February 12, 2018

Quick and Easy Scratch Pads

Product: Tyke
Price: Free

Product: Scrawl Product Link: Mac App Store Link
Price: Free

Product: Airnotes
Purchase Link: Mac App Store Link
Price: Free

Product: FiveNotes | Apptorium Purchase Link: Mac App Store Link Price: $4.99

During your work on the computer there are little things which you need to keep a record of. The expectation being that you are going to get to it a later stage. It is the quintessential sticky note solution. You have to keep a record of it, copy and paste it, accessible and available to you when you need it. These are programs trying to solve that problem for you.

I have written about this category of products before:

In this article I am going to cover four more.


Tyke IconTyke Icon

The developer of Tyke describes it as "A little bit of scratch paper that lives on your Mac menu bar." It is an apt description for a program which is focused on its single task: providing you a little window to type your note into. No preferences but one, and a strange one at that, you can enable/disable smart quotes, nothing else. This is the most basic of the four products I am going to describe in this article. It is free. It does what it sets out to do and is a treat to work in.

Tyke WindowTyke Window

This is recommended if you are looking for the most basic implementation of a note-taking window.


Scrawl IconScrawl Icon

Scrawl is a more complete product than Tyke. For one, it has an iOS counterpart, called Scrawl Notes. It has iCloud syncing built in and it has preferences. Okay, the preferences are minimal:

Scrawl PreferencesScrawl Preferences

It gives you the choice of where you want Scrawl to show up: menubar, dock or both. You can setup Scrawl to launch when you log in.

Like Tyke, Scrawl gives you a single window to type in.

Scrawl WindowScrawl Window

Focused on a single task, this is a well-designed application and the added benefit of syncing the contents of the singular note across your devices makes this useful.

Simple, elegant and useful. Scrawl is highly recommended if you want your note to be available on both your macOS and iOS devices.


Airnotes IconAirnotes Icon

Airnotes is another of these one document note-taking apps which reside on the menubar. Like Scrawl, it saves its documents in iCloud. The sync is waiting to be completed by the launch of the iOS version of the program.

Airnotes WindowAirnotes Window

Unlike any of the other options listed here, Airnotes lets you choose your own font from your list of installed fonts. This alone makes it makes it more usable to me.

Airnotes PreferencesAirnotes Preferences

The rest of the preferences are somewhat strange. You can post the content to Facebook. I have not tried this feature. You can copy a link to the product from the App Store from this preference pane. The link points to the Mac App Store.

Airnotes won me over with the ability to choose my own font, but besides that this is indistinguishable from any of the other offerings. Till it launches an iOS version, this is constrained by being a macOS only solution.

Airnotes works and is efficient. Recommended if you are currently looking for a macOS only solution and font choice is important to you.

Five Notes

Five Notes IconFive Notes Icon

Five Notes is the only commercial app in this round up. It is distinguished by giving you five note spaces instead of one.

Five Notes WindowFive Notes Window

Five Notes has some features which make it compelling:

  • Five Notes has the ability to manage five different notes. You switch between the notes with ⌘+(number of note).
  • Supports the share extension built in to macOS.
  • Supports the basic elements of Markdown, headers, bold and italic text, quotes and lists.
  • Unlike the others in this list, this implements a user selectable keyboard command to get to the editing window without having to tap icons on the menubar.

Five Notes PreferencesFive Notes Preferences

Five Notes has a set of preferences which make the product useful:

  • Five Notes doesn't give you the ability to use your own fonts but it does give you the ability to choose the size of the font display.
  • Lets the Five Notes window stay on top and display/hide its window at start.
  • Gives you the option of launching Five Notes on startup.

Five Notes is the most accomplished of the products in this collection. It is distinguished by its support of Markdown and its provision of five editing windows instead of the single one of its competitors.

If you are going to be using a scratchpad, and don't mind spending $4.99 for that task, Five Notes is the product I heartily recommend.

macosxguru at the gmail thingie

Tyke Scrawl Airnotes Five Notes writing

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