For Windows, there’s OneNote, undoubtedly one of the most useful note taking applications that money can buy with an abundance of features that most of the alternatives do without, as well as connecting seamlessly with Windows Phone 7 and now even on the iOS devices.
Unfortunately Mac users can’t currently reap the benefits that it brings on their platform of choice. So, if you’re looking for a decent alternative then here’s a couple of great options for you. Growly and Curio.
OneNote for Mac Alternatives
When you first launch Growly, you’d be forgiven for being more than a little bit intimidated by what you’re faced with. Rather than the customary clean spas screen that most applications come packed with, or just something plain before you start a fresh project, perhaps, you’re presented with what can only constitute a digital instruction manual, as shown below.
This is essentially the help screen. And you can reach back to this at any time by hitting the help button which resides in the upper right corner of the screen most of the time.
However, once you get going, the application is far less complex and unsightly than the first impressions would suggest, so just go right ahead and hit ‘file > new notebook’ from the menubar, and you’ll be presented with a much cleaner space for getting your notes down.
From this point onwards, Growly functions a lot like any word processor might, however giving you the options in the left hand sidebar to keep your notebook a lot more organised than say, if you just wrote it all down in a long document in Pages for example.
It includes a lot of handy features, including embedding audio and video recordings as part of your digital notebook, as well as organising your notes with various styles including fonts, colours as per, as well as the option to include tables.
To add that little extra authenticity, as well as perhaps some functionality, Growly also includes various ‘paper types’, such as plain as you can see is standard, as well as graph or lined paper, amongst other preset templates. You can also create your own templates, which might allow you to have a standardised layout for your college work perhaps, or preparation for presentations.
Other features included in Growly are various drawing tools, security measures such as password protection, the ability to print your notebook once you’re done, and it’s up to date with OS X Lion in that it allows the full screen function too.
All in all, Growly is a very capable application for taking notes in various forms, and is suitable for use at home, in the office or even in the classroom. It’s versatile, and whilst not the most aesthetically attractive application ever developed, it’s free so complaints can be few and far between.
It’s worth pointing out before we even begin with Curio, is that the ‘standard’ edition of Curio 7 (the latest edition at the time of writing) is £82, yet the ‘core’ edition is £28 (the cheapest option). So it’s definitely not cheap, so might well be aimed more at the more business or academic end of things rather than for personal use.
Having said that, you do immediately notice an improvement in the UI over Growly, which could be some indication of why it’s a paid app, rather than freely available.
On top of a nicer, cleaner UI from the get go, Curio also has a more extensive feature set. First of all, on top of keeping your work organised in an extremely familiar sidebar down the left hand side, it gives you the option of including ‘mind maps’ in your notes, with various styles which you can choose prior to filling it in with your notes from the menu as shown below.
Like Growly, Curio also includes a host of drawing tools, the ability to change the paper type and create multiple notebooks with various media content such as audio and video recordings as well as documents.
Unlike Growly though, Curio incorporates the ability to share your notebooks with Evernote, the popular cross-platform note-taking application. Now obviously Growly is in direct competition with Evernote, so including their software would be suicide, but Curio works on a rather different, more professional basis, so using Evernote’s ability to clip information and store it within Curio is only adding to the application as a whole.
Overall then, both applications have a lot to offer. Obviously the main difference comes in the price so you’ll want to consider exactly what you’re going to be using such an application for, before splashing out for the more advanced feature set and cleaner look of Curio, and ignoring the simplistic functionality that Growly offers in abundance.
But all in all, both fantastic note-taking applications that provide a capable alternative to OneNote, and although lacking the synchronisation capabilities, hooking it up to your Dropbox or Box.net account can solve that difficulty across various Mac computers.