Tinderbox Forum

Familiar theme, new Q: state of play for mobile note-taking

I’m starting a new thread, drawing on past discussions here and elsewhere, to inquire about the current state of knowledge / “best practice” on a crucial aspect of the Tinderbox Lifestyle. That is, getting jotted-down notes, or info from a mobile device, into a TB file.

The two cases that occur most frequently for me are:

  • When equipped with Android phone, or iPad, I want to write down a number, an idea, a web address, a quote from a web site or email, etc etc etc. Since I’m not sitting at a computer, there’s not a built in way (a la Evernote) to get the material into the pipeline.
  • When I am sitting at a computer but am doing something else, I want to get some quick piece of info into a Tinderbox note. I might not have the right data base open, I might not have TB itself loaded, etc. but I want to capture some bit of info quickly so I can deal with it later on.

I can already do both of these things, since I do them every day. Often I’ll email myself a note from my iPad or Android, or jot something down in Evernote. And while at the computer, I usually just do take the time to find the right TB file for entry. I have used SimpleNote in the past, and I own DevonThink To Go, so if I took the time to learn it, that might be the way.

But is there a prevailing view on the current most-elegant solution to this challenge? Thanks.

Thanks @PaulWalters. This will give me incentive / nudge to learn enough about DT to put this to use!

Would anyone be interested in better import from the Notes app? For example, if Tinderbox could automatically import any notes in a given Notes folder?


Yes, import from Notes would also be a good option for me, especially since Notes is much better on iOS 11. I’d like to think you could import notes taken with the Apple Pencil too, although they would likely be an image. I would rather transcribe my notes in Tinderbox than in Notes, so the image would be useful.

On this, it would be helpful if you had some minimal way to assign key attributes to imported notes, which could make sorting easier. For example if the last lines were interpreted as assignments where this made sense, e.g. $reference=true; $project=“book”

I’m not sure this is exactly what you are asking about, but one method is to use a service like Dynalist or Workflowy. Make your notes then export them as OPML. You can then easily paste that into Tinderbox and each item of your list becomes a note. If you had a note in your items, those are imported into the note field. Any hierarchy is also retained in the notes you create in Tinderbox.


I’m traveling and can’t try it now. My go-to note taking app on iOS/Mac is Bear. Exports to Markdown and other formats with ease. I’ve used it daily for about six months.

If you use Omnifocus on your iPad, you could also set a specific @Context such as “Tinderbox”, take a note into Omnifocus and drag your notes from Omnifocus to Tinderbox, which smoothly recognizes them.


Automatic import from a given Notes folder would be great. I don’t see two-way syncing as necessary; I’d just like to be able to easily use Notes as a low-friction mobile inbox for Tinderbox.

1 Like

I would also like an automatic notes import similar to the Simplenote system.

My global take on the subject: Stick to capture in just one place that syncs across devices. The curse of multiple devices and multiple apps is scattering of notes all over the place. It goes back to David Allen’s GTD idea of a trusted system with an inbox that can processed from time to time.

I also use paper of course and like the discipline of copying notes on reading into TBX, confirming and sharpening my thoughts.

@eastgate - importing from a Notes (or any specifiable iCloud/Dropbox) folder/subfolder would be great, with attribute and/or tag recognition [($…), (@…;@…) etc]. Thanks!

This matches my own view. I’m really looking for the simplest and most bulletproof way to make sure that notes from different devices end up in the same inbox/sluice.

( By chance, I’ve been corresponding with David Allen, whom I know, over this past weekend, and expect to see him in Amsterdam, where he now lives, next month.)

@JFallows, I‘d really be interested to know what Allen thinks about all those tools like Omnifofucus, Devonthink, Tinderbox … as he lately seems to have switched to the Mac.

I wonder if Agile Tortoise’s Drafts might be interesting. It’s Mac world only and not, unfortunately, made for Android.

I use it all the time to capture links, comments, thoughts. What makes it really powerful is its extensive library of actions, predefined and highly customizable (and scriptable, though I haven’t gone that route).

I tend to use it for links to articles, with or without my own comments, and new texts. One can append text to previous notes as well. I just saw that someone has made a script to create hashtags from selected words, which would be useful for tagging—especially with the stamp code offered by Tinderboxers here to grab hashtagged words as tags.

Now if there only were a cross-platform option…

1 Like

I really like to take notes with Editorial in iOS. It recognizes markdown, taskpaper and fountain. You can colapse rows and has many useful workflows. If tinderbox could read notes inside a Dropbox folder, as Ulysses is able, that would be great. I think this is a more flexible way to integrate with other programs.

Paul, nice to know this possibility!

What Ulysses does is to reproduce the folder structure with it’s documents. If that was possible, we would be able to organize and edit texts outside of Tinderbox. I don’t know if it is complicated, but I would like to sync the folders and its contents to an outline in Tinderbox. Just names and text, no metadata.

Then, when I’m home, I would use Tinderbox to… think!

The fact is that I’m using the iPad a lot. The battery lasts longer than the laptop and it can used in many different ways. To write on the go it’s really nice. Should be an intelligent and easy way to sincronize with Tinderbox.

DEVONthink is my jam for this. Set a “take note” keyboard shortcut in DT’s sorter preference, and you can add notes to DEVONthink easily. I have a custom take note script which directs the note to the appropriate group so I don’t even have to set where it goes or look for it later. Then just drag the notes from DEVONthink into Tinderbox and they all show up, with links to the original DT records. DEVONthink To Go lets me capture notes when I’m away from the computer, syncs them automatically, and I can drag from DT to TB.

My “take note” AppleScript for anyone interested. Differences from DT’s built-in “Take Note” are that it opens my new note in a markdown editor, and places the note in a specific group.

display dialog "Note Title:" default answer ""
set theName to text returned of result

tell application id "DNtp"
	set theID to "12154836-98FF-4EF7-9B2B-47773C6E7EA1" -- this is the UUID of the group to save notes to
	set theGroup to get record with uuid theID
	set theRecord to create record with {name:theName, type:markdown, content:"# " & theName} in theGroup
	set theFile to path of theRecord as POSIX file
	tell application "Finder" to open theFile -- this opens the markdown file in your default editor
end tell
1 Like

Jeesh! I never knew about this, or never had taken the time to learn. Thanks! This really does what I am looking for.

1 Like

Yes. Being able to automatically (or easily) get Notes into TBX would be a huge improvement. My work portable work life has slowly migrated to an iPad Pro and that is my work notes platform.
I still like to use Rich Text and feel a bit left behind by all of the attention (and editors) that are Markdown specific. I will not need my project notes 5 years from now - I just want them usable, scannable and searchable for the next year or two. I think RTF will still be there for me.