Productivity on Linux: 7 Apps for Note-Taking

Danny Stieben 12-01-2015

As a college student, it’s important to be able to write down notes efficiently and find them quickly when needed. As a Linux user, you sadly won’t have access to official desktop clients for Evernote, OneNote, and Simplenote. However, that doesn’t mean that you can’t get stuff done, including writing notes.


Here are seven different applications you can use to write notes and increase your productivity. Do note that several popular note-taking services do have web versions available, but we’re going to assume that you know about them and will instead focus on alternative desktop applications you can use.


Xournal is a fantastic and capable tool to use for writing notes Xournal - A Great Note-Taking Application For Linux There are many applications out there that try to make your life easier by letting you take useful notes that you can search and manipulate in a number of ways. Some of these programs do... Read More . Although it doesn’t have its own organization features (you can just save notes as files and organize them into folders), it does offer something most don’t: the ability to create hand-written notes.

Like on any operating system, the effectiveness of creating handwritten notes depends on whether you have a touchscreen or some pen input device, but it can prove to be extremely helpful if you can make full use of all its features. And yes, you can also just type notes on Xournal as well.


Tomboy is another fantastic note-taking application 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 that I highly recommend. Although after some use it’ll remind you of sticky notes, it can also be used for longer notes if necessary. It’s very easy to organize notes and it includes one of my favorite features: links. Especially in school, you can have various notes correspond to various topics or chapters. Whenever a future note references previous content, you can just create a link to that earlier note so that when you study, you can click on the link and it’ll instantly pull up the relevant information. Links make it extremely easy to get the information you need.

There’s also a clone of Tomboy called Gnote which looks and behaves exactly the same, except that it is written in C++ rather than Mono, making it faster and more lightweight. Gnote does lag just a little bit behind Tomboy as it takes a bit of time for Gnote to replicate Tomboy’s newer features, but there have been very few new features introduced lately.



If you do still want an unofficial Simplenote client, take a look at nvPY. Quite honestly there’s not a whole lot to it, but it does let you access and edit your notes on the service. Once you install it, you’ll need to create a new file in your Home folder with the name “.nvpy.cfg” without the quotes but don’t forget that leading period. Inside it, paste the following:

sn_username = username_replace_me
sn_password = password_replace_me

Of course, you should switch out the temporary values with your actual username and password. That being said, if you don’t like having your Simplenote password stored in plaintext, then you’re out of luck. Or consider encrypting your Linux and/or home partition.

NixNote and GeekNote

Likewise, if you want an unofficial Evernote client, then check out NixNote. Formerly known as Nevernote, this application will let you access and manage all of your Evernote notes Access Your Evernote Data With The Open Source Client Nevernote Linux users have long been used to the fact that a lot of online services that also offers its own optional client generally doesn't have one for Linux. Instead, they have to use the service... Read More . The interface is very clunky, however, and therefore doesn’t provide a very great experience. That said, if you’d like to be able to access your notes locally rather than via the web interface, this is definitely an option.


Interestingly enough, there’s also an Evernote client available that’s accessible through the command line. GeekNote [Broken URL Removed] will let you create and edit notes on your Evernote account, which could be useful if you find yourself using the terminal quite a bit or would like to save snippets directly from the terminal.


RedNotebook is another interesting option that uses calendar navigation to go through notes. As such, this would be a good application to use for a diary, journal, or other time-sensitive purposes. It lets you add various formatting to your notes, perform live searches across all of them, and even export your notes to multiple formats.

Future Pick: Springseed

Springseed is interesting because it isn’t available yet, but shows quite some promise as a useful note-taking app. It’s well designed, follows a simple Notebook –> Notes organizational structure (definitely not unique, but it’s a good structure), and supports Markdown. There’s even support for making code blocks to make your notes look good and provide syntax highlighting. It appears as though Springseed will be available for Mac OS X and Ubuntu at some point in the future.

