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Show HN: Ghostnote – Contextual notes and todo app (ghostnoteapp.com)
301 points by ThomPete on March 4, 2015 | hide | past | favorite | 187 comments

Also a humble request.

I literally went through 3 developers and too much money until I was so luck to find @jimmyhoughjr.

Jimmys primary expertise is iOS but I convinced him to help me out on this project for the money I could afford.

Jimmy could use some freelance work as he has been out of work for while now (and live in the mid-west).

So if you need an extra hand on som iOS work don't hesitate to connect with him. He is a really nice guy and he is one of the main reasons Ghostnote even is anything today.

Hi Thomas,

I remember discussing Ghostnote with you when you were designing mockups back in October last year. Thrilled to see it released.

Original mockup from october: http://000fff.org/uploads/24a818aa6352f1f8d4ad33bf3e90145bb1...

Chat on #weekendhacker about the mockup: https://botbot.me/freenode/weekendhacker/2014-10-17/?msg=236...

hah nice forgot about those sketches.

New design under way already of course :)

Congratulations! May I ask how did you reach out to developers and how long did the project take. I assume you designed it? Thanks! :-)

I tried odesk, elance etc. the whole sherade and they all ended up not delivering.

I still hang out on IRC and through the #macdev channel via one of the moderators i was put in contact with Jimmy.

Just goes to show, few things beat personal recommendations.

But please if you have any work please help out Jimmy he is a really good developer just caught in a shitty situation.

As a designer learning iOS to build an app I designed, why didn't you develop the app yourself? Do you feel like the time lost learning OSX development would have offset the potential earnings of the app?

My impression when shopping around for a developer was that to get something like ghostnote built you'd have to spend around $50k+. This ultimately led me to just trying to build the app myself, but I'm finding that while I can achieve basic functionality with iOS, anything complex is far more time consuming (custom UIs, animations, integration 20 + apis).

I have been circling around this contextual idea for several years now and in fact this is just a small part of what I ultimately want to build.

It sounds simple but it's much harder than one would expect. I hired several developers most couldn't get it done and I had even talked to several developers about doing it as a split deal.

Its one thing to build an app that does what the framework is build for, but we are doing stuff that are kind breaking some fairly new grounds. On top of that having to deal with MASS and the Sandbox was a frustrating experience.

I do know how to program just not well enough to even remotely begin to solve some of the things you have to solve to make this work.

My best advice is make sure you have a pretty well polished idea, final (kind a) design and an interesting problem.

I managed to build this because we basically focused on the major challenge for Jimmy and not a lot of nice-to have stuff but ultimately not important to begin with.

Time learning programming is never wasted but it's just a different level we are talking about for this app.

> I do know how to program just not well enough to even remotely begin to solve some of the things you have to solve to make this work.

Yeah I'm in the same boat. The app I'm building has some really complex interactions that involve building a "mini" language within the app. For example:

` <send me an email> <if I get a tweet from @whatever> <else> <compile all mentions into one email> `

^ It's something like IFTT meets the simplicity of a markup language. So the user would actually be able to define these workflows much like writing simple jquery.

There's more to it than that but as you can see it extends far beyond basic iOS application building.

I ended up by learning and building myself. Just have to keep my burning rate really low. I've been working on my project for around two years now. Hope this time I can satisfied with what I'm building and actually put it onto app store. Thanks for your story.

Currently I am also spending time learn iOS to build an app. And its a long arduous task, specially if someone has never coded ever. Personally, last I wrote a piece of code was 3+ years ago, while in school.

I haven't specifically shopped for a developer cause forget $50k, I can't even spend $5k. So I guess sometimes, its not really about offsetting your potential earnings, than it is about whether you could afford one at all.

Still it will be interesting if ThomPete ever publishes his earning report of sorts :)

PS: Just wondering any specific course/book you are referring for iOS?

I'm working through this course - http://bitfountain.io/courses/complete-ios8

It's really comprehensive but absolutely massive. If you have a demanding full time job it could easily take you a year to get through the full course.

> I haven't specifically shopped for a developer cause forget $50k, I can't even spend $5k.

The problem isn't really the initial dollar amount, it's spending what you think you can make back on the application in a reasonable amount of time (6 months). If you can't make $50k on an app then why spend the money to have it made?

On the other hand if you can spend 3-4 hours per week learning how to build the app then what you make back is really whatever you value your time at minus the upside of learning a new skill.

