Amnesia is a Mac app (with an iOS companion app) for developers, writers, and other knowledge workers who often do focused work and/or research. It's your own personal, private search engine for remembering everything that's important to you and helps you get your work done.
When Amnesia is running in the background on your Mac, it will remember your web browsing history just like Safari, Chrome, and Firefox already do, but combine every web page you visit across all your browsers into a single history. But the app goes further than that.
Your web browser only remembers the URL and title of the pages you visit. Amnesia remembers....
Say a few months ago you read an article on a blog you came across via a link on Twitter. It had some vital piece of information that you didn't know you needed then, but you do now. Worse, you can't remember the name of the website, and your frantic Google searching isn't finding it either.
Searching your browser history won't work unless you know the domain name or the title of the web page.
But Amnesia allows you to search the full text contents of every website you ever visited. And not the way Google searches the web. Search engines only let you find what's on a website right now. Amnesia remembers the contents of the page when you visited it. So, if a website goes down, or an article gets updated, or anything else changes, you'll still be able to find it.
If you know you're going to be working on a specific task - say fixing a bug or adding a new feature to an app, or writing an article for your editor, or preparing for a meeting with a client - you can start a new Session in Amnesia. And while that session is active, not only will Amnesia remember every URL you visit, but it will also take an actual snapshot of the web page that you can refer to later.
Amnesia Snapshots can be one or two things:
- An actual image of the entire web page. It's the same thing you'd see if you were to take a screenshot of your browser window. This is great for reviewing content that might later change or be removed from the web.
When you're done with a session, it's archived and grouped with all the others by date. And you can also add a title and notes to the session. So six months from now when you're finishing up your graduate school thesis, and you need to add in one more quote from that scientific study you read a few months ago, you can go back in time and visually browse and revisit the web exactly as it looked when you were doing your initial research.
You can also turn off automatic history recording and instead use Amnesia as a private bookmarking app. Just click the Amnesia button in your browser toolbar and the app will take a snapshot of the page which you can then tag and sort into groups.
All of the content you save is fully searchable. But sometimes just searching by a few keywords might not find exactly what you're looking for. You might end up with too many results. That's why Amnesia offers powerful filtering options.
You can search by keyword and then narrow down the results filtering by:
- Web page title
- Web page meta description
- Date visited
- If the web page has a snapshot or not
- What computer you were using
- What web browser you were using
- For laptop users, your location at the time you visited the website
And all of those options can be combined in any way you like. With a few clicks you could get a list of every web page you visited in March of 2019 in Firefox on your work laptop while at a particular coffee shop that contains the word "Japan".
Did I mention that all of this data syncs between all of your devices? You can use the iOS app to search your history and view your bookmarks while away from your Mac. And if you're using another app on your phone - email, Twitter, Safari, etc - you can share a URL directly to Amnesia for safekeeping.
And I'm slightly hesitant to even mention this quite yet - but I've also found a way to (optionally) remember everything you visit in mobile Safari on your iOS devices, too, that I think will be approved by Apple.
I completely realize that web browsers are privy to our most personal and private information. We literally type our darkest fears, desires, and personal information into Google. That's why every feature of Amnesia can be turned off or on at any time to your liking. It's not possible to run Amnesia "hidden" on your Mac. When running, the app is always visible in your Dock and shows a conspicuous recording indicator if a recording session is active. And if you quit Amnesia, absolutely nothing will be saved or monitored.
Further, no data ever leaves your device or in any way goes through any type of server or system that I or any other 3rd party have access to. The only exception to that, of course, is if you choose to sync your data through iCloud. In that situation the safety of your data is up to Apple and how much you trust them. I will say that I'm working towards adding an option to encrypt your data in iCloud, too, but that's not quite ready yet.
That's Amnesia. I've been using it for a while now and already find it incredibly useful in my day-to-day work when I need to reference something I did weeks ago.
If you're interested in giving it a try, feel free to reach out. Please know that it's still very much a work in progress, but core functionality and the guts of the app are mostly in place.
Amnesia requires a browser extension to record your history. The extension for Safari is included in the app and can be enabled in Safari's Preferences.
The Chrome / Brave extensions will need to be installed manually. Because it has not yet been approved by Google, you'll need to unzip the file and load it as an "unpacked extension".
An extension for Firefox is being worked on.
Here's a bunch of annotated screenshots from the app...