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Organization is a big buzz word these days, especially because there’s so much going on at any given time what with our smartphones, our tablets, our laptops, computers, and everything else. It can be difficult to stay focused, to keep all of your ducks in line, and to make sure you don’t forget any important tasks or appointments. Most people tackle this problem through gratuitous use of note-taking apps Springpad vs Catch vs Evernote vs OneNote - Which Is Best On Android? Springpad vs Catch vs Evernote vs OneNote - Which Is Best On Android? At one time, people actually had to carry around notebooks if they wanted to take notes - remember the once-big fad of Moleskine notebooks? Nowadays, smartphones have made most pocket objects obsolete. Why carry around... Read More and to-do lists How to Stay Organized With the World’s Simplest To-Do System That Works - Todo.txt How to Stay Organized With the World’s Simplest To-Do System That Works - Todo.txt Here at MakeUseOf, we’ve covered plenty of to-do systems in the past. But if you’re like me, to-do systems can sometimes become too much work to maintain and end up costing you in productivity. I... Read More , but I submit to you a different solution: the personal wiki.

After Wikipedia took the world by storm 7 Ways To Learn Something New Every Day With Wikipedia 7 Ways To Learn Something New Every Day With Wikipedia Wikipedia is packed full of content. At the time of writing there are over 4 million articles contained within the English language version, with more being added all the time. All of these pages are... Read More , the concept of the wiki has been applied to many different realms: TV shows, video games, music databases, and more. As it turns out, the wiki is a wonderful way to keep loads of information organized in a manner that’s both legible and easily modified. But a lot of wiki software is bloated with features that are useful on a large scale but would end up being cumbersome on a smaller scale.

What if there was wiki software designed to help you out on a personal level? You could use it for anything, for example to outline your novel, keep track of home improvement projects, or plan social events. The benefit of a personal wiki is that it has all of the core features you need from a wiki, such as cross-linking pages, without the bells and whistles necessary for collaborative work. Interested? Then keep reading!

TiddlyWiki [Browser-Based]


TiddlyWiki is a neat little program. Well, technically, it isn’t even a program. It’s just an HTML file that you download and it comes packaged with a JAR file that handles the manipulation of data. In order to run it, you just open up the HTML file in a browser and you’ll see the wiki in all its glory. TiddlyWiki works in all of the major browsers, including IE, Firefox, Chrome, Opera, and Safari.

The coolest thing about TiddlyWiki is that there aren’t multiple pages; instead, you have a single page that acts as a sort of canvas and you can open and close different “tiddlers” on the page. You can think of a tiddler as a section of text. However, you can cross-link between tiddlers in much the same way that you would cross-link between pages on a wiki, which helps you stay organized. It sounds more complicated than it is. In reality, TiddlyWiki is super easy to learn and use.

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wikidPad [Windows, Mac, Linux]


In simplest terms, wikidPad is an open-source notebook that’s been designed in the manner of a wiki. More specifically, a wikidPad notebook can contain multiple pages and those pages can be cross-linked within text so you can quickly click over to new references whenever you come across them. wikidPad’s pages are named using the WikiWord convention, so each page must be titled in the style of ArticleOutline, NewTodoList, MarySueResume, etc. When you type a new WikiWord, wikidPad will automatically create a new page for it.

wikidPad is a desktop application native to Windows, but it can be installed on both Mac and Linux as long as you follow the proper instructions on site. All of the data in wikidPad is stored in plain text, but the program itself will visually alter the text to show you bolds, italics, headers, and such. However, since it’s in plain text, you can easily export your pages for use elsewhere.

Tomboy Notes [Windows, Mac, Linux]


If wikidPad proved to be too feature-rich for you, then Tomboy Notes may be the alternative you want. Like wikidPad, Tomboy is a notebook-based program with multiple pages per notebook that can be cross-linked from within each other. You won’t be forced into using the WikiWord syntax with Tomboy, but link creation will require an extra step: clicking the Link button and selecting which page you want it to link with.

