Productivity Was Never This Unproductive: A Review of Yojimbo

by David Parmet Apr 24, 2006

I have my Backpack account and my Hipster PDA. I read 43Folders with religious fervor. My desk is covered with post-it notes. I’ve read “Getting Things Done” and now I have Yojimbo.

Yojimbo, for those who aren’t as obsessed with personal productivity as I am, is the new brain extension tool from the good folks at Bare Bones Software (motto: “Our software doesn’t have to look or work like any other Apple software”), makers of the excellent BBEdit.

If you haven’t tried Yojimbo, you can download a free 30-day trial here on the Bare Bones (motto: “Quartz? We don’t need no stinking Quartz!”) web site. Give it a try, it takes a few moments to get into, but once you have it figured out you’ll really wonder how you ever did without it.

Yojimbo is almost too subtle to describe, the best way to explain it is to tell you how I use it. Yojimbo works in the background - it’s always ‘open’ there on the left side of your screen (or wherever you want to put it). You set up ‘collections’ on anything that strikes your fancy. Let’s say you want to collect thoughts, sites, emails, etc. that you want to blog about later. Then just create a ‘blog this’ collection and anytime you come across something you want to share with the world, just drag it over to the left side of your screen and dump it into the appropriate folder. It’s that simple. So I have collections set up for clients, for Apple Matters, for things I want to blog about, things I want to show my wife, blah blah blah. And anytime I come across something, there it goes.

So what’s the problem, you might ask?

I’m glad you asked. Really.

The problem with Yojimbo is it exists in a vacuum. Stuff goes into it, but nothing comes out. In other words, I want to be able to share across applications and on the Web. With Backpack, I can create reminders that can be shared with iCal and sent to my cell phone via SMS. iCal can share with the new Google Calendar.

Yojimbo lets you upload your stuff to .mac, but that’s about it for sharing. But man, it would be cool to be able to move my stuff right from Yojimbo on my hard drive, right up to my Backpack account. With all the apis and plug-ins around these days, you’ve got to think it would be easy for Bare Bones to create a hook or two. (motto: “Our spell checker is different from everyone else’s and that’s why it’s in a different place.”) But when I do a search in ‘iCal’ in the Yojimbo help section, there’s nothing.

Oh well. I guess it’s back to the post-its.


  • You hit the note I’ve been singing for some time now: interoperability.

    Delicious, Flickr, Gmail, Backpack… calendering, tracking, storing, accessing, sharing. Create a way to link all these tools, and you’ll be wealthy indeed.

    GoCatGo had this to say on Apr 24, 2006 Posts: 5
  • Just because you haven’t found a use for Yojimbo doesn’t make it a useless product.  I use and like Yojimbo a lot and here’s why. 

    First, with respect to Backpack et al, I simply don’t trust those web based services with my private information like passwords and the like.  Indeed, there are a ton of tools that do this.  However, this is the first such tool from a company that I trust, BareBones.

    Next, the private information is strongly encrypted before storage on the hard disk or through .mac.  The information can be safely and securely stored on .mac.  If my hard disk craps out, the info is safe.

    Finally, I use a number of Macs and need to have some information synchronized between them - especially the net password info and the like.  Yojimbo does that through .mac with absolutely no effort.  Any changes I make from any machine are reflected effortlessly to the other machines.

    Thus, I find Yojimbo an incredibly useful product.  I’m sure that there are lots of people who won’t need it.  I, however, do.

    Now, can it be more useful - surely.  However, its a v1 product.  Cut em some slack for gods sake.

    wmd had this to say on Apr 24, 2006 Posts: 1
  • DEVONThink Pro. Best way to get all your PDFs and misc stuff organized.

    ericdano had this to say on Apr 25, 2006 Posts: 7
  • I think Yojimbo generally has a nicer UI than DEVONthink Pro but its overall capabilities seem simplistic in comparison.  Still, YJB has built-in encryption and synching which DTP currently doesn’t support.  Of course DTP is the more mature product.

    You can probably master YJB in a day.  I still figuring out new tricks with DTP after years of use.  DTP’s potential is easy to miss if you’re not patient enough with it.

    sjk had this to say on Apr 26, 2006 Posts: 112
  • In response to WMD…
    While you may find Yojimbo useful with .Mac, what about those of us without .Mac. I personally find .Mac a complete ripoff. It’s a slow and tedious system that I have little use for. If you are worried about security, you could always use something separate from Backpack to maintain your keys, etc. Like a database or password keeper on a jump drive or something. I use KeePass on my jump drive. Portable Apps rock.

    motherduce had this to say on Apr 26, 2006 Posts: 17
  • Evernote, Yojimbo have some of the same purposes behind them. However, each one has a different. Jonathan Berkowitz

    berkowitzjonathan05 had this to say on Aug 17, 2011 Posts: 8
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