Better Note-taking

Note-taking is one of the most important of all cognitive activities. It focuses your mind on the most relevant information. It allows you to keep a permanent, concise record of complex source material. It helps you to learn, solve problems, and build new products.

But guess what? Many adults have practically given up on note-taking! They read many books, PDFs and web pages. They listen to podcasts, watch screencasts, and attend meetings. But many take few if any notes about them.

Why? Because without Hook, it’s very hard to navigate back and forth between their notes and what their notes are about! With paper, it’s easy (if one can find the book): write on the page, or attach a sticky or looseleaf notes to it. But most information these days is in electronic form.

As a result, they fail to understand and remember. Yet we know that great readers, like Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger, do take notes.

Hook re-enables note-taking, by linking your notes to what they are about. With Hook, you can instantly link a PDF or ebook to a notes document.

Link source materials to new or existing notes

Suppose you are reading a PDF and want to take notes about it. Just invoke Hook and select “Hook to New”. This will create a new note in the app of your choice, and link them together.

User Hook with your favorite ebook readers and PDF readers such as:

  • Apple Books: βˆšπŸ‘ (as of Hook 1.6.1)
  • Adobe Reader: βˆšπŸ‘
  • Highlights: βˆšπŸ‘
  • PDFPen Pro: βˆšπŸ‘
  • Apple Preview : βˆšπŸ‘
  • Skim PDF reader: βˆšπŸ‘

Take linked notes with your favorite editors and graphic apps

Have you ever tried to take notes in a PDF editor, like Adobe Acrobat, or in Microsoft Word? While they have their place, the “in-line” note-taking editors embedded in these apps are extremely limited and cumbersome. For example, they don’t support outlining or embedding graphics. Plus, they stash away your notes in a way that makes them hard to find outside the document.

Moreover, in-line annotation is not suitable for taking notes that synthesize multiple documents.

There are many great writing and note-taking apps that Hook can be linked to your readings:

and many more

Visual note-taking is also super important. Hook can link your readings to your visual notes in great apps like

And many others.

There are also online note-taking services, such as Roam whose content can be linked with Hook.

Hook connects your notes to what they are about, and vice-versa.

Ever want to take notes about a web page or long email?

How often have you wanted to take notes about a web page or a long email?

With Hook, simply use the “Hook to New” command, and start taking notes in the app of your choice.

You can store the notes wherever you want: in Finder, an information manager, a web service. Let Hook link them for you.

Note-taking about a topic (multiple documents)

When you are researching a topic, you typically need to consult multiple documents. At this point, it is very helpful to create a document that contains notes that combine ideas from several documents. (This is what Mortimer Adler called “syntopical reading” in his famous book, How to Read a Book).

With Hook, you can easily create a document for taking notes about several documents sources. Just use “Copy as Link” from any PDF or web page. You can paste the links right in your notes. Or you can use “Hook to Copied Link” on your notes document. Hook enables you to rapidly navigate between your “notes” document and the documents to which it links. Your notes document becomes a “hub” for your reflections about the topic, problem and literature.

For example, if you are researching insomnia, just create a new note about insomnia, and link this note to any important document on insomnia. Then you can quickly navigate between your insomnia notes document and the web pages, PDFs and ebooks about insomnia.

Link notes in Evernote, DEVONthink, EagleFiler,

Also for students and their parents

Note-taking is obviously essential for students. If you’re the parent of a high school or university students, then you should get your children a copy of Hook, to help them become better students.

Do you do personal research on the Internet (shopping, medical concerns, self-help)?

If you ever do personal research on the web, then you need Hook right now, so that you can rapidly take notes.

  • Take notes about information you read on the web.
  • With Hook you can create a global notes document that aggregates information from many different sources.

Hook enables you to rapidly navigate between your notes and what they are about.

Hook notes can be stored almost anywhere

If you use DEVONthink or EagleFiler by C-Command-Software , Keep It (by Reinvented Software), Yojimbo or Evernote, for storing your notes, Hook has you covered there too. You can link almost anything to notes (or other items) in those information managers.

You can even store your Hook notes in any folder on your Mac, in iCloud, Dropbox, etc.

Do you use bookmarking services (Pinboard or Pocket)?

Pinboard is an excellent bookmarking service that also allows you to take notes about web pages. We use it and love it! Use it to jot down your notes about the web page in plain text. You can tag web pages too. There are plenty of tips for using Pinboard in Cognitive Productivity with macOS: 7 Principles for Getting Smarter with Knowledge.

When you need to take longer notes, or need formatted text and outlines, then bring up Hook and do Link to New to take notes in the app of your choice.

We also use Pocket, and the same principle applies even more to it, because it doesn’t have a note-taking field.

Hook does not replace Pocket or Pinboard. It helps you get more out of them. If you use those tools on a Mac then odds are you will love Hook.

Hook and reference management software (PDFs)

If you are a researcher (faculty, student, scientist, journalist, blogger, etc.), you need not only to take notes, but keep a citation or reference of that which you are taking notes about.

Only Hook makes it possible to quickly, robustly and flexibly link your notes to that which they are about. Hook provides a uniform method for doing so (“Copy as Link” and “Hook to Copied Link”), which is second nature to Hook users. The link between your note file and the document the notes file is about can be used as a citation. (You can later copy the link, which includes the name of the target, and paste it anywhere).

Hook can also be used with several bibliography managers like Bookends and ReadCube Papers 3. Just select a document in the app, invoke Hook (βŒ˜β‡§SPACE), “Copy as Link”, and paste the link wherever you want to refer to the PDF. You’ll have a fully formatted reference that is also a hyperlink to the PDF.

You can also use Hook’s Hook to New command to link the selected PDF to your notes. You can then navigate back and forth between the paper and your notes. Same principle as with other documents.

But you don’t need a bibliography manager to get these benefits. Use Hook to get the address of any PDF or web page. Then select the bibliographical reference in your document, and link it to the address.

On the importance of note-taking and the difficulty of doing it without Hook

The following books and websites explain the benefits of note-taking and provide guidelines for note-taking.

However, those documents do not deal with the challenges of taking notes with technology. For that, you should read: Cognitive Productivity books. Cognitive Productivity indicate how to solve those technical problems (the second one in particular deals with Hook and compatible macOS apps.)

You can start linking your notes today by downloading Hook. You’ll be surprised how a few very simple commands (“Hook to New”, “Copy as Link” and “Hook to Copied Link”) can help you take notes more rapidly and get more out of them.