The Simplenote – Notational Velocity Tango

I write, a lot. I write for the day job (lawyer). I write for the night job (blogger). I’ve now even added a weekend writing gig. Needless to say, I’m always looking for a way to write better and faster.

I’ve been aware of Notational Velocity for some time but wasn’t exactly sure what to do with it. Notational Velocity is an open-source project for text junkies. It just holds text but it does it with Panache.

There is no interface to speak of, just a search bar and a list of text files. To make a new entry, you type a unique name in the search bar and press enter. Nothing more. You then have a text field and nothing but your own willingness to procrastinate to hold you back.

After you collect a few (or a lot) of notes you can find them just as easily as you make them. Type a few keywords in the search bar, tab to the one that matches your search, and press return. For years I’ve kept folders full of small text files. Notational Velocity allows me to keep them all in one place and makes them searchable. It is simple, obvious, and mind bending all at once.

Anyway, a few months ago two people from Notational Velocity and the iPhone Simplenote App talked and had one of those “your chocolate in my peanut butter” moments. Put simply, Notational Velocity syncs flawlessly with Simplenote on your phone. This changed everything.

Now I can not only have this unified list of text files, they are in my pocket and editable at any time. Since the syncing function was turned on, I’ve been moving nearly all of my data over to Notational Velocity for this Simplenote sync. I’ve moved data out of Yojimbo and Bento where possible. As just a small taste, Notational Velocity has:

  • My list of notes about judges I appear before;
  • All of the essential data for any active cases I’m working on;
  • A list of trial dates and commitments out through the next two years;
  • Contract form text I may want to re-use;
  • Information concerning my childrens’ schools and activities;
  • Ideas for future blog posts;
  • Half written blog posts;
  • A list of seeds for a garden I am planting with my daughter;
  • A list of dumb mistakes I have made which I will never again repeat;
  • A list of useful Mac terminal commands …

The list goes on.

Last night, this got even better.

Simplenote released its iPad version. So now I can hack at this stuff on my precious iPad and leave the Mac at home a lot more often. I’ve been playing with the iPad version. Indeed I am tapping this post out over my tortilla soup on my iPad.

My biggest gripe with the iPad is file management. Simplenote fixes this problem for text today. All of my text is always in sync over all of my devices. If you work in text, learn the Simplenote – Notational Velocity tango.

48 Comments The Simplenote – Notational Velocity Tango

  1. scott@ukmac.net

    Agree entirely. I have been using Simplenote more and more in conjunction with Notational Velocity for capturing snippets of data I want to have to hand at short notice. It is a really powerful ( though simple ) combination.

    Reply
  2. scott@ukmac.net

    Agree entirely. I have been using Simplenote more and more in conjunction with Notational Velocity for capturing snippets of data I want to have to hand at short notice. It is a really powerful ( though simple ) combination.

    Reply
  3. scott@ukmac.net

    Agree entirely. I have been using Simplenote more and more in conjunction with Notational Velocity for capturing snippets of data I want to have to hand at short notice. It is a really powerful ( though simple ) combination.

    Reply
  4. scott@ukmac.net

    Agree entirely. I have been using Simplenote more and more in conjunction with Notational Velocity for capturing snippets of data I want to have to hand at short notice. It is a really powerful ( though simple ) combination.

    Reply
  5. scott@ukmac.net

    Agree entirely. I have been using Simplenote more and more in conjunction with Notational Velocity for capturing snippets of data I want to have to hand at short notice. It is a really powerful ( though simple ) combination.

    Reply
  6. keith@smileykeith.com

    Yea I’ve used Notational and Simple note for along time it’s 100 times better than apple notes, and for me is much different information than from what I store in DEVONthink or Things.

    Reply
  7. keith@smileykeith.com

    Yea I’ve used Notational and Simple note for along time it’s 100 times better than apple notes, and for me is much different information than from what I store in DEVONthink or Things.

    Reply
  8. keith@smileykeith.com

    Yea I’ve used Notational and Simple note for along time it’s 100 times better than apple notes, and for me is much different information than from what I store in DEVONthink or Things.

    Reply
  9. keith@smileykeith.com

    Yea I’ve used Notational and Simple note for along time it’s 100 times better than apple notes, and for me is much different information than from what I store in DEVONthink or Things.

    Reply
  10. keith@smileykeith.com

    Yea I’ve used Notational and Simple note for along time it’s 100 times better than apple notes, and for me is much different information than from what I store in DEVONthink or Things.