The problem is that it takes years of experience using these tools and programming in order to make anything complex. I'm learning that the hard way.

> The problem isn't really the initial dollar amount, it's spending what you think you can make back on the application in a reasonable amount of time (6 months). If you can't make $50k on an app then why spend the money to have it made?

I guess that is where one needs to a fair bit of market analysis. One could argue that ghostnote might or might have a potential for $50k but who knows? Add the fact that some gurus say paid apps are dead while you can find numerous paid ones working fine, it is just confusing.

Then there is decision on pricing the app. I was reading up on some devs who put out their income figures. One might be inclined to think Dash for iOS at $10 might be a hard sell but it has done really good. On comparing to another app priced at $3.99 with same number of downloads, the returns have been much higher.

So the issue doesn't stop with whether I can make it back. But also, how do I make it back. I am too learning it the hard way :)

> I'm working through this course - http://bitfountain.io/courses/complete-ios8

My first impression after scrolling through the page is - It is too detailed. Maybe for complete beginners in programming.

I have started with free Udemy course - https://www.udacity.com/course/ud585

Following it up with the free Stanford classes. Currently need to start with the 3rd lecture.

I think if you have an interesting problem it's easier to get a developer on board than if you have something thats a lot of work but tedious to do.

Also I always offer 50/50 split after I have recouped my investment. This is to pay for upgrading the app (an there will be many updates after launch believe me).

If the app is interesting then they might be a little more willing to invest their time too.

A query, how did you decide on the price point for your app? There must be some kind of break-even calculation or something?

I learned the hard way it's better to start low and the raise prices than to start high and then have to lower them.

You wanna give the early adopters a better deal than the later ones.

I knew this app was unique (I frankly have never seen anything close to it) and i knew it was adding value because I use it all the time myself and it has some potential so I could go way higher and still make the same if not more.

But I decided to start at this price because i didn't know what kind of bugs would surface once many people started using it. That way people don't feel like they are overpaying even when they find bugs and I am kind of giving them a discount to provide me with valuable information.

I think that is fair to everyone.

Is there any way to contact @jimmyhoughjr other than via Twitter? Thanks!

yeah send him a mail jimmyhoughjr at me dot com

Also if anyone knows a good windows developer who might be interested in joining uss please don't hesitate to put them in contact with me.

We want this to be cross platform.

I know you probably don't want to publish his email here, but since his website doesn't seem to work, it makes it hard to contact him without twitter (which a lot of non dev guys) don't have.

May I ask, ballpark figure, how much was this project, or how much he charges per hour? I may have some projects in the future for him.

pm me my contact info is in the profile

Hi everyone

I could write a whole book about this project and what i had to go through to get it out but finally I think its there.

Ghostnote allow you to add notes to almost anything on your mac. Files, folders, applications, websites and even documents open inside applications (ex a photoshop document).

I made it because I am not good at structuring and often just need notes for specific context but soon realized that this approach actually has quite a lot of potential.

Next update will have support for applescript so you can customize context.

Let me know if you have any kind of feedback. Everything is appreciated.

I like this. I may try it out in spite of having too many note-taking strategies already (and this wouldn't replace everything else). Please do share your story - it's good marketing and it makes people feel better about paying (a measly) $5 when they understand what and who is behind it. Given the value and the ongoing work you'll be doing to add support for different contexts, I think you could raise the price to $10.

Are you using the extended attributes to store notes in each file? If so, that'd make it easier to pass the notes along to other people. I could easily see this being useful across art departments.

You probably have this on your to-do list, but you could use the new capability to badge icons in the Finder so I know there's a ghostnote attached.

I tried searching, but couldn't find a definitive answer: are resource forks still a problem when transferring files to non-os X systems? If I understood what I found correctly, dropbox handles resource forks (presumably just copying hidden _-metadata-files when using the app for os x) -- and apparently smb/cifs support resource forks (but I don't know how eg samba3/4 would store them on an ext4/zfs-backed file system).

It's one of those great little features that really lose out to the least-common-denominator effect... I'd kinda hoped that Apple just found a way to push/force apps to use fileformats that included metadata (but that would of course create other problems, like no more plain text files)...

Does anyone know of an up-to-date article that details the current state of resource forks and cross-platform issues (or lack thereof)?

Yeah so one idea we are hoping to push with Ghostnote is to use it to store notes for sharing.

So if you are using ex. Dropbox ghostnote will detect that and and the notes to the actual asset itself. That way others can see those notes and dropbox handles the syncing issues.

