Bear Notes

Bear: a Markdown Note Editor

Do you need a markdown note editor? Bear can show you the markdown, and format it at the same time.

What Bear Is

Bear is a text editor, designed for note taking. It works on iPhone, iPad, and Mac. You can type using markdown notation, and see the formatted text as you type.

Bear markdown input
Bear real time formatting.

The real-time formatting is important to me. Markdown works well for me because it lets me keep my hands on the keyboard, instead of mousing to click on formatting buttons. But when I need to glance at a screen of notes and quickly find the section I need, actual formatting is important. I can see big, bold headers faster than I can see the line I typed a # next to.

Markdown Checklists

I rely on checklists every day. Bear has become my go-to for for these. It lets me format my checklists without fiddling with menus, and marking items done is easy.

Bear checklist
Bear is handy for checklists.

There are times when I need to switch between projects and manage checklists rapidly. It’s important to me to have good formatting so that I can quickly find what I am looking for.

Note Management

You can organize your notes in a couple of ways. If you type #phone-app in a note, then a “phone-app” folder will appear on he left side of the screen. Click on that folder and you will see all your #phone-app notes.

You can also do that the other way around: drag a note into the “react-dev” folder, and Bear will insert a #react-dev hash tag into that note.

Touch Bar Support

The developers of Bear made the extra effort to add context sensitive controls for Macs with touchbars. When I’m using the text editor, this shows in the touch bar:

Touch bar controls. Tapping the pen reveals a long list of options.

Markdown Learning Help

Need a reminder about markdown syntax? There’s a pen icon on the lower right of the text editor that reveals a markdown quick reference.

Cost

Bear is free, unless you choose to pay a small fee for syncing across devices. At the moment, that fee is only $1.49 per month.

My Review

I’ve been using Bear to keep track of my working notes for some months now, and am quite happy with it. It does a good job of keeping my notes organized, but has a much more responsive and lightweight feel than other note taking solutions I have tried lately (OneNote and Evernote.)

The ability to type in markdown is a big win for me. I prefer to keep my hands on the keyboard, and Bear lets me do that.

The only complaint I have about Bear is that it isn’t available for my Android phone. But that’s a minor complaint; when I’m doing the kind of work that requires note taking, I have my laptop open anyway. Also, since I’m only using it on my laptop, the free version is perfect for me.

For more info, see the Bear web site.

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