    Reply
  11. gtc@cheshirelaw.com

    Any idea if there’s a way to sync from WIndows to Simplenote? Evernote has that cross-platform ubiquity I need. (Forced to use XP at the office.)

    So far, I’m using Evernote and SimpleText.ws, through it’s web access, when I want to be able to grab stuff from the office Pee-Cee.

    Reply
  12. gtc@cheshirelaw.com

    Any idea if there’s a way to sync from WIndows to Simplenote? Evernote has that cross-platform ubiquity I need. (Forced to use XP at the office.)

    So far, I’m using Evernote and SimpleText.ws, through it’s web access, when I want to be able to grab stuff from the office Pee-Cee.

    Reply
  13. gtc@cheshirelaw.com

    Any idea if there’s a way to sync from WIndows to Simplenote? Evernote has that cross-platform ubiquity I need. (Forced to use XP at the office.)

    So far, I’m using Evernote and SimpleText.ws, through it’s web access, when I want to be able to grab stuff from the office Pee-Cee.

    Reply
  14. gtc@cheshirelaw.com

    Any idea if there’s a way to sync from WIndows to Simplenote? Evernote has that cross-platform ubiquity I need. (Forced to use XP at the office.)

    So far, I’m using Evernote and SimpleText.ws, through it’s web access, when I want to be able to grab stuff from the office Pee-Cee.

    Reply
  15. gtc@cheshirelaw.com

    Any idea if there’s a way to sync from WIndows to Simplenote? Evernote has that cross-platform ubiquity I need. (Forced to use XP at the office.)

    So far, I’m using Evernote and SimpleText.ws, through it’s web access, when I want to be able to grab stuff from the office Pee-Cee.

    Reply
  16. allan@ascullion.com

    Totally agree. Merlin Mann called this a "game changer" on your podcast. At the time I couldn’t really see what he was getting at. Try it, and you’ll soon find out that the whole is definitely greater than the sum of the parts.

    Reply
  17. allan@ascullion.com

    Totally agree. Merlin Mann called this a "game changer" on your podcast. At the time I couldn’t really see what he was getting at. Try it, and you’ll soon find out that the whole is definitely greater than the sum of the parts.

    Reply
  18. allan@ascullion.com

    Totally agree. Merlin Mann called this a "game changer" on your podcast. At the time I couldn’t really see what he was getting at. Try it, and you’ll soon find out that the whole is definitely greater than the sum of the parts.

    Reply
  19. allan@ascullion.com

    Totally agree. Merlin Mann called this a "game changer" on your podcast. At the time I couldn’t really see what he was getting at. Try it, and you’ll soon find out that the whole is definitely greater than the sum of the parts.

    Reply
  20. allan@ascullion.com

    Totally agree. Merlin Mann called this a "game changer" on your podcast. At the time I couldn’t really see what he was getting at. Try it, and you’ll soon find out that the whole is definitely greater than the sum of the parts.

    Reply
  21. sam@samrhall.com

    I’ve been using NV and SimpleNote for a while. Poor Yojimbo sits rarely used because of it. Using TextExpander, I can keep a homogenious nominclature system across all of my notes. (Hearing Merlin talk about doing the same thing on your podcast was cool!)

    The one bit of functionality I would like to see are links between notes which will sync.

    Reply
  22. sam@samrhall.com

    I’ve been using NV and SimpleNote for a while. Poor Yojimbo sits rarely used because of it. Using TextExpander, I can keep a homogenious nominclature system across all of my notes. (Hearing Merlin talk about doing the same thing on your podcast was cool!)

    The one bit of functionality I would like to see are links between notes which will sync.

    Reply
  23. sam@samrhall.com

    I’ve been using NV and SimpleNote for a while. Poor Yojimbo sits rarely used because of it. Using TextExpander, I can keep a homogenious nominclature system across all of my notes. (Hearing Merlin talk about doing the same thing on your podcast was cool!)

    The one bit of functionality I would like to see are links between notes which will sync.

    Reply
  24. sam@samrhall.com

    I’ve been using NV and SimpleNote for a while. Poor Yojimbo sits rarely used because of it. Using TextExpander, I can keep a homogenious nominclature system across all of my notes. (Hearing Merlin talk about doing the same thing on your podcast was cool!)

