Monday, April 5, 2010

Syncing Text Notes

A very basic need, trivial to address and yet surprisingly, at I haven't found a convincing solution: you want to make your text notes on your mobile device and then copy-paste to your files on your computer.

I keep my tasks and other important lists in the form of formatted text file (e.g., in Google Docs). I found this to be the most flexible compared to any other todo list applications such Google Tasks or Remember the Milk that never measured up to what I needed to do with them. However, Google Docs doesn't allow you to edit on Mobile devices. iPhone internal Notes program doesn't sync over 3G (I guess that can be made to work somehow with iTunes?) . At some point, I emailed those notes to myself and then copy-paste from the email to Google Doc. Then I found DropBox in which you can sync file with your mobile device and view them. But still NO EDITING despite many people requesting it!!! So I found EverNote and you can edit there but there process requires many clicks at at least on the iPhone with no background app, it's painful and not practical. Also, if you do any rich formatting on a desktop, the mobile app only appends. Then I thought what I make a draft email and keep updating this and then copy-paste from this draft. I used this solution for a while but then again too many clicks to get to it.

What am I missing? Shouldn't there by something out there for this? I doubt that not enough people need to sync their notes.

Out of options, I created my own small application and you can put a shortcut on your mobile main screen. On your first use, it creates a note for you which it will remember from the cookie next time you visit the main URL. You can email it to other computers that you want to sync notes and again using cookie you only need to do this once. Couple of disclaimers:

1. I'm putting this up for comments and would love to hear if there is interest (or alternatives). I may stop this service at any point
2. It is currently formatted for iPhone and I haven't tried on other devices. Again if there is interest, I will support it.
3. This is to be used for small temporary text transfers. Not a secure service. Also, the app is almost too minimalistic and missing many features.

1 comment:

  1. I do this with Google Docs and an iPhone app called iSMEStorage. You need to create a free account at and sign up for the Google Docs beta package. Once you have done this sync your account and you can then use the iPhone App to create notes (memos) directly on Google Docs. They end up in a folder called 'My Memos' on GDocs. You can also drop text files directly in this folder that can be sync'd back the iPhone and edited. It took me ages to find this also as I'd been looking for something that worked this way for a long time.