Revisiting Apple Notes

The only people who disagree with this is the DTP team.


I’m very impressed with Upnote. Everything I like about Apple Notes with extra features I really need:

  • You can easily share notes to a web URL which can be viewed by anyone, similar to Craft
  • Notes in multiple folders
  • Web clipper
  • Versioning/backup
  • It quickly generates links to notes which can be added to e.g., reminders, documents etc
  • Linking between notes

I’m surprised Apple Notes doesn’t have the latter three features which seem pretty basic for a note taking app these days. I’m not seeing anything I’m missing and it also replaces Logseq/Obsidian. And, as you say, it’s inexpensive. I’ve gone for the monthly plan for the moment but if I’m still with it in a month or two I’ll go lifetime.

(My only concern is their business model. How they keep Firebase servers running indefinitely with a single, lifetime subscription I’m not sure.)


Totally agree. Despite the ups and downs with the recent “flavor” of Evernote (Electron build) it’s the ability to send things to it so easily via Email and Web Clipper that are dead simple to use that keep me as a user.

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Fascinated by what you’ve written here, but extremely curious in how you use Aeon Timeline. And why you chose that over something with a bit more power like OmniPlan?

Ah… it’s ridiculous and probably not recommended for anyone. I have “Markdown Text” mapped to ⌃⌥N, then I hit ⌘Shift O to open the file in BBEdit and do all my editing there. I don’t bother taking notes in DTTG because I do all my work on either my iMac or MacBook Air.

My notes in DT tend to be both longer and more detailed than personal notes, and have lots of code examples.

I probably should get used to the DT editor, I hear the Markdown editing is getting better, and it’ll now auto-suggest wiki links while typing, that might be enough for me to give it a second look.

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I’m not sure why the DT editor gets so much negative opinion. What makes it bad? I admit I don’t normally use it, but I don’t have strong opinions about it either way.

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I write notes that end up in DEVONthink with a number of ways.

  • DEVONthink editor in Markdown, PlainText, and RTF
  • Apple Pages
  • Microsoft Word
  • BBEdit (Markdown and plain text)
  • DEVONthink ToGO (ipad and iphone) Pages, Drafts, Textastic
  • (ways I cannot remember just now)

There is no reason to think one must do it one way if using DEVONthink. I’ve also learned that the important thing is not what tool to capture notes, but more important is putting those notes somewhere where they can be used and be morphed into a more finished thing.

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Thanks. I was curious if you had found a magic solution to avoiding the DTTG editor in particular. Your workaround is creative but probably not for me. :blush:

I don’t know Bear so I I can’t agree or disagree with your comparison.

But, I do have Evernote in my iPad Safari Share menu.

Wait, I missed it and see it now. Bear still does a better job on the iPad. The Evernote web clipper on Mac and PC is better than the one on iPad.

I really like Apple Notes. Exporting is a pain though, there’s multiple exporters and they all miss different things, and the notes need editing afterwards. I had the best results using Bear’s exporter to migrate everything to Obsidian.

I wish Apple Notes supported Markdown, and linking to other notes would be nice, as that’s been helpful for me.

The iOS app is great for quickly jotting down things on the go though, along with quick todo lists and scanning documents.

I don’t use Aeon Timeline as a case/project management tool. I use it for building case chronologies. As I learn facts about a case (from documents, our investigation, etc.), my team puts those facts into the Aeon Timeline database, then we can add all sorts of metadata that enables us to drill down and build arguments. Can that be done in OmniPlan? If so, I should check it out.

Coincidentally, the Aeon Timeline developers asked me to do a case study for them about how I use it. The case study demonstrates what I was explaining above. I’ll add the link once it gets published. … which reminds me that I owe them some edits.


Ahhh, okay, this makes more sense. I thought you were using it for project planning, etc. I’ve heard of folks using it for project planning like OmniPlan but have never actually seen an example from real-life professionals, so that was why I asked.

Thanks for clarifying!

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So happy I don’t do litigation anymore.

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You probably already know this but you can drag an email into Apple Notes (at using Mail, I don’t know about other email clients) and a link to the email is automatically created in Notes.

Yes, that is a nice feature. You can also drag an email (from Mail) to Evernote and get the same link. Most often, I prefer to save the actual email vice just the link.

