What do you use for taking longer / more complex notes?


I wanted to get a feel for what Dynalist users are using for taking more complex notes (and by complex, I mean those that contain images, design notes, etc.). Are you using Dynalist for ALL your notes, or do you in some cases supplement with something like Evernote, Bear (if you’re on a Mac), etc.?



I still use Evernote for note taking, particularly on the Android. It still seems best for getting down thoughts quickly and then including images and audio. But my Evernote database is now more than 5gb, so it’s slow to retrieve the information. If I include the link to the note in Dynalist I can access it on the Evernote web, which is much quicker.

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for complex note I use OneNote
its an excellent service…
tables, background colors, shapes…
a kind of “tags” that work very specifically … but theyre ok…
the UI of a notebook, so its very intuitive
you can outline too
and its like a regular text editor, just more awesome (text everywhere you want, like a canvas…) etc

Dynalist has many pros
its the best outliner out there (except for Omni Outliner, but its only for mac)
its simple and for being online theyre not limiting you with megabytes, number of bullets…
I would say it may fail right now in some territory if you want it as an all-terrain text editor, or in mobile usage

I tried many times to use Evernote but simply its not for me…
I always felt “limited” or I dont know
and the “put it all here…you organize with tags” thing still wasnt working in my kind of notetaking… always there was a mess…
and they were always like… hungry of money… hahaha I guess if you take as a loan 200 millions of dollars for your enterprise and you spend them…later you want to recover those 200 million or more… (they were valued as 1 billion dollars…so they ““needed”” to make that quantity of money or they could be seen as failure)

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Dynliasts for… lists and outline type information.

Long form writing, Ulysses. It also has an excellent export tool, which I find to be lacking (even copy paste) in Dynalist. Support for footnotes is excellent.

Journaling, Day One.

I’d say 75% dynalist 20% Ulysses and 5% Day One.

edit: bear is beautiful, but skin-deep in functionality. I love nvAlt and am waiting for its next iteration, BitWriter.


This is a good question which I’m embarrassed to answer! Apart from Dynalist, I still use a number of note taking programs which are all good in their own way.

OneNote - notes with graphics
CintaNotes - for small projects
ResophNotes (a simplenote port) - for a technical database
TheBrain - for large projects
Scrivener - for writing projects

I seriously need to rationalise. FOMO in action.


+1 for Evernote - I tried taking e.g. study notes with images in dynalist - it just wasn’t quite right (and I wouldn’t want it to change as I want it to stay lightweight)

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I wrote a post on it over here

but that was my workflow 2-1/2 months ago. Also, this is the same time that I started to take a lot of courses in a short amount of time to learn front-end development (finished about 5 of them so far)

I didn’t get around to finishing my other post explaining this topic in more detail, but first I would have to cover my general 3rd party tools and shortcuts I use first

The forum is kind of hard to navigate partially due to all my spam on it, but I wrote this guideline on what 3rd party extensions I use


tomorrow I’ll answer your question with another post

the answer is yes i use dynalist for 90% of everything, but there’s more to it than just that (how to search document, how to scale it up, doc naming conventions, how to take image notes easily, etc). There’s a lot of reasoning behind how and why I take my notes a certain way and I’ll make a short summary of it later

I’ll probably print my PDF notes so you can see it or just make some notes public

While the aim is to move everything over to Dynalist, there are still some functions that are best done by other apps, like Evernote. Generally I use Evernote as an archive of information, web clippings and book annotations. Dynalist is more my “working desk” to the Evernote “filing cabinet”. Because items disappear when checked, I’m not totally comfortable using it an archive yet.
For day to day note-taking, I still find Evernote useful. I use the web version rather than the desktop as it is faster. I have a link to my daily diary, which I clear out once a week. I keep a StickyText for Evernote widget on my Android screen. This keeps the diary visible. It includes checkboxes for immediate tasks. I can also add recordings and images to it. The concept of a card seems more appropriate than an item for notes.

