- No highlighter
- Yearly subscriptions
- No markup tools for PDF previews
- Buggy syncing between macOS and iPadOS
Agenda is a date-based, styled-text note-taking application. It incorporates note-taking and planning in one app. If you want to track your notes, this is the app you want. Unlike most note-taking apps we have reviewed, Agenda is not a handwriting note-taking app. It is text-based note-taking with limited inking capabilities.
Agenda is available for your iPhone, iPad and Mac. It is a free app with an in-app purchase for premium features. Its subscription permanently unlocks already released (to date) premium features and all the new updates released that year while your subscription is still active.
Agenda has one working space that is divided into three columns. The two small ones are sidebars. The left sidebar is for navigation and the right sidebar is for planning. The middle and most prominent column is the main working space for your notes. This is a very minimalist approach to note-taking, but some users might not appreciate the lack of folders.
The Middle Column
Creating Notes In Agenda
You can start creating a note from two different locations on your left navigation bar and each one will give you different options:
- Overviews: On the Agenda, Today and Search All.
To create a new note from Overviews (under Today for example), tap the Plus icon on the top left corner of the middle workspace. You can then select the Project for your new note. The default title of your new note will be today’s date and you can change the date by tapping Today. If you want to prep for a class or meeting, you can change the date to a future date and Assign Date. It’s best to leave the date changing after you’ve finished taking your notes because changing the date moves the note from Today’s notes to the project you’ve chosen.
The easiest way to create a new note is to go to the right project for that note. Tap on the plus icon to create a new Untitled Note and tap the calendar icon to add a date to it. You can rename your note and start taking notes.
Notes Linked To Events In Apple Calendar
You can also create notes linked to Events from your Apple Calendar, just tap the date on the right sidebar and go to New Note Linked to Event. Agenda will extract all the information from your calendar event: title, notes, date and time. This is great for meetings and anyone who wants to do more with Apple Calendar and Apple Reminders.
Notes Linked To Reminders in Apple Reminders
Create New Notes Faster
They have added more ways to create new notes. This time, instead of starting from scratch, you can work with already existing notes to create new ones by duplicating some notes. That way, you don’t have to waste time copying and pasting when you want a note to create notes with a certain template. This is very useful because now you can create templates in the app for meetings, interviews and just duplicate them each time you’re in a new meeting, for example.
You can also Split at Insertion Point to split a note into two. In case you want to add more information to a section, this is a quick way to do that. Let’s hope they can give us a popup menu for this feature. That way, we don’t have to navigate to the end of our notes section to split them.
This feature also allows to you add a new note before the current note when you put the text cursor at the beginning of your notes. You then get the option to Precede by New Note to create a note above it. When your cursor is at the end of your note section, you can Start New Note to add the note below it. This means you won’t be wasting time moving your notes’ sections around anymore. You can create your notes exactly where you want them.
The Keyboard Toolbar
You can create comprehensive notes in Agenda and the app is equipped with the right tools you need to meet your note-taking needs. You can add the following items to your notes:
- Headings (H1- H4)
- Numbered lists
- Unnumbered lists
- Interactive checklists
- Format: Bold, Italic, Underline, Strikeout
Both your numbered and unnumbered lists only have one type of numbering/bullets. It makes hierarchies a bit boring. Lists are easier to appreciate when you can easily differentiate their hierarchies, bullets and numberings play a big part in that.
Your interactive checklists can either be struck-out or dimmed. Both options help you differentiate complete tasks from incomplete ones. Which option works best really depends on your preferences.
It is impressive that a simple app like this supports superscript and subscript. However, highlighting is a more basic function which the app should certainly have. You could excuse them for it since they have tags, but highlighting still is a simpler way to make information stand out.
Items You Can Add To Your Notes
You can link different parts of your notes using hyperlinks. When you tap the hyperlink icon, you can link to a Recently Edited note or navigate through your projects to find the note you want. You can also add web links, for which you can enter the Displayed Text and the link. When you have a lot of notes, navigating through all your notes can waste a lot of time. Let’s hope in the future we will be able to search for the notes we want to link to. You can also add the following items to your notes:
- Horizontal rule for organising and structuring your notes.