You could even send attach files to emails and send them with notes embedded if you wanted. We are looking at some of these things and I am thinking with a little bit of luck this might be a good way to promote it.

I'm sorry if I'm a bit dense, but I'm not sure what you mean by "it" above. Do you mean resource forks?

And how does that work if the email/filesync stops by a Linux/Windows machine or two on the way? Is there a "bundled" file-format that would allow something like a PSD to survive an email round-trip between eg. a designer running OS X, and a developer running Linux (err... in the case of a PSD, maybe windows -- even if Gimp's handling of PSDs are much better than it used to be :-)?

Thankfully it's been a while since I had to deal with "mac"[1] files so I'm not updated on the current state of affairs.

[1] Actually problems I've had had little to do with Apple per-se, more Adobe's lol-lets-throw-this-undocmented-binary-serialized-stuff-in-a-box-and-call-it-a-day hobby fileformat PSD -- that they apparently don't even understand how works themselves -- leading to some hair-pulling when going mac-windows-linux-mac etc.

Wow some really great ideas there.

We will be using the ability to store notes in files and folders. This will be especially helpful if you use ex. dropbox. that way you can share notes and dropbox takes care of the syncing.

It would be great to have the note kept in sync with the comments section on a file/folder when you Get Info on it so it's easily passed along to others. But i'm not sure if that supports formatting/bullets, etc.

Currently if a file is moved around, does it keep the note? Can you add a note to any URL, or only ones you've bookmarked?

Very slick looking and great idea, i'll be buying

Where exactly would you be storing the note? Curious as to how durable/invisible it would be to the user.

In the assets themselves

Sorry to be dense - I'm curious about the implementation. Can you give more detail? Is this in the extended attributes or file comments? Because I understand if the file moves to a non-HFS+ file system, you can lose those.

This is a really great idea, was there anything specific to OS X that allowed you to get the contextual information you need, or do you think you'll be able to port it to other operating systems in the future?

No doubt OSX is a little easier. I have been looking into windows and have some solutions for it but OSX just have some easy ways to fetch the context.

It was not without issues because of the sandbox so we were also rejected once (for unknown reasons still) but found another way to do it.

We literally is building a whitelist with app ids and how to speak with each of the different apps. However we have only explored a tiny fraction of whats possible.

In the next update users will be able to script things themselves. But we are looking at Windows.

It looks pretty awesome! I think it could be even better if you allowed notes to be attached to a particular web element.

Also, imagine the possibilities if you could attach categories. Say you have someone new joining a team, you could essentially give them access to a category and they could see all the notes. It would be like Slack channels except you have the context built in :D

Yeah we are looking at that too.

In theory with the next update where you can customize your scripts you could write it yourself. We of course hope people will and will share stuff we don't get around doing.

But lots of little things are on our list.

With regards to the categories. Great idea!

We are working on a solution where you can share notes via ex. dropbox. So i add some notes to a folder or a file and you can read those notes. Dropbox deals with the syncing.

Is there a shortcut key to create a new note or open a note (if one exists for the current document)?

Not yet but coming up

Thanks for this app; I've been wanting exactly this for years: I need to multi-task and I often forget what I was doing, so I need a TODO attached to specific windows.

Before you start adding big features such as Applescript, I recommend that you address basic problems and missing features (that you might have unearthed with an extended beta program). Please go check out the reviews at the App Store.

Thank you very much for your kind words.

We have three priorities

Bug fixing


Dropbox Team Access

In that order. So don't worry we aren't going to drop or turn this into bloatware :)

My concern is not that that it could become bloatware. My concern is that it suffers from basic usability issues but you're prioritizing things that I won't ever use.

I hear you and I promise you they wont be affecting the usability at all :)

Applescript is something you can use to do but wont have any affect on the usability.

Dropbox support also wont have any affect on the interface.

Our primary priority will always be bugs and user experience first, features second.


Apple should buy you.

This is the kind of new feature that I want out of an OS update. It's incredibly useful, but requires deep system integration to work perfectly. Unfortunately, without access to private APIs, I imagine you're going to hit a wall sooner than later. For example, right now, moving a file breaks its relationship with a note, and an open file's notes aren't associated with the file's finder icon. I imagine those are both going to be tricky problems to solve.

With that said, congrats on an incredible idea, and a great early implementation. I hope it grows into something big.

> moving a file breaks its relationship with a note

How does OS X handle moving files while they're open/in use? One of the first things I stumbled upon when I started using the OS is that it was possible, while Windows would throw an error.

