Reflect. My perfect notes application

Stephen Zeoli
5 min readMay 10, 2024
Reflect. Where I wrote this article.

There are so many intriguing note-making apps on the market, it can be overwhelming to find the one that works best for your needs. I know I’ve bounced around among the many options for too long. But over the past year I’ve settled on one that seems to click for me: Reflect.

(I should note that I’m not building a Zettlekasten or really a full PKM. For either of those functions, Reflect is probably not the best choice for most people.)

It wasn’t that long ago I would have been shocked to learn that the app that works best for me is the lesser-frills app. Even now, I feel the draw of more sophisticated apps like Tana and Capacities. But the simple functionality of Reflect draws me back each time.

Reflect is a browser-based app, with a desktop app for MacOS. The key to my fondness for Reflect is the nearly friction-free user interface that just lets me take my notes with a minimum of fuss. As one example, linking notes requires a minimum of key strokes. Type two open brackets, begin typing the title of the note you want to link to. If the note exists, options pop up and you can select the one you want. Done. Or, if you’re creating a new note, Reflect extends the link until you’ve finished typing the full title. Hit enter. Done. No need to type the closing brackets. Ever. If you realize you want to link a note in a paragraph you’ve already typed, select the words that make up the title of the new note, type just one open bracket and you can hit enter and the link is created. I know this doesn’t sound revolutionary, but it feels like it. Reflect also offers a list of suggested backlinks for notes, a simple click makes the link.

As with most note apps these days, working with Reflect revolves around daily notes. What I really like about Reflect’s daily notes is that they are viewable in a scrolling chronology. You can click ahead or behind to another day in the calendar, but if, say, you know you made a note about something in the past couple of days, it is easy just to scroll back in time to review your notes. I find this a quick way to refresh my memory of what went on yesterday or earlier in the week. The only other app I am familiar with that has this single scrolling page of daily notes is Amplenote.

This isn’t to say that Reflect doesn’t have a powerful search function. It does. Command K brings up the command palette, which allows you to do all sorts of things with your notes, including searches.

May Daily Note (with sensitive information removed). I use a template to track my Daily Habits, Plot Important Actions, and log my Personal and Work activity.

A task-management tab has recently been added to Reflect. To be honest, I have yet to really use this feature, but I suspect it isn’t overly powerful. That is, if you want a full-blown task manager, then you may want to use another app. One aspect of this that I appreciate is that in Reflect, tasks and checklists are separate things. I frequently add check list items into my daily notes. These don’t show up in the task manager. Only tasks do, so you won’t find “Buy bananas” in your list of tasks.

Navigating around my information feels fast and simple and intuitive in Reflect. This is partly due to the clean interface, and partly due to considerate design. There are not dozens of options to click. The left panel isn’t loaded with folders and tags. There are just four main headings: Daily notes, All notes, Tasks and Map, the latter, of course, being a graph showing all your notes and connections between them. There is also an area for pinned notes.

Reflect has the best implementation of AI that I’ve experienced (caveat: I haven’t experienced a lot of AI). Some apps rub your face in the AI options. Not Reflect. The AI is available, but if you’re not interested, you wouldn’t even know it’s there. But when you do want to make use of AI, Reflect has some very nice options. And, it allows you to customize the AI prompts to fit your needs.

Here is the above paragraph rephrased to the writing style of John Steinbeck thanks to the AI:

Reflect boasts the finest crafting of artificial intelligence I’ve come across, though I admit my encounters with such technologies are few. Unlike other applications that flaunt their AI capabilities uninvited, Reflect maintains a humble discretion. Its AI remains unobtrusive, hidden away unless sought after. Yet, when the desire to engage with AI stirs, Reflect offers a suite of commendable features, each adaptable to tailor to one’s personal requisites.

(I’ll leave it to you to decide if that reads like Steinbeck.)

A few addition things of note:

  • iOS app makes it easy to get information into Reflect on the go, including through voice transcription
  • End-to-End encryption provides peace of mind that your data is safe
  • Google Calendar integration

I wish Reflect had better export capabilities. In fact, you currently can only export all your notes in one go. This is nice to ensure that you can future-proof your information, but it isn’t helpful if you want to export a single note to share with colleagues in print, or if you want to move something you’ve been working on into a writing application for refinement. (I wrote this review in Reflect and had to cut and paste it into Medium… not the worst problem in the word, but they should do better.)

Reflect isn’t cheap. It is $10 per month, though there is a free 14-day trial, so you can test it out before you pony up the big bucks.

There are undoubtedly many other features of Reflect, but I’m less concerned with those. I just like the quick and simple way I can track my day. Reflect is really a great digital bullet journal.

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