Wonder Tools — Mem is the next Evernote 📝
📓 Clean up your digital file cabinet in 2023
Summary: Try Mem if you're looking for a modern alternative to Evernote for organizing your notes. It’s promising, though not without flaws.
Best features: Add notes easily & flexibly + AI-enhanced search
Limitations: Cluttered design and some features don’t yet work optimally
Two ways to use Mem: Create a 2023 sandbox or a project-specific notebook
Alternatives: Roam, Tana, Craft, and the recently-sold Evernote
Most useful feature: Add notes from anywhere
Open Mem and you get a blank box to add notes. You can also add material in multiple useful ways:
Import notes from other apps. You can bring in old notes from Evernote, Notion, Roam, or other apps. I recommend importing only specific notes you need at first to avoid cluttering up a new notebook with old stuff.
Email or text notes into Mem. You can email anything to firstname.lastname@example.org from the email address you’ve linked to Mem. That’s handy for filing contracts, travel plans, email discussions or other important reference materials. Or text in something from your phone with SMS, WhatsApp or Telegram. That’s great for saving the best stuff you see on your phone. I love this feature.
Copy anything into Mem from the Web or from any other program with a keyboard shortcut. Type a quick key while browsing the Web or working in another app to save something on screen into Mem without switching apps.
Import things automatically. You can set up a workflow to send things automatically into Mem from other apps. You can have Mem import Google Docs you revise, Dropbox files you edit, messages you respond to Slack, or almost anything else you work on. To do that you link your Mem account to Zapier, a separate automation service. (This 1-min video shows how to do that).
Connect your calendar and contacts. After linking your Gmail and Google Calendar to Mem, you can automatically tag a meeting note with participants' names and emails. That’s intended to make it easy to share meeting notes with them, or to later find notes related to contacts. In my tests this works unevenly, though I can see how it will be useful.
Find and add notes with AI 🧠
OpenAI recently invested $23.5 million in Mem, betting on growing interest in the self-organizing notebook from consumers all over the world. Here’s Mem’s overview of their AI approach. My summary of what you can do with Mem’s artificial intelligence:
Surface related notes automatically. Mem sees what you’re typing and shows you related notes in a sidebar. That helps bring to mind connections between ideas you might otherwise have missed.
Write with an AI partner. Mem can serve as a writing and editing assistant. It can summarize a long note or an interview transcript, or suggest five bullet points or questions related to a draft you've written.
Find notes without tagging or filing. Mem outshines Evernote, Notion, Apple Notes and other traditional apps in using AI to find notes even if you haven't organized them. Just type in some notes or keywords and “smart results” will start showing relevant material.
Two ways to use Mem ✌️
Start a 2023 sandbox. A new year is a good time to try out new tools. Without dumping your existing note-taking system, try Mem out for brainstorming or experimenting. 🧪
Why that's useful: Switching notebooks is hard. Starting with a small experiment — a digital sandbox— makes it less stressful.
Create a project-specific notebook. Use Mem for a specific work or personal project like an event or trip you’re planning. It’s easy to share a notebook or individual notes with one or more collaborators. 📗
Why that's useful: Colleagues may not have time or interest in adopting a whole new system. But if you give them a link to a note they can click without installing anything.
Mem’s interface isn’t well-organized. It has too many hierarchies and multiple elements competing for your attention. Here’s a screenshot to demonstrate. It’s not as clean as Notion or as intuitive as Apple Notes.
Focus mode strips away distractions when you’re typing a note, but doesn’t fix the overall interface clunkiness. Hopefully the Mem team will rethink its user experience in the months ahead.
Uneven feature functionality.
The Web clipper doesn’t preserve the formatting of text you grab from the Web or other programs.
Mem notes don’t show embedded content, something other contemporary notes apps like Notion, Coda, & Craft do well.
Published notes don’t look as polished as they do in other apps. And emails in my connected Gmail account haven’t shown up reliably in Mem.
For researchers: Roam helped advance a new paradigm for notes organized through links, not folders. But as my digital file cabinet has grown, Roam feels less efficient as a way to get stuff in and out. Dan Shipper of Every.to shared a similar sentiment. It’s more costly than other tools ($15/month) and its development seems to have stagnated.
For tool explorers: Tana is a notes app still in private beta I expect will grow significantly this year. It improves on Roam’s approach by making it even easier to link notes and ideas together without confining them to narrow folders. I’m impressed so far, but it’s a bit complicated to get used to and lacks key features I need like Web clipping & flexible exporting.
For traditionalists: Apple Notes, Google Keep and Evernote are still among the most functional simple free tools for capturing and organizing notes. (Evernote was recently acquired by Bending Spoons, which makes apps like Splice). I still use Evernote for recipes and Apple Notes for jotting ideas on the go.
For creatives: Craft is a superbly-designed app that makes it simple to create elegant notes on any device. It’s not ideal for organizing research materials and lacks advanced search, but if you like designing notes with visuals, Craft’s got great features.
I’m trying out tools to streamline my workflow for creating & managing notes. Reply to share your own workflow or suggestions. - Jeremy
This is a visual one I like. Explore the workspaces of creative individuals, sent directly to your inbox every Saturday and Sunday. Join 10,000+ subscribers in seeing how the tech world works remotely. Get it free at workspaces.xyz