Scrawl: Notetaking Made Simple Again

Posted by | February 11, 2012 | Apps | No Comments

The app market sure isn’t short on note-taking apps. From Notational Velocity to Evernote, you have pretty much any kind of note-taking that you would ever want or need. They all have different gimmicks or features, and some work better for some people than they do for others. However, none of them are really as simple to learn and use as the app that we are reviewing today.

It’s called Scrawl and it strips down all the shiny features of note-taking apps to leave only the necessary ones. Do you want to check it out?

Getting Started

Scrawl

Scrawl

Scrawl is a very simple note-taking app that resides on your menu-bar. Although it looks pretty basic, it has pretty much anything you would need from one of these apps, even syncing through iCloud with several computers. It can also hold as many notes as you’d like, and it is all handled through the little menu bar interface.

How It Works

Writing Notes

Writing Notes

The menu bar drop down looks like a translucent dark small grid with a few buttons on the bottom. With them, you can search your notes, and add new ones or delete existing ones. In the grid, all of your available notes will be shown with the most recent ones on top, and here you can scroll down to reveal the older ones. Like I said, you can delete notes pretty easily, which gives the app the ability of handling somewhat temporary notes that you might only need for a few hours.

Adding new notes is just as easy, you just have to hit the plus sign and the editor will come up. In it, The first line that you use in your note will be displayed as the title on the main menu, so you can dedicate the first line specifically to it, or just let it pick the first few words of your note as the title.

Competition

Stickies

Stickies

Some of you may be wondering, “Why not just use my Mac’s built in Stickies app or the widgets note thing?” Well, if you’re not going to use it a lot, then you could do fine with something like them (you can even get real knee-deep into Stickies). Personally, I find both of them to be a little inconvenient and lackluster. But most importantly, none of them have any sync features at all, and they’re not as easily accessible as Scrawl is in your menu bar.

Comparing this type of app with other note-taking apps like Evernote is unfair because they are really not even close to being similar, and they both work for different type of situations. Scrawl is super intuitive and simple, but it also isn’t very useful for other things. Personally, I think both of these apps can coexist to make things easier. I plan on continuing using Scrawl as a small notebook-type thing, but while still keeping Evernote as my main go-to app for media files and bigger notes that need formatting, organization or extra space.

Some Thoughts on Simplicity

Evernote

Evernote

Note taking is not supposed to be a complicated task. I still always keep a small notebook at all times with me, because taking quick notes on Evernote with my iPod is still not as convenient and fast as I’d like it to be. It also sometimes feels like it gives me too many options for everything: tags, notebooks, titles, attachments; tons and tons of settings that I don’t always need and yet feel obligated to use in order to keep an organized library. I love Evernote, it really is one of my favorite apps. But the more time I spend with it, the more I realize it isn’t really a “note-taking” app. It’s almost a text editor with tons of organization. Notes, for me, are meant to be summarized, short, focused and fast.

It feels nice having a menu bar app to quickly go to for quickly jotting down something, instead of having to open an app to do it. Again, this ties in with the “temporary notes” thing that I was talking about before. For example: I’ve been going through several radio stations trying to find new artists for a music festival that I’m going to attend. Sometimes I stumble upon great artists that I want to remember to look up later, and with Scrawl I can quickly write their name down without really interrupting what I’m doing or getting too distracted.

Conclusion

Scrawl is not really an app for anyone. Some people might not find it very useful, but for the ones who are like me and need to write many things down each day before they forget them forever, then this app is just for you. The price is not very attractive, especially when you have free options that offer much more, but remember that sometimes less is better. I wouldn’t mind paying two dollars for an app that I am going to be using a bunch.

Whether you will like this app (and justify paying for it or not) is entirely up to how you use it and how you work. Maybe a companion iOS app (which is said to be in the works) could make its price feel a little more fair. What do you think? Could you benefit from using an app like this? Would you pay for something like it when there are free options available?

Editor’s Note

This review was written by Jorge Rodriguez but I (Mac.AppStorm Editor Josh Johnson) couldn’t help jumping in. Scrawl is no doubt a very simple app, but it’s also quite useful and perfectly functional. This is quite impressive considering that Scrawl is the creation of Paul Dunahoo, a 13-year old whiz kid developer. Also note that it’s currently featured in Apple’s “New and Noteworthy” section on the App Store.

Now, I don’t know what you were doing at 13, but I certainly wasn’t creating anything important enough to be featured on a popular tech blog, much less on one of Apple’s main distribution streams. Huge AppStorm props go out to Paul Dunahoo. I definitely encourage you to help Paul out by downloading his app and leaving an encouraging review.