Unhindered Productivity

With these seven options for note-taking, you should be able to pick a few and get right to work. Just because official apps from popular services may not be available on Linux does not mean that you can’t create a workflow that’s perfect for you. If you are in fact in school and need an education-oriented distribution to help you out, check out our comparison of Edubuntu and UberStudent Edubuntu Vs UberStudent: Return To College With The Best Linux Distro School is almost back in session! For Linux users, there are two top-notch distributions out there specifically aimed towards education: Edubuntu and UberStudent. Read More .


What’s your favorite note-taking application or service? Let us know in the comments!

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  1. Friar Tux
    September 8, 2018 at 5:42 pm

    Sorry, Cherrytree by Giuseppe Penone, absolutely beats out all of the above. I know as I've tried them all and keep going back to Cherrytree. Have been using Cherrytree for a long time. It rules.

  2. Grady
    July 15, 2017 at 3:25 pm

    I have found XPAD to be very useful as it is always in the systray and so easy to find my existing notes.

  3. Anonymous
    January 5, 2016 at 6:24 pm

    I can also recommend QOwnNotes ( in combination with ownCloud (

  4. Pauline valley
    May 31, 2015 at 5:03 am

    Cloud keep by Google access your notes through your phone/tablet or chrome

  5. Greylocks
    January 14, 2015 at 12:26 pm


    "Future Pick: Springseed

    Springseed is interesting because it isn’t available yet"

    Quoted from the article which is dated January 12th 30, 2015 :P

  6. Jeff
    January 14, 2015 at 8:54 am

    What are you talking about? Springseed's been available for a while now.

    • DWS
      April 10, 2015 at 8:00 am

      But it is very buggy.

  7. Greylocks
    January 14, 2015 at 4:01 am

    Springseed is now available for Ubuntu 13.10 and later. As of 2015.01.13

  8. Age
    January 14, 2015 at 1:45 am

    I use ZIM ( I tried most of the programs posted and settled on zim.

  9. Andy
    January 13, 2015 at 6:24 pm

    Emacs. Org-Mode.

    The learning curve is steep, but worth it. Especially if you otherwise tend to live in Emacs, as I do. There are mobile apps available for iOS and Android and it can sync via GitHub, Dropbox, etc.

  10. teresaejunior
    January 13, 2015 at 4:40 pm

    CherryTree is still the best

    • me
      November 24, 2015 at 2:43 pm

      CherryTree author is facist.

      • Teresa e Junior
        November 24, 2015 at 2:45 pm

        Haha, lol why?

  11. FredW
    January 13, 2015 at 1:34 pm

    I forgot Gringotts. It is a not taking app that stores all of its data in an encrypted file.

  12. João Patrício
    January 13, 2015 at 1:33 pm

    I use basket. for me the best note, idea grabber tool.

  13. FredW
    January 13, 2015 at 1:28 pm

    I have used several different techniques and have yet do decide on what I like best.

    From the command line I use Hypertext Notbook (hnb). I keep that running in a screen session that I can ssh into. This is where I keep private information like passwords.

    I originally used ZIM but notes are hard to access remotely other than by vnc.

    What I use for most information now is tiddlywiki. I can place it up on a webserver I control or use to host it.

  14. John
    January 13, 2015 at 11:57 am

    I personally use Memo ( Very flexible.

  15. Mo
    January 13, 2015 at 11:28 am

    Gnome Notes is pretty good. Simple and easy to use.

  16. Arun
    January 13, 2015 at 11:24 am
  17. gfavaro
    January 13, 2015 at 10:49 am

    Take a look at Zim Wiki (, its support markdown and stores all notes as plain text, so you can read in any text editor.

  18. dave darr
    January 12, 2015 at 4:54 pm

    I personally like using cherrytree.

    • jagmint
      March 17, 2015 at 1:23 pm

      Cherrytree is awesome for taking linear notes. But when it grows bigger there is little delay to access notes especially when it has images. Also when you copy-paste something from internet, especially if it has links and photos, it takes really so much time.
      Nevertheless its an awesome note taking program, the only thing i dislike is the toolbars which are fixed and can't be moved around