First Look: Pear Note 1.0, note-taking utility

Pear Note 1.0

Nearly everyone has needed to take notes during a class or meeting. While typing notes on a laptop may seem simple enough, two problems remain. First, you may have missed hearing something important so your notes won't contain this information. Second, trying to find specific information buried in your notes can be tedious and time-consuming. To make note taking easy and complete, consider dumping your word processor and using Pear Note 1.0 instead.

This program essentially combines the features of a word processor, an audio recorder, and a video camera into a single program. At the simplest level, you can run this app on your laptop during a lecture or meeting and type notes. For more flexibility, you can also simultaneously record audio using your laptop's built-in microphone or external microphone. The app gives you a choice of storing audio in two different file formats: 32 or 64 kbps AAC (Advanced Audio Coding) or lossless ALAC (Apple Lossless Audio Codec).

You can define how to store audio recordings

One way this program helps search for a particular note is by letting you type in a word or phrase and then searching for all notes that contain those keywords. If you saved notes from ten different lectures and meetings, this feature lets you quickly find only those notes that contain the word "meeting" or "biochemistry."

Searching for keywords can identify a particular note file

After you've opened a note file, you can read through the notes that you've typed or listen to the audio that you recorded. If you recorded an hour long lecture or meeting, you can listen to the whole thing from start to finish so you can review exactly what happened.

Of course, listening to an entire recording can be tedious, especially if you only want to review a portion of your notes. To help you search through your notes, the app links your keystrokes with the recorded audio (and video). Dragging the audio slider highlights the keystrokes you were typing at that moment. Based on your knowledge of what you were typing, you can easily pinpoint a specific part of an audio recording.

Suppose you captured notes and audio of a business meeting where you jotted down ideas for a marketing campaign. Without this program, you might have to guess at which point in the audio file everyone was talking about marketing campaign ideas. With this program, you no longer have to guess. Just drag the audio slider and the program highlights each keystroke that you typed.

The program links your keystrokes to specific parts of an audio recording

When the app highlights the keystrokes you typed about marketing campaign ideas, you'll be at the exact spot in the audio file where everyone talked about this. Now you can play the audio file from this point on and review only that portion of the audio file.

In addition, the program also allows you to record video. On most Mac laptops, this means recording video from the built-in iSight camera, which essentially records your own reactions and movements during a meeting or lecture. While recording video of yourself might seem pointless, you can later skim through this video to locate specific areas in your audio recording as well.

Since describing the program's use can never substitute for actually seeing it in action, visit the company's website and watch a short QuickTime movie of the program in action. Better yet, download a trial version and see for yourself how the app works. Once you realize the usefulness of Pear Note, you can register the program for $39.99.

Pear Note isn't for everyone, but if you like the idea of jotting down notes while recording at the same time, you could use a word processor and a separate recorder, or you could use Pear Note. After trying this program, you just may wonder how you ever took notes without Pear Note before.
  1. Guest 09/29, 05:17pm

    Disclaimer - I'm the developer of Pear Note.

    Excellent article about Pear Note. Thanks so much, macnn. I just wanted to point out that you can use your built-in iSight to record things other than yourself if you use a device like the Ecamm Huckleberry. This uses mirrors to point your iSight in front of you instead of at you. This results in an upside-down image, but Pear Note already has a preference for flipping it back right-side up.

    Thanks again for a great article,
    Chad Sellers
    Useful Fruit Software

  1. freudling 09/29, 11:15pm

    Great, another useless piece of software. Just use text edit to take notes. The recording features are not needed in most instances, and there is free software for that, namely PhotoBooth and Quicktime.

  1. simdude 09/30, 03:40pm

    And how do you sync the notes you took in TextEdit with the recording? Perhaps you don't need this, but I would find this incredibly useful. I do appreciate you telling me what software is useful though as I've lost the ability to think for myself.

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