Archive for the 'Together' Tag

Together is 10

Sunday, August 3rd, 2014

Together launched on 3 August 2004 (as did Reinvented Software), making it a decade old today. Join me on this long, gloriously self-indulgent look back at the app, some of which goes back even further, complete with some really old screenshots.

Also, I’ve written a post about surviving as a Mac developer for 10 years here.

NoteBook 1.0

In a way, Together grew out of a freeware app I wrote at the turn of the millennium to try out Cocoa in the Mac OS X Public Beta. The earliest date in the source code is 1 December 2000 and I released the app on 2 January 2001, so it’s clear what I was doing over the holiday season.

NoteBook 1.0 had almost nothing to it. All it did was present a sequence of rich text notes, thanks to the new text editing features built into Mac OS X. You can see a screenshot on the original web page, which I’ve uploaded here: I’m impressed at my first ever attempt at a Mac OS X app icon, bland though it may be (it later turned into this).

Even back then, I remember having ambitions beyond that. Mac OS X lacked the Note Pad and Scrapbook apps (actually desk accessories) that could be traced back to System 1.0. That was disappointing as I used them quite often, despite their limitations. Note Pad presented notes with a page-turning UI and Scrapbook was a sideways scrolling collection of various types of clippings: images, text, sounds and movies. I wrote about these and their connection to Together (when it was called Keep It Together) back in 2005.

Eventually the freeware app looked the way you see it below. Check out that Helvetica Light!

NoteBook screenshot

NoteBook 2.0

GEEK CORNER: You would never bother to say something was a Cocoa app now, but back then it was still a big deal. Actually, the app was written in Cocoa Java, so won’t work now. I was a C developer at the time and could’ve easily done it in Objective-C, but I wasn’t even remotely serious about shipping an app back then and fancied trying out Cocoa Java to see what it was like. Apple was still somewhat beleaguered and needed ways to entice both developers and users to the platform. For users, there was the hardware and amazing way Mac OS X looked; for developers, there were concerns that Objective-C, despite being a superset of C, easy to learn and ideal for incorporating existing C code, was considered a bit weird, whereas Java was very much a buzzword at the time. In the end, Objective-C won people over. Now there’s Swift, but I think that’s a very different story. Even so, I wouldn’t write off Objective-C just yet.


The freeware experiment taught me many things, such as what it’s like when people actually use your app and have opinions about it, but also made me think I could make a living selling apps full-time. I could see a few other people doing this and was getting tired of my day job in corporate IT.

After paying off my debts and saving up a cushion, I quit my job, got together with a friend who’d set up a company in the US, added features I knew people wanted, renamed the app to Notes (to avoid conflict with other apps on the market) and tried selling it for actual money. This was a total failure.

Notes 3.0 screenshot

However, by this point the app certainly had shades of Together about it, being capable of storing and viewing various file types along with a hierarchical folder structure.

Keep It Together 1.0

For the next year, I did contracting work to stay afloat and eventually burnt out. To recover, I had to shed all previous projects and commitments. I never wanted to let anyone down, but couldn’t have continued, either physically or mentally. It would take years to truly feel well again, and the first year was unbelievably difficult. I slept a lot, but in my waking hours ideas kept coming to me. Unable to consider a real job and with no sick pay, I decided to turn completely independent.

The result was Keep It Together 1.0. This took all the knowledge I’d gathered making NoteBook and put it into something truly designed for the task. No longer was this some kind of classic Mac OS replacement, but a proper Mac OS X app, inspired by the new iApps like iTunes and iPhoto, where you just throw stuff in there and not worry about it.

KIT 1.0 launched on Mac OS X 10.3 Panther with content searching as-you-type (Spotlight wouldn’t arrive until 10.4), linked files, groups (based on iTunes playlists, where items can be in more than one group at a time), smart groups, and notes you could create in the app too. As you can see, the basic design has stood the test of time.

KIT 1.0

KIT 1.0

KIT was well-received, but it took a couple of years to catch on, gaining a lot of attention during a golden era of Mac productivity apps that was inspired by GTD, tagging and the like. Eventually, the app grew to support bookmarks, web archives, ratings, tags and plenty more, but all this flexibility meant people wanted to put more in it and the database was seriously starting to creak.

Together 2.0

Over the course of 2007, I set about creating version 2.0. I decided to drop “Keep It” from the name, partly because Keep It Together was too long, and also because the abbreviation KIT was an impossible search term, even for the semantically-savvy Google. “Together” as a proper noun suffers none of these problems.

