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There are a number of excellent information organizers for the Mac. It's one area where Mac offerings are both better and more numerous than the Windows counterparts. The information manager I use most often is StickyBrain. It seems to hit the sweet spot between ease of use and power. There are more powerful programs like DEVONthink and Tinderbox that are excellent for serious information management. I've used both and still use DEVONthink for specific projects, but for everyday information storage and retrieval it's StickyBrain that I turn to.

The key to quickly storing data on a Mac comes through using Mac OS X Services. Services make it easy to select text or an image in Safari, Mail, TextEdit, BBEdit or any Services aware application and use either a key combination or contextual menu to send the snippet to storage. Drag-and-drop and copy-and-paste require having two or more programs open and up at the same time, which slows down workflow. Services makes the interruption short and sweet and doesn't require juggling windows.

Needless to say, StickyBrain makes efficient use of services, adding three choices to the contextual menu of any services aware app. Two send data to predefined folders, passwords and receipts. The third option dumps a new note into an unsorted folder for later categorizing. Just highlight text and/or an image, right/control click, choose a destination and my data is stored. Next time I need to log into a discussion group, StickyBrain has my username and password handy. Good stuff. StickyBrain also uses Services to integrate with both Mail and Address Book. I really appreciate how easy it is to use StickyBrain as my information center.

StickyBrain will also insert calendars, dates, checkboxes and pictures but not movies or audio notes. If you need multimedia or audio note capabilities, I'd suggest looking at Aqua Minds NoteTaker or Circus Ponies Notebook, both powerful organizers in their own rights.

The StickyBrain interface is familiar. It looks like Mail. Folders containing data pieces, or notes live in a side drawer. When a category folder is selected a listing of notes appears in the top pane of StickyBrain. Folders can contain any number of subfolders. StickyBrain even supports tabs for having multiple notes open at the same time. It's a no-brainer to use.

Earlier versions of StickyBrain were not much more than the old Mac Stickies on steroids. Since I hate having my screen cluttered with Post-its, I wasn't interested. However, if you like Stickies, StickyBrain can still create them.

What sold me on moving from DEVONthink, besides the simpler interface was StickyBrain's ability to interface with my Palm PDA. Any notes dropped in StickyBrain's Palm folder sync through iSync, making it easy to keep up-to-date. StickyBrain will also send notes to iPod, if that's you pocket computer of choice. StickyBrain is also .Mac savvy making it a great choice for making your data portable.

Chronos, the makers of StickyBrain, issue frequent updates and bug fixes, which makes me feel good about adopting the program. Also the fact that the guts of StickyBrain are built around an industrial strength database, OpenBase gives the program plenty of room to expand.

I have a few minor gripes about StickyBrain, but nothing big enough to make me want to move to another program. Its hyperlinking kind of exists but is totally lame, requiring an extra window to view hyperlinks to either the Web or to documents on my hard drive. The linked items do not show up in the note window, making them easy to forget and removing them from context. I'd love to see a more traditional in-line hyperlink capability, i.e. highlight some text and use it as a link.

Also, I would like the ability to password protect my password folder. StickyBrain does allow individual notes to be made private, then hidden. You can require a password to view hidden notes. This does give the program some security but is awkward to use.

Chronos advertises that StickyBrain will "Grab entire web pages with text, graphics, and links." Kind of. It sends text and photos to StickyBrain from Safari or a Safari WebKit based browser but it does not "grab" the page. Formatting is lost along with any multimedia, like Flash, audio or video. If you want to capture and store complete web pages, DEVONthink is your puppy.

The hyperlinking implementation is annoying enough that I wrote the authors to complain, but otherwise I highly recommend StickyBrain. It's powerful, easy to use and under active development. At $40 the price is reasonable, too.

--michael mckee 22:10 Apr 2005 (PST)

Homepage (I assume this is what the original author had in mind, I don't know this software)

--Rui Carmo 15:13, 21 Mar 2005 (EST)

Update. StickyBrain is no more. Chronos have discontinued it, but are now offering a free update to SOHO Notes ... which is almost identical to StickyBrain, but with a couple of extra features.

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