Tables offer a simple way of presenting information and are a must-have for every note-taking app. Agenda adds a 2 x 2 table, which you can expand to add as many rows and columns as you need (using the three-dots icon). Dragging edges of the table to add more rows and columns would make our lives easier.
The columns have a fixed width, which makes the table symmetrical. The cell height depends on how much information you add to it. Tap a cell to start adding text. You can format it to make it:
You can also align the text in your columns and add code, superscripts and subscripts.
You can add attachments to your notes: audio files, videos, zip files, PDFs, images, etc. After trying a few different files, Agenda seems to support ANY FILE. However, big files cause a massive lag, which makes the app unusable. Our developers are working to improve this in their next update. Since huge attachments slow down everything, it’s best to link instead of attaching them. You can also decide how the attachments look when you long press them. You can:
- Edit their Name
- Choose their Display: Inline, Thumbnail, Thumbnail & Title, Full Width.
- Decide Actions to take on them: Preview, Share or Copy.
The full-width display is not available for all attachments. You get it for images and PDFs. The full width doesn’t display all the pages in your PDF, but just shows the first page in full width. You can preview attachments in a separate window that popups when you choose that option. There are no markup tools for your previews. That is especially bad for images and PDFs. If we can preview the file, Agenda should at least let us markup what we preview. In the preview window, you can export the file to other apps. Although you can attach anything in Agenda, you can only preview files with the supported formats.
You can add star icons to mark favourite sections of your notes. These stand out when going through your notes. Since the app doesn’t have highlighting, starring can work just as well. Maybe in the future, we could have different colours for the stars, to colour code our bookmarks.
Photos & Videos
You can add photos and videos from your library or take them with your camera. At first glance, it almost feels like you’re attaching a file. However, with your photos, you have the option to Annotate them when you long-press for further Actions. This is a better way to attach your photos in Agenda. Annotation for photos is a must-have for a note-taking app.
Our full-width images haven’t always had an ideal size in Agenda. It used to be fixed, always at 100%. In Agenda 13, we can now decide how big we want our full image to be: 25, 50, 75 or 100%. This helps you to see your full image alongside your notes. We look forward to having text wrap in the app. That way, we can add notes around our images.
Add Reminders To Apple Reminders
You can add sections of your notes to Apple Reminders using the clock icon. You can pick a date for your reminder on the left side of the pop up window. There is a down-facing arrow at the bottom right corner of that left section, tapping on it will give you some date presets:
- Next 10 days
- Next Week
- Next Month
- Next Year
You have an option to Type Date or Range when navigating your calendar. You don’t have to scroll through dates anymore You can type the date (or a range of dates) to skip to it. To return to your current date, simply tap on the tiny circle icon next to your navigation arrows. You can now see dates with notes on your calendars. They are dates with dots on them.
You can name your reminder and set the time for it. The down-facing arrow for your time has options to:
- Change to All-Day Reminder
- Change Time Zone
You can then choose the list to add your new reminder to; these are the lists you have in your Apple Reminders. When you are happy with your options, Create your reminder without leaving Agenda and it appears on the right sidebar. In your notes, your reminder is indicated by a clock icon.
You can tag people in your notes using the @ icon to track your co-workers for different projects, which is useful. You can also add hashtags to your notes using the # icon. Tags are useful for searching your notes because the app gives you the option to search for hashtags or people specifically. You can easily find your tagged sections.
You can scan documents into your projects. Agenda uses the iPadOS scanning technology to scan documents directly into the app. It thus has familiar features that allow you to:
- Adjust the colour: Colour, Greyscale, Black & White and Photo
You can preview your scan in a different window without any annotation tools. Let’s hope they can add those for us in the future.
Sketches & Handwritten Notes
You can add sketches and handwritten notes. Considering this is not primarily a handwriting note-taking app, it’s decent that the app has an option to add sketches. Agenda uses the Apple PencilKit and it works well. The lack of page customisation probably means this is not really meant for handwritten notes. But hey, I am a note-taker at heart. Note-taking is all I think of when I see stationery. This doodle feature is strictly for those things you REALLY can’t type (graphs, diagrams).
