Finding Nemo

One of the things I’ve been trying to find (for what seems like forever) is a good note taking utility. There are quite a lot of products available, but none that truly fit my (admittedly strict) requirements:

  • Markdown support
  • Cross-platform (including mobile)
  • Syncing ability
  • Raw file access (on some level)
  • Bonus: Web app

I’ve tried a number of solutions, including Evernote (WAY long ago, no Markdown support), BearNote (quasi-markdown, no raw file access), (ONLY a web app), SimpleNote (no raw file access), and a few others (Quiver, Ulysses, iA Writer). I’d also tried the usual suspects solely available for macOS, iOS, and Android.

That’s when I found Standard Notes.

The Holy Grail

I don’t actually recall where I found Standard Notes (it might’ve been reddit’s /r/privacy group). In any case, when I first saw the URL, I actually thought it was another app that I had seen before: Notational Velocity. But after clicking the URL, I quickly realized it was exactly what I was looking for. I quickly downloaded the official client and setup an account.

Mobile Apps

The first thing that I loved about Standard Notes is that it has a Linux client. This was one of the main things I was looking for, given that my primary OS is Antergos. Being able to have a note-taking app that wasn’t limited to just a browser tab was awesome. The second thing that I loved about Standard Notes is that, while it was sync’d the cloud (either theirs or otherwise), it would be encrypted before it got there. A lot of the workflows I had seen for encrypted notes involved manual work via tools like Cryptomator or Boxcryptor. While these options would have worked, it would take a lot of the convenience out of whatever solution I ended up with.

The next thing that I loved was the fact that they have apps for all of the major platforms, including iOS, Android, Mac, Windows, and the web. This, combined with the built-in syncing, means that I can access or create notes without worrying about how I’ll sync it to my other devices.

The Cost of Extensability

Standard Notes includes a number of extensions to expand the feature-set, albeit at the cost of a monthly fee. This fee is on-par with other cloud services at $9.99/mo (though the cost drops significantly if you switch to the 1 or 5-year plans – $49.99, $149 respectively). The added benefit of this Extended plan is that you are allowed to sync files (encrypted, to the support cloud of your choice: Dropbox, Google Drive, or WebDav), enable document revisions, and best of all: swappable editors.

There are currently 8 editors available exclusively to Extended subscribers, including:

  • Simple Markdown Editor
  • Advanced Markdown Editor
  • Code Editor
  • Simple Task Editor
  • Minimal Markdown Editor
  • Fancy Markdown Editor
  • Plus Editor
  • Vim Editor

Dark Theme

I’ve only enabled a few, but you are able to switch between them with ease and can set one as the default with the click of a button.

Some of the other extensions include adding dark/night themes, sorting notes into folders, GitHub integration, a no distraction mode, and more.

One final notable feature of Extended: the Listed publishing platform. This acts similarly to Medium or Svbtle. This feature allows you to generate an Author Link to which you can post from the Notes in your account. While I haven’t used this feature personally, it seems like a decent way to get your thoughts out to the world, quickly and easily.

As I noted, I’ve gone through a lot of different note tools and while they all have great features in one way or another, Standard Notes has just the right combination of features for me, at a price that isn’t free. If you’re interested in giving it a try, feel free to visit Standard Notes to sign-up.