How to set up a foolproof note-taking system for writers and other nerds (Part 1)

I started writing stories this year – short fiction and a couple of novellas so far – and I’ve found I need to make a lot of notes. The iPhone is pretty great for this, as you’d expect, but not always: Sometimes it’s just not appropriate to tap away on a cellphone, and sometimes you might want to make little drawings, or maybe you just find it easier and faster to pull out a paper notebook or index card.

The biggest advantage of iPhone notes is that they are sync-able and searchable. Paper is neither. But using a combo of apps, old-school paper hacks and an easy-to-maintain “workflow”, I came up with a simple note-taking system that keeps paper and pixels together, both equally searchable, sync-able and usable.

PhotoFlip Is An Almost-Excellent Picture Note-Taking App

PhotoFlip has the beginnings of a great idea, let down by poor implementation. Here’s the idea: The app lets you add notes to the photos you have in your iPhone camera roll, without copying those images. That is, the pictures stay in your regular photo library, and the app just displays them with your text note added underneath.

It’s a great idea right? It uses almost no storage, and doesn’t double up on picture libraries. You can even snap photos from within the app and they’re saved ion the regular camera roll, and everything is synced via iCloud (if you want anyway).

So what’s wrong?

iThoughts Notes App Fixes Up iPhone Text Selection

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Text selection on iOS is still a pain in the ass. Some apps fix it up with extra buttons above the virtual keyboard, but Thoughts 2, an iPhone notes app, adds extra buttons to the text selection itself. This makes it easy to expand and contract the selection one character at a time which – given the fickle nature of text fields in iOS – should help a lot.