On Saturday, I went down a productivity app rabbit hole while my son was taking a nap.

Every so often, I reassess the tools that I use and decide if I should try others or stick with the same ones.

The tool that bugs me at the moment is Evernote. I’ve tried it many times and, last year, I decided to give it a chance again and got a premium plan. I needed something to write notes, comment on screenshots, bookmark links, etc. I stole the idea from copywriters, who apparently use swipe files. I think about it as a digital design journal.

So, saving notes, documents, links, etc. are all things that Evernote does really well on paper. Still, I don’t use it. I am not sure why but there is something in the interface, in the act of opening the app, in searching or tagging information that doesn’t click. It feels boring and antiquated.

This insatisfaction was what threw me down that rabbit hole. I ended up tidying my Dropbox account and bumped into Paper, still by Dropbox.

The closest thing to pen and paper

I love tools. Things that help me do a better job at anything. Things I get to discover and learn how to use. Especially digital ones—I must start trials of two or three new apps every month.

When I opened Paper, something clicked. It worked the way I expected it to. I had nothing to learn, I was just clicking away, creating new documents, folders, using markdown, uploading images and adding captions. It was a beautiful thing. Look at this doc about Dieter Rams’ 10 Principles of “Good Design” (you can even comment!).

I felt inspired to create, to write, to structure ideas, etc. Just the way I would with a pen (my favorite) and a piece of paper.

Dropbox Paper is my second paper.

Update 2018-02-24 22:51

Tonight, I was taking notes on an online class I’m taking. The site offers PDF references for download, which messes up my note taking.

And then I realized that I could insert a Dropbox file (embed) into a Paper document and that was beautiful.

I also realized that Paper supports LaTeX and I felt a bit stupid: I had been building formulas in LaTeX and copying/pasting the resulting images I got from sites like: https://latex2png.com. Now I’ll just be able to type the formulas.

I love Paper.

About Thomas Deneuville

Thomas lives in Freeville, NY with his wife and two sons, where he reads, codes, and plays the bagpipe.