Much has been said about Notational Velocity. This application is growing to be my favorite OS X app of all. If there's a better tool for pure writing on the Mac, I don't know what it is.

What is Notational Velocity?

A note creation and storage application. A very simple application at that. Open it up, and there are three sections. A search / title bar, a list of notes, and the writing area. If you want to find a note, start typing in the search box. The search is instant, and changes as you type. To select the note, use the down arrow key. The content of the note is displayed below, where you can edit to your heart's content.

Let's say you don't find what you're looking for, and want to create a new note. When you're done typing, just press enter. A new note is created automatically, and the cursor moves down to the writing area. Get to work.

How do I save?

You don't, of course. Notational Velocity saves automatically (Are you getting tired of that word yet?) every few seconds. You never have to worry about forgetting to save, or application crashes. You type it, it's staying put.

Keyboard Shortcuts

When you're in NV, the mouse could fall off a cliff and die, and it wouldn't matter a bit to you. Sure, you can use it, if you like working slowly and less efficiently. Instead, use these simply keyboard shortcuts.

  • Esc – Exit your current note and go to the search bar; start fresh
  • ⌘ L – Jump to the Title / Search Bar without exiting your current note
  • ⌘ R – Rename your current note
  • ⌘ B – Embolden your text
  • ⌘ E – Export current note (in plain text, of course)

There are more, of course. These are the only ones I use, and they handle everything I need.

Backup and Synchronization

Plain Text

Notational Velocity has the best possible solution for backup and synchronization in place. All notes are stored as plain text files, so long as you select this option in the preferences. Plain text is the simplest format known to man, which means extremely low chance / zero chance of file corruption. There's also a way to keep your text files in your Dropbox account. The process is extremely simple, following these steps.


This is where NV really shines. You can synchronize your data with the lovely Simplenote.

NV Simplenote

Just put in your Simplenote username and password, and you're done. Any notes / edits you make in Notational Velocity are available in Simplenote, and vice versa. No fighting with configuration - it just works. And it works very, very well. I use the Simplenote app on my iPhone along with NV for the ultimate writing combination. The pricing of the combo is pretty impressive too.

Notational Velocity: Free. Simplenote: Free.

The best solution available, at any price, and it costs nothing.

This post, just like nearly every post on this site, was written in Notational Velocity. I love the interface, and it allows me to keep a backup of everything I write. If you write at all... whether in large volume or just tons of little notes... get NV and Simplenote. Thank me later.