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organize text notesMicrosoft OneNote is a great note-taking application that saves your notes in different folders for you, but you usually packages the files into the proprietary format that you can’t see in say, the mobile app for Dropbox, or your web browser. I’ve talked about several other open-source note-taking alternatives, RedNotebook RedNotebook Rocks as a Full-Featured Private Journal Tool RedNotebook Rocks as a Full-Featured Private Journal Tool Read More , which suits users looking for locally-stored journal entries in a chronological view, and PNotes PNotes - Fast, Lightweight, Open-Source Sticky Notes Program For Your Desktop/USB Flash Drive [Windows] PNotes - Fast, Lightweight, Open-Source Sticky Notes Program For Your Desktop/USB Flash Drive [Windows] Read More , a sticky notes program for Windows that I feel, packs more features than most other sticky notes programs.


I have found the cross-platform and open-source KeepNote project to be a very good OneNote alternative in that it integrates all notes in an Explorer-like shell so you can see and navigate through your notes more efficiently. So if you’re, say, reviewing notes for a class, you can easily view and switch back and forth between notes using the explorer. It, however, takes the word processor approach to notes, and doesn’t create free-form notes like OneNote. For free-form notes, the open-source Jarnal Take Notes & Annotate PDFs The Easy Way With Jarnal [Cross-Platform] Take Notes & Annotate PDFs The Easy Way With Jarnal [Cross-Platform] Read More does a really good job, and it lets you annotate PDF files as well! Here are the two major reasons you should check out KeepNote.

Saves In Easily-Readable HTML

Having notes in HTML format means you can view them in any browser, and have lots of ways you can format the text with indentations, fonts, pictures, and there will be no loss of those features in the end files. As soon as you create a notebook, which turns out to be folders in the main location you choose (which you can set in the Preferences), you can create pages for notes.

organize text notes

As you can see, the titles for pages are on the top right panel, as well as on the left panel. You can start typing away in the bottom panel, which is the word processor area.

manage notes

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What’s also enticing about KeepNote is that you don’t have to rely on a third-party application to jot down your notes as everything is kept in your hard drive. Backing up isn’t hard from the application either.

manage notes

You get the options to export a single notebook or everything in a zipped tarball (.tar.gz) file, and restore your backups easily.

manage notes

Use It As An Outliner

One feature I really wish Evernote had (besides better synchronization since I sometimes had issues syncing notes), is a way to organize folders or tags. I had to use names like “recipes/asian” and “recipes/pastas” in order to see the folders sorted. So then, I decided Evernote was a great idea, but it wasn’t for me. I’d just have to use Wordpad to create rich-text files and folders in Windows Explorer to see an outline, which became cumbersome when I wanted to see where I had talked about such term and search through my older files. KeepNote allows for instant organization as there is a built-in file browser with user-designated folder and note hierarchy.

manage text notes

You can link notes together just like you do in a wiki Store Your Thoughts, Ideas, Notes, ToDo's etc. on WikiPad Store Your Thoughts, Ideas, Notes, ToDo's etc. on WikiPad Read More , insert images, take and insert screenshots. Taking screenshots is always more efficient if you have keyboard shortcuts, which KeepNote aces as it provides shortcuts for nearly all the editing options.

organize text notes

Now, for the things I wish this app had would be to facilitate the copying and pasting of text. Most online apps have bookmarklets to immediately transfer over selected text and images, and the only desktop applications I have seen that do this are CintaNotes How To Sync Notes & ToDo's Across Your PCs and Mobiles with CintaNotes How To Sync Notes & ToDo's Across Your PCs and Mobiles with CintaNotes Read More and QuotePad Use QuotePad To Take Quick Notes & Set Reminders [Windows] Use QuotePad To Take Quick Notes & Set Reminders [Windows] Read More . If you’re looking for more note-taking applications, check out this post on multi-platform notebooks 5 Great Multi-Platform Tools to Take Quick Notes Anywhere 5 Great Multi-Platform Tools to Take Quick Notes Anywhere Read More .

What’s your favorite note-taking application? Also do you know of any other alternatives to OneNote?

Photo credit: Dvortygirl

  1. Jules
    February 15, 2011 at 3:26 am

    Workflowy.com is simple and efficient!

  2. Jules
    February 15, 2011 at 4:26 am

    Workflowy.com is simple and efficient!

  3. Melvyn
    February 8, 2011 at 7:20 am

    I'm constantly looking for the ideal note taking app. My needs however also include iPhone and iPad apps with full cloud-based sync between them and my ThinkPad. Evernote would be great if it allowed for rich text notes on the mobile devices. Currently it only allows you to 'view' such notes. I want to use formatting on all my devices - shouldn't be too much to ask! The other possibility is OneNote but the first version of the mobile client is very weak. I have hopes though... :)

  4. tagus
    February 8, 2011 at 2:53 am

    Currently I am using 'portable' evernote from old version and not doing any synchronisation for my work related. I also use cintanote for my personal one, since I found that later & give it a try.
    I really looking for this kind of application that can be update by couple users (multi-user) so I can update together with my colleagues, but yet still simple (and importantly have to be portable). Had tried couple others but no luck so far.

  5. pdrift
    February 8, 2011 at 2:22 am

    I've been using keepnote for a few months and I like it so far. You can keep your notes synched across multiple computers by using dropbox.
    Just save your notebook to a folder in your dropbox and then on another computer with dropbox install keepnote and open the notebook you saved in dropbox.

    • Jessica Cam W.
      February 8, 2011 at 2:35 am

      Great tip!

  6. tagus
    February 8, 2011 at 3:53 am

    Currently I am using 'portable' evernote from old version and not doing any synchronisation for my work related. I also use cintanote for my personal one, since I found that later & give it a try.
    I really looking for this kind of application that can be update by couple users (multi-user) so I can update together with my colleagues, but yet still simple (and importantly have to be portable). Had tried couple others but no luck so far.

  7. el tio ska
    February 8, 2011 at 1:33 am

    Hmm, this seems like a great app. Last year, one thing that had kept me from moving to linux, believe it or not, was the note-taking app. I use KeyNote (http://code.google.com/p/keyno... religiously and hadn't so far found a note-taking app that keeps that tree structure. I find that it keeps my thoughts more organised. I started using Evernote more and more, but it still doesn't give me that tree-structure I so much crave! Great find!

  8. pdrift
    February 8, 2011 at 3:22 am

    I've been using keepnote for a few months and I like it so far. You can keep your notes synched across multiple computers by using dropbox.
    Just save your notebook to a folder in your dropbox and then on another computer with dropbox install keepnote and open the notebook you saved in dropbox.

  9. el tio ska
    February 8, 2011 at 12:33 am

    Hmm, this seems like a great app. Last year, one thing that had kept me from moving to linux, believe it or not, was the note-taking app. I use KeyNote (http://code.google.com/p/keynote-nf/) religiously and hadn't so far found a note-taking app that keeps that tree structure. I find that it keeps my thoughts more organised. I started using Evernote more and more, but it still doesn't give me that tree-structure I so much crave! Great find!

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