    The one bit of functionality I would like to see are links between notes which will sync.

    Reply
  25. sam@samrhall.com

    I’ve been using NV and SimpleNote for a while. Poor Yojimbo sits rarely used because of it. Using TextExpander, I can keep a homogenious nominclature system across all of my notes. (Hearing Merlin talk about doing the same thing on your podcast was cool!)

    The one bit of functionality I would like to see are links between notes which will sync.

    Reply
  26. Goobi

    I hate to be such a prick, but it’s ‘Simplenote’, not ‘Simple Note’ or ‘SimpleNote’.

    Bugs me, you know.

    And oh yeah, this is the best notes workflow you can pursue.

    Reply
  27. eyogaclass@gmail.com

    I am finally *crossing fingers* will be able to get my first ever iPhone! and perhaps an iPad, and I don’t own an iPod Touch. Given that, the whole syncing thing via Simplenotes is a no go 🙁

    I love NV. I use it all the time on my Mac, but when I need something mobile I usually copy and paste that note onto Evernote because I can see that note on my less than optimal T-Mobile Shadow running god knows what version of WM…

    Just wondering if there was another way to sync NV to another mobile web based client? Simply because sometimes I forget to send the ‘important’ stuff to Evernote?

    I suppose all this will be solved when I do get the new iPhone, but it’s still a bit of a pain, so if anyone knows of something it would be lovely if you’d let me know!

    Reply
  28. eyogaclass@gmail.com

    I am finally *crossing fingers* will be able to get my first ever iPhone! and perhaps an iPad, and I don’t own an iPod Touch. Given that, the whole syncing thing via Simplenotes is a no go 🙁

    I love NV. I use it all the time on my Mac, but when I need something mobile I usually copy and paste that note onto Evernote because I can see that note on my less than optimal T-Mobile Shadow running god knows what version of WM…

    Just wondering if there was another way to sync NV to another mobile web based client? Simply because sometimes I forget to send the ‘important’ stuff to Evernote?

    I suppose all this will be solved when I do get the new iPhone, but it’s still a bit of a pain, so if anyone knows of something it would be lovely if you’d let me know!

    Reply
  29. eyogaclass@gmail.com

    I am finally *crossing fingers* will be able to get my first ever iPhone! and perhaps an iPad, and I don’t own an iPod Touch. Given that, the whole syncing thing via Simplenotes is a no go 🙁

    I love NV. I use it all the time on my Mac, but when I need something mobile I usually copy and paste that note onto Evernote because I can see that note on my less than optimal T-Mobile Shadow running god knows what version of WM…

    Just wondering if there was another way to sync NV to another mobile web based client? Simply because sometimes I forget to send the ‘important’ stuff to Evernote?

    I suppose all this will be solved when I do get the new iPhone, but it’s still a bit of a pain, so if anyone knows of something it would be lovely if you’d let me know!

    Reply
  30. eyogaclass@gmail.com

    I am finally *crossing fingers* will be able to get my first ever iPhone! and perhaps an iPad, and I don’t own an iPod Touch. Given that, the whole syncing thing via Simplenotes is a no go 🙁

    I love NV. I use it all the time on my Mac, but when I need something mobile I usually copy and paste that note onto Evernote because I can see that note on my less than optimal T-Mobile Shadow running god knows what version of WM…

    Just wondering if there was another way to sync NV to another mobile web based client? Simply because sometimes I forget to send the ‘important’ stuff to Evernote?

    I suppose all this will be solved when I do get the new iPhone, but it’s still a bit of a pain, so if anyone knows of something it would be lovely if you’d let me know!

    Reply
  31. eyogaclass@gmail.com

    I am finally *crossing fingers* will be able to get my first ever iPhone! and perhaps an iPad, and I don’t own an iPod Touch. Given that, the whole syncing thing via Simplenotes is a no go 🙁

    I love NV. I use it all the time on my Mac, but when I need something mobile I usually copy and paste that note onto Evernote because I can see that note on my less than optimal T-Mobile Shadow running god knows what version of WM…

    Just wondering if there was another way to sync NV to another mobile web based client? Simply because sometimes I forget to send the ‘important’ stuff to Evernote?

    I suppose all this will be solved when I do get the new iPhone, but it’s still a bit of a pain, so if anyone knows of something it would be lovely if you’d let me know!

