One of my most used, most speedy pieces of software is nvALT.1 It’s an oddly named, very bland application. Just a database of plain text files with a plain text editor bolted on. But it’s fast. The fastest piece of text cataloging software I’ve used. It opens instantly and produces results instantly. My nvALT database is full of ten years of notes. Open it and your cursor is already in the search field. It is keyboard friendly software: If you’re ever not in the search field, just hit ESC, and you’ll land there. Type a few letters and all the notes with those letters appear. It is the best instantiation of an off-board brain I have. Any piece of text with value in my life gets dumped into nvALT.
nvALT syncs with Simplenote. This is handy because nvALT is macOS only. So you can use the Simplenote iOS app to keep your extra brain nearby on the go. Simplenote also has a macOS app. You may think: Why not use the Simplenote desktop application? Because — it’s not quite as fast. We’re talking milliseconds, but it’s enough that you feel the difference. It’s the difference between the $1000 Japanese garden shears and the $150 garden shears. They both cut just fine, but if you work in the garden all day, you will (probably?) feel the difference.
Great essay, start to finish, including the example above. He mentions one of my favorite pieces of software, Things, as well. Amazing, and responsive, design makes software feel magical.