Make Quick Notes, Store, And Retrieve Them On Mac OS X With Notational Velocity

If you spend a lot of time in front of your computer, you are bound to stumble upon stuff that you would want to jot down so that you can remember it or look it up later. A simple note taking app called Stickies ships with Mac OS X, but it is seriously lacking in features. If you jot down phone numbers and addresses on papers near your computer desk, then it can get all messy and finding a piece of information later can be a pretty difficult task.

Notational Velocity is a freeware app for Mac OS X that makes taking notes pretty easy. What makes it stand out is its unconventional design, which might take you a while getting used to, but once you do, you’ll realise how easy it makes the whole process of taking down, storing and retrieving notes.

This is the interface for Notational Velocity. Here’s how to use it.

  1. To make a new note, just start typing in the small text field on the top. Type a title or small description for that note, say, for example, you can write “Venue for meeting with Phil on Wednesday”. When you’re done, press enter.
  2. Your cursor is automatically moved to the contents area, where you can start writing the content of your note, which would be the information that you actually need to note down.
  3. This is best part – to search for an old note, there is no separate procedure or separate box/shortcut/window. Just start typing into the same small text field at the top where you entered the title for a new note. If the note already exists, you will start to see the filtered search results based on the partial search query you’ve entered as soon as you type the letter. If you see the note you want in the search results, just click it or press the down arrow to scroll to it. As soon as the note is selected, you can see its contents, and you can edit it.
  4. There is no need to save anything. As soon as you enter a character anywhere in Notational Velocity, it gets saved, instantly. Any changes made to old notes, any new notes created are saved as and when you type them out. You won’t even notice when it gets saved.
  5. Notational Velocity is built for mouseless interaction. Everything that you will ever need to do in Notational Velocity, can be done with a simple keyboard shortcut. All these shortcuts related to usability and text formatting are saved as a note on Notational Velocity by default, so you can read up on them when you install the app.
  6. Notational Velocity treats text smartly. If you paste a URL in a note, it recognizes it as a link, and clicking on the link will open it in your default web browser.
  7. Notes can be saved in a variety of formats, ranging from plain text to Microsoft Word and XML formats. By default, all your notes are saved in a single database. If you want an added layer of security to your notes, you can choose to encrypt the notes from the Preferences dialog.

With its primary focus on usability, Notational Velocity is an exceptional application for taking notes. Personally, I’ve been using it for a few months now, and I don’t know how I ever managed without it. What do you like about Notational Velocity? Share your thoughts with us in the comments section below.

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