On macOS:
Saving an email from Mail to Notes requires copy/paste or Print to .pdf/Notes. If the email is anything other than simple text (E.g. HTML) the copy/paste often (in my experience) loses formatting.

You can forward an email from Mail to Evernote and the resulting notes look great. This is my normal workflow for saving email to Evernote.

Print to pdf/Notes and Print to pdf/Evernote produces the same pdf in each. In Evernote the pdf email is searchable and text is selectable. Notes will find a search phrase in a pdf, but to search within the pdf or to select text I think you need to open it in Preview.


I agree, the process of saving email to Apple Notes is less than ideal. Years ago I used EN extensively but abandoned it when they seemed to have lost their way. The bigger problem for me was the difficulty getting stuff out of EN (what David refers to as the “roach motel). I’ll quickly acknowledge that AN is not stellar in this regard either. The problem with getting information out of systems like EN and AN is what still causes me friction in feeling settled on my note taking app. I’ve defaulted to AN but still feel the pull of other apps like Obsidian and Craft. If I could seamlessly connect a todo in Craft to Reminders (my task manager of choice) I’d use Craft but thus far (unless I’m missing it) Craft doesn’t have a Reminders extension, only a Things one. I like Obsidian but I don’t like how one has to embed PDFs in a note and creating tables, while doable, is far from elegant. What I want is AN with more export options (Textbundle) and note linking. If AN had that, I’d be one happy camper. :slightly_smiling_face:


It’s funny how different people have altering views on the ease of export from some systems. David and Stephen have talked about how awful it is to get things out of Evernote, but my experience has been quite the opposite. I right-click on a notebook, export to .enex and then import into another app (e.g. Apple Notes). Some notes might lose a little formatting, and some editing may have to occur, but overall – it’s pretty good.

Apple Notes offers no such export function unless each note is exported to PDF individually, or you resort to third party options which may or may not function as expected.

I also hear a lot of people say Obsidian is future proof, and I’m not sure how much I agree with this. Yes, it stores your data in plain text files on your device, but without the Obsidian app on your device and depending on what plugins were used, it may be a heap of unreadable kanban boards and task notes. I’m also not sure it’s even possible to link notes without Obsidian installed, though I’d be surprised if this wasn’t the case.

To some extent, I think no matter how “future proof” an app is, there are still ingredients in that company’s “special sauce” that can cause unforeseen issues the day you try to leave.

I swing between Apple Notes and Obsidian.
Apple notes because I’m full Apple, Obsidian because is Markdown and has backlinks.

I swing mostly because I’m still evaluating if backlinks give value to my workflow and my notes: they are useful but also time consuming, and I realize many of them may be easily replaced by simply searching for the terms.

I really like Apple Notes because it’s frictionless.

As for exporting the notes it’s not a problem until now: if you are on Mac you can install the Export App for AppStore, that exports all your notes into markdown, along with pictures and PDFs.
With some limitations:

  1. it’s an all or nothing exporting: you can’t choose a set of notes
  2. it doesn’t export handwritten notes (at least until now)

Not any more, at least for the markdown editor.

They’ve done done a fair amount of work on it over the last couple of years, and now it’s more than good enough for simple (and some not so simple) note taking.

It does:

  • syntax highlighting of markdown and various languages within code blocks (using prism), and including CriticMarkup
  • automatic continuation of lists, including checkboxes
  • style sheets
  • tables
  • mermaid for diagrams
  • transclusion of files
  • MathJax for Latex style equations
  • verification of links (Wiki and x-devonthink)
  • easy linking (forward and back) of multiple links
  • automatic handling of image location
  • side by side preview etc

There are successful commercial markdown editors which can’t do some of that…

These days I tend to use DT3 for most short notes. You wouldn’t use it for text of any length, but for the short stuff, I only use external editors for:

  • BBEdit for manipulating text. E.g. Complicated searches (both in the one document and acroos many), turning CSV into tables, and plain text coding (CSS etc)

  • iA Writer if the note is has a lot of lists which need reordering.

It’s not perfect, of course – I’ve been asking them for typewriter scrolling for the last ten years – and you wouldn’t use it as a standalone editor, but given its integration into DT3’s features, it definitely has advantages.