Note-taking shouldn't be a "bear".

Like a lot of fairly productive people I used Evernote to take notes for quite some time. I loved how I could forward emails into it and that they would be turned into notes. However, because I never loved the interface, and especially after their pricing model changed, I was in search of a replacement. You should in theory at least like to look at the software that you utilize on a daily basis, and with Evernote, that was simply never the case.

I gave the Apple Notes app a shot after iOS 9. It had made some major changes, and was fine. But there was some lack of parity in features across the Mac and iOS platforms, and, call me a completist, but I wanted the notes platform of choice to be able to support business and creative endeavors with the same functions no matter the machine I was on.

The hunt was still on for something greater. I tried countless note apps for months, but nothing really "stuck" with me. I was wanting something simple, but effective.


Suddenly without any notice, I open up the Mac App Store one day recently to find this app called "Bear", that is a note-taking app for people who love to write in Markdown, like yours truly. I downloaded it on my MacBook, and found that there were beautiful-looking iOS counterparts, too. I got it on the iPhone and iPad and started their 7-day Pro features trial.

Boy, was I in love with this app immediately. Changes uploaded quickly from one device to the next as the app utilizes the CloudKit technology that Apple built as a reliable data transfer mechanism.

Other reasons that Bear was a hit with me instantly were because it contained :

  • Markdown support
  • Keyboard shortcuts (same across Mac and iPad)
  • Tags (more in a second on these)
  • Availability for nearly any file type to be stored within a note


Aside from a clean interface that even has various themes to choose from in the Pro version (which costs around $14 annually), Bear offers some nice organization options. Where Evernote had folders, Bear has tags, which can be implemented by typing a "#", and immediately writing your tag name, like this note :

Bear project note

You can see that at the bottom of the note I have written "#projects/writing", which automatically creates a tag in the sidebar called "projects", which also contains a sub-tag called "writing", that was created by inserting that slash between the words in the tag. It looks like this :

Bear sidebar

One nice Bear benefit is that when you click on the highlighted tag within a particular note it will popover into a list of them if there are other notes that share the same tag(s), as seen here :

Bear, like projects


Aside from the app exemplifying excellent design, a balanced feature set, and a reasonable price, the folks at Shiny Frog have an evident eye toward customer feedback and support. They can be found here on Twitter and are really enthusiastic about helping to make folks productive with Bear, the best note taking app out there for Mac and iOS.