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What note-taking app has *actually* helped you grow your thinking in unexpected ways?

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Posted by Christoph
Oct 31, 2023 at 05:49 PM


Alexander: Obsidian can now import Evernote, you may want to try that. However, with that many notes you may consider not migrating them all, or migrating the older ones or certain tags that you don’t really need any more to one or more separate “archive” vaults.This has worked very well for me. I still can find very old stuff by searching in the archive, but may current vault is not cluttered with it.


Posted by Franz Grieser
Oct 31, 2023 at 06:23 PM


Sorry. No particular app.
The game-changer for me was the discovery that notes can be linked (wiki-style).


Posted by MadaboutDana
Nov 1, 2023 at 09:10 AM


I would say the app that still inspires me and finds me new ideas is FoxTrot Pro, the Mac search app.

You can index anything (or exclude stuff, too), which happens at very high speed. You can then search by an enormous range of criteria, and view the results in their own pane, with all hits highlighted (in different colours, if you’ve been searching for multiple terms) and a simple “previous/next hit” arrow system for skipping between them.

The nearest Windows equivalent is dtSearch (very similar, also very powerful).

Because all my main note-taking apps are now file-based, i.e. don’t use databases (okay, not entirely true – Bear does use a database, but I export the notes into Obsidian at regular intervals), I can index all my repositories with FoxTrot. This is singularly convenient, because I have no other app that zeroes in on specific info as rapidly. No need for tags, no need for file structures. Just raw indexing power and a complete set of Boolean (or Boolean-equivalent) search options.

I also use FoxTrot for multilingual searches, either using Terminotix AlignFactory to produce HTML bitexts, or a rather nice free app called PDFsam Basic to generate PDF bitexts by interleaving the pages of identical PDF files in two different languages. AlignFactory is one of the very few bitext generators capable of (accurately) analysing PDF files, but complex brochures do defeat it, and in any case, it’s often easier to appreciate language in context when you can see all the illustrations as well – hence PDFsam. FoxTrot handles both kinds of bitext with aplomb; its PDF viewer as extremely efficient (probably an Apple module, but I wouldn’t know). It also handles MS-Office files and most other popular file formats with ease.

Rapid access to information has always, for me, been at the heart of any creative endeavour. That’s why I’ve spent time getting to know the Google Search engine (and others, including search-result aggregators like DEVONagent) from all angles, so I can drill into the web for references, cross-checks etc. And that’s why I like FoxTrot Pro so much.


Posted by MadaboutDana
Nov 1, 2023 at 09:11 AM


... although I realise FoxTrot Pro isn’t a note-taking app as such! Otherwise it’d have to be Obsidian with the OmniSearch plugin, which is really exceptionally good.


Posted by MadaboutDana
Nov 1, 2023 at 10:26 AM


Relevant to this interesting topic is, perhaps, this article in The Sweet Setup about Obsidian’s Local Graph feature. The full graph of links in Obsidian isn’t, as the author rightly remarks, very useful – there’s just too much there. But Obsidian has an extremely powerful, built-in Local Graph feature (accessed from each notes three-dot menu, then by clicking the Open Linked View submenu), which is much more useful. The article is here: https://thesweetsetup.com/the-power-of-obsidians-local-graph/


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