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Sunday, September 11, 2011

A free alternative for the Mac for M$ One Note

If you bought yourself or your child a new Mac recently, Congratulations! Hopefully the child uses the computer to get good grades, not just high scores in Angry Birds.

Now one computer tool that the competition, M$ Windows, offers is One Note. It's a very nice program. And Apple doesn't have a version of it. Not in Office for Mac.

Now you could get Windows running on your child's computer for the cost of buying Windows 7 and Office for Home and Student, but that seems...ridiculous. Why did you buy Apple and Macintosh to install Windows?

Fortunately, you have alternatives to One Note. One in particular, Growly Notes, won't cut into your kid's budget for gas or food or laundry. That's because it's free!

Anyway, Growly Notes gives you a virtual notebook with

Notebooks-like the ones you lug from class to class

Sections-like the dividers in the 5 section Mead notebooks, you can divide up your notebook

Pages-individual pages for, say, each day's lecture notes

Notes-the entries you make on each page. You can type in notes, you can “print” to Growly Notes from the PDF option on your Print dialogue, and many programs will have the Services menu to send text to Growly Notes.

Take notes on your classes, organize them, and tag important points or questions.

Here are some suggestions for how to create and organize your class notes:

You can take notes while using another program. Choose Window/New Floating Note Window. The note goes in the Scratchpad. When you’re done you can cut and copy it to this notebook.

Create lists with Insert/Bulleted List and Insert/Numbered List. Or just click anywhere on the page and type *, -, or 1 to get a new list. To make lists within a text note like this one, use the Lists popup menu on the Ruler (Format/Ruler). Use the Tab key to indent further, Shift-Tab to indent less.

Tables are useful for keeping ordered sets of information. Use the commands on the Table menu.

Tag important notes using the commands on the Format/Tag submenu. You can find all tagged notes quickly using the Find Tags tool on the toolbar.

Create simple illustrations using the drawing tools, found on the View menu.

I copied that list of ideas from Growly Notes built in Students template. The program comes with several templates that you can use immediately or adapt to other uses. I would recommend the Students and Moving Checklist template to students based on my family's experience.

Growly Birds Notes bears a resemblance to One Note. The programmer, Chris Mason, worked at Microsoft and knows how close to make a program resemble a M$ product without getting the legal department on his case.

I'll write more this week on Growly Notes and how it compares to more expensive programs such as DevonTHINK and Circusponies Notes.

By the way, if you decided to go ultra-cheap and take a old Dell notebook and install Ubuntu on it, I'd recommand Basket Note Pads. It's the Linux answer to One Note and Growly Notes.

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