In OSX/linux/unix the application uses the inode (a system level file id basically), which is independent of the path where the file is stored.

This allows to move a file around, even trash, while applications can keep referring to it. This can be weird (if you delete a file in use, it won't be effectively deleted from disk until every application accessing it stop doing so)

> This can be weird (if you delete a file in use, it won't be effectively deleted from disk until every application accessing it stop doing so)

That explains why I can easily remove a running process on Linux, but it doesn't work on Windows.

>For example, right now, moving a file breaks its relationship with a note, and an open file's notes aren't associated with the file's finder icon.

That's interesting. Is there a workaround or quick way to transfer notes? I often rearrange files.

There kind of are it just requires a little more work on our end. We will hopefully be able to share that with people soon.

Interestingly and anecdotally when moved around in dropbox it seems to keep it's relationship.

If you haven’t already check out the 'bookmark data' methods of NSURL: https://developer.apple.com/library/mac/documentation/Cocoa/...

However, I’m not sure if you can use these without the user choosing the file with an open panel, or with drag and drop. That’s what I had to rely on with my app Blik: http://www.burntcaramel.com/blik/

Ghostnote looks great, by the way!

hey thanks so much for this.

Didn't work for me in Dropbox. But I'll be looking forward to the solution. The system is great so far, so I have no doubt you'll be able to continue improving it.

great thanks for the good feedback and I assure you as long as it's possible we will continue to improve this.

Although it might annoy some users, a quick work-around might be to add a tag to the file. Tags on files/folders don't go away when you move or rename the file. Something like, "ghostnote:<ID>" where ID is some internal reference to the associated note.

In fact... using this method you wouldn't have to store the URLs of files/folders at all.

They could be associated with a hash of the file rather than its path?

Or maybe not. Every change to the file would break the note association. I think the most robust way to do this would be to bind notes to inodes instead.

Then it would change every time you changed the file. And if you try just (text match)||(path match) then you have issues with copied files. AFAIK the only reliable way to do this is to get notified when the file is moved or copied.

My first reaction: How did another note taking app made it to the top of the Hacker News?

I went to the website and didn't see anything special. It was not until that I watched the video, the idea clicked for me and I am able to see the value of this app. I immediately wished that it was available on Windows.

I would suggest creating a GIF demo for the website. Something similar to how Shortcat App does. https://shortcatapp.com/

And yes, you should increase the price. 9.99$ should be the minimum for the tool considering the value it provides.

Looks like something I'd use every day if executed properly.

Some things that I think would make this an awesome app:

1) IFTTT integration would be sweet. "If i get an e-mail about something, remind me to do it by putting it in my contextual note for an application"

2) iCloud integration would be sweeter. Unified notes for applications that exist in "desktop form" and "mobile form".

3) A "view all notes" option to be able to browse sans-context

4) The ability to clip media into a note easily

Definitely +1 on the "view all notes" options. Knowing full well that Ghostnote was intended for people like me that don't necessarily use structure for note-taking and need the context, I don't want to find my self in a position of not being able to find an important note because I'm not looking at that file/URL at that moment.

We will add it.

Another fucking application that doesn't specify that it's only for osx. Fucking apple users man. What about Windows & Linux? Can I get this for those? I don't know... because it doesn't fucking say. What... what are those? you ask? They're operating systems you don't need a fucking $1000 piece of hardware to run. Fucking apple users man.

Ok... I know, I know - swearing bad. But I'm a little sick of having to infer the most important piece of information about software by looking at the fucking screenshots.


It says available on mac store at the very top. The buy link redirects to the mac store. If those aren't clue enough, I doubt anything but 72point font size might get through to you.

Who is this rant aimed at anyway? The developer? S/he's perfectly within rights to make it for whatever platform they want.

Mac users in general? I think you could take some of your own advice from 23 days ago, "Never let the truth get in the way of a good story."

Hey Jonathan.

We are looking into making a version for windows :) Sign up to our newsletter and we will keep you in the loop on the progress there.

I think it would be useful if the ghost in the menu bar changes color if there's actually a note attached to the document/folder. So that you wouldn't have to constantly check if you actually wrote down notes for it

Agree it in the list of things to do.

And for files/folders, maybe have the icon change to reflect that there's a note attached (in the same way Dropbox modifies icons).

I think it's a great tool but I worry I would just forget where I had attached my note: to the root folder for a project, to one of the many project files etc

Good points. We are def looking into some of these scenarios.

