Review of UpNote

The search for a notes App

UpNote — What’s good about it

For me, UpNote ticks a lot of boxes. The basics are largely there and a lot of the added bonuses that I look for in a notes are there too. To avoid confusion, here’s what is of interest to me:

  1. The ability to capture notes easily and quickly
  2. The ability to organise notes in a nested hierarchy of ‘notebooks’ or whatever your particular app decides to call them.
  3. A good search feature
  4. A clear UI and a snappy application — there shouldn’t be a whole lot of lag when switching notebooks or performing searches.
  5. The ability to tag notes easily
  6. The ability to link notes
  7. The ability to add in content from elsewhere, either by linking, uploading or embedding.
  8. The ability to makes notes visual in some form or another. (Colours, tables, columns, highlights etc)

Organisation & Tagging

Firstly, it’s organisational abilities. You don’t have an inbox as such. Notes start there life as being ‘Uncategorised’. You can then add notes to a notebook of your choice. Notebooks can be created in a nested folder structure (✅). I have yet to discover how deep you can go in terms of a nested hierarchy, but it’s deeper than I want my nests to be (✅) so it works really well. The notebooks can be colour coded for visual appeal or you can upload your own custom images or icons for your notebooks/folders. (✅) Your notebook hierarchy displays in your sidebar. Notes can be added to more than one notebook if you like. The app also has one of the best tagging features I have come across. Tags are created with a simple # followed by your word. These tags then show up in your sidebar. They can be put anywhere in the note or the title. Once you have a put a tag in, you can get a link to that location within the note. The tags also show up in a different colour and shaded slightly so you can see them easily. (✅)

Note Linking

Every note has a link. You can get the note link by right clicking the note in the sidebar. You can also type [[ anywhere in your note and then start typing the title of another note and you can link that way or even create a new note. The best thing though is once you have linked to a note, when you view that note in future, clicking the ‘i’ button in the bottom right hand corner, gives you a list of notes that link to the note you are are viewing. (✅)

The editor

The editor is a bit more basic than some, but also more advanced than some of the big hitters and a lot less complicated than others. It is a clean interface for the editor. You can change the colour of the text or highlight (in multiple colours), you can have check boxes, bullet and number lists, block quotes, tables, links, code and code blocks and there are a few heading styles as well. You can also use markdown if that is a plus for you.
What I really like, is you can hide the notebook sidebar and just see the note list and the note, or you can hide the note list as well and go into focus mode. In addition to that, you have typewriter mode where the line you are on, is always in the middle of the screen. It works really well for focussed work. (✅✅✅)

Using the application

The app feels clean and snappy. I have yet to experience any lag when performing any functions. You can pin notes to the top of the note list and in addition add them to the main sidebar for quick access. This means that key notes can be easily accessed in more than one way. You can also create filters. By default you have your uncategorised notes and notes with any uncompleted todos. But you can also create filters for shared notes, notes updated today or by any keyword you want. These filters sit at the top of your sidebar.
The search has so far been excellent and fast and once you have completed your search — you can save it as filter if you want.(✅✅) You can also search within a specific note.
Notes can exported, at present, as a text file, markdown, html or pdf. So don’t worry about losing your data if ever you decide to stop using UpNote.

UpNote — What needs more work

Having said that, there are a few things that need some more work. At present, you can add a note to a notebook by clicking at the bottom of the note and assigning it. But you cannot drag and drop. This can sometimes be useful.
The colours on offer are good and what I would describe as a full working set of pastel colours. But, it would be great if there could be some bolder shades of the same colours for contrast.

UpNote — How it compares

I can’t do a full comparison here but a few highlights to note.

Evernote

UpNote’s structure, tagging system and from my point of view, the overall UI are better than Evernote’s. Evernote is better on the capture front with a better web clipper and the Evernote Helper on desktop. But, I am not sure Evernote is worth £45 a year.

OneNote

OneNote is a solid app but there are some big deal breakers for me. The disparity between feature sets on different platforms being a big one. The tagging system just seems unfinished and not well thought through. UpNote on the other hand benefits from a better search, better tagging, better interfaceand better mobile/tablet apps.

Notion

Notion is solid but Notion hasn’t worked out what it wants to be, so the user has to put in a lot of effort customising and setting things up. And every time I have used notion, it has become a sink of time spent tweaking and adjusting things. None of this with UpNote.

Nimbus Notes

I like this application but my major gripe has always been the lag you get. with searches and when changing notebooks or tags, it always seems to take a few seconds to render the change on screen and to display all the notes in a folder if there are a lot of them. I also don’t like the fact that you cannot make structure changes whilst the app is syncing. So UpNote just feels snappier and easier to use.

UpNote — The Final Verdict

This is the notes app I have been looking for. The final verdict is in, get UpNote — https://getupnote.com/

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