ZIM – A Desktop Wiki / Note Taking App [Linux, Windows]

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According to Wikipedia: “a wiki is a collection of webpages which users are allowed to modify”.

Wikis are great for collaboration and note taking. Web workers have been using it to collaborate, Ubuntu has been using it, we use it here at MakeUseOf. However if you don’t have a web server and can’t install Wiki online, the next best thing is to have a wiki on your desktop.

ZIM is one such package that helps you create a wiki on your desktop. Or in other words you can use it as an excellent note taking application.

ZIM is a WYSIWYG text editor which aims to bring the concept of a wiki to your desktop. So why would you need a wiki on your desktop?

Well, here are some things you can do with it :

  • Create TODO lists
  • Create a notebook to keep important ideas or a general scrap book to note down your thoughts.
  • You may then export it in HTML format and view them in a browser just as you would view webpages.
  • Any other creative non-traditional ideas?

So it’s a note taking application. Why ZIM then? Just have a look at some of the features of ZIM:

  • Saving transparently as you type and finish.
  • You can even have a revision control of your notes/pages
  • You can embed images as well (I missed it badly in Tomboy). Just link to them from within the text file.
  • You can use the wiki syntax and keybindings or the editor to style and manage your notes/lists.
  • It also supports plugins to perform tasks like spell checking, export, calendar, todo list and more.

Here is a small screenshot tour to give you an idea of some of the capabilities:

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Open or create a new notebook:

zim wiki desktop

Type in the notes with all the formatting using either the wiki syntax or the toolbars or shortcut keys:

zim - wiki notepad

Manage Plugins:

wiki notes

Using the calendar and plugins:

wiki notebook

Export to HTML or another format using a variety of options.

The notes are stored as text files with wiki markup. This means that you can edit them with other applications as well. With the keybindings and wiki syntax, ZIM has become my favorite and I seldom use Tomboy now. If you are using Ubuntu, ZIM is just a command away:

sudo apt-get install zim

If you are using another distribution then you might want to check out your package manager. Nevertheless, here is the download page.

ZIM can be used on Windows as well, only you require the gtk+, perl and gtk-perl bindings. Also check out the instructions for Windows Install. Try it and let us know how you liked it or do you use another note taking application? I know BasKet can do similar things but I am not a big KDE fan.

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13 Comments - Write a Comment


Mackenzie Morgan

Can you take notes that include LaTeX like you can with Tomboy + the Tomboy LaTeX plugin?


The EquationEditor plugin uses latex. It could be used for things other than equations by modifying the standard template.


Varun Kashyap

Yes, I have used been using LaTeX to insert mathematical symbols and equations in notes and it works seamlessly



You can even have a revision control of your notes/pages

Revision control (one of the most important features imo) is supported as of v0.26, however Intrepid Ibex only includes v0.25 ! Installing v0.26 with APT is only possible with Debian Unstable or a more recent derivative thereof than Intrepid…

Although it doesn’t really require installation… Just download the most recent version (available as .tar.gz) from either the author’s website or Launchpad, extract it, and run ./Zim-0.26/bin/zim

Importing your Tomboy Notes can be done using the tzim.py script.



Here another great alternative: tiddlywiki.com/



When I saw this article, like ‘BlackMamba’, I also thought of Tiddlywiki (which is a true web page and accessible with any modern browser – no server required). Zim is a desktop application and should fall under the heading of a PIM, textual database or organizer.

For this type of need, I use Keynote (highly recommended):

Now Open Source:


For windows users of course, cross platform solutions are much better, what is at the site you recommend is not very encouraging, maybe you could see if the source code can compile in Lazarus to run on Linux


Does this mean to say that keynote now works in Linux? That’s great news, as it was one of the programs that leaves me stuck to Windows. Tried Zim and Basketcase but:
1) I’ve got a lot of stuff on KeyNote and it’s a bugger to transfer to others;
2) They’re not the same in functionality.
3) KeyNote doesn’t work well with WINE on Linux (at least it didn’t on my machine with Ubuntu 8.10!)
4) Does anyone know of a replacement for RoughDraft for Linux? (http://www.salsbury.f2s.com/rd.htm)


Daniel Saunders

I think Zim is great. I use it to take all my notes at college and it works a charm. I find that being able to use Wiki-like syntax for formatting is much easier than twisting my hands to do ctrl-i and the like.

The one feature I’d love to see would be a way to create tables. Currently, I have to make them manually by aligning things with tabs, but table markup would be great!

I’ve used tiddlywiki for things in the past as well, and it too is great. The big difference for my usage is the way that Zim is constantly saving the file, whereas with tiddlywiki you need to close the tiddler to force a save. Also, just being able to press Ctrl-r to get all your formatting displayed in Zim is much nicer than having to stop editing in tiddlywiki and then look over the displayed tiddler.



Another great option for this kind of wiki note taking is Luminotes, a personal wiki notebook that you can either use online or as a desktop application.


Haeja Franca

Are there any apps that combine the features of Notezilla + Rainlendar in one? I’m always on the look out for apps that offer more and are lightweight as compared to individual apps.


Dotan Cohen

I have been using Zim for about two years now and I love it. The developer is very open to new ideas and bug reports.


Ram N

This is one swell application. Iam glad I read this post.

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