Holy crap. Looked at the site and thought, "hey, pretty cool. I don't know what I would use it for, though."

And then I watched the video and have been coming up with use cases non-stop. Starting with adding vim key-bindings I'm trying to learn to iTerm. Bye-bye yellow-stickies all over my monitor!

Question, though. What if your notes are too context specific. So, for example, the note would bind to the specific file you are viewing in vim, whereas the contents of the note would be helpful for any file opened in vim?

From the video it looks like you can have a note specific to a terminal window open to vim.

But how do you specify at what level the note should bind?

Sometimes, you'd want it at the file-level, sometimes at the vim-level, and sometimes at the terminal-level, I suppose.

One solution would be to have a hierarchy of contexts displayed in the note app. (Like breadcrumbs in file explorer). User could switch between context levels manually.

Fantastic. Please don't hesitate to share your other use cases.

What I have found is that once you get your head around it's contextual you realize that this is how everything should work.

If you end up buying it send me a note and I will add you to the betal list so you can get acces to the new version with applescript support.

I thought it should be integrated in the OS, applications would set the context through the API. Software like this reads the context and manages the notes. That's to say I had a good impression, and I hope to see it on Windows one of these days.

Sorry to be slightly off topic but we could imagine the browser adapting to the context, too. There'd be a dropdown menu to select for example "Photoshop context", then it changes tabs according to the open project, and remembers them between sessions.

Was thinking the exact same thing!

$4.99 is an easy impulse buy for any productivity geek with a Mac. The only reason I haven't made the purchase is that I'm still living in the dark ages with Mountain Lion. I'll echo what others have said and suggest pricing this higher, right up there with Alfred and similar apps.

A couple of questions. Where is the data stored? Is it possible to retrieve or migrate data to a new Mac or new install?

I was lucky enough to be a beta tester for this and it's really neat. You don't even think about it, but there is this massive cognitive overhead we all go through trying to sync up some notes that are "over there" where "there" is Evernote, a Google Doc, or a text file and toggling back and forth.

I don't use it for everything (no grocery lists) - but for lots of the computer based tasks I do it is perfect.


* View all notes and navigate to file or folder on click (or something). It should be easy to use a note to find the file.

* Backup to Dropbox (for example) and offline backup and restore.

* Attach multiple notes to a single file or folder.

* Categories or tag-based search.

Love the app, just bought it today and recommended it to friends. I have found a few bugs though:

* In finder, if i press up and down, ghostnote doesn't recognize the focus change. Although if I go to another app, then tab back, ghostnote is focused on the right folder.

* In xcode it is quite hard to get ghostnote to focus on the right thing. a double click sometimes works. But clicking file a then file b causes ghostnote to focus on file a.

Thanks for an app that is sure to change my workflow!

We will add support for keyboard.

Will have a look at xcode.

Awesome idea. Just bought it. Would have paid more too. This could become central to my workflow.

I've been using Trello or separate files for a lot of this type of stuff, but it's sometimes less than obvious where I took the note.

Fantastic and yes we do see this becoming central especially when you can customize the applescripts. (Next update)

Testing it now. Is there a way to have a note attach to any url on the same TLD?

For instance, there's some custom text I paste as my signature in a certain forum. For that forum, I'd like to be able to set the note to apply to the whole TLD.

Whereas for other pages, like say articles on a page, it would make sense to have notes apply to individual urls.

not for now but we do have a solution for it as it's something we been finding our self needding too.

Suggestion for the landing page: supplement video with screenshots or bulleted use cases for people who can't/don't watch the video (so users can get that aha moment)

Clarification: are notes attached to individual files, or can you also attach notes to file types or even specific file names? For example, any time I click on a .gitignore I see my note for useful git commands.


Regarding .gitignore not for now but we are building this concept of content zones into the app that would allow you to do that.

With regards to landing page yeah i realize that I should probably just have a video in the beginning. A lot of people think it's just another notes app.

It's slow to open the note. I click on the ghost, and it doesn't open right away. It's not long, but noticeable, and distracting. Also, there is no click feedback. This wouldn't be a problem if the note opened right away, but with no visible feedback, it feels like clicking does nothing.

I have the same issue. I also see a small cog icon in the menu bar whenever I do something like switch apps or chrome tabs. I guess it's an indicator of ghostnote activity, but its sometimes to the left of the ghostnote menu icon, sometimes right and sometimes a couple of app menu icons over...

