Native macOS PKB tools

Hello there!

For me, there are two characteristics I value the most when evaluating software to support my systems and workflows:

.1 The system has to be as future-proof as posible: As for example saving the data of my knowledge database locally in markdown files.

.2 Using true native macOS apps to ensure software robustnes, UI consistency and swift user experiences.

Those characteristics — among others — are critical for me for building trust in my system.

I’m looking for recommendations for tools matching those criteria to build my PKB system.
Besides DevonThink and VoodooPad, What other tools came to your mind?

Thank you!

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Hi @lgrassini
I think the future-proof part confines you to plain text files, as you allude to.
Right now, I think Obsidian is the best app for interacting with plain text files. I am using it myself. It is an electron app, so not exactly made just for mac, but the app is a desktop app, as opposed to a web app. I like it. it functions very well, although as your notes database gets larger, it slows a bit.

Check it out. Good luck!

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  1. Would it not suffice that the application saves files in a non-proprietary format, with the format openly-published? For example, given that markdown is relative new to the formatting world and is itself not standardized, why this format? Why not JSON or XML or RTF or CSV or …?

  2. Is this a bias that could inadvertently eliminate an application with significant potential to improve your overall processing workflow at the expense of tossing away what would otherwise be insignificant changes to your routine usage habits?

I prefer local apps that do not use proprietary database formats. I use apps that fit with how my mind registers, stores, and catalogues information. I have a host of apps to try to fit my needs in various ways and hesitate to be pinned down directly to any one right now.



Thanks @Alex , Obsidian looks like a nice alternative, even though it is clearly not a macOS app.

In my case, My personal knowdeldge DB is my filesystem in a structure of folders I have been improving over the years.

We can say that my PKM tool is Finder.

I prefer Markdown instead other non-proprietary format since it works quite well with Finder, specially for having quick document previews. And if some day I migrate to another OS –lets say Linux– I can migrate easily by just moving my local PKB – my ~/Documents folder – and I will have a fully searchable DB. – Quick note on this, I may consider the .textbundle format in the future.

Probably it is a bias based on good experiences on using software carefully crafted for macOS like OmniFocus.

I think we are aligned here. Have you shared more about your system somewhere where I can take I look? Thanks.

JSON, CSV, XML, RTF are not proprietary. You are simply saying that you prefer Markdown for specific reasons of its functionality. Or to invert this, you are not saying that you prefer Markdown because it is non-proprietary (e.g. we could otherwise argue that PDF is not proprietary, is viewable and can be created readily on any and all platforms, and is likely highly future-proof).

No problem. Just clearing the premise of the statement.

As a newbie here, I prefer to listen first to the ebb and flow for a while.

I am in the OmniFocus (not so much anymore), Curio, Devonthink (not so much anymore), Bookends (infrequently from a while ago), and MPU forums.


I think that any non-proprietary & openly documented format (like the formats you mention: JSON, XML, RTF or CSV, etc) would be a good first step to achieve longevity and future-proofness of your knowledge archive. However, while their raw formats are more or less “readable” by a skilled/trained person, they are mostly opaque for a regular user. And you’d likely need some scripting skills (or other tools that support these formats) to extract or transform the contained data.

I think that a plaintext-like format such as Markdown has an advantage here since it’s much more human readable while still being machine readable enough (however, you’re right that Markdown suffers from not having a single authoritative format spec that continues to evolve). Even without any scripting skills or proper tools, a regular user could always continue to manually read & edit a library of Markdown files. To me, this is a big advantage w.r.t. achieving longevity and future-proofness of your knowledge archive.

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