Together 2.0 screenshot

Together 2.0

Together 2 Shelf

Shelf in Together 2

Version 2.0 was released soon after Mac OS X 10.5 on 15 November 2007, and added a slew of features: a tags source list, folders, portrait orientation for the list and preview, thumbnail icons, Quick Look previews for files the app didn’t understand, Spotlight content searching to remove the burden of indexing, tabs, multiple libraries, editable documents, encrypted items and the Shelf tab on the side of the screen.

The Shelf was (and still is) for the app to be accessed from any other app, harking back to the compactness and convenience of those Note Pad and Scrapbook apps, except it adapts to what you’re doing: click the tab to open it and navigate the library or make quick notes, or drag to the tab to choose a destination for your import, then it changes again so you can add tags and so on.

Over the next 6 years, the app would grow to add .Mac (later MobileMe) sync, which never worked, then remove it when the service was terminated, web PDFs, favorites, importing files automatically from Finder folders or via bookmarklets and global hot keys, scriptability, nested groups, multitouch support and plenty more. All very geeky, but there was one thing people wanted more than anything…

Together 3.0

Released on 9 May 2013, I first sketched out the design for Together 3.0 some two years earlier to accommodate new features and work alongside a companion iOS app, even though I still had no idea how the apps would sync back then, as iCloud had not been announced. I also wanted to slim down the app’s UI to restore the simplicity of version 1.x, but without losing any features. This seemed the ideal time to do it.

Together 3.1 screenshot

Together 3.1

Mac OS X 10.7 Lion had been previewed and billed as the “Back to the Mac” release that would return some of the features and philosophy of iOS, and Apple’s attention, to the Mac. Finally, iCloud was announced at WWDC 2011 for launch the following October. This was the solution I’d been waiting for.

However, at WWDC Apple also announced the requirement for apps sold through the Mac App Store to become sandboxed in the same timeframe, and that iCloud would be restricted to Mac App Store apps. Sandboxing is a security solution that restricts apps’ access only to things you allow. At the time, app sandboxing was far more restrictive than it is now, and adopting it would mean losing a lot of features from Together. I wasted about 6 months sandboxing my three apps before Apple changed sandboxing to be more flexible and relaxed the Mac App Store rules for existing apps, provided they only included bug fixes and OS X enhancements.

With Apple still working out the creases in sandboxing, many of which wouldn’t be addressed until the release of 10.8 in July 2012, I decided to postpone sandboxing and consequently iCloud and all other new features to Together 3.0. In addition to iCloud, other new features included stationery, thumbnails, an Inbox, navigation history, tab exposé, autosave, a new design, and plenty more.

Together for iPad and iPhone 1.0

With iCloud in place I could finally create a version of Together for iOS. Many obstacles have fallen away over the years, but having a way of syncing that data across devices was absolutely key. Until iCloud, I’d toyed with various ideas, none of which seemed feasible. A solution that relied on something not built for the task, such as Dropbox, was too risky, but creating and maintaining two apps while running a cloud syncing service (and it has to be in the cloud) for something as data heavy as Together is too much for a single developer.

Together for iPad 1.0 screenshot

Together for iOS 1.0

I began Together for iPad and iPhone properly after releasing Together 3 for Mac, based on the iCloud work in the Mac app and designed from scratch for iOS 7. It’s a tricky proposition, recreating an app so desktop-based as this, all files, folders and tags, none of which has a natural place on iOS. However, if you take those things away or somehow try to abstract them too much, it fails to be the app people want. Likewise, you need to be brutal in what you can and cannot do. Anything that doesn’t fit has to go. This problem reminds me of the Irish joke, where someone asks for directions and the Irishman replies “well, I wouldn’t start here.”

Then again, it’s clear a shift is happening in iOS where creating an app like Together is getting easier and makes more sense all the time. Besides which, Together doesn’t impose things like folders or tags, that’s something done out of choice. As far as Together is concerned, nothing has changed since version 1.0: it will take care of whatever you put in its library, no further action necessary. Now that sounds like an iOS app.

The future of Together now is to build on all this. OS X Yosemite will bring a refresh of the UI and integration with iOS 8, which also gains the ability to share documents between apps, moving iOS closer to OS X. Despite being years later than I wanted, it feels like Together for iOS has arrived at the exact right time.

I love what I do. I never got rich from it and I rarely have any time off, but it’s far better than what I would have been doing otherwise. To everyone who’s supported me and my apps over the last ten years, thank you!

Together for iPad and iPhone 1.0

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2014

Together At Last

Together for iPad and iPhone is now available, bringing the features of Together for Mac to mobile devices so you can take your library with you wherever you go.

For anyone familiar with the Mac version, Together for iPad and iPhone will both look welcomingly familiar and work naturally on iPhone and iPad, with everything just a few taps away. See groups, folders and favorites in the Groups view, along with tags, labels and ratings in the Tags view. Tap any of these to see the item list, which shares its appearance with the Mac.