    Reply
  32. Jim Davis

    For those of us who love redundancy, all simplenote notes can be viewed/edited through a browser pointed to simplenoteapp.com — and, one can direct Notational Velocity to store its notes in DropBox on your mac — making the notes backed up and viewable through the iPhone dropbox app, and from any other compute accessing the dropbox account online. There are some caveats to avoid duplication, but it all works great for me.

    Reply
  33. Andy

    I have been using NV for a while. I soon grabbed simplENote when I found that there were plans for collaboration between the two products. I have been trying to justify TextExpander for ages, but I just can’t. NV and simPlenOte will be great for storing chunks of boilerplate text and will be available whether I am online or off and whether I am at my Mac or at work using a Windoze box. Yeehaa, as you americans say!

    Reply
  34. Prof Mac

    Hello from a Simplenote/NV user in NV,

    Yesterday I was shopping for a place to have the alternator replaced on my Honda. NV and Simplenote danced a beautiful tango and allowed me to do this this effortlessly, without needing a single piece of paper. Phone numbers in a Simplenote on the iPhone become clickable links. It’s a beautiful thing.

    David, thanks for the great post. *Love* your blog.

    P.S. Yes, I now have a new alternator and can start my Odyssey like a normal person.

    Reply
  35. Andy Scott

    Would you mind elaborating a little on your NV/Simplenote usage, e.g.
    1. How you’re securing (personal/client) data
    2. Are you using the default Simplenote directory?
    Thanks!

    Reply
  36. docrock@mac.com

    Aloha Sparky,

    I am a frequent listener of MPU and I have gotta say it’s awesome.

    I was wondering you you or any of the readers have any input of weather to sync using files or database, and weather to use NV default folder, Dropbox or Both.

    I understand there is some issues when using a single DB and DropBox i can see where that may go a bit haywire, but is this still the case if one uses ABOTF "A Bunch Of Text Files".

    I hope someone out there can help me,

    Mahalo,
    Aloha,

    Doc

    Reply
  37. docrock@mac.com

    Aloha Sparky,

    I am a frequent listener of MPU and I have gotta say it’s awesome.

    I was wondering you you or any of the readers have any input of weather to sync using files or database, and weather to use NV default folder, Dropbox or Both.

    I understand there is some issues when using a single DB and DropBox i can see where that may go a bit haywire, but is this still the case if one uses ABOTF "A Bunch Of Text Files".

    I hope someone out there can help me,

    Mahalo,
    Aloha,

    Doc

    Reply
  38. docrock@mac.com

    Aloha Sparky,

    I am a frequent listener of MPU and I have gotta say it’s awesome.

    I was wondering you you or any of the readers have any input of weather to sync using files or database, and weather to use NV default folder, Dropbox or Both.

    I understand there is some issues when using a single DB and DropBox i can see where that may go a bit haywire, but is this still the case if one uses ABOTF "A Bunch Of Text Files".

    I hope someone out there can help me,

    Mahalo,
    Aloha,

    Doc

    Reply
  39. docrock@mac.com

    Aloha Sparky,

    I am a frequent listener of MPU and I have gotta say it’s awesome.

    I was wondering you you or any of the readers have any input of weather to sync using files or database, and weather to use NV default folder, Dropbox or Both.

    I understand there is some issues when using a single DB and DropBox i can see where that may go a bit haywire, but is this still the case if one uses ABOTF "A Bunch Of Text Files".

    I hope someone out there can help me,

    Mahalo,
    Aloha,

    Doc

    Reply
  40. docrock@mac.com

    Aloha Sparky,

    I am a frequent listener of MPU and I have gotta say it’s awesome.

    I was wondering you you or any of the readers have any input of weather to sync using files or database, and weather to use NV default folder, Dropbox or Both.

    I understand there is some issues when using a single DB and DropBox i can see where that may go a bit haywire, but is this still the case if one uses ABOTF "A Bunch Of Text Files".

    I hope someone out there can help me,

    Mahalo,
    Aloha,

    Doc

    Reply
  41. Elvis Kennedy

    Is this set-up better/easier/more efficient than Evernote? You sound so enthusiastic but it seems to me that Evernote does the same thing all in one application across all devices. Please elucidate. Thanks.

    Reply
  42. frafka@aim.com

    David – a very belated thank you for this article, which is the neatest (in every sense) summation of the NV-Simplenote combo that I've come across.

