After enjoying a couple months off from school, I find myself back in class four days a week learning basic biology. I, of course, have been using my laptop coupled with my favorite note taking app for Windows to take notes (paper + pencil is so archaic, duh). But for the first time in my academic career (outside my computer science classes, I should say), at least 1/2 of the students in the class are also using notebook computers to take notes! This is great proof that my generation (± a few years) are becoming more comfortable using computers for more than just Internet, email and media.
On that note, I have to say I am so sick of seeing people use Microsoft Word (Mac + PC) to take notes for classes. While most people immediately flock to the o-so-familiar Microsoft Word app to record text, there quite a few applications for both platforms that perform much better for the task at hand.
Starting with OS X (as I started my note taking career on a Powerbook), there are of course the usual suspects: TextEdit (included with OS X) and Microsoft Word for Mac ($149). These two apps will do the job, but not very well. TextEdit is limited in functionality and Microsoft Word is heavy and not Intel native. This is where The Omni Groupcomes in. When I purchased my first Mac (Titanium Powerbook) it came with a program called Omni Outliner from The Omni Group. After messing around with other the other applications, I found Omni Outliner to be the best at keeping notes, thoughts and attachments in one simple workspace. The application is light (especially compared to Microsoft Word), Intel native and follows Apple’s Inspector driven interface. But best of all, Omni Outliner comes standard on EVERY Mac that ships, and it’s a full licesnse.
Omni Outliner makes it easy to:
- Use rich style sheets to define your document’s template
- Add attachments directly to the file (not just references, be embedded files)
- Easily create multiple bullet styles, including check marks for lists!
- Easily create bookmarks throughout your document for quick reference
- Export to multiple file formats, including PDF, XML, PlainText, RTF and more
For those of you who use Microsoft Windows as your operating system, fear not. At the launch of Office 2003, Microsoft added a new application to the suite called One Note. At it’s core, OneNote is a digital notebook (which I believe to be heavily inspired by the emergence of Tablet PCs) that can be used for note taking, project management, brainstorming and more. It features a familiar WYSIWYG interface with a few exceptions. First, there is no save button. OneNote is always saving, always tracking changes, and therefore requires no manual saving. In OneNote 2007, Microsoft released new features that allow users to make audio and video recordings of meetings or lectures, for example (hardware dependent of course) as well as share their notebooks with other users and collaborate simultaneously. As far as the Windows world goes, there isn’t any comparison. OneNote 2007 delivers the best note-taking product I have ever used and I highly recommend it to anyone using their Windows based PC to take notes. Download a free trial from Microsoft here, but students rejoice! There is an Academic edition of OneNote 2007 available also!
Microsoft One Note 2007 Academic Edition – $44.95 from Academic Superstore