Switching to Yojimbo

by Giles Turnbull

After some time keeping my various notes and jottings in different places, I finally saw sense this week and made a permanent switch to Yojimbo as a personal information database, aka external brain.

What prompted this was Merlin Mann's post about Scattered notes - I was in exactly the same position as Merlin's correspondent and found myself having the same problems. Was such-and-such a snippet in Notational Velocity, or did it live as a text file in my /notes directory? Had I stored a reference to it in my Gmail account, or stuck a file in one of my reference folders?


2006-09-14 09:30:46
My personal favorite note application is Aquaminds NoteTaker. It's well integrated with OS X. See a clipping on a web page, highlight and use the NoteTaker service to clip to a notebook. You can also create decent web sites with no effort. If I was starting from scratch, Yojimbo would be compelling as it's certainly cheaper than NoteTaker and feels faster/more light weight for quick notes. But NoteTaker is nice if you think you might need more capability (I think a similar app from Circus Ponies works very similar)


2006-09-14 10:30:56
I've been using MacJournal for the last four years to do this stuff. It's a great Cocoa app., reliable and easy to use, constantly being worked on.
Joseph Pollone
2006-09-14 10:31:56
Giles, my experience with Yojimbo has been positive. But, a few things are a little bothersome for me. I would like the ability to use subfolders and to be able to drag any file directly to Yojimbo for storage. Getting stuff into Yojimbo is important so I'll take a look at the Scripts to see if any are appropriate for me.

In Yojimbo, I'm not sure if I like the Web Archive. I seem to like printing web pages to PDF and then dragging into Yojimbo. I like Apple's Keychain for storage and usage of passwords, but I like the idea of keeping Serial Numbers, Passwords, and (gulp) credit card numbers within Yojimbo. Finally, since I use .Mac, I found a Backup QuickPick for Yojimbo from Sillydog.org (http://mac.sillydog.org/backup/yojimbo_backup.php).

I like the idea of what the SoHo Organizer Suite is supposed to accomplish, but it was buggy when I tried the demo a few months ago. Basically, you store your research in SoHo Notes, and use Organizer as your personal CRM. Again, nice idea, but the implementation wasn't right for me.

So, I think my research/reference solution will remain with Yojimbo and my CRM will remain with OpenSugar CRM on my local drive.

You know what I would really like? I would like OmniGroup to craft my perfect research/reference tool and personal CRM. Their beta Project Management application is very, very nice. They just get it.

2006-09-14 13:20:34
I'm also a big fan of Yojimbo and have been using it as my "one place for notes" since February. It's proven to be very reliable, quick, and amazingly easy to work with. I think you've made a good choice, Giles.

However, I differ in my opinion of the Quicksilver plugin. I tried it but wasn't impressed. First, it only allows searching only by item name, not content. This is to be expected, I guess, considering how Quicksilver works. More important, however, is that valid results are very difficult to distinguish from the plethora of other junk Quicksilver digs up from its catalog. I can't tell if an item is from Yojimbo or something else floating around on my hard drive.

If all your notes are in one place (i.e. Yojimbo), why not just use Yojimbo's excellent built-in search capability? It even allows you to map it to a key combination (default is F6). So hit F6, type your phrase, and see only the results you wanted in the much better viewing environment of Yojimbo's window rather than a tiny pop-up from Quicksilver.

And if I want to include things outside of Yojimbo, I prefer Spotlight over Quicksilver because it scans the contents of Yojimbo items, not just the name. Yojimbo items can also be easily distinguished from other files by the little icons that's displayed. And you can view the resulting list of matches in a full-sized Spotlight window instead of a tiny Quicksilver's pop-up.

As for the ability to use subfolders (mentioned by Joseph), I had the same thought at first. But I must say that now that I've been using Yojimbo for many months, I no longer feel the need for heirarchical organization. In fact, the "one big pile" approach is very liberating and greatly improved my workflow.

Now, instead of spending time shuffling through folders, catagorizing, and tucking everything away in a deeply nested structure, I just throw it all into Yojimbo and retrieve it later with the search functionality. To be fair, I do have 10 broad catagories set up in the Collections pane, but I find that's all the organization I need, along with the occaisional Label or Comment. It works great for me.

2006-09-14 13:48:00
Joseph: From the Print dialogue, you can click the PDF button and select "Save PDF to Yojimbo". It will save you the saving and dragging steps.
2006-09-14 17:12:44
I use DevonNote, which addresses the omissions (e.g. subfolders) and problems noted in the other comments, and provides greater searchability and other advantages as well.
2006-09-14 19:04:48
I've been comparing lots of those notebook apps which do this kind of "storage of all your notes, random images and other stuff". Usually the one which do a great job cost quite some money, and the other ones are very limited. I was just about to get a copy of yojimbo, when I stumbled over Journler which (except for the .Mac synching) does essentially the same, handles PDFs and even zip and stuffit files. So I'm "sold". Well, that is Journler is free!