Agenda surely gives you a rich note-taking experience for a planning app. This is very impressive and it definitely takes your planning to the next level. Plan your days and take notes to keep track of your projects. Digital planning doesn’t get more fun than this!
Once you have finished writing your notes, the settings icon at the lower right corner lets you:
- Copy As: Note Text, Markdown, HTML, Plain Text or Agenda Link to paste in another app.
- Move To
- Before Previous Note
- After Next Note
- Before First Note
- After Last Note
- Other Project
- Add to Siri
- Save as Template
- Show Info
- Statistics: Words, Characters, paragraphs
- Created At
- Move to Bin
The dot icon in front of each topic has options to:
- Mark as On Agenda/ Remove from On the Agenda
- Mark as done
- Pin to Top
- Make into Footnote
- Collapse Note
- Other Actions that are exactly like the ones for exporting your notes.
Marking your notes as On the Agenda adds them to the Overviews on the top left sidebar for easier access. It bookmarks the notes you are currently working on, stuff that’s “on the agenda“. Another way to bookmark your notes is to pin them to the top of the project. You can also move a note to the footnote section if you never want to see it again.
Agenda automatically creates an outline of your project from your section/block headings. You can access the outline when you tap the name of your project at the very top of your workspace. Then you can Sort with Earliest Date first or vice versa.
You can also navigate to different projects by tapping subcategories and categories. The top of your workspace shows the exact organisation level of your note. You can collapse your blocks to see only the headings of your sections/blocks. When your headings are collapsed, you essentially have another outline. For a minimalist look, expand only the sections you’re currently working on. It keeps the whole project in perspective.
They have recently made our navigation in the app, faster. When you tap on your title’s navigation, you can now drag your notes’ outline to bring up a search bar for quicker navigation. This is especially useful when you have a lot of notes in the app. It will save us a lot of time in the future.
The Left Sidebar
The left sidebar is your navigation bar. Starting from the very top, under Overviews:
- On the Agenda shows bookmarked notes for easier access regardless of their date.
- Today shows all the notes you created today and those scheduled for today.
- Search All searches through all your notes. You can save your search results and bookmark your most commonly searched terms by creating Smart Overviews that you add to the sidebar. You can also search your starred items and save a Star Overview. That is efficiency!
- Bin keeps all your deleted notes. You can recover them from here. Agenda keeps your notes in the recycle bin until you delete them.
- The bottom arrows on the right navigate through your history in the app— the sort of navigation you find in a web browser.
- The plus icon on the left lets you add a New Project or New Category.
Agenda organises your notes into categories, subcategories and projects. You can collapse your categories and subcategories for a minimalist look and expand them at will. Agenda allows you to have subcategories within subcategories. Projects contain your dated note sections.
- Note sections
Categories & Subcategories
The three dots on the side of each category let you:
- Create New Project in Category
- Edit category
- Add name
- Choose Colour
- Delete Category
- Add Subcategory
- Delete Category
The three dots on your projects let you:
- Copy As as Rich Text, Markdown, HTML, Plain Text or an Agenda Link to paste in other apps.
- Share your notes in multiple formats: RTF, PDF, Markdown, Plain Text, Agenda Link or Agenda file.
- Print (we highly disapprove)
- Add to Siri for creating Siri Shortcuts.
- Archive Project when completed. At the bottom of each category, you get to see the number of archived projects.
- Show info on the project: last edited, showing editing devices, created at and file size.
- Move to Bin
The Right Sidebar
Calendar events contains information from your selected calendars in Apple Calendar. You can create and edit calendar events without leaving the app. The plus icon on the top left corner lets you create a New Event or a Quick Reminder.
On the left of the popup window, you can pick a date for your event. You can then:
- Add Event Title
- Pick the time when your event Starts and Ends. The down-facing arrow lets you Change to All-Day Event or Change Time Zone. Below the arrow, the app will tell you how long your event will last.
- Choose a calendar for your new event
- Add Location
- Add URL
- Set alert before the event.