Together for iPad and iPhone can create notes, bookmarks, new documents from stationery for plain and rich text files, take photos and videos or import them from the camera roll. Together makes it easy to create new items from the clipboard, and can open files from other apps to add them to its library.

The app can also preview many other kinds of files, such as images and movies, PDF files, iWork documents, mail messages and more. When editing notes and rich text files, you can format text, attach photos and videos, insert links and highlight text. Together for iPhone and iPad can also encrypt and decrypt items, just as on the Mac.

Pricing & Availability

Together for iPad and iPhone 1.0 requires iOS 7.1 and later and can be purchased on the App Store at the introductory price of $9.99. It’s a universal app, so the same version will work on both iPhone and iPad.

Together for Mac

Together 3.2 from the Mac App Store is required to share libraries with Together for iPad and iPhone, as only Mac App Store apps can use iCloud. Existing Together users who’ve purchased Together 3.0 or later from the Mac App Store will automatically get Together 3.2 as a free upgrade.

Unfortunately, it’s not possible to transfer licenses to the Mac App Store version, but if you have purchased Together 3 for Mac directly from Reinvented Software in the last 120 days and would like to transfer to the Mac App Store version, please get in touch.

For everyone else, Together 3.2 on the Mac App Store will be half-price at $19.99 for one month following its release.

More Info

Get more information about this release on the Together for iPad and iPhone product page, and answers to frequently asked questions on the Support page (will be updated with the latest info as needed).

Together 3.1

Monday, October 28th, 2013

Together IconTogether 3.1 is out today. This version integrates with Finder tags on OS X Mavericks, improves iCloud libraries, adds Quick Open, improves the Mini Info view, supports editing info for multiple items far more elegantly and includes a load of other improvements.

OS X Mavericks

In Mavericks, it’s now possible to tag files in the Finder and all standard Save panels. Together can fully integrate with these Finder tags so you see the same tags in the Finder as in Together and vice versa.

This integration comes in the form of two options you can enable per-library in Together’s Tags preferences: one to import Finder tags and another to update them. The import option will enable one-way interaction, where Together imports the tags for all existing and subsequent items. Meanwhile, the update option will ensure that any changes made to tags in Together are reflected in the Finder and vice versa.

iCloud Libraries (Mac App Store only)

Apple made a lot of changes to iCloud in OS X Mavericks, and so Together 3.1 is essential if you want to use iCloud libraries with the latest OS. Additionally, these improvements mean Together can now safely move whole libraries to iCloud rather than import them, and creating iCloud libraries is much faster too.

Finally, whether on Mavericks or Mountain Lion, Together now asks for a new location when moving an iCloud library out of iCloud.

Quick Open

Quick Open is a new feature that can be used to quickly open (I know!) items, groups and tags by typing. Use the keystroke Command-Shift-O to show the Quick Open panel and start typing. Items are searched by name only, so the results are very quick. Use the Up and Down arrow keys to navigate between the results without leaving the search field and hit Enter to open the selection.

Multiple Info Editor

Editing Info for multiple items in Together has had its limitations in the past, but now that the Info view appears in a pop-over, it can be more flexible. When multiple items are selected, you will now see a different view that allows you to change specific values and add or replace tags.

Mini Info

The mini info view is shown above the preview and has been improved in a few ways. The Name, Comments and Tags fields now resize with their contents, links in the Comments field are now clickable and there’s a new optional Path line for showing where an original item’s file is located.

Also, the Preview menu now always has a submenu with options to show / hide the mini Info fields or the whole view. Previously, these were only available in the View Options panel.

And more…

Text editors can now use hyphenation and vertical layout, OpenMeta tags can now be synced the same way as Mavericks’ Finder tags, the Library Manager panel has made redundant by improvements to the File > Library menu and removed completely, labels now show their color in the tag browser and there are various other improvements too. See the release notes for a full list.

Together 3.1 costs $39.99 but is a free upgrade for all Together 3.0 users. Together 2.x users can upgrade for $19.99 from this site (upgrade discounts are not available for the Mac App Store). A 15-day trial version is also available from this site.

Together Tip: Use Folder Actions to Auto-Import to iCloud Libraries

Friday, June 7th, 2013

One of the more popular features in Together is auto-import: you save a file to one of Together’s library folders, and the app automatically imports it into that library.

However, iCloud libraries aren’t visible in the Finder or standard Save dialogs, so this isn’t possible.

A workaround for this is to use Finder folder action scripts to watch a particular folder and import any files added to that folder to your library.

I have created some scripts to do that, and they can be found, along with instructions, on Together’s Script Library page.

There are two folder action scripts: Move to Together or Copy to Together; typically you will want to use Move to Together, as you can then continue to work on the document in the original application, but I’ve provided the other in case that isn’t appropriate. You cannot link to files in iCloud libraries.

