Brian W. Davidson

sharing things I enjoy

I’d probably long ago have gone seven kinds of crazy, one for each day of the week, if I didn’t simplify my life in every area where I do have some control. – > Odd Thomas

When I worked as an English tutor, I would regulary read that book with students who were struggling with reading comprehension. I fell in love with the story, and this quote always stuck with me. Like Odd, I think fewer is better; minimal is the goal. For notetaking, there are only two apps I use.

I’m making a distinction between notetaking and writing apps. These are just for notetaking.


I’ve written about GoodNotes here (re: teaching) and here (re: notetaking). I use GoodNotes to take Greek and Hebrew reading notes, I use it to occasionally to jot down notes in a meeting, and lately I have been using it to take sermon notes in church. I use it for several other things, but these are the primary ways I use it for notetaking.

Apple Notes

For everything else, I use Apple’s Notes App. I moved from Evernote to Apple Notes a couple years ago and haven’t looked back. Just about every note I add goes into the default Notes folder. When using Evernote, I had a lot of individual folders, but I’ve come to think this is a waste of time. My notes are sorted by last updated, which means whatever I’m looking for is usually at the top of the list. If it isn’t, I can search for it. All my notes are stored in iCloud, and the iCloud sync has worked wonderfully for me.

It is also super easy to share a note with someone. You click a big plus sign and select how you want to share a link. That’s it. One way we use shared notes is to keep up with Beau’s steps every day. I share a note called called “Beau’s Steps” with my wife, and whoever puts him to bed can add his step count at the end of the day.

I like to use the Notes app to compile a list of links. To do so, I hit the share button in Safari and create a note with a link to whatever website I’m on. And you don’t have to create a new note each time. After clicking the share button and selecting the Notes icon, you can select the note to which you would like to add your link. This makes it easy to collect links for gift ideas or research topics or themed blog posts or anything else. It took me less than a minute to put together this list.


As I said, I shot the big green elephant.

The big, bad Bear, however, is trying to break into my notetaking workflow. I’ve fought him off for the time being, but I do really wish Apple’s Notes App had markdown support. I considered switching to Bear for mardown, but I could not find a way to export all my notes with images from the Notes App and import them into Bear.

Ideally, I could use Ulysses for both notetaking and most long-form writing. The one hiccup: Ulysses doesn’t support inline images. You don’t see your pictures until you export from Ulysses to PDF or docx or one of their many other export formats.

For now, notetaking happens in Apple’s Notes app and GoodNotes. Hopefully, we will see some improvements to the Notes app (markdown!) at WWDC next week.