The best sticky notes for macOS and iOS

Written @ Tuesday, June 2, 2020 at 10:43:52 PM

Over the last month I’ve been using Tot, a scratchpad made by IconFactory. Imagine sticky notes on your Mac suddenly getting a lot better and working across all your devices.

The simplicity of the UI is Tot’s greatest strenght. The app window has a minimal title bar that shows the 7 tabs that you can have. You cannot add/subtract the number of tabs. Neither can you peel off any tab into its separate window. Just 1 window with 7 tabs that you can cycle through. There is a status bar at the bottom showing the number or lines, words, etc. This allows your content to stand out with minimal distractions.

The app supports dark and light modes, along with colored backgrounds. The colored backgrounds work great to quickly identify which tab you are on. For my setup I just use the dark background without any color highlights.

Tot can be used either from the macOS dock, or the menu bar. It also supports invocation via keyboard shortcuts, which is necessary for this kind of an app. I use it via the dock with a CMD + SHIFT + E shortcut. I like to keep mine dead center on the screen, and hence don’t prefer using it via the menu bar.

Tot supports Rich Text as well as Markdown, which is a great bonus for me. I can quickly switch to Markdown and export it to iA Writer. There is also ability to add lists and todos. There are a few fonts supported, thought I’ve stuck with Monaco since the beginning. It has all the basic editing features that you might expect from a scratchpad.

There is a share icon at the bottom of every Tot, which makes exporting the content really easy. Similarly you can import data through the share sheet on any app.

There is also the ability to store backups in the form of a JSON file. I’ve never used the feature, since everything sync well across iCloud. But it’s there if you have a backup mechanism.

Ever since I’ve started using the app, I’ve never seen any lag or delay in startup. The app window appears/disappears in an instant. Unlike Electron apps, Tot uses minimal resources in background. Unfortunately this is considered a feature nowadays, where shitty web apps are the norm. It’s really nice to see a native app made from the ground up.

The user interface and features are tailored for each platform as well. On iOS/iPadOS you can add shortcuts above the software keyboard. There is a subtle haptic feedback as you scroll through different tabs on iOS.

There are a few things I would like to see in future updates:

  • Increase/reduce the number of tabs.
  • Include in the spotlight search results, or have a search bar within the app.
  • Shortcut app support on iOS/iPadOS.

Tot is free on macOS and $20 on iOS/iPadOS. Initially I used it exclusively on macOS, but began to love it so much that ultimately had to buy the iOS version. Only within a month it has become one of my most frequently used apps on macOS.

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Hello everyone, I live in Northern California and work in silicon engineering. Medium is a great place for posting my thoughts and get some feedback.