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Fetchnotes: to-do lists and hashtags, together at last (hands-on)

Fetchnotes: to-do lists and hashtags, together at last (hands-on)


Fetchnotes launches today, which brings hashtag-categorized to-do's and notes to Windows, Mac, iPhone, and Android.

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There are a million to-do and quick note-taking apps out there, each attempting to best its competitors with more features, more fluff, and more color. Fetchnotes, launching today, takes the opposite approach. It's a bare bones attempt to help you get things done — using a simple list of items synced between all of your devices. But is it for entering to-do's, notes, or for just saving text for later? It's all of those things, but because Fetchnotes lets you input hashtags inline with your notes and indexes these hashtags, there's one simple way to categorize everything.

Once you sign up for Fetchnotes, you're brought to a home screen which is intimidatingly blank. All there is to do is start typing inside the "Add a note" field, where you can enter text for something you need to do later or want to remember. You're meant to add one or more hashtags inside every item you input, like "#work" and "#weekend" for an item you want to care of this weekend that is work-related. Soon, your left sidebar will be filled with hashtags (which are like Simplenote's tags, except you actually enter them inside the text of your note/to-do item) and the middle of the screen will be filled with single-line note items ordered by how recently you've edited them. It's easy to select multiple hashtags in the site's left sidebar so you can narrow your search. There are no folders or other ways to organize your things, which is pretty refreshing but not necessarily useful for keeping track of tons of stuff.

If you text "fetch #work" to your Fetchnotes number, the service will text you back a list of notes tagged as #work

Fetchnotes gives you several other ways you can send notes to the service, like via text message (once you've authorized your phone), email (a la Evernote), mobile apps (for iPhone and Android) and even a desktop widget inspired by Alfred for Mac. It's all synced up so changes on one instantly reflect via changes in another. The desktop widget is a floating text field activated by a customizable hotkey where you can input new items, view all your items, and delete things. It's a bit buggy in its current state, but works well on the whole.

The more you think about Fetchnotes, the more it's obvious how flexible the service's hashtag-centric model can become. A five-year-old Nokia can update their Fetchnotes account just by sending a text message, and that's part of the big idea here. Fetchnotes wants to end the "text to self" people use to remember things for later. If you text "fetch #work" to your Fetchnotes number, the service will even text you back with a list of notes tagged as #work. Clearly there are a ton of creative ways to use hashtags to effectively organize things you need to worry about. You can set up a #todo hashtag and then create other hashtags like #tomorrow, #nextweek, or #never. Click the #todo hashtag and the #nextweek" hashtag to view a list of things you want to keep track of for next week. Or, you can set up a "life goals" hashtag and then create other hashtags like #home, #work, and #hobbies. to view notes about things you care about long term. The only limitation here is that there's little capability to write long notes, embed any images, or anything more complicated than text.

Fetchnotes isn't an elaborate GTD workflow by any stretch of the imagination, but is a nice alternative to Simplenote and other note-organizing apps that lets you text notes and to-dos, easily view them on any platform by hashtag, and view it all in a totally clutter-free interface.