Of more concern is that after installing I noticed moving finder windows around as sluggish and sometimes just the system cursor in general. If I quit the app, that goes away.

Those issue are making it unusable for me.

hi diff_sky

That does sound weird. Do you mind sending me a mail (info at ghostnoteapp dot com) so we can figure out whats going on.

We are working on the cog wheel issue we just haven't been able to reproduce the bug on our screens so any look at the beast would help.

I also see the cog and am noticing the lag. I just sent you an email detailing my observations as well as a video of the issue.


It seems to be an issue with SIMBL which is installed with a lot of addware and older safari plugins. We are looking into the issues and getting back to each person with a solution.

For what it's worth its not related to our code.

I also see this cog in the top whenever I click.

Hi Jason lotito sorry to hear you are having issues. Shouldn't be slow at all.

If you want to we can see whats going on. Just write us a mail on info at ghostnoteapp.com and we will look into it.

Sure, no worries. I took a video showing the issue, and I'll send it off to you.

Does ghostnotes work in jvm based apps as well? Like pycharm or intellij idea? Does it work on tabs in those programs?

I tend to make short todo lists when I code. Those lists are spread in a specific folder on my system. This is much better. I code in intellijidea and pycharm, which are jvm apps. Hope they are supported!

all jvm apps no but we do have some support for intelliJ. We plan to add support for other JetBrains products in the next release and more granular support too.

You can either sign up to our newsletter to be notified when its there or you can buy the app and send us a mail. Then we will put you on the betal list and you will be able to help us make sure it caters to your needs.

This is a really great idea. I take a lot of notes on my desktop but they tend to end up in a stash of markdown files somewhere. Being able to contextually link my thoughts to what I was doing at the time is going to be a boon to productivity.

I love this. I wasn't aware of how much context I have with each note, but now that I watched the video it is immediately obvious.

This would probably be pretty useful for my team if it had a Dropbox integration where we can leave notes on shared dropbox files.

Nice work!

Besides bug hunting and applescript customization this is on the top of our list and we have an idea on how to do it.

This looks really neat right now I use NVAlt hotkey'd to Cntr+1 to hide/show and that get's synced to Simplenote which I use on my iPhone. I have a "temp" note where I store short-lived snippets, urls, etc and I normally just do something like:

#Reason I have this saved

Saved data....



I'd be interested in trying this out though to see how it compares. The one thing I really like about my setup is everything is synced to my mobile phone but I rarely need my "temp" note on mobile so not having mobile access to notes left with this app might not be that bad.

I know i keep repeating this but in our next update we get support for customizing applescript. Perhaps you can do something there.

The main idea though is to treat these notes a little more like real post-it-notes. I.e. forgettable things that truly live in the context and you only have to worry about in that context.

This looks fantastic.

I watched through the video and looked on the feature page, but couldn't figure out two key things:

- Is there a way to do a text search on all your notes?

- Are your notes saved in any sort of exportable format?

> Are your notes saved in any sort of exportable format?

This is a critical feature, and one many note and todo apps forget. Silos of information is A Bad Thing [TM]

Being able to gather notes distributed among objects into a single text file makes this app easily twice as useful (on top of an already great idea).

Hi bryan and thank you very much for your kind words.

To answer your quesitons.

- not for now

- not really they are archived objects

Now this will change in future updates so if you are on the fence just sign up for the newsletter to be notified.

Alternatively buy the app and send us a mail then we can add you to the beta-tester list so you get access to some of these things as soon as they are deployed for the betal build.

> - not really they are archived objects

This is a deal-breaker for me. I don't want to risk putting years of effort into this and then have the app break when Apple decides to deprecate APIs in their next OS release.

Having said that, you should be charging much more.

I understand but keep in mind that the idea behind ghostnote is not to store your precious quotes but more something like temporarily important notes.

Having said that however we will be making it possible to export/backup the notes into something like evernote or other much more accessible format.

*.txt will be the only format that mitigates the risk I'm talking about.

Evernote. Sigh.

We will support customized appleScript so that means you can write a little script that outputs to .txt format.

This is coming in the next update.


Nice idea and beautiful execution. One question though: If I detach and move between tabs in Chrome / Safari by keyboard shortcut, the note does not recognize the change of tab. Is this because I'm using 10.9 or is it a bug?

And you have a typo at http://www.ghostnoteapp.com/appsuggestions/ ("mailingist").

It's a bug we will fix this.

Thanks for the catch!