The best part of Tomboy is the streamlined interface. Everything is intuitive and you’ll be able to get it up and running within minutes. And if the default Tomboy feature set isn’t enough for you, you can extend functionality using the plugin system called Add-Ins. The site has a list of top add-ins, but if you have the expertise, you could go ahead and create a few of your own. For a deeper look, check out our review of Tomboy Notes Stay Organized & Remember Everything With Tomboy Notes [Linux] Stay Organized & Remember Everything With Tomboy Notes [Linux] If the title made you think of Evernote, I don't blame you. It's a great tool which is capable of a lot, plus it syncs with whatever devices it can run on. However, Evernote is... Read More .

ZimWiki [Windows, Linux]


ZimWiki, or better known as just Zim, is similar to Tomboy in that it’s a cleaner, less advanced version of wikidPad. But don’t take that to mean that it’s worse, because it’s not. In fact, I really like Zim and it has proven useful to me on more than one occasion. We’ve written about Zim before Zim: An Easy To Use Desktop Wiki For Your Life & Everything Zim: An Easy To Use Desktop Wiki For Your Life & Everything Read More but it has progressed a lot since then and is still under active development.

One thing I love about Zim is the way it handles cross-linking: not only does a link point to a page, but each page also shows which pages link to it. In essence, all links are bidirectional. Other great features include the ability to export to HTML, tons of key bindings for efficient navigation, and a plugin system to extend functionality.

One drawback of Zim is that it feels a tiny bit unpolished, at least on Windows. Based on screenshots, it looks like it might be better polished when running on a Linux system. However, in terms of features, it’s powerful without being bloated. A good choice, for sure.


I’ve given each of these a fair trial (at least a few days of proper usage) and I have to say that I like TiddlyWiki the best. It’s fast, it’s responsive, it’s feature complete, and it’s so simple that it can be used on pretty much any computer that supports one of the main browsers. But if you want an actual desktop application instead of working inside a browser, I recommend wikidPad. If neither of these suit you, try out the others and see which ones you like.

Do you use personal wikis? Know any other personal wiki software that deserves a mention? Please share your thoughts and experiences with us in the comments!

  1. Eric
    July 28, 2016 at 12:05 pm

    The best offline/standalone wiki's for me, are the ones that save out in standard text format and don't require a cloud service to use. That being said though, with apps like WikidPad and Zim and others, if you put the folder inside a dropbox folder, it essentially gives you the ability to edit your files from anywhere if needed.

    Wikidpad is by far the most complex in terms of features and reporting and templates, however it suffers some flaws in that you cannot really organize anything very easily unless you sit there and cut and paste links from one index type page, onto another index type of page.

    Zim and others let you simply drag the entry into or on top of another entry and effectively or visually at least, it becomes a child of the parent. When you start to have more than a dozen notes, order and organization starts to become more important than sheer features.

  2. Royan
    June 21, 2016 at 5:05 am


    It is a great list, thanks for sharing it. I have tried Tiddlywiki and it is quite unique but all of the wikis you have mentioned are open source. For me, as a non tech savy person, open source gets complicated, which is why I use SaaS tools such as Knowledgebase. It serves the purpose of a private as well as a public wiki. Do you think SaaS works better for the people who can’t afford or have no clue about IT? Can you also review few of the SaaS wikis? Would love to find out which one is the best among them.

    • Joel Lee
      June 24, 2016 at 1:50 am

      Hey Royan, that's a good question. I don't have too much experience with SaaS wikis but that's definitely something that I will consider researching. If you have recommendations for any other SaaS wikis that you'd like to see compared, please let me know!

  3. Gunnar Wolpe
    January 18, 2016 at 8:20 pm

    I've been using Tomboy Notes on Linux for 7 or 8 years now, having previously been a user of a similar text-only freeform database on Microsoft Windows since the early 1990s. (Yeah, that's WIndows 3.1.) For text information, it is excellent and easy to manage, but having been a Wikipedia contributor since about 2004, I find the lack of support for images a drawback. It would be great if Tomboy Notes could support embedded thumbnails that create links to full-size photos and graphics files in PNG, JPEG, BMP, SVG and other popular formats, or had the ability to launch an external graphics file viewer/editor program when thumbnails are selected.