When you tap on an event, you can do the following:
- Link to Selected Note to add all the event details to the notes selected in your project.
- Create New Note Linked to Event
- Quick Reschedule to:
- 15 or 30 minutes from now
- 1 or 2 hours from now
- For Tomorrow
- For Next Week
- For Next Month
- A Day Later
- A Week Later
- Edit to change anything about your event
- Show in Calendar to go to Apple Calendar.
Events with notes linked to them have a notes icon on the right. When you tap on such an event, you can:
- Go to Linked Notes
- Link to Selected Note
- New Note Linked to Event
- Quick Reschedule
- Unlink Note to remove the link between the note and that event.
- Show in Calendar
Agenda only displays reminders with deadlines (regardless of what list they are in), not all your reminders.
The plus icon on the top right corner of the right sidebar has an option to create a Quick Reminder. On the left side of the popup window you can pick a date for your new reminder and:
- Add Reminder Title
- Pick a time
- On the down-facing arrow:
- Change to All-Day Reminder
- Change Time Zone
- Pick a list for your reminder
Tapping on a reminder gives you options to:
- Add to Selected Note
- New Note with Reminder
- Mark as Completed
- Quick Reschedule to as early as 5 minutes.
- Show in Reminders
Tapping a reminder linked to some notes gives you the following options:
- Go to Note
- Marks as Completed
- Quick Reschedule
- Show in Reminders
Under your reminders, you can access your Recently Edited and Related notes. Related notes contain similar traits, like tags and people. The app has a massive database of How-tos, which you can access without leaving the app.
- Agenda does not have multiple instances. It could be handy when you want to compare projects.
- You can use Scribble to take notes in Agenda and the experience is amazing.
- Agenda looks beautiful in dark mode.
- Agenda has Relevant Notes widgets that come in three sizes. You can choose to see:
- On the Agenda
You can filter your notes to focus on those Marked as Done only or ones not yet done. You can also quickly navigate through your dated notes and Agenda lets you search for tags and people. Your notes are easier to find when they are tagged.
Whatever you search for, in Agenda, you can save the results as smart overviews to easily find the results from your sidebar. Smart overviews are useful when you have items you’re always searching for. You can create them for upcoming meetings, your schedule for the next 10 days/next week or even for all the projects you’re working on with someone you’ve tagged.
You can turn on options to determine how your app behaves to different actions:
- Add Empty Note to New Project
- Mark New Notes as On the Agenda
- Assign New Note to Today
- Only Draw with Apple Pencil
- Sync Notes Between Devices via iCloud or Dropbox. Agenda has a very defective syncing engine. If you’re unlucky to get plagued by this common bug, you can potentially fail to sync your notes between your Mac and iPad (in the worst case scenario). As of this writing, I have been waiting three days for the app to sync.
Determine how your app looks by customising your:
- Interface Appearance: System, Light, Dark and Black.
- Accent Colour
- Notes Text Size
- Line Spacing
- Tags, People, Attachments: Prominent or Subdued. Prominent makes your tags stand out in the text and subdued is more toned-down.
- Unordered Lists: Dashed or Bulleted.
- Ticked Items: Default, Strikethrough, Greyed Out.
You have a Note Preview at the bottom of your settings to see in realtime how all the changes look. That way you can better customise your app’s appearance without going back and forth.
- Shown Calendars lets you pick the calendars you want to display from your Apple Calendar.
- First day of the Week
- Show Dates as Relative to Today
- Import Event Notes
- Shown Lists lets you pick the lists you want to display from Apple Reminders.
- Create All-Day Reminders by Default
You can sign in to the account with you Apple ID or email. If you don’t have an account, you can create one.
Who Should Buy This Application?
Agenda is excellent for planning and note-taking. It’s great for anyone who wants to take dated, styled text notes and keep track of them and their modifications. Its minimalist approach ensures that every note you create in the application looks the uniform. For one who doesn’t support subscriptions, I believe this one is reasonable. You pay for new updates and keep the ones you already have for a lifetime. The seamless integration with Apple Calendar and Apple Reminders makes Agenda a very powerful planning app.