, developers provide macros, extensions and additions for free. They might have a donation link or a buy me a coffee link, or some other way of generating some gratuity, but they don’t sell a collection of macros.

I was curious. I tried it out.


Tyro is a collection of macros. It’s three groups of macros:

  1. Screenshot macros
  2. Window Management macros, and
  3. A couple more.

They are useful. The goal of the macros is to teach you how to use Keyboard Maestro and they provide some insight into that. I like the window management macros and am glad to have that in the arsenal.

macosxguru at the gmail thingie.

Keyboard Maestro