NoteBook 3.0 review

However you use your Mac, a little more organization probably wouldn't hurt. Circus Ponies' NoteBook 3.0 gives you astounding powers to manage your digital life—provided you’re not initially terrified by its mind-boggling scope. NoteBook, a premiere notetaker and organizing tool, isn't unfriendly by any means. Multiple paper and binding types (including legal pads, three-ring binders, and graph paper) and virtual sticky notes and tabs give the program a welcome touch of whimsy. Still, the sheer extent of its features can seem intimidating at first.

NoteBook's Starting Points screen offers 14 different preset templates, from recipe books to trial preparation. Its online manual, though clear and complete, is no less daunting. Thankfully, the Starting Points screen links to a concise PDF that walks new users gently through the basics.

More organized than Martha Stewart

NoteBook possesses formidable powers of organization. The default Notes pages let you easily create hierarchical bullet-pointed lists. You can also make To Do pages, with checkboxes and due dates for each item, and Writing pages for basic word processing. Dividers with color-coded tabs help you manage all these pages, and each new page or section automatically appears on your notebook's Contents page, ready to be reordered or deleted as needed.

For decisions monumental or mundane, Circus Ponies NoteBook offers a variety of tools to help you make up your mind.

NoteBook lets you pull in a wide range of files, including text files, PDFs, movies, Web clips, Address Book cards, and photos. Dragging and dropping most items works well, but video clips can be tricky. Sometimes I could drag videos directly to a page; other times, I had to create a new bullet point, and then drop the video into its waiting text field.

The developers say NoteBook has trouble handling videos when it’s treating them as independent objects, a bug they’re planning to fix in future versions. For now, you can easily work around the problem by turning off that option in the Preferences menu.

If you get tired of dragging and dropping or cutting and pasting, you can move text and photos from other applications into Notebook via its Clipping Service feature. Once enabled, it’ll let you send whatever you’ve highlighted directly to a specific page in a given notebook—or even to a subsection within a page—via the Mac’s contextual menus. Aside from the minor inconvenience of having to individually enable such clippings for each page of your notebook, it’s a clever and convenient feature.

NEXT: Bells and whistles

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