Recently, I realised that my heap of notes has grown too big, difficult to handle and includes notes stored in various formats. Looking for ways to escape from what is gradually turning into hurt locker, I read about the Zettelkasten approach and found the idea interesting and worth trying.

Having tried a few pieces of Zettelkasten software, I can say that I am not fully satisfied with any of it.

The closest candidate is Zettlr. The note database is stored as the set of tagged and linked md-files. The only thing I dislike about Zettlr is its being a Javascript Electron-based software. I just don't like this kind of programs (I am not explaining why here, because I don't don't want to waste your time). Also, it has certain limitations, for example, inability to export selected list of notes (to be fair there is a very inconvenient workaround; the lead developer promised to implement this functionality, but you know how it goes «We shall do that, but only after we do some other things, that requires time...»; well, that is generously given to the people for free, so no complaints, but a limitation remains limitation).

There is this software called Zkn3. The interface is a bit (over)complicated (ideally, there should be no need to use mouse at all while taking notes), but I could live with that. The deal breaker is the fact Zkn3 stores notes in its own format (and people report that transferring the whole heap notes into another formats is problematic). It means you are tied to this software. No good thing.

I tried a few more but spare you from reading too much.

Here is the list of criteria, the ideal software should meet (of course, from my own perspective only):

  1. to work with notes stored separately in form of md-files or some other mark-up text format (I wonder if it can be LaTeX, which I like enormously).
  2. to store tags within note's body.
  3. to be written in some language designed for creating programs in the first place, not Javascript or some thing.
  4. to be «serious software» (by this I mean it is not to be developed by one person who, as of tomorrow, may jump to conclusion that maintaining it has become way too heavy burden). Surely, there is no way to guarantee this, but I am talking about reasonable expectations.
  5. to run on various OSes (Windows, Linux, Android in my case).
  6. to be an off-line tool.

Like every one else on this planet I would prefer open source software or, at least, freeware, but I don't mind to pay certain amount for some thing worthy.

I shall be grateful for any suggestions.

  • I am happy with Joplin: joplinapp.org - don't know which language this is written in
    – user14090
    Commented Dec 18, 2020 at 12:31
  • @a_horse_with_no_name Thank you for the tip! I tried it as well. It looks like JS program, but non-typical one, I must admit that I like it. Unfortunately, it stores notes in sql database. So no way to access them without Joplin or sql software.
    – S. N.
    Commented Dec 18, 2020 at 13:37
  • You can export all notes to markdown or HTML
    – user14090
    Commented Dec 18, 2020 at 13:39
  • 1
    @Izzy Thank you very much! Qownnotes meets all the criteria I listed, in deed. Also, I am pleased to say that the list of software you have on your page is most helpful. So are other links. You did marvellous job collecting all this info. Handy stuff, really. Thank you for sharing it! If you convert you comment to an answer I would be glad to accept as the answer.
    – S. N.
    Commented Dec 22, 2020 at 15:14
  • 1
    @all If you are interested in what is discussed in this thread, please take time to have a look at Izzy's list and links. I don't think you are going to regret it.
    – S. N.
    Commented Dec 22, 2020 at 15:14

1 Answer 1


QOwnNotes seems to meet all your requirements:

Screenshot of QOwnNotes (source: QOwnNotes; click to enlarge)

  • notes stored separately in form of md-files or some other mark-up text format: Yes, Markdown even is its primary format
  • to store tags within note's body: it somewhere stores tags, but I didn't check where exactly (it's quite a while ago I used it last)
  • written in some language designed for creating programs in the first place: no Elecrap or NopeJS, don't you fear 😂 The "Q" should stand for Trolltech's Qt.
  • serious software: it's been around for many years, and still well maintained AFAIK. So: Yes again.
  • run on various OSes (Windows, Linux, Android in my case): Windows & Linux definitely, macOS as well. Android isn't listed on their installation page, but my corresponding app list gives you a few candidates. My sister is quite happy with Carnet, for example. I'm using Markor.
  • off-line tool: no laundry, no line. No need to be "on line" when writing (we did that in elementary class but have grown out of it… A network connection will be needed for synchronisation, but that can be performed by other means.

That being said, some side-notes to other readers:

  • TagSpaces is cross-platform as well, being a PWA (Progressive Web App – and thus not meeting requirement #3). Their Android app can be found in my repo, their app on Play is outdated.
  • a long list with further alternatives can be found in this answer on a similar question.

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