Just became a customer. So far so GREAT. I could really use some kind of keyboard binding and this will become a part of every day of my life.


Wow, this looks amazing. Shame I'm stuck with Windows for now.

we are hoping to come out for windows too. Sign up to our newsletter we will discuss it there.

Great! Signed up.

I had a contextual note idea a while back that turned into a Chrome Extension. It had a lot of quirks and never really worked how I wanted it to, so I eventually stopped working on it.

Ghostnote takes that idea and puts it on steroids. I really like the concept and am going to check out the app. Kudos on shipping!

Bought it, pretty cool.

The demo video shows notes contextual based on the current directory in a terminal. It isn't clear to me how to configure that to work - it doesn't seem to by default. Do I need to configure my terminal to change the window title based on current folder or something like that?

Just to make sure you installed the document detection in the beginning go to Settings icon and click the "Install Document Support" and click ok.

That should work. If not PM me and we will figure out whats going on.

The note should open upon clicking on something with a note (as an option, as I can see this annoying some users), or do some sort of indication on the icon that there is a note. I will forget to use it properly as it is, but I can see it having tremendous value otherwise.

coming... :)

I would love to see a software like this that would help me take notes from Google Books and reference back the book and page number. Then it would be able to give me my notes sorted by time, tags or book.

We actually tried to get it to work with ibook and kindle but no dice :)

Google Books doesn't seem to have any url differentiator between different pages so it might be hard unless we find some other way to detect different page numbers.

I'm confused, the demo video showed a problem to me when the dev typed "simple but effective" on the iTunes connect site but when he switched back to his app site, it showed the same "simple but effective" message instead of the proper one. It should've said "as you can see it takes the basic...".

You can see it starting here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JYQVyokbep0&t=117

Not so effective..

Ahh now i see what you were talking about.

So sometimes you have to click twice on the tab in the browser its very rare and its being fixed in next update.

I did the video really fast and just didn't catch it but thanks for the heads up. I assure you it works as advertised :)

Ah, thanks. You might want to redo the video because first impression is important and you shouldn't rush through what people see the first time.

Agree and I will :)

Really great idea. Reminds me of Ember app by Realmac, except this is for the whole filesystem. A very useful addition would be ability to add tags and sort files/notes by tags.

Looks very useful, before I buy, two questions:

1. Do you support any keyboard combinations to add or view notes while a folder or document has focus?

2. Are the notes stored on disk or in a cloud account somewhere?

Hey thanks.

1. Not yet but coming up 2. Stored on disk for now but will change later.

Thanks for the response - actually I'd personally prefer the stored-on-disk option :)

Just as a follow-up - would I get my contextual notes back if I'm backing up my disk to Time Capsule and have to restore from it?

Purchased! It's a great app! And I'm glad I can view the userscripts before I copy

It's great so far. But...I, out of curiosity, flipped on the "Ghost Mode" switch. Now, clicking on the ghost doesn't do anything.

What is Ghost Mode? How do I get out of it?

It's one of those "seems like such a good idea" things we probably just should have dropped until we had a better solution.

The idea is that the ghostnote app visually stays out of the way by going semi-transparent when your mouse isn't over it.

So I am guess it's just so low on transparency that you can't see it :)

Got to Preferences and turn it off then you should be able to see the window.

But yeah not the most useful feature for now.

Ohhhhh, OK. The problem was, the prefs were ALSO transparent/invisible, so I couldn't see them.

The note finally appeared in front of something with enough contrast that I could nab it and turn it off. Thanks!

"Ghost mode": Make me invisible :-)

Maybe change 100% invisibility to about 20%. That should make it barely visible, but less confusing. It would show underneath content so it would still be useful.

This is great. But two gripes:

1) No hotkey?

2) No support? The only thing you have is a form for me to suggest an App that is actually just a newsletter sign up. Not promising, especially for paid software.

Hey Joel

1) Hotkeys will be coming 2) Just write me on twitter or on facebook. However I realize I don't have a mail address to write I will update that. Thanks for the catch.

info at ghostnoteapp dot com

Great news! Thanks Joel!

Not even going to hesitate buying this -- the price of a latte at Starbucks.

This is great work and even if I only use it a handful of times (which I doubt), it will be worth it.

Congrats on the launch!

This looks really clever and great.

I was confused at the end of the video, though. Why did the iTunes note come up when you switched back to the Ghostnote website?

i think i might have mistakenly clicked on itunes outside the view.I will make a better video soon, had a 2 year old hanging on me while i did it :)

Not a big deal - again this looks great overall and I really like the concept. I will probably end up buying this.


