As I write this, I’ve yet to ever find a real great note-taking solution. Once, back in the early 2000′s, I even made my own note-taking app, but it became incompatible after upgrading from XP and ran pretty slow anyway. When I use Windows 7 and OSX, I typically write down ideas, notes, and important things to remember in numerous randomly-named .txt files that end up littering the desktop and eventually getting shoved into a random folder and never looked at again. Sure, when I say it like that it makes no sense, but I’m not alone in using this method.
I’ve always heard Google has some good ways to jot down notes in their various services, but even though I use Gmail I’ve never explored it. Others use OneNote, but I’ve just never been one of them for what ever reason. Now with Chrome OS coming out and Chromebooks less than a month away, I figured it was a good time to figure out the whole organization thing. Can Springpad “take down” the competition? (sorry)
SpringPad is a free application for Chrome that’s designed to help you out. Its basic function is to take (and organizes) notes, keep track of things like appointments, meetings, chores, etc. (‘tasks”) and store all of the information in the cloud so you have instant access to it at all times. Everything you save is automatically synced and becomes accessible on the web and your phone.
Because it’s a web app, you can sync your Springpad with other services you might use like Twitter, Gmail, Facebook, and Yahoo. Even with all the web integration, you can still use Springpad without being connected to the internet.
When you install the app, Springpad is set to keep all your notes private by default. But, if you explore the settings, you can choose certain things you want to share, and others you want to remain private. For example, you could make recipes public but keep everything else for your eyes only. There are a lot of options.
There are several dozen themes to choose from, or you can upload your own picture and create a custom theme. I tried out several of the themes I liked best while I tested the app, so pardon the differences in the screenshots.
Before I got the hang of Springpad, out of habit, I was adding all kinds of notes from different categories to the same “notebook” (basically a folder). Luckily, it was easy to move notes to new notebooks, keep them in several notebooks, or remove them from other notebooks. I used this to keep my video game ideas notebook separate from my… ahem… “dream journal.”
Look it up!
Besides typing a note out yourself or copying and pasting from a web site, there’s a pretty cool option called “Look it up!” that lets you easily add things you want to keep track of. By typing what you’re looking for in the search box, you get a list of results from all kinds of websites. So, when I searched for “key lime pie,” it retrieved the top recipes from several different cooking sites. After selecting one, it stores the actual recipe as well as a link to the URL it came from.
The app has several different ways to view your notes — the basic view, a more detailed view with excerpts from each note, and a gallery view. The gallery view works especially well for not only viewing mouth-watering recipes, but also for things like movies, albums, and, obviously, photos.
Using Springpad offline is just like using it while online — the only difference is that you can’t use the “look it up” on the internet feature. When you reconnect your Chromebook to the internet, everything will sync automatically.
Springpad is a great productivity app with an uncluttered interface and overall pleasing appearance. No matter how much you use the app, the way it organizes your things gives a feeling of… well, organization. With our lives being so connected to the internet these days, using Springpad makes perfect sense. It’s easy to figure out, easy to use, and the convenience of always having access to all your notes, perfectly organized, is invaluable.
Lastly, it’s also worth noting that this Chrome app is absolutely free.