    Finding information in Tomboy Notes couldn't be easier: Just start typing in the Search box, and with every keystroke the selection narrows down until you wind up with just two or three notes containing the sought text. There is no complex query syntax to learn.

    One feature of Tomboy Notes that annoys me is that it mindlessly creates links to other notes even when I don't want a link, but provides no feature to individually suppress such automatic links.

  4. Jim Collins
    December 4, 2015 at 6:50 am

    Well, I don't know. I don't really think that creating a wiki like structure actually takes scuh specific programs. What I'm tryin to say here is that you can just use simple note-taking tools which allow creating links to other notes or webpages right in your text.
    Something like Evernote. Or other such programs. I'm a big Windows fan, so I prefer CintaNotes. It has all the necessary features but is much more stable with Windows.

    • Joel Lee
      December 5, 2015 at 8:25 pm

      Some programs make it much easier to do, but you're right. You should use the one you're most comfortable with. I looked into Cinta and it looks pretty cool, but the price tag is a real drag. Bummer. Thanks for sharing, Jim!

    • Eric
      July 28, 2016 at 12:11 pm

      There's one simple feature though that wiki's have vs the method you mention and that is as you are writing, a new note/page can be created by simply writing the NewlyCreatedPage as you type. It becomes a link and you click on it and it opens the new blank entry titled Newly Created Page.

      When you lated decide to rename this page, all references to it are (with the better wikis) updated automatically. When you are viewing the Newly Created Page, all incoming pages are also referenced (with the better wikis) and this can also help provide visual feedback about what other relevant pages might need attention.

      So it's almost like a live website that is constantly changing and evolving.

      With basic notes, sure, you can update links to the other text files, but it gets real old quickl to do tat.

  5. Eclipse
    January 1, 2015 at 7:26 am

    I'm writing a book and need some kind of personal wiki or notebook to keep a track of all the characters and backstory. I was considering OneNote, which is FREE and syncs to the Skycloud (with 15 gigs for free and 1 TB if you have Office365) and all my devices. But then a fatal flaw! What if I change the name of one of my characters? Does OneNote have search and replace? I can't seem to find it, and I'm desperately seeking some kind of wiki that *does* work a bit like Evernote and yet has Search & Replace. I don't think Evernote has that either!

    • Oliver
      January 25, 2015 at 5:47 am

      @Eclipse: Try Scrivener ( it was designed pretty much exactly for what you are trying to do. It is commercial software ($40) but you can try it free for 30 days.

      PS: No, I do not work for them, its just a great product for writing.

    • Jim Collins
      December 4, 2015 at 6:34 am

      Well I don't know, maybe you should just use Excel, lol.

  6. Nguyen Minh Thang
    February 3, 2014 at 8:42 am

    Hi folks, my team jut releases beta version of a great tool for personal and team documentation / wiki. It helps increase productivity of yourself and your team. Check it here:

  7. Julie S
    August 26, 2013 at 1:48 am

    I use Ema Personal Wiki on my Windows PC, saved to a DropBox folder, so that I can also access the wiki on my phone using Ema Personal Wiki for Android.

    • Lisa O
      September 2, 2013 at 1:59 pm

      First time hearing about Ema. Sounds interesting, but the latest news are three years old. What is your version of Android and what problems you have experienced so far (in both Windows and Android versions)?

    • Julie S
      September 3, 2013 at 3:45 am

      I am currently using a Sony Xperia acro S (LT26w) running Android 4.1.2, and I have not encountered any problems. I was previously using it on a Samsung Galaxy S (GT-I9000) running Android 2.3.3, and it worked perfectly on that too.

      I have used it under Windows 7 and Windows 8 desktop mode, and it works perfectly there too.

      The only issue that I have ever encountered is unlikely to be encountered by most users; escaping HTML characters using %xx works on Android but not on Windows. Use &#NNN; instead, which works on both Windows and Android.