Announcing Together 3

Thursday, May 9th, 2013

Together iconTogether 3 is out today. Version 3.0 adds thumbnails, tab exposé, an inbox, stationery, navigation history, autosave and versions, along with improved favorites, previews and Shelf all wrapped up in a smart new design.

Oh, and the Mac App Store version can now share libraries with iCloud. Finally!

New User Interface

Together’s user interface has been modernized and improved to make the app better in every way, while remaining familiar to anyone who’s used it in the past.

Library window screenshot

A reorganized sidebar puts what you need within closer reach. Together now has an Inbox for collecting imports that have not been added to any groups or folders, and favorite groups and items now appear in the sidebar too.

The item list now has a cleaner layout and the new thumbnails mode shows zoomable preview icons. Navigate the history of previewed items by swiping left or right, or using the back and forward buttons above the list.

Above the preview is a new customizable mini Info view, showing just the information you need, or you can hide the preview altogether and show Quick Look previews with the spacebar.

Tabs now span the whole width of the window, and tab exposé makes it possible to swipe through pages of tab thumbnails to find the one you need.

The Shelf has been completely redesigned with a lighter, cleaner look, improved Quick Look previews and rich text in Quick Notes.


Create items of any file type with Stationery. Together comes with built-in options for plain text, RTF and RTFD files, but any file can be used as stationery. Stationery can be made available to all libraries or just the current library.

It’s also possible to customize which type of document is created when pressing ⌘N. By default, this will be a new note, but any kind of global stationery can be used.

The Stationery Chooser can be used to browse, preview, reveal, rename and remove stationery items. Files can also be dragged here to become stationery and any item in Together can be saved as stationery too.

Info and Previews

The new mini Info view above previews always shows an item’s name and can be customized to show tags, comments, dates, labels and ratings too. It’s also possible to favorite items by clicking the favorite star next to the item’s name. The mini Info view can be hidden altogether if not needed.

Full Info is now displayed as a popover, either from the Info toolbar button or alongside items in the list and also includes the Where list, showing every group and folder to which an item belongs. Select these to see their paths, double-click to show that group and select the item.

Each preview type now gets its own menu commands in the Preview menu. This allows for more shortcut keys, improved accessibility and easier discovery of features.

Edited items are now autosaved as versions that can be managed from within the app. Open tabs are now preserved across launches.


The Mac App Store version of Together can now share libraries and stationery between your Macs with iCloud. Apple requires that all Mac apps that use iCloud are sold through the Mac App Store.

When you create a new library with the Mac App Store version of Together, you can choose to store it on your Mac or in iCloud. Libraries stored in iCloud will be available on your other Macs.

After that, you need do nothing. iCloud ensures all your files and Together’s library is kept in sync whenever your Mac is online, so any files you add or changes you make will appear automatically on the other Macs a short time later.

Whether or not the current Together library is stored in iCloud, global stationery is always synced between Macs.


The Mac App Store version of Together is now a sandboxed application. With advances in OS X, this now means very few other differences between the two versions:

  • It’s no longer possible to store libraries on the Desktop, or link to files on the Desktop. Together will offer to move any such libraries / files.
  • Importing KIT (aka Together 1.x) libraries is no longer available (but can be done with the demo version from this site).

And Much More…

Just about every area of the app has been improved and you will notice there are as many small refinements as large ones.

Some examples: Groups can now be filtered, a new find bar for web pages and PDFs, improved highlighting for found text, dragging documents to notes inserts a hyperlink instead of embedding the file (reverse by holding on Option), relative dates are used in the item list and menus are clearer to navigate.

Also, what you see hides a multitude of changes below the surface, so that Together works as efficiently as possible and can continue to embrace the latest OS X technologies.

In many ways, Together 3.0 recaptures the simplicity of earlier versions while building on its almost decade-long legacy.


Together 3 is a paid upgrade from version 2.x. If you purchased Together from the Reinvented Software web site in the three months before its release, you qualify for a free upgrade to the new version from this site, otherwise an upgrade costs $19.99 and the full version will cost $39.99.

Free upgrades and discounts are not available for the Mac App Store version, but pricing on that version will also be reduced to $19.99 for a limited period following Together 3.0’s release, however if you purchased Together from the Mac App Store in the last 4 weeks, please get in touch.

After that promotion has ended, the Mac App Store version will also cost $39.99. This gives customers who bought through the Mac App Store a chance to upgrade at reduced cost, and allow direct customers cross-grade to the Mac App Store version should they wish.

Please try it!

Finally, anyone can try out Together 3 before buying. A 15-day demo is available for download, and the same page shows the full list of changes. Together 3 requires OS X 10.8 or later.