Sometimes you don’t need fancy organizational tools. Sometimes customization is just an extra step you don’t feel like taking. Sometimes you just want a program that’s extraordinarily simple and doesn’t require a complicated setup or include a long list of preferences. You just want something that works. Something you can start using right away.
If these statements are ringing true, Tomboy can be a fantastic addition to your work computer, your home computer, or both.
What Is Tomboy?
Tomboy is a free, open-source, note-taking program with a linking system. It’s a light-weight software that’s easy enough for anyone to use yet strong enough to keep your lists, dates, ideas, and important information well organized and easily accessible: sort of like an amped-up version of Notepad or Stickies, but not nearly as complicated as many of the other popular note-taking programs available today, like Evernote, OneNote, Wunderlist, or Quip.
Tomboy was initially developed by Alex Gravely. Its latest version was released in 2013. Tomboy is compatible with Linux, Unix, Windows and OS X.
What Does Tomboy Do?
Tomboy allows you to intuitively create documents or “notes” which are then organized into notebooks by the date they were last modified. But there are a number of features that set this program apart from similar software.
Spellcheck: Seems silly, right? Wouldn’t all note-taking programs include a spellcheck? The answer is surprisingly no. Many of them don’t. So for people who still want their quick jots on digital paper to look right, Tomboy can be a relief.
Font Sizing & Formatting: There are a few ways to customize your text using Tomboy. You have just enough options to differentiate the sections of your note when needed, but not so many options that you can’t made a decision. Sizes are small, normal, large and huge. You can write in bold, italics, or strikeout.
Lists: Tomboy allows you to make structured lists, but keeping up with the software’s no-nonsense tone, there aren’t any frills here. It’s a quick, bulleted list.
Indentation: Another appreciated feature by the right type of person, Tomboy lets you create paragraphs – again, something that a lot of other simplistic note-taking applications don’t have.
Highlight: If you want to draw attention to important information in your note, Tomboy includes a yellow highlight feature.
Linking to the Web: With Tomboy, typing a website or email address will automatically turn the text into a link to access the web; however, you can choose to link any text to a website the same way you would add a link in a Word document.
Linking to Itself: Probably the most unique of Tomboy’s features, Tomboy works sort of like a wiki. If you mention a subject in your note that has already been mentioned in a prior note, Tomboy will access that prior note and allow you to link to it.
No Broken Links: If you decide to change the title of your note, Tomboy will also make adjustments to your links.
Search: Another extremely valuable tool that not enough other note-taking programs have. Tomboy allows you to very easily search for topics within your notes.
Auto-save: Who doesn’t like having a program that takes away the task of having to remember to save your work?
Pros to Using Tomboy
User-friendliness: One of the biggest benefits to using Tomboy is its user-friendliness. It’s a very intuitive software anyone can pick up. Unlike so many other open-source programs, you don’t need to study a manual, read through a help forum, or watch a dozen tutorials to figure out how to use it.
Familiarity: It’s always a nice feeling when a software actually feels like it belongs on your operating system. Whether you download it for Linux, Unix, Windows or OS X, it has a look and feel that matches your operating system and includes some miner operating-system specific features.
Add-Ons: Lots of cool add-ons for Tomboy: Evolution Mail Integration, Insert Timestamp, Printing Support, and Underline, just to name a few. There are also third party add-ons like Blogposter, which allows users to post their notes to WordPress; Reminder, which allows you to choose a date and time for the note to be opened; Tomboy-Wordcount, which counts the lines, words and characters in your note; and Note Preview, which displays a preview of the linked note when you hover your curser over it.
Cons to Using Tomboy
Not For Everyone: Tomboy appeals to a very specific audience and not everyone is going to be this type of person. If you’re someone who enjoys color-coding, choosing different fonts, creating webs, or using pictures or self-drawn sketches to better understand an idea, then Tomboy isn’t going to leave you feeling fulfilled.
No Mobile Option: Tomboy is a desktop-only application. This can be a major downer as the world is moving more towards mobile solutions. Users that do regularly use a desktop computer won’t necessary be in front of it when they have a thought or idea they need to write down. As a result, users may have to jot down their ideas on paper or type it into their mobile device before transferring it to Tomboy. With that being said, notes can be synched between desktop computers.
Two-Step Installation: Lastly, while using Tomboy is super easy, downloading the program may be a little more complex depending on your operating systems. Windows and Mac users will have to first download GTK# for .NET in order to run the program; however, doing so is a step included in the Tomboy download process.
What Users Are Saying
Tomboy has generally favorable reviews (3 to 5 stars) from both industry bloggers and program users. It’s praised for its speed, user-friendliness and unique linking feature that works exactly as expected. It’s critiqued most often for its incompatibility with images (you have to link to images as opposed to including them directly in your note) and the few occasional bugs.