My requirements are very simple- I want notes that I can access quickly and easily via the web (from my Mac or PC) and also via iPhone and iPad.

For iOS, it's critical that I can go from having an idea to typing it out immediately- think the level of speed of the default "Notes" app in iOS app.

A rich text editor would be nice, but not necessary at all.

The iOS built in Notes app would be perfect if I could sync it to Google Docs, but I don't think it can. Google Docs itself is great on Mac/PC, but takes much too long to get started writing a note on iOS devices. I've tried Evernote, which is almost good, but unfortunately I've found that editing notes back and forth between web and iOS usually tends to revert back changes and get other very bad behavior.

Any ideas very welcome. Bells and whistles like rich text, tagging, etc. would be swell but not necessary at all, all I really care is being super fast, and able to sync.

  • Ironically it was the slowness of the Notes app that led me to FastEver. On a 3G it can take upwards of 20 seconds to get Notes to where you can type. Oct 26, 2011 at 15:52

7 Answers 7


Simplenote has an iOS app and it syncs back to the Web, so can be accessed from the iOS device, and/or your Mac or PC.


On your Mac, apps like Notational Velocity will also sync. There are apps for PCs well.

  • I've used Simplenote, Notational Velocity, and the associated iOS apps for a while now. Excellent. Simple, reliable, excellent solution.
    – Richard
    Oct 26, 2011 at 12:36
  • Looks good... I'll give it a shot!
    – Ascendant
    Nov 9, 2011 at 9:07

Evernote is to me the simplest i know. And works well.

  • 1
    You should look at evernote, simple, available on multiple platforms
    – jtreser
    Oct 26, 2011 at 12:26
  • If you're using Evernote, look at FastEver for the iPhone--it really is fast! Oct 26, 2011 at 15:51
  • The reason I don't like evernote is because it always loses sync between the desktop and iPhone versions. I make a change on a note on the desktop and it won't reflect on the iPhone or vice versa (I think one version is working with a plain text version, the other HTML, and never the twain shall meet) have you found any way to get around this?
    – Ascendant
    Nov 9, 2011 at 9:07

There are a million ways to do this, but the gist of all of them is:

  1. Put your notes in the cloud. This is the essential step. Choosing where in the cloud is a matter of which apps you'll use.
  2. Use a good app on the desktop to edit them. Candidates are:
    1. Notational Velocity syncs with SimpleNote or Dropbox. You can back the notes with simple text files so other apps on your computer can see them.
    2. nvAlt is a fork of Notational Velocity that also syncs with SimpleNote or Dropbox. Again with the files, which is nice.
    3. Evernote syncs via their own service (no direct file access), but lets you store images, and does OCR in the cloud.
  3. Use a good app on iOS to edit them. Candidates are:
    1. Elements is a nice Dropbox editor with Markdown support
    2. PlainText is another Dropbox editor
    3. SimpleNote has a nice editor for talking to their service.
    4. Evernote has their own app to talk to their service

Choosing an option depends entirely on your needs: if you need to put up images or want to take pictures of whiteboards and OCR them, Evernote is great. If you don't, use nvAlt and SimpleNote. If you prefer to have direct file access and make everything UNIXy, or like the Markdown features, go with nvAlt and Elements over Dropbox.

Personally, I've moved through exactly that progression. I started looking for the neat features of Evernote, then decided I disliked their interface and didn't use the features, so dropped down to Notational Velocity/SimpleNote, then realized that I wrote Markdown everywhere and wanted to see that on iOS so moved to nvAlt/Dropbox/SimpleNote.


I use dropbox.

i store all my notes as txt files in a folder called notes in dropbox, and just use a text editor app on my iphone and ipad that supports dropbox.

when i get home my macbook and windows pc have all the updated notes on them.

i currently use textastic for editing, as i use it for writing code and ftp also.

there are probably some more simplified note editors that support dropbox on the app store.


The answer above by TALlama is nice but doesn't pick a single solution.

I propose Simplenote on iOS and nvALT for the Mac [OS X] as the best combination to accomplish your goal of quick, easy and fast. Simplenote also has some of the bells and whistles like tagging and can be used for free or a paid option. The author of nvALT is well known for covering this space with an excellent review of an amazingly comprehensive review of text editors on iOS.

  • nvALT is excellent and is a fork of Notational Velocity.
    – Richard
    Oct 26, 2011 at 12:37

AwesomeNote may satisfy your needs on the iPhone / iPad end - it can sync to either EverNote or Google Documents.

It also has folders (which can be individually password protected), multiple note formats (Normal, To-do, Anniversary/Reminder, and Diary), and tagging. The folders themselves also have a number of formats that interact well with the note formats. That said, it only takes one click to start writing a note after starting the app - click on '+' in the upper right hand corner. You can also backup via iTunes File Sharing or through a simple web interface over Wi-Fi.


Nothing beats Evernote.


A. It's free B. It syncs across multiple computers (both PC and Mac) and multiple smartphones. C. You're given a free and unique email address which allows you to quickly email your EN account any new notes (especially good for turning any existing email into notes). C. It has 4 really fast and powerful ways of adding notes:

All of the different ways to quickly get outside information into Evernote as a to-do:

  1. Open EN directly, hit the New Note icon (or shortcut Command-N/Control-N) and type away.

  2. Globally from anywhere on your computer, hit Control-Command-N for Mac, xxx for Windows.

  3. From inside your email program, send any email to EN by emailing it to your unique EN email address (if you've forgotten it, you'll find it under the menu: Evernote: Account Info…)

  4. From inside your web browser, you can use the Evernote Web Clipper, which once installed, will show up in your browser tab row. Clicking it will give you the choice to either save the entire page's contents, or just the URL.

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