Circus Ponies NoteBook alternative (and not OneNote)

I search for a note taking app for Mac that will allow me to place (= arrange) text and images in any way I want them to be. This is how it worked in CircusPonies Notebook years ago (the app is dicontinued):

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The only app I found that provide such freedom is Microsoft OneNote. But I don’t like the idea to sign in to web account to use the desktop app.

Are there other note taking apps that provide an option to arrange text blocks in any arbitrary order, like Circus Ponies NoteBook or OneNote?

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You might be happy with Obsidian, exclusively using the Excalidraw community plugin:


Perhaps NoteTaker 4 ( comes close to your needs. It is the closest app to Circus Ponies that I know of.


I feel your pain. I used CPN for years until it no longer ran.

I suggest you look at Growly Notes

It’s free and works somewhat like OneNote.

Mailbuoy mentions NoteTaker 4. This is actually a close relation to CPN as they both have roots in a similar program (name unknown?) in the NeXT Computer. This company came back to life in recent years, but appeared to be abandonware (at version 3) back when CPN went under.


I’ve just found Outline. I would say the app is great, apart from it lacks some OneNote features. Namely, I haven’t found how to draw something using the trackpad/mouse or how to add an audio record. The trial period is 365 days.

I use Curio similarly to Circus Ponies Notebook.


Is infinite canvas a requirement? (I’m not familiar with CPN but that’s what sets OneNote apart from the others – I’ve been using it more or less actively for over 15 years.)

If not, notetaking apps such like Goodnotes will let you freely position all elements.

Goodnotes lets you type anywhere you click and automatically creates a text box there.


CPN wasn’t infinite canvas. It had a fixed upper left corner, as does Growly Notes.

If you want infinite canvas there is always Freeform, although where it stores data is somewhat of a mystery.

OneNote also has a fixed upper left corner but is otherwise an infinite canvas in a sense that it’s not paginated either vertically or horizontally. You can zoom and scale as you please.

Freeform locks you into using iCloud with limited export options, currently even worse than Apple Notes. And it does not seem to have a click-to-type ability (as in OneNote and GoodNotes).

Thinking way outside the box here, perhaps use a program like OnmiGraffle. You can put text, graphics, photos, PDFs, … in it and it has an infinite canvas. Also keeps data local in a location of your choice. Other vector drawing programs (EazyDraw, Affinity Designer, LibreOffice Draw,…) might also work as an alternative to CPN.

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Seems to be a very interesting idea, many thanks. Do you know does OmniGraffle support multiple canvases in a single file, like multiple slides in Keynote? I ask this because I cannot test it myself. There is neither Visa nor Mastercard in my country, whereas my OmniGraffle trial is already expired about a year ago.

Yes it does. And each canvas can have multiple layers, although that probably isn’t a great idea for notebooks.

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NoteTaker was updated 2 months ago in the US Mac App Store, so it’s still in active development, even though it’s still using the old paradigm of drawers for the table of contents and the tabbed sections on the right.

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I spent years looking for a CPN replacement and settled on Curio. It has all the benefits of CPN with many other fine features. The cost is reasonable (a one time purchase gets you a year of updates, after which you can carry on using indefinitely. You only pay for a further year of updates when you choose. There’s also a subscription option if that’s your preference).

I tried Outline which I recall being able to ingest CPN notebooks, if you still have any of those, but I wasn’t convinced by the lack of updates.

Notetaker 4 is extremely similar to CPN (the dev and the CPN dev jointly built a CPN precursor for the Next back in the day, then split to go their separate ways), but has a somewhat sporadic update schedule.


Check out GoodNotes. I believe that does it.


Curio is just amazing! Many thanks!


Glad you like it - it was a revelation for me

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I’m a big Curio fan myself. I’ve used Notetaker 4 and agree that it might be the most similar product to CPN on the market. Here’s a previous MPU discussion of Notetaker 4. I’m hoping there’ll be a Notetaker 5.

I think one thing to keep in mind is that Notetaker 4 is currently $29.99 and many competing products are priced higher.