Copying an internal link from both Evernote web and desktop will produce a markdown link for Dynalist, but the note it leads to will be editable. I prefer to use Rawbytes web clipper script to take the URL for Dynalist.

Another advantage of Evernote is that you can search just for the title. When I search in Dynalist, I am only searching the item titles. But here doesn’t seem to be an option yet to exclude notes from search. The results in notes flood the screen and it is hard to sort through the ones I want.

I expect I’ll be using Evernote less and less. But for now it is still a good companion for Dynalist while out and about.

You can change this

Yes that’s right, but psychologically, I am still less comfortable with an invisible archive. Stupid, I know. It’s not a critical difference.

I’m in the same boat a invisible archive seems backwards (hence, I don’t use dynalist as a checklist tool often), if I’m going to spend effort to take notes then removing them from view seems silly to me

I think you can move bullets to any point so you can create an “Archive” and move your done items there

I am using Boostnote.
It can be used as a Markdown notebook, code snippet, and has many themes, so I also like a design.

I use Dynalist for quite extensive note taking and writing. Bullet points/lists is where a lot of my thinking starts.

DL is in many cases my starting point, quickly outlining what I think in a Notepad document.

I’ve been using Evernote since its start (before it became a cloud synced program) and have a lot of personal notes in it. For that reason I continue to add diary/log entries to Evernote. When I feel the need to journal something out, it goes into Evernote as well.

I use TheBrain for interconnected, visualized, associative knowledge and information.

Longer documents I prefer to write in Markdown so they remain accessible for as long as possible. Currently using Typora for that.


post update on how I generally use dynalist for notes / whatever. Its been 1 year since I started using dynalist. I haven’t dumped an update on how I do things for at least 3 months.

I try to keep dynalist extremely minimal and simplistic now, sometimes I step away from it for some time, come back and see what things worked and didn’t. Ideally everytime I do this it should be really easy to pick up where I left off.

E.g. I might be really deeply focused on a project and notetaking is not the first thing I think of, I go on vacation, etc.

I started adopting more shorthand writing styles (less grammer, more broken english sometimes), less desire to use images / gifs, more reference URLs, etc. The way I write notes is not that dissimilar to math logic / a research paper. The question I always ask myself is what my RoI is for writing notes.

Early on, I think I started building an obsession over just trying to write good-looking notes, not practical notes in chunks that I could easily reuse, etc. When I write notes in dynalist now, its mostly to break down information.

If I don’t feel like I get a good RoI on some specific notes, I simply don’t write them anymore and just write some notes on paper (which I hardly look at either, its just the fact that I wrote it that counts) / write some code instead to help retain the information. This is true especially if I’m trying to wrap my head around some concept I don’t understand.

If I have the option to write image-driven reference notes, I always try to defer to anki instead (flashcard app for retaining information). There’s always a huge RoI when I do things this way. I dump lots of gifs and images here at times.

Also, I’ve adopted significantly less software now. I threw out pretty much almost all my onenote /evernote notes save 1 or 2 documents that I use for work, since I don’t need it. I believe in having as few “inboxes” as I possibly can. I adopted a better folder tree structure in dropbox and made quick shortcut icons with directoryOpus instead.

I try to if possible keep notes on another platform with a rich library if at all possible. It removes a lot of abstraction and thinking on how I should organize things. For instance, I upvote lots of helpful stackoverflow questions, and make flashcards at the end of the week from those. Another example is alternativeto.net, I dump my notes in the form of comments about my opinions on software.

Also, for me since most of my notes are geared towards webdesign, I’ve adopted heavier emphasis on git-based workflows, commenting rules, etc. I adopted to have all my notes on a private codepen log since I can get immediate feedback when I write code, and easily search these docs

Afterward, I use embedded links to link into dynalist for codepen code snippets I created that I reference often.

