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Vote for Your Favorite Mac Personal Information Manager

For those who rely on the outline-based personal information management app Notebook, the shuttering of developer Circus Ponies last week was sad news (see “Circus Ponies Closes Its Doors,” 7 January 2016). While Notebook will likely continue to work fine in OS X 10.11 El Capitan, its lifespan is necessarily limited, and users would do well to start researching alternatives.

But there are an overwhelming number of choices to sort through, and many of them look quite similar. Several readers have asked us for our opinion, and while it’s easy to suggest Apple’s Notes or point at powerful apps like DEVONthink, it’s impossible for us to recommend a single app. Personal information managers as a class have evolved to fill every available niche in the ecosystem, and only you know what features you need.

We want to help provide some direction to your research, and some data to support your eventual choice, so we’re trying something new: a reader-driven survey aimed at rating personal information managers for you to fill out (it’s embedded at the bottom of this article on our Web site or you can navigate to it directly). A few important notes before you start clicking:

  • Please rate only those apps with which you have significant personal experience. That means weeks or months of use, not something that you launched once before discovering that it lacked a feature you need. Just don’t enter ratings for apps you haven’t used.

  • We’ve listed a lot of apps in the poll, but if we missed the one you use, let us know so we can add it (obviously, those added later are a bit less likely to have as many votes, but there’s no way around that). To keep this manageable, we’re going to stick with Mac apps that are focused on note-taking, snippet-keeping, and information management, not apps that are primarily task managers, for keeping a journal, or text editors. There’s nothing wrong with using them, but we have to draw a line in the sand somewhere.

  • Some apps will get more votes than others, so when looking at the results (click Show Previous Responses after you vote), take that into account. A lot of votes may indicate popularity (or a successful attempt to game the system), but an app with just a few highly positive votes is still worth a look.

  • Ratings don’t give a complete picture, so feel free to say what you like or don’t like about apps you use in the comments for this article; we’ve seeded the top-level comment for each app, and please keep your thoughts within the appropriate top-level comment. Searching for the app name will likely be the fastest way to find the appropriate comment thread, now that we’ve added so many suggested apps.

We’ll report on the results next week.

Thanks for the help — we can all work together to help other TidBITS readers find the best apps for their needs. And if this approach works well, we can expand it to other categories of apps.

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