For a long time, I’ve been hunting for the perfect “snippets of stuff” manager app. Something that lets me save a phone number, bits of code or whathaveyou, then easily retrieve them later.

There are quite a few apps that do this — Yojimbo, xPad, Stickies — but none of them do it for me. They all require way too much management. Stickies scatters windows everywhere, Yojimbo wants you to tag things and put them in folders, xPad is a multi-document app. Every other app of this nature I’ve found is similarly overdone. While I can’t say I’ve seen every info organizer for the Mac, having really wanted to find an app of this kind for my own use… I’ve looked fairly thoroughly.

MenuBrain is the info organizer I wanted someone else to make. It’s stupidly simple.

Once you launch MenuBrain — and you’ll probably want to add it to your Login Items for the best experience — MenuBrain will take up residence in your menubar and wait for you to put stuff in it. To do that, you click the menubar icon (it looks like a database) and hit Edit. Then you just start typing, or paste something in, and hit return.

You can double click on an item you’ve entered to edit it, or drag and drop items to rearrange them. Close the window when you’re not using it. Oh yeah — there’s no Save button. MenuBrain just saves changes as you make them.

The items you add get added to the MenuBrain menu. When you select one, it gets copied to the clipboard — or launched in a web browser if it’s a URL. MenuBrain is pretty smart about discerning the significance of the info you give it. You can even annotate your snippets, like so:

Google Voice number: 555 123 4567

And MenuBrain will determine you probably want to copy the phone number, not the phrase describing it. Similarly, if you annotate a web URL:

Apple Store:

MenuBrain will recognize the important part is something that can be handled by a browser. (The fact that this is a pretty casually-constructed URL is no problem for MenuBrain.)

There’s even an “Add to MenuBrain” system service if you’re into that sort of thing.

The best way to get a feel for MenuBrain is to start using it. Download it for free and let me know what you think. (Try to be somewhat kind — it’s my first Cocoa app.)

November 19, 2009