I was intrigued as soon as I saw the news about Tot on Twitter. A small scratch pad that lives in the menu bar brings value. However, it’s an idea that has been addressed often already. But since Tot is available across Apple devices, that also adds to its value. However, I already have Apple’s own Notes or a tool like Ulysses on all my devices. So how would Tot be useful enough to use?

For me, it comes down to ease of access. Yes, I use Ulysses across all my devices — it even has a sheet titled Inbox. But when I have a one-off thought to record, opening Ulysses and navigating to a specific sheet takes a few seconds. Using a keyboard combo to open Tot in the menu bar, jot down my thought, then move on, is a lot less friction and helps me keep focus on whatever had my attention at first.

Tot looks good up in the menubar

Second, there’s just enough flexibility with Tot as it includes seven panes (distinguished by color). This fits nicely with my overall areas of responsibility in my life, giving one pane for each.

What do I collect in there?

Whereas Ulysses has lengthy notes and all my writing, Tot is simply a place to collect a loose collection of one liners. Maybe it’s a topic someone in the our family wanted to discuss, or a list of things to talk to a specific person about, or a few groceries I need to get from the store. I often have a thought that needs to be captured, but it doesn’t require its own sheet in Ulysses or a task in Things. It’s just a thought or note that I want to refer to later. And since the context of later will often be somewhere away from my desk, Tot scratches an itch I didn’t realize I had.

But what about the cost? When I first saw it was a macOS app, I expected a small cost as its more of a utility than a full fledged, feature rich app. But it was free. When I saw it also had an iOS version, I expected a subscription. But when I saw the price tag on the iOS version, I confess I was a little shocked. $20 USD is more than I’m used to seeing applications like this cost. It took about a week before I felt like it was compelling enough to pay that price.

Bonus points: an app icon on my iOS home screen that is not the same color as all the others.