Once you have let me know and I will put you on the beta list so you can get to play around with some of the cool new stuff we are implementing.

It seems that chrome doesn't work at all for me? Any ideas? Everything else seems to be working fine...but not chrome.

The application just doesn't seem to register (the icon remains that of the last app recognized). No amount of focusing Ghostnote, then Chrome, then Ghostnote, changing tabs, or restarting Chrome seem to do any good either.

try and detach the note from the menu bar and see if it still does not detect.

send us a mail at info@ our domain name and we see whats going on. It should work.

I have the same problem with Sublime Text 3 — Ghostnote doesn't detect it at all. Detaching doesn't help.

Send us a mail at info at ghostnoteapp dot com. Then we will help you solve it.

This product is awesome. I really appreciate the thought and effort that has gone into it. I wish you the best of luck.

Looks great,

Is it possible for it to save the content as Markdown in a path of my choosing?

I like having my note data in plain text.

not for now, but next update might have a solution for that.

Congrats on the release. This looks fantastic. I'm looking forward to trying it out.

What in the world does the start up message mean? I bought the app and when I opened it, I got a message about needing to open some folder. Was I supposed to go find that folder on disk and open it, or just click "Ok!"?

That message could be better. The app already opened the folder. So I didn't understand what to do. Should I have to open the folder in Finder? Or should I have to copy? The message could've just explained why the folder was opened and said, "Don't worry, just click ok" or something similar.

Just click OK but you can just go to ghostnote settings and click

Install Document Support and it will open it up again.

In the new version that part will be a little clearer.


i saw it randomly a couple of days ago on #macdev. looks interesting. a couple of questions though. is there a "all notes" place? what happens to the note if you delete the file to which it is attached?

There isn't an all notes place for now.

It's the #1 request but the catch is from people before they have tried it.

We are still on the fence but will probable end up adding it (and normal context-less note taking) but it's going to change the app quite dramatically so for now no.

However next update we add the ability to customize via applescript and there you could in theory just make it add the notes to ex. evernote everytime you add somehting.

no dont add a contextless note mode. im just thinking that i will forget where i had notes..

That is really very nice - well done! Any thoughts on Evernote integration?

Yes in next update you can add custom applescripts that should allow for evernote integration.

Neat! Thanks and keep up the great work!

I understand this apparently awesome application is only intended for Mac OS X, but it would be wonderful if the web presence marketing it wasn't totally unusable on a mobile device.


Can you elaborate a little? Not sure I understand what you are saying.

I believe he's saying you need to make your website more mobile friendly.

Ahh yeah ok, fair enough. Will put that on the list.

I was just looking for something like this the other day...

Your logo looks similar to Ghostly's http://www.theghostlystore.com/

It also looks similar to a goodly proportion of the results of a Google image search for "cute ghost"... which I think is inevitably what happens when you use a generically recognisable device like that.

All of them are variations of Pacman's ghost.

Great job Jimmy and Thomas! The app really looks great.

Good thought but this simply would not work for me. Lots of context switching and I simply don't see myself making so many notes

Thats interesting.

Can I convince you to just bullet point explain what you mean with context switching?

I was expecting a Trial version to try out, whether it fits my workflow, but its not there.

Please consider adding a trial version.

It's the price of coffee; come on.

I know and I understand.

I wish Apple allowed you to do that but for now they don't.

I have talked to paddle.net and binpress.com about making it available through their services. You can sign up to the newsletter if you want to be notified about things like that.


I always bought Mac software from Paddle, as it supports trial versions.

Worth mention, very surprising that Apple doesn't allow Trial versions.

Any chance of stopping the automator workflow menu icon from popping up every 5 seconds?

we are looking into this. Seems to be some thing around multiple monitors or displays.

Very cool idea indeed. And here I thought what can people improve for a note app.

How to save context with any note/todo app/list:

Just append a "#context"

Unfortunately, this doesn't work if the you forget you applied the context.

Yeah but thats actually the kind of work I want to get away from. I just want the machine create the proper context for me :)

I've never liked the ghost as an logo cause it looks like a KKK hood.

Does it store the notes in a way that I can easily make a backup of all the file names and their notes?

Or does it use undocumented xattr funny stuff that apps like Photoshop pay no mind to and promptly destroy?

for now just objects, next update you will be able to export to other formats and ex evernote.

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