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The very humble Notes app on macOS/iOS fulfills this for me. I just start typing, the minimalistic interface gets out of the way. Timestamping is on last modification instead of creation date but I add one manually. That's about my only drawback. Some features I find compelling:

- I can start a train of thought on the mac, continue it on the phone and complete it on my mac.

- It's not mined by some advertising company, no subject to the viability of some business.

- Being so simple, the contents can be exported to some other format very easily.

- Works offline (only background sync requires connection).

- And search is near instant since everything is stored locally.




My first thought when reading this was “how do you automate it?” as that was part of the spec.

But you can actually do that with Shortcuts, which is build into the system.

1. Make a note with a title like “journal” or “daily log”

2. Open shortcuts, go to automations. Make a new one with a time of day trigger. (Or an alternate if you prefer)

3. Actions: “find all notes where” —> filter for notes name. “ask for input” —-> ask the question you want + put “current date” as default entry. “Append to note” —> use magic variables. Select ask for input as the text to append, and note as the note to append to. (Specifically, the note your filter found)

4. Duplicate this for as many times of day as you want to be asked

5. At the appropriate time, click the notification and enter text to log it. Also add a trailing newline for note formatting. If anyone knows how to automate this on shortcuts, let me know: newlines seem tricky and I haven’t figured it out.

This automates the asking, and also the timestamp. Thanks for posting your idea, it prompted me to setup alerts for 11:00 and 5:00 pm.

Edit: this doesn’t transfer bullets to notes. If anyone knows how to append bulleted text via shortcut, let me know.


Thats a nice little hack. Shortcuts is really powerful for little workflows like this.

I've done similar for reminders of things that I want to take measurement of in a simple way throughout a day. Like taking a childs temperature when they're sick and running a fever.


How do I make this list be a list without double spacing or making it a code block....there must be a way?


Double spacing is your only option. Don't make it a code block, as that is unreadable on mobile.


Thanks for confirming! Thought I was missing a method for years. Oh well.


    Line 1
    (leave blank line)
    Line 2 

Renders as:

Line 1

Line 2


Hacker News markup does not include lists. To my knowledge, there is not. https://news.ycombinator.com/formatdoc


Since macOS Catalina, you can also sort notes by creation date. So the information is there, even though it's kept hidden.


On the Mac, if you click the date, it will flip between creation/updated dates.


I have gotten really into using it on my Mac (writing) and my iPhone (reading/updating) but unfortunately it is insanely buggy on iPad when using a keyboard, or at least when using the Magic Keyboard.

Buggy enough that I have to use something else for taking notes with iPad+Keyboard. I've found Bear[0] to be pretty good but not better for my use-case than a less-buggy Notes would be.

Since "ubiquity" and "simplicity" are the two main selling points for standard Notes, this is proving to be pretty annoying: I sometimes write in Bear then copy-paste back into Notes.

[0]: https://bear.app


It's good to hear I'm not the only one having frustrations with the Magic Keyboard and Notes.

Otherwise, I'm also a fan of how perfectly minimal and focused Notes is for journaling.


i've never used bear.app, but i do a lot of writing in Ulysses[0] and selectively copy/paste back into Notes if needed.

[0]: https://ulysses.app


I tried out Ulysses and felt like I'd probably use it if I were writing a lot and doing it more seriously. Might give it another try, thanks for reminding me.


tbh i got it on a whim, thinking that i'd revive my love of writing fiction, stage plays and poetry. sort of a "recapture the heady days of my youth" thing lol. since then i've found that any editor with a minimal interface and markdown support makes me feel better about writing, in general.


Agreed that this works well for some workflows. That said, part of pg's "design brief" was the workflow: receive an email and reply to it, his reason for replying being "to get it out of my inbox".


If a phone or ipad notification would be acceptable, I figured out that part in a comment here: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=22046379


I built a little app for myself just because I wanted timestamps and geostamps: https://apps.apple.com/us/app/chronible/id1397942944


Can you say more about "Being so simple, the contents can be exported to some other format very easily"? That has been a sticking point for me, only having the export of individual notes to PDF as a built-in option.


If you copy-paste from the notes app, it tends to do a reasonable job transforming it’s formatting into a plain-text representation.(Or rich-text, if you paste into an app that supports it, like Pages or Mail.)

There are a few apps around that can do this in bulk. I have one called Notes Exporter. Apparently Note2Txt is also good: https://www.macsparky.com/blog/2016/5/exporting-apple-notes-...

I am a little worried that some day these tools will disappear, but iirc the notes are just kept in an sqlite database so it shouldn’t be too hard to hack your data out manually, either.


The email workflow is slightly different.

It prompts you in email not having to change applications. This is good for people who like inbox zero and are in their emails all day anyways.


An alternative is the voice recording app. It doesn't have search but you can use the recording titles for tags.


I agree - after trying many notes and lists apps, I settled on the simplicity of Notes. It's also very fast.




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