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Notational Velocity review


Nothing beats Notational Velocity for speed and simplicity, but if you need to store anything other than plain text files, you'll need another app.

Review Date: 9 Oct 2009

Price when reviewed:

Reviewed By: Giles Turnbull

Our Rating 5 stars out of 5

Notational Velocity is an application that rather polarises opinion: you'll either love it or hate it.

It sparks these diverse reactions because it's so unlike every other notes program available for Mac OS X. It's deliberately, almost obtusely, minimalist.

The sole user interface control is a text box. There are no buttons, and there's no toolbar to customise. The few features it has can be controlled entirely from the keyboard.

The aim is the storage of text notes and nothing more. It can't store images, PDFs or web archives (unlike nearly all of its competitors). It can't sync to an iPod, it doesn't have hierarchical folders, and it isn't designed to find relationships within your data. As such, if those extras are things that you absolutely require in your digital notebook, you need read no further - Notational Velocity isn't for you.

However, what's so appealing about Notational Velocity, what inspires such devotion among its (admittedly few) fans, is its astonishing speed.

No other notes application offers anything like it for searching existing notes or creating new ones. Both of these tasks are done by typing into the text box; if the program finds matching text in existing notes, it will display it. If it can't, it will display nothing, and hitting Return will let you immediately edit the new note you've created. And it all happens at lightning speed.

Notational Velocity is ideal for the storage of text and code snippets, things to remember, lists, to-dos and passwords. By default, all notes are stored in a single database that can be encrypted to ensure security. If you don't need this feature and would like your notes to be Spotlight-searchable, you can switch to a plain text files storage system instead.

You can add text tags to a note, potentially useful for adding search strings that don't otherwise belong inside its body text, but this is an optional extra and the application is no less useful if you don't enable it.

Notational Velocity does only one thing, but does it superbly well. If you need to save and frequently search text notes, use it.

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