All I use right now is really 2 documents on dynalist. Additional documents are now only reserved for well organized course notes (mostly for external links though). Dynalist is serving as a bookmarking resource dedicated to keeping track of obscure webtools that are useful

These are the 2 documents I use everyday:

  1. Journal log notes / Standup daily summarized note
  2. Doc reference (Embedded Codepens, Bookmarks to obscure tools / developer manuals, etc)

general routines

My general Daily / Weekly routine. Let’s say today is Friday

  • Morning → Write a one-liner summary of things I achieved yesterday
  • Afternoon → If I feel like it, write some journal notes

At the end of every week I have a routine I follow on Sunday morning

  • Dig through all stackoverflow questions I upvoted & other resources, try and make flashcards
  • Summarize the most important things I did that week
  • Write a blog post about something haven’t really adopted this yet too much though

general formats for my 2 docs

My general formatting for journal looks like this:

|---summary (written the next day) *write on same line*
|---journal (written the same day)
|-----random journal stuff here, no specific formatting
|-The Day before yesterday

My general format for my doc reference looks like this:

bookmarks [auto-sorted]
|- APIs
|--- [wikipedia-API](https://www.mediawiki.org/wiki/API:Main_page)
|- Books
|- Styling Guides
|- Webtools
|- Youtube notes
|--- [CSS animations vs transitions](http://youtube.com/coursePlayList_orVideo)
|- embedded at 300px ht
|- embedded at 300px ht

I only collapse items I have no intention of every really looking at for at least 3+ months. Too much effort to click and collapse, check off bulletpoints, move around information, etc. The only thing I should be doing when viewing notes is scrolling up and down, period.

Doc reference is strictly limited to creating at most 2-3 bulletpoints created PER day

Journal area I can add as many notes as I want

I normally have 1 or 2 objectives I want to achieve everyday, and these are normally reflected in the “summary” area of my daily journal.

Anything else, I have another tool I use instead.


I forgot to mention I use a lot more README.txt and README.md (markdown) files in my file explorer / github, directoryOpus is actually really nice here for this application, as it has an automatic viewer option

This way I don’t need to spend an extra step figuring out where I put those notes in dynalist



This has proven to be much more efficient and effective than capturing whole bunches of text.

E.g., software how to’s:

  • Program Name
  • Issue
    • Step 1 to resolve
    • Step 2 to resolve

E.g., work information:

  • Area concerned
  • Topic statement (i.e. “do not do X” or “do Y”)
    URL to source (usually also saved to archive.is and archive.org)

This setup is much less “clip reference”, much less “show me your sources”, and much more “here’s what to do and how to do it”

Think a Wiki but more minimal.

The ROI on this style has proven to be very high: the notes are very actionable.


Actually I forgot to mention, I do have one document dedicated to actionable items as well. The whole document is basically a bunch of checklists. Its mostly things like

  • Add revisions XYZ to adobe indesign catalog
  • Add products ABC to catalog
  • Add changes to website DEF

Also don’t put any notes on that document, its just purely checklists only to keep it simple

Most of the items on that checklist is entirely driven from someone else’s timeline / things I need to do for someone else.

Its mostly for things that I cannot “do right now” related to work and need to accumulate to do all at the same time later (normally dedicate 1 day of the month to do these tasks) .

I think these are called “important, but not urgent” in the eisenhower decision matrix scheme

Its kind of similar to how manufacturers will have only manufacturer product A for a few months, accumulate order request for product B, then produce all of product B at the same time when there’s enough demand. It takes time to setup tooling, dies cut, retrain operators, etc etc. Same concept here.

It takes me far too long to fire up adobe indesign to do one small change at a time. So I defer it and do it all later at the same time.

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I use Simplenote on android with Resophnotes (syncing to SL & GDrive) on Windows - for all quick notes. Google Drive is the database, all the SL text files (from Resophnotes) are searchable etc.

I’ve used Scrivener, and it’s a great tool for writing I plan to use more.

I’m still looking for something I can commit to for everything, I’d like to use TheBrain (though it’s not perfect, on last viewing a year’ish ago), and is just TOO expensive (with essential syncing, etc). I’ve forgotten the name of something I used that was perfect on the Mac many years ago, that never ended up on PC. EDIT: DevonThink! Man, I wished they’d release a win version, but it’s never gonna happen :pensive: .