Bear vs nvALT and 1Writer for notes

At the time I wrote My Must Have Mac and iPhone Apps for 2017 I was using Bear as my notes app. Since then I have reverted back to nvALT and 1Writer.

Recently, Bear was awarded a 2017 Apple Design Award and has been getting some good press and user recommendations. I thought I should give it another look. As a trial, I imported all my plain text notes into Bear and I’m running it parallel to my nvALT on Mac and 1Writer on iOS setup.

Bear has a very pleasing UI. It’s nice to look at as well as write in. Bear has both a Mac app and iOS app. I also like Bears x-callback-url schemes for automating parts of my workflow with Alfred, Keyboard Maestro, and Launch Center Pro.

But, I like having plain text notes so they can be accessed from other applications. For example, at times I like use BBEdit on my Mac to work with my plain text files. This isn’t possible with Bear since all files are stored in an iCloud database. Yes, I could export a file from Bear in several different file formats but it’s not the same. I also prefer nvALT’s vertical layout to Bears horizontal. It fits on the right side of my screen taking up very little space always ready to take a note.

Although I wrote this story using Bear it falls short as a writing app compared to Ulysses. This story will end up in Ulysses for final editing and publishing. I also have access to my plain text notes in Ulysses using the External Folders feature.

There is a cautionary lesson to be aware of with Bear. A large part of its appeal is in its more minimal design, and the more features it adds, the closer it could resemble the bloated apps it’s trying to replace.

I’m an edge case. But I’m the only edge case I care about. This trial could end up going either way. Bear is a nice notes app and text editor but still may not be a match for my nvALT and 1Writer setup?