Review of UpNote
The search for a notes App
If you have been reading this blog for any length of time you’ll know that my search for a good, solid notes app has been a long one. For years I have just not been satisfied. The main contenders that I have tried over the past 5 years have been Evernote, OneNote, Nimbus Notes & Notion. All of these are great apps that have many useful features. With each of them however, there have been some big weaknesses that have meant I have been drawn into app switching far too often. About 10 days ago I discovered UpNote.
I have to say, I am very impressed. Hence the review. And just to lay my cards on the table right now, I love this app so much that I want it to do really well, be around for a long time and get developed. They aren’t paying me for any of this but I do have a vested interest in the success of this application, which is wanting it to do well and make a place for itself in a market where the competition is fierce.
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:
- The ability to capture notes easily and quickly
- The ability to organise notes in a nested hierarchy of ‘notebooks’ or whatever your particular app decides to call them.
- A good search feature
- A clear UI and a snappy application — there shouldn’t be a whole lot of lag when switching notebooks or performing searches.
- The ability to tag notes easily
- The ability to link notes
- The ability to add in content from elsewhere, either by linking, uploading or embedding.
- The ability to makes notes visual in some form or another. (Colours, tables, columns, highlights etc)
Now I have only been using UpNote for a few days but there is so much good about this application.
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. (✅)
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 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.
Really — I love this application. Oh, and did I mention, the lifetime subscription is currently £16.99
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.
The app has a webclipper — which works really well however when you use it, it opens up the note in UpNote. I personally do not have a big problem with this but I can see how it could be an issue if you want to clip something quickly and keep working.
In fact the biggest downside in where the app is at present is in the capturing function. At present you can capture new notes in the app or via the web clipper. You cannot e-mail into upnote nor is there any kind of quick capture on desktop or mobile. I think long term this is a big issue but I have a way round this that is working well for me at present.
The other tiny minnow is related to cleanness of the app. The tables have rounded corners which I like, but if you fill a cell with a colour, the fill does not have rouded corners. It is barely noticeable but it is there.
I believe that the capture side of things is on the developers roadmap so I am hoping this is resolved soon.
UpNote — How it compares
I can’t do a full comparison here but a few highlights to note.
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 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 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.
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/