NotesTab Pro: Nice Idea, But Improvements Needed [Review]

NotesTab Pro: Nice Idea, But Improvements Needed [Review]

NotesTab Pro and begging "join our mailing list" window. Could have been worse; could have said "Please rate us five stars!"

Do we need any more notepad apps for OS X? Of course we do, what a foolish question. We always need more notepad apps. But if a newcomer to the notepad app scene (what, you didn’t know there was a notepad app scene? tut tut) wants to make any impact, it needs to be really, really good at what it does.

NotesTab Pro is one such newcomer, and although it has some appealing features, it doesn’t offer enough to make it stand out from its rivals.

The app comes in both free and paid-for ($3) varieties. I had a look at the latter. The first thing you notice is the iOSishness of the whole thing. It is by no means the first OS X app to adopt the iOS design language, nor will it be the last. That design language works in some cases and not in others – for a notepad app that lives in the Menu Bar, it feels appropriate.

The iOSification doesn’t end there, though. NotesTab looks very similar to Apple’s own Reminders app for iOS, only moreso. The paper background is more textured and crumpled, the notepad’s “exterior” is more skeuomorphic than Apple’s. NotesTab can adopt one of four different themes – leather, carbon, metal or wood. Do you know anyone with a wooden notepad? No, neither do I. But.

Is it actually any good for notes? It’s OK, but in my view, not good enough. There are a number of problems, most of them minor, but together they add up to frustration. And that doesn’t make for a very positive experience.

The app is very mouse- or trackpad-centric. There are some keyboard shortcuts, but they are frustratingly incomplete. So, you can call NotesTab to the front with a command, and create a new note with another. But to return to your list of notes, you’re forced back to clicking.

The themes give you some control over how things look, but you can’t remove the textured paper background. There are some problems with full screen mode – it removes the “new note” and “back to notes list” buttons, which means you’re stuck inside the note you’re editing until you go back to normal window mode. The sharing button only does email right now – no quick access to Twitter or Facebook.

And generally speaking, the app suffers from sluggish performance. It struggled to cope with my typing speed, pausing every so often while my fingers clattered ahead, then catching up a second or so later. It’s a little thing, but it bothered me. I like text apps to keep up with the text I’m putting into them.

A crucial missing feature is syncing. There’s no iCloud or Dropbox support yet, although the developers say both of these are coming.

There’s a helpful little notepad app here, struggling to find its way out. I’d suggest putting this on your apps-to-try list, and waiting a while for an update that tidies things up and adds some degree of syncing. When that happens, NotesTab Pro might be on to something.

Pro: Small, helpful and hidden in the Menu Bar means it’s always to hand

Con: Missing features, bugs, and performance problems make it hard to recommend just yet

About the author

Giles TurnbullGiles Turnbull is a freelance writer in England. He also writes for the Press Association and The Morning News. You can find out more at his website, and follow him on Twitter @gilest.

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