2006-09-15 06:45:05
I second the vote for Journler. From my limited experience with both of them, I find it more friendly than Yojimbo, and more useful, just not as pretty. The biggest plus? It's FREE.
2006-09-15 06:49:22
From reading the Yojimbo forums and other blogs, one of the most underused features of the app is its item linking feature. It allows you to relate various Yojimbo items to one another in a wiki-like way, and you can even use the links in other Cocoa apps. This is really helpful to me because I have over a thousand items in Yojimbo, and it's an additional level of organization.

(P.S. It seems like every time I read a post, here or on other Mac sites, about getting the most out of a particular app, more than half the comments are from people saying that you should be using a different app instead. I wonder if Windows people are like this. . . .)

2006-09-15 08:11:03
whaddabout VoodooPad? That's what I use.
2006-09-15 09:50:31
Yojimbo is a nice little app, but lacking in many areas. I doubt if it was created by barebones it would get half the attention it does. And it's way over priced.

Merlin mann's article basicall says 'know where you put stuff so you can find it'. First, this was news to you? You had to be told this? And second, you could put text in one app, images in another, etc, and be consistent, and you'd still be doing fine. You don't need one app to do it all. For many reason, that's not a good thing.

2006-09-16 02:11:57
A cheaper alternative to Yojimbo is KIT. Works well for me.
2006-09-19 18:47:21
Ok, I tried Journler and I love it! The one thing I didn't like about Yojimbo was no nested folders, but Journler has it. Have to spend some more time to see how it holds up (Yojimbo was very fast) with a lot of data. Definitely worth checking out. Thanks for the tip!
2006-09-21 11:30:40
I've been using Yojimbo for nearly a year now and lovin' it. I find it nice for web clippings, but most importantly as a password and account database tool. The ability to password protect individual entries is key to me. We all manage dozens of accounts, logins and passwords (too many to keep track these days) and having a tool like Yojimbo is essential for me (on Windows, the KeyPass app is a good one, too). After all, while still possibly crackable, at least it's not in plain text in my documents folder or written down in a notebook in my backpack.

I find that (for the gaps, like dev notes and code snippets) VoodooPad rocks the other half of my text world. I guess i should explore Yojimbo's wiki-like interface more.

Oh, and yes, I agree that Yojimbo is a little high on price point by $10-$15.... especially with competitors out there for free.

2006-09-22 04:05:44
I tried yojimbo. it was neat but it wasnt robust or flexible to track notes, time, budgeting, as well as pictures/clippings for my taste. So i found PROCESS http://www.jumsoft.com/process/ and used this for a bit. this program is very very nice, it looks like yojimbo and the likes, but with a nice percentage bar on the top so you can keep track of your research/project. however, the more data i add to this, the more clunky it gets. the search feature isnt so good. re-arranging is hard to do. So Now im back where i started from and i will read up on the comments. so far the Journler 2.0 sounds good. thanks.
2006-09-23 20:34:04
"I would like the ability to use subfolders and to be able to drag any file directly to Yojimbo for storage."
Just enable Drop Dock in Yojimbo and you can do exactly that. I use it especially by dragging a favicon onto it, and have set up the default action to download the webpage.
2006-10-20 13:09:46
The biggest problem with Yojimbo is its inconsistent syncing feature with .Mac. It worked for me initially but then quit working (neither computer's database would update the other). I tried everything I could think of to get it kick started again, but it wouldn't work (all other areas of .Mac continued syncing fine).

The other issue I had with it involved the quick input helper, which gave me an error message ("couldn't communicate with quick input helper").

I'm thinking of going with Keychain Access and Journler. Seems like the same functionality for $0 and would serve my purposes (especially syncing keychains).

2008-03-12 07:22:32
I'm running OS X Tiger (10.4.11), QS β54 (3815), Yojimbo version 1.5.1 (70)

I'm trying Yojimbo as a replacement for Missing Sync's Notebook, which does not have a Quicksilver plug-in or Spotlight indexing.

I now have 200+ notes in my Yojimbo library. In Quicksilver's catalog, under Modules, "Yojimbo" is selected, but no matter how many ways i rescan the catalog, i'm not succeeding in getting anything indexed. Spotlight succeeds. Any thoughts?

Furthermore, so far i can figure out how to
* activate QS
* type "." then a text string
* tab to next pane and use "Add to Yojimbo" action

This creates a new note with the text string.

Any way to append to an existing note, assuming i ever get the current library indexed?