Notational Velocity

Notational Velocity is a very simple-looking but surprisingly sophisticated little program for the Mac. It is intended to allow you to make and track notes very, very quickly. You just open it and start typing, rather like you would type in the search box in Google or Spotlight in OSX. What you type will bring up a list of the notes you have already written containing what you’ve typed. If you hit enter, it will turn what you have typed in the search box into the title for your new note, and move your focus down into the note body section where you can type the rest of your note. That’s it and I have probably made it sound a lot more complicated than it is.

NV SShot

Notational Velocity constantly auto-saves your work so you don’t have to remember to push the save button. Your notes can be stored in an encrypted format. You can export your notes in a number of very different formats, such as plain text, RTF, HTML, and Word. You can tag notes with keywords for quick searching. You can make links between notes. 

The program is optimised for speed and designed so you need never take your hands of the keyboard which is pretty much always faster than pointing and clicking with a mouse. For best results it should be used with an application launcher like Launchbar or Quicksilver or a hotkey program like Keyboard Maestro. That way you can launch the program without using a mouse or trackpad and begin taking notes immediately. It makes Notational Velocity ideal for getting your ideas down quickly when you are in the middle of doing something else and it makes it really easy to find them when you need to. Notational Velocity is a clever, useful and elegant application. It’s Open Source and available free here.



  1. I think I’ll give that a go. I’m enjoying using Scrivener, but this sounds like a good way of making quick notes without diving into my existing project. Ta.

    • My thoughts more or less exactly. Notational Velocity loads faster than a Scrivener project and sometimes I just want to keep my notes in a separate place until I decide what to do with them. I use this if I have a sudden crazy idea when I am in the middle of doing something.

  2. Thanks for the quick intro to NV, Bill. Great that it’s free… but Mac users only,eh?
    Scrivener, you’ll do for me. 😉

    • I’ve been working mostly on my Mac recently, Steve, so I’ve mostly been looking at OSX stuff. I’m going to be installing Windows 8 on one of my older machines soon, and probably the latest version of Ubuntu so doubtless I’ll get around to looking at Windows and Linux stuff then. I’ll try any bit of software once if it promises to increase productivity :).

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