Synapsen brings a different approach with hypertext card index and reference organizer. Sente does more, including a function to search online reference databases, downloads, imports, editing of PDFs, and multiple bibliographic libraries. BibDesk is the Mac bibliography app for writers on a budget. All the details you need—annotations, abstracts, keywords, groups, external sources, and a very Mac-like user interface. Did I mention BibDesk is free? Not bad for free, but not exactly extensive. Ultralingua brings a bit of complexity to your writing project with an extensive spell checker that also does translation and verb conjugation, as well as a writing reference guide that tracks odd phrases, strange constructions, and gives a larger vocabulary to your writing.
Spell Catcher is a spell checker, yes. It auto saves everything.
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It also features a built-in phrase and word expander so you can write more while typing less—and it auto corrects on the fly. Mellel may be the single most powerful word processor for Mac users, going beyond the insanity in Microsoft Word. Power, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder.
Mellel is an acquired taste, decidedly not general purpose, but with features writers want and need—styles, live stats, outliner, multi-lingual support that Babylonians admire. It looks like, walks like, talks like, feels like a word processor, but it only edits and saves PDF documents. Collect, cite, annotate, search, retrieve, edit, list, cross-link and cross-reference, Bookends is more than meets the eye. A must have for the serious writer. The learning curve to go from word processor to screenplay, theatre, TV, or multi-media is a bit tough.
But Final Draft is the standard. Among the two best is Storyist. Think of Storyist as a word processor surrounded by notes, cards, tools, photos, movie clips, stickies, and an organizational manager. All of your notes are stored in virtual notebooks. Create as many notebooks as you need, and then group relevant notebooks together in "stacks" for further organization a feature that's specific to the desktop app.
You can add tags to your notes as you create them and then browse by tag, but the search is where Evernote shines. Do a full-text search of titles, note content, and even text within PDFs and images. Bottom line: It's easy to find what you're looking for. Download the Evernote web clipper for your browser, and use it to capture entire web pages in a click.
And for users willing to upgrade to Evernote Business, third-party integrations run deep. Free users beware. Evernote imposes two fairly heavy restrictions: an upload limit of 60 megabytes per month, and a two-device limit for syncing.
StorySkeleton, An Index-Card Story Mapping App That Works With Scrivener
In order to sync anything other than your Mac and smartphone, you'll need to cough up for a premium plan. It's also a fairly bloated app if you're not going to be using all of the included features. Performance can take a hit depending on how much you've stored and the age of your Mac. If you like the look of Evernote but don't need all the advanced features, Joplin is a completely free and open-source Evernote clone that mimics the popular note taking app's interface.
It uses an identical method of organization, with notes stored in Markdown format. Joplin has robust support for the import of Evernote's ENEX files, which makes switching over a breeze. Just like Evernote, Joplin stores data locally before pushing it to the cloud to avoid data loss and has full support for attachments.
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OneNote is a free alternative to Evernote, but it's not a carbon copy. Microsoft's free note taking app takes a scrapbook-like approach to data capture, allowing you to place elements like text boxes and images on the page by dragging and dropping. Mix different media types within a single note, add tables, record audio clips, embed videos, and attach documents. And with Zapier's OneNote integration , you can automatically create notes based on things you do in other apps. The OneNote organizational method has a similar hierarchy to Evernote: Pages notes live in sections, sections live in notebooks, and you can create as many notebooks as you need.
Preloaded tags live in the main "ribbon" toolbar, and there are recognizable icons, with entries like to-do a clickable checkbox , critical an exclamation point , and movies to see a film cell.
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You can search for tags by clicking the search tool followed by Tags. Notes are synced via OneDrive, Microsoft's cloud storage service. This means that unlike Evernote, there are no monthly quotas. Your OneDrive storage quota dictates how much you can store, with 5GB of storage provided for free when you sign up. While Evernote can search the text in your images, OneDrive can search and extract that text so you can make edits.
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It even works with handwriting. Features like this make OneNote a serious contender to Evernote's throne. For a full comparison, read our Evernote vs. OneNote app showdown. The OneNote Mac app features a number of benefits over the web version, like the ability to play audio and video embeds, preservation of formatting when copying and pasting text, and the ability to create and apply custom tags. Check out the full list of differences between OneNote Online and the desktop versions. Bear is a breath of fresh air in the note taking space.
The app was designed with prose in mind, and thus places a strong focus on typography. Few apps in this space present your writing so elegantly, and it's clear developers have taken time when choosing default fonts, text sizes, and color schemes. Capture notes in Markdown, and have Bear format it as you type, while still showing your syntax in-line—no preview window required.
Bear stores all notes in plaintext, which drastically speeds up the app's ability to search and render your content. Organization is a bit different too: It's done through hashtags, which can be deployed anywhere in your note.
These hashtags feature on the main sidebar to the left of the app and can be arranged alphabetically, by last used hashtag, or by popularity. Child tags can be created with a slash.
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Each tag has a customizable TagCon—a small icon used to identify the tag quickly. These tags and child tags are the closest thing Bear has to notebooks, stacks, and sections. To reference notes internally, you can right-click any note and choose Copy Link to Note to get an internal note link that you can use in your other notes. For programmers, Bear features syntax highlighting for over 20 programming and markup languages. Images can be imported and displayed in-line, and smart data recognition makes your notes more useful by automatically turning elements like hyperlinks and email addresses into clickable links.
Index Card for iPad
The free version of Bear doesn't include syncing with the iPhone app; for that, you'll need to subscribe to premium. With your subscription, you'll also get further exporting options, and a full set of themes for styling the app to your liking. At present, there is no web version of Bear, though developers have confirmed they are working on it. Simplenote is, unsurprisingly, a simple note taking app. The app doesn't support images or attachments of any kind, instead opting to capture your notes in plain text. Cardboard Index Cards is one of the most popular Android storyboarding apps available.
Features: coloured cards; tags; auto-arrange; kanban and novel writing board templates; card status; icons and images on cards. Story Skeleton is an iPhone and iPAD app for creating the structure behind screenplays, novels, and academic papers. These index cards are exportable as Scrivener files. Features: outliner mode; corkboard and index card mode; import and export in Scrivener format. Note: Story Skeleton was profiled in a previous 52Tech post here. Trial versions are downloadable. Features: colour-coded and tagged cards; linked cards; resizable expandable cards; zoom in or out; labelled columns; drag and drop organisation; a writing editor and manuscript mode also.
SuperNoteCard by Mindola is slightly older software which is still available to download and purchase. Current users also have access to an online version. There is also another version — SuperNoteCard for Scriptwriting. Features: tag cards; stack decks and cards to organise; comes with templates for fiction and non-fiction examples; note types such as characters, settings, scenes, plot points; bibliography append; a writing editor also.