Capturing Ideas Revisited: Yojimbo

September 30, 2010

This summer, I started a series on my renewed capture system to supplement my original Capture Everything series. The first part was an intro. The second described how I had added the combination of Simple Note and Notational Velocity for text-based information I wanted to tuck away. But in adding those, I didn’t let go of the notes system I have used for years — Yojimbo — but I have finetuned what I use it for.

Here’s why it is still critical for me:

Web Archives — This is the single most useful feature of Yojimbo for me. With a simple bookmarklet in my browser, I can capture the content and the layout of any website into Yojimbo as a web archive. It is not an image, but a fully searchable, copy and pasteable, archive of the site. I describe below why this is so valuable for me.

Beefy Tagging System — I’m not sure if beefy should be used as an adjective for a software feature, but it seems like the right fit. The combination of tagging notes, and then sorting them down with smart folders is immensely helpful.

Security/Encryption — For notes that are sensitive in nature, Yojimbo offers encryption so that they aren’t available to those they shouldn’t be.

OS Integration — Yojimbo works well with OS X, meaning that just about anything can be dragged in or out — text, PDFs, images, whatever. A feature that might not be noticed in an initial test of software, but one that is very helpful for me.

So how am I using it?

Yojimbo_folders.jpgInspiration Archive — I capture websites and tutorials that I think might serve as future inspiration in web design. I’ve written about this before and I still use Yojimbo this way. The ability to store web archives and the tagging system make Yojimbo perfect for this.

Project Notes — Last year, I wrote about how I was using Curio as a binder for notes related to web design projects. Sometime in the last year, I converted to Yojimbo for this. All email, server passwords, images, web archives of other sites the clint likes, and any other project related notes can easily be lumped together in Yojimbo. Every note related to a project gets tagged with current, projects, and the name of project. I have a smart folder that lists all files tagged with current and projects, and the Yojimbo tag explorer to the right then shows me the name of the projects that are active. With one click, I can see all notes relevant to a current project. This has become my most important use for Yojimbo.

Serial Numbers — Yojimbo lives as my primary catch-all for serial numbers for software. Finding a serial number I need is quick and easy.

Are Yojimbo’s days numbered?

Maybe. The limitation of Yojimbo for me is that it lives on my laptop, and the data isn’t readily available on my phone. They have introduced a feature called Sidekick to make a web ready version of your notes, but it’s not useful for me. But most of what I use Yojimbo for is now connected to work that is done on my laptop — design related projects. There is rare instance where I wish I had a note from a project available on my iPad, but that still trends toward rare instead of often.

Of course, I’ve considered Evernote more than once to replace Yojimbo, but the one big feature it lacks is the web archives. I’ve not found a way for it to capture a site as is, both with content AND design layout intact. And I still like the overall function and appearance of Yojimbo better.

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