New Coat of Polish Heightens DevonNote's Shine
Aug 27, 2013 5:00 AM PT
DEVONnote by DEVONtechnologies is available at the Mac App Store for US$24.95.
One of the best things about a computer is it gives you a single place to store scraps of information and research that used to be scattered in notebooks and paper notes across your office.
One of the worst things about a computer is it gives you a single place to store scraps of information and research that used to be scattered in notebooks and paper notes across your office.
As contradictory as those statements appear, they're not. Sure, computers help us remove paper clutter from our desks, but they replace it with digital clutter in our computers.
That has been recognized by software makers for years. It even fueled a Personal Information Management software boom in the 1980s and the first pocket computer, the Palm Pilot.
Today, PIM isn't the buzzword it used to be, and a lot of the functionality formerly found in those programs has been farmed out to calendar, contact and note apps. However, that doesn't mean the problem of computer clutter is no longer with us. Hence the need for a program like DevonNote.
The little brother of DevonThink -- a very robust PIM designed for managing everything from scanned documents and email correspondence to documents and images -- DevonNote targets a subset -- albeit a large one -- of digital clutter.
It provides a central place to manage information you create around projects or papers -- or that might be floating around your hard drive in a nested folder with a location long lost in the catacombs of your memory.
The note management program recently received a maintenance upgrade that tweaked some of its features. The upgrade is free for existing users.
For example, the software's Take Note feature has been slightly modified and its reliability improved. Take Note allows you to add notes to your DevonNote database on the fly. All information in the program is managed as a free-form database.
In the Take Note box, you can determine where you want the note to go and give it a URL -- sometimes automatically. When you write your note, you can style it, tag it and format it as rich text or plain text. Those options were added as a pop-up menu in the latest version of the app.
Another new addition to version 2.6.1 of DevonNote is inclusion of an Add Link item to the program's context menus. It speeds up the process of adding links within a note.
This latest version also clears up an annoying issue when rebuilding the app's database or backing up and optimizing it. If you don't have the disk space to perform those tasks, DevonNote will disable them automatically.
Aside from the minor tweaks, DevonNote maintains the features that make it a powerful tool in the battle against information overload.
Notes can be nested into groups for easy categorization. You could have a main group for novelists, for example, and within that group you could have groups for nationalities -- Russian, American, French, etc. -- and within the nationalities even more detail, such as crime, romance, literature and so forth.
In addition to creating notes with Take Note, you can click on the Rich Text icon on the program's tool bar. I've always found that nomenclature a little vexing. If I want to create a new note, why not have a tool that's labeled New Note?
Moreover, if you want to create a plain text note, you have to go fishing for the Plain Text icon and add it to the toolbar. A single new note tool with a pop-up choice between plain and rich text would make this feature much more intuitive than it is now.
Notes need not be created from scratch. They can be created from other sources, too. For instance, you can grab a URL from the address bar of your browser and drag it to a group in DevonNote. It's a nice way to keep Web resources tied to a project without resorting to browser bookmarks.
Better yet, DevonNote has a built-in browser so you can view a bookmark note within the app without having to open a browser window.
You can also drag and drop text from a Web page or document into a group, and it will instantly become a note.
Images, too, can be dragged either into notes to illustrate them or into groups to become standalone notes.
Info Overload Weapon
A task that seems to go hand-in-hand with note-taking is highlighting. The highlight tool will probably be one of the first you'll add to the toolbar in DevonNote. The tool includes a dropdown menu, so you can quickly access all the highlighting colors available in the app.
DevonNote also has powerful search functions. Information in notes can be incorporated into Searchlight searches. Smart search groups can be created, too, so new items related to your often-used searches can be found quickly.
While the most recent upgrade to DevonNotes merely tightens some screws and sands some rough spots, now is as good time as any to give the program a test run -- especially if you're starting to feel overwhelmed by the information crossing your eyeballs every day.
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