Tyke is the Mac’s simplest note-taking app

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tyke
Tyke is ready to take a note whenever you need it.
Photo: Tyke

Tyke might be just about the simplest app you ever saw. It is also really, really useful. Tyke puts a little icon in your Mac’s menubar, and when you click it, it opens up a text scratchpad. You can jot in a quick note, or paste in some info. And that’s about it.

The simplest note app ever

This may be the least feature-laden notes app ever, and that’s its strength. There are many, many times when I want to just make a quick note. Maybe it’s a phone number, or a snippet of text I need in a moment. Maybe I just want to jot something down so I don’t forget it. I could open up Notes app, or a text editor, or a to-do app, or any one of many other neat apps I have on the Mac that can take notes, but every one of those options offers mental resistance. I have to launch the app, or find its window, and then I have to remember where I left the note, and I will probably have to delete that note later.

On the iPhone and iPad, the amazing Drafts app does this trick. It’s always in the Dock, it always opens to a blank note, and once I’m done with that note, it disappears. Drafts is way more powerful than Tyke, but unless Drafts makes an unlikely appearance on the Mac, Tyke can do at least one of its jobs — quick capture.

How Tyke works

Tyke sits in the menubar until you click it with a mouse. Then, it pops open a small text panel. You type your note in there, and that’s it. When you click anywhere else on your Mac, the box disappears, but the text remains in there until you delete it. The only thing missing is a keyboard shortcut to open the notes window, which would mean you didn’t have to interrupt your typing flow with some mouse or trackpad actions.

Still, Tyke is almost perfect as a way to make quick, temporary notes. It’s the pixelized equivalent of those boxes of paper squares that sit on organized folks’ desks

The even-more-perfect alternative

SwiftText adds in keyboard shortcuts, and a floating window.
SwiftText adds in keyboard shortcuts, and a floating window.
Photo: Giraffe Lab

SwiftText does the same as Tyke, only you can set a hot key to open it up, and you can also choose a typeface. One other nice option is that you can set the SwiftText window to stay open, floating on the screen until you dismiss it. This is good when you need to use the snippet of text as a reference — a phone number, perhaps, or a list.

Unlike the free Tyke, SwiftText costs $2. Also unlike Tyke, it is available in the Mac App Store, so you don’t have to install software from unknown sources. And if you consider the hot-key to be essential, then $2 is a steal.

Price: $1.99

Download: SwiftText from the App Store (iOS)