mnmlist: store everything in text files

When it comes to technology, I strongly believe that simpler is better.

We tend to take advantage of our increasingly powerful computing power by always increasing the complexity of our tasks and data — no longer is everything text-based (as the web used to be, way back when), but now everything is graphical and increasingly uses video.

The result is a richer visual presentation, which is wonderful, but at the same time pages are slower to load, applications become bloated and freeze up, and information that could be presented simply and quickly is now presented via video, making us wait minutes just to get one or two key pieces of information.

Complexity is bloated, slow, burdensome. Worse yet, our data is often tied up in proprietary formats, in databases that can get corrupt, in formats that don’t speak to other programs.

Simplicity is fast, lean, light. Data in simple formats — such as text — is mobile, can be ported to any program, is not locked into a proprietary program or database.

I’m moving more and more toward text files, after having been a fan of more complex formats and programs for a few years.

I love programs like EvernoteYojimbo, even the simple Notational Velocity — but the truth is, text files are just as good. And they’re faster and simpler.

I can load my favorite text editor (TextEdit, super simple) and be typing in two seconds. It takes a few extra seconds to load a bigger program such as Evernote or Yojimbo, and each of these takes up way more system memory and slows things down. Even the lightweight Notational Velocity, a great program, stores info in a database that can be corrupted, in a format that can’t be ported elsewhere.

While I love graphical programs, they are just overkill for my needs. Your needs may be more complex, more demanding, but mine aren’t.

I write posts, articles, books in TextEdit (or WriteRoom, when I feel too many distractions), then paste them wherever they’re needed.

I keep notes, todo lists (when I need them), other info I need saved, in a text file or three. They can be popped open in half a second, and with a quick “Find” command, I can find any info.

Again, my needs are purposely simple. And text files are purposely minimalist, lightweight, fast, lean, and thusly beautiful.


  • PStevenP asked if I store my text files in Google Docs. I haven’t done that yet – I usually only do that when I share something. Lately I’ve just been using DropBox to sync files. I do love me some Google Docs though. I’m still figuring out the best method.
  • victorluft and scrod both point out that you can set Notational Velocity to store your info via text files, which I didn’t know. That makes it a viable way of managing your text files, imo. Read more.
  • abhidg suggested Todo.txt as a lightweight command-line app to manage a text to-do list. Not bad. I probably won’t use it – TextEdit is fine with me – but it’s a good alternative for those who prefer command-line.