What digital note taking app are you using?

I’m interested in learning about the different kinds of note taking apps folks are using for their sutta study.

Years ago I used something called TiddlyWiki. Now the version of that that I used is so old it’s not really upgradeable. So I still use it as read only for some things.

But about a year ago after doing some research I decided to give Joplin a try. After using it almost daily for lots of note taking things, I’m quite happy with it. Some of the pluses:

  • Free and open source
  • stable but in active development with a friendly user community
  • robust plugin ecosystem with almost weekly new additions
  • free syncing using a service like drop box
  • web clipper that does a good job grabbing content from web pages
  • good search function once you learn how to use it

Lots of other things that might appeal to others, but those are the things I care about.

Down sides

  • if you want to customize the visual appearance, you need to use css (which for some people is a plus!)
  • some people find it to be a little geeky (again, might be a pluss)
  • It has a WYSIWYG editor, but the notes are really stored in MarkDown
  • The mobile app is decent, but not great. If you wanted something primarily for mobile, this wouldn’t be your thing probably.
  • the notes are stored as pure text, but are managed by a database. So you can’t access the notes directly without possibly screwing things up. However you can easily edit in an external editor through the app
  • The free app doesn’t have a web interface, meaning, you don’t have access to your notes purely through a web account and web browser

So what are other folks using?


Ah, Nice! Joplin sounds a lot like Obsidian which I just started using. Have you tried it? It’s also a database app on top of markdown files.

As I said in the other thread, I’m mostly using SimpleNote. My main reasons are its web interface (I share a laptop with other monks and occasionally share notes with other people) and blazing fast search. Seriously. I have hundreds (thousands?) of large notes and it’s the only app I’ve tried that can search through them all quickly enough for my millennial-sized attention span :joy: And I trust WordPress isn’t going anywhere.


I briefly used it, just to try it out. They are indeed very similar projects. The big advantage Obsidian used to have over Joplin was its plugin system. But now Joplin is catching up fast. People also tend to feel that O looks more “modern” but that is debatable. The main reason that people seem to use Joplin over Obsidian is that Obsidian I believe won’t always be free. But I’m not sure of the details.

I think it’s actually Automatic. But yeah, they aren’t going anywhere. I’m sure I don’t have as many notes as you, but I’ve always found the Joplin search to be instant.


What I love about obsidian is how you can create links between content/ideas. Can you do the same thing with Joplin?

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Honestly that’s not something have needed so much. How exactly does Obsidian do it?

In Joplin you can add tags to notes. You can also create links from one note to another. I know that there have been lots of plugins added recently that have to do with note linking. I should look into that.

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I mostly use VSCode and save my notes as .tex using a cloud service. I had to check Obsidian, mentioned by @Khemarato.bhikkhu, and it seems like a very powerful tool!


I been using Trello for a few years, because I like kanban boards and it’s got this dinky little ‘add card’ widget and ‘share to card’ functionality on my phone. But I’m interested in checking out obsidian now.


Oo Me too! I actually still use it for tracking bugs and feature requests for my website.


I write web interfaces that edit JSON files. Pros and cons, of course. As far as Pali is concerned I’m mostly interested in editing glosses, but it’s a pretty complicated problem and I haven’t gotten it to prime time yet. Sometimes if there’s a particular thing I want to get done and I haven’t made a web interface to do it, I just edit JSON files directly, which I think most sensible people would find un-sensible, and they’d be right!

Hope springs eternal :sweat_smile:

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I saw that Obsidian has a kanban board plugin.

Well as a user you can link to different notes or hashtags that you’ve created previously using double square brackets. So if I had previously created a note titled “Eightfold Path”, then in my note on “Right View” I can write “this is the first factor in the [[Eightfold Path]]” and it creates a link between the two.

Honestly I’ve only been using it for like 2 or 3 weeks so I’m very new to it! But I do like that it allows me to create a conceptual mindmap, which I’ve been wanting to do for ages and I know Bhante @Akaliko has as well. This is what it looks like right now.

But yeah I’ve only just started, so will share later on once it becomes more shareable! :laughing:


So does Joplin!

Joplin can do that as well, but in a slightly different way. I believe you type @@ and then get a search interface to find the note you want to link to. Because there could be more than one note titled Eightfold Path the link will include a hash(I think) specific to the one you have linked to. That’s done in the editor, but in the rendered note I think it’s just a link.

I believe that Joplin has a mind map plugin as well.

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Whoah! Amazing. My mind map ideas were simpler and more limited in scope, as learning tools for specific subjects. But I love the intensity of a whole path approach like this!

Keep us informed :slightly_smiling_face:


Not for suttas, but for an another independent study subject.

I started putting my notes online when a few years ago I lost a whole mess of text files I had on my computer.

I use Google Docs. It isn’t fancy and it can be a nuisance to learn, but I like taking notes in outline form, its free, and it does it well enough.


I live in the world of apple… don’t judge me!

I used to use Evernote and hashtag things but abandoned it for Apple Notes because I couldn’t be bothered filing, and it syncs to my laptop if I ever connect my iPad to the wifi.
I’ve dabbled in Goodnotes (not free) because it plays nicely with my Adonit pen as a left-hander. This has been my favorite way to hand annotate pdfs.
For shorter notes/journaling, counting where I’m up to in crochet and to keep tabs on my meditation hours (which I do from time to time) I’ve returned to Daily Tracker. It’s great for tallying and calendaring notes, but has no tags.

Now I’ve seen the amazing mind mapping of Obsidian, I’m keen to give it a go for sutta study.

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