    Also assisted by your more recent Joy of Text post, for raw writing I've now ditched my heavy-duty word processors in favour of .txt files. I'd say nearly everyone who writes for any reason knows that they could and should do more with their time at the keyboard. We need to go back to placing one letter after another, and let the margins, pagination, fonts, etc. take care of themselves later.

    p.s. NV & Simplenote don't play nicely with Dropbox (it's got to be one or the other, and I choose Simplenote because of the iPad angle), but it's possible to at least keep 'live' copies of the .txt files stored on Dropbox as a tertiary layer of backup. I've set up a Hazel rule to monitor my NV files folder and upload any changed files to a backup folder on Dropbox. This keeps the NV-Simplenote axis intact and working perfectly.

    Reply
  43. frafka@aim.com

    David – a very belated thank you for this article, which is the neatest (in every sense) summation of the NV-Simplenote combo that I've come across.

    Also assisted by your more recent Joy of Text post, for raw writing I've now ditched my heavy-duty word processors in favour of .txt files. I'd say nearly everyone who writes for any reason knows that they could and should do more with their time at the keyboard. We need to go back to placing one letter after another, and let the margins, pagination, fonts, etc. take care of themselves later.

    p.s. NV & Simplenote don't play nicely with Dropbox (it's got to be one or the other, and I choose Simplenote because of the iPad angle), but it's possible to at least keep 'live' copies of the .txt files stored on Dropbox as a tertiary layer of backup. I've set up a Hazel rule to monitor my NV files folder and upload any changed files to a backup folder on Dropbox. This keeps the NV-Simplenote axis intact and working perfectly.

    Reply
  44. frafka@aim.com

    David – a very belated thank you for this article, which is the neatest (in every sense) summation of the NV-Simplenote combo that I've come across.

    Also assisted by your more recent Joy of Text post, for raw writing I've now ditched my heavy-duty word processors in favour of .txt files. I'd say nearly everyone who writes for any reason knows that they could and should do more with their time at the keyboard. We need to go back to placing one letter after another, and let the margins, pagination, fonts, etc. take care of themselves later.

    p.s. NV & Simplenote don't play nicely with Dropbox (it's got to be one or the other, and I choose Simplenote because of the iPad angle), but it's possible to at least keep 'live' copies of the .txt files stored on Dropbox as a tertiary layer of backup. I've set up a Hazel rule to monitor my NV files folder and upload any changed files to a backup folder on Dropbox. This keeps the NV-Simplenote axis intact and working perfectly.

    Reply
  45. frafka@aim.com

    David – a very belated thank you for this article, which is the neatest (in every sense) summation of the NV-Simplenote combo that I've come across.

    Also assisted by your more recent Joy of Text post, for raw writing I've now ditched my heavy-duty word processors in favour of .txt files. I'd say nearly everyone who writes for any reason knows that they could and should do more with their time at the keyboard. We need to go back to placing one letter after another, and let the margins, pagination, fonts, etc. take care of themselves later.

    p.s. NV & Simplenote don't play nicely with Dropbox (it's got to be one or the other, and I choose Simplenote because of the iPad angle), but it's possible to at least keep 'live' copies of the .txt files stored on Dropbox as a tertiary layer of backup. I've set up a Hazel rule to monitor my NV files folder and upload any changed files to a backup folder on Dropbox. This keeps the NV-Simplenote axis intact and working perfectly.

    Reply
  46. frafka@aim.com

    David – a very belated thank you for this article, which is the neatest (in every sense) summation of the NV-Simplenote combo that I've come across.

    Also assisted by your more recent Joy of Text post, for raw writing I've now ditched my heavy-duty word processors in favour of .txt files. I'd say nearly everyone who writes for any reason knows that they could and should do more with their time at the keyboard. We need to go back to placing one letter after another, and let the margins, pagination, fonts, etc. take care of themselves later.

    p.s. NV & Simplenote don't play nicely with Dropbox (it's got to be one or the other, and I choose Simplenote because of the iPad angle), but it's possible to at least keep 'live' copies of the .txt files stored on Dropbox as a tertiary layer of backup. I've set up a Hazel rule to monitor my NV files folder and upload any changed files to a backup folder on Dropbox. This keeps the NV-Simplenote axis intact and working perfectly.

    Reply
  47. Rob

    @ian

    There is a text editor called Notational Acceleration for Android that works similarly to Notational Velocity, and it has SimpleNote sync.

    Reply

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