  8. Diana B. Santos
    August 20, 2013 at 7:58 am

    Wow, thanks for sharing! I'm now using tiddlywiki thanks to you!!!
    I'm having fun using it for a story that I have to organize. :D

    • Joel Lee
      August 27, 2013 at 9:48 pm

      That's what I use it for, too. Glad it was helpful!

  9. Pablo
    August 17, 2013 at 8:42 am

    Have you tried cherrytree ( This is the only one I have found so far that does syntax highlighting. Even if you dont use syntax highlighting it handles rich text, images, basic tables, links to other text nodes, etc. But the syntax highlighting is really great if you do coding.

    • Joel Lee
      August 27, 2013 at 9:48 pm

      Not only does it look great, but it's available on both Windows and Linux. What a plus! Thanks for sharing.

  10. Eweforia
    August 16, 2013 at 7:35 pm

    A couple years ago I reviewed many of the popular "free" wiki options, and for my purposes (an online book), Google Sites ( was the most powerful and flexible. I needed a multi-level left navigation panel, the ability to customize just about everything, and personal domain name options. The online book (see is of course a work in progress, but you can see what amazing things can be done with a free tool. Of course, if Google decides to take it away--as it has done with many other useful Google tools--then I'm going to be very unhappy.

    • Joel Lee
      August 27, 2013 at 9:47 pm

      I was never happy with Google Sites but if that works for you, awesome! Never thought to use it as a personal wiki.

  11. Robert E Kraus
    August 16, 2013 at 3:05 pm

    TiddlyWiki is great. I saved it to my Dropbox and can access it from my iPhone and Tablet.

  12. El C
    August 15, 2013 at 6:02 pm

    For the geek / nerd / hacker (or -wannabes), try WOAS - wiki on a stick. See The entire wiki - the program and the data - in one self-modifying html file. I use it daily. Very compact.

    • Joel Lee
      August 16, 2013 at 6:33 am

      I was going to include it but it seems the latest version has some errors on Firefox. I just couldn't get it working even after lots of Google searches. But for those of you who can get it working, WOAS is a good alternative too.

    • Lisa O
      September 2, 2013 at 1:52 pm

      I was fan of WoaS until several Firefox iterations crashed the save function. It didn't work in my other browsers as well. After talking with fellow users and decided to face the fact that it's been quietly abandoned, I chose to find a new personal wiki. MoinMoin is my current choice but might be a little overkill, depending on your needs. I like Wixi, but somehow it won't work on my laptop.

  13. ReadandShare
    August 15, 2013 at 5:54 pm

    Thinking about getting an organizer of sorts, but have never tried one. Are these alternatives to Evernote, which I keep hearing about -- or do they do entirely different things?

    • Joel Lee
      August 16, 2013 at 6:32 am

      Evernote is definitely more powerful in that it has a lot of features, like clipping from websites and collaborating with multiple people. These personal wikis are slimmer, reduced, more focused alternatives to Evernote, I would say. The real important aspect is the interlinking between pages. These apps make it easy to do, thus organization becomes easier.

      • ReadandShare
        August 16, 2013 at 6:56 am

        Thanks, Joel.

  14. Anthony
    August 15, 2013 at 3:23 pm

    Are these all applications you run on your local machine? Did you consider online wikis? Or locally run applications that share information? Personally, I need to access the information from multiple places, and likely it won't just be me - so running locally wouldn't necessarily cover this.

    • Joel Lee
      August 16, 2013 at 6:30 am

      Yes, they are local. I think that's the whole point of a personal wiki. However, I access my ZimWiki and TiddlyWiki data from multiple computers by setting them up on Dropbox. I haven't run into any problems yet. If you don't like Dropbox, I'm sure they can be used in conjunction with a cloud storage service of your choosing.

    • TechnoAngina
      August 16, 2013 at 12:46 pm

      Tiddlywiki can be set up to run on an actual website. I think you'd get more use out of something like Evernote if you need to be everywhere though, but it seems like an awful lot of effort for something so simple doesn't it?

    • Lisa O
      September 2, 2013 at 1:55 pm

      I don't consider online wikis in because I'm not always online. Nowadays you can place these on Dropbox (or your choice sync service) to get the best of both worlds, offline and online.

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