Joplin Notes, a Great Open-Source Note-Taking App for All Platforms

Joplin Feature

As a person with a lot going on throughout my days, I absolutely need to have a good notes app. If I don’t have a To-Do List, I will never get anything done, and I’ll constantly forget meetings or appointments. But I’ve always had very specific requirements for my notes application.

First, it has to be powerful. Some notes applications are very simple and easy to use, but I have very granular organization requirements for my notes. Second, it has to sync to all of my devices. My iPhone, MacBook Air, my laptop and desktop running Linux, and a Windows 10 VM. How have I managed that? The answer is Joplin Notes App.

If you’ve never heard of Joplin before, it’s described on their website as, “an open-source note-taking and to-do application with synchronization capabilities.” What’s more, it’s a very powerful and flexible note-taking and to-do app that syncs across all platforms and teaches you a very useful FOSS skill along the way: GitHub-flavored Markdown, which you can edit either in the app or in your preferred Markdown editor.

Joplin Welcome Note

Installing Joplin

Joplin is available for all platforms, and it has very specific instructions on its website. It has both desktop and terminal applications, but I would personally recommend the desktop application unless you are willing to put in the effort to learn the terminal application. There are one-click downloads, but there are also several ways you can install Joplin, depending on the platform. For example, on Linux you can click to download the AppImage, or you can use the wget command as seen below to install it. 

On macOS, you can click to download the DMG, or you can use Homebrew to install the cask.

On Windows, you can click to download the executable, or you can download the terminal application via Windows Subsystem for Linux.

For both iOS and Android, it’s available in the App Store and on Google Play, respectively.

Using Joplin

Joplin is divided into two different panes: one is the Markdown editor, and the other is the Markdown interpreter. Just above the Markdown editor there are some formatting tools to give you some quick shortcuts while you get Markdown into your brain and fingers. For a quick tutorial, you can glance at the Markdown below and the text it produces. This is only a short guide, and the Welcome Note that greets you will help you considerably when learning Markdown.

Joplin Md Sample

On the left side there is navigation for notebooks in the sidebar and individual notes in the note list. You can create sub-notebooks for further organization and segmentation.

Joplin Sidebar Notelist

Another great feature of Joplin is the tag feature. If you’ve ever wanted to organize notes into multiple categories per note, the tags feature is for you. I have recipes, to-do lists, shopping lists, class notes, meeting notes, and all kinds of other tags, and I can assign one to-do list both to the to-do and shopping list tags, which makes it easy to see everything all at once while still writing notes and to-dos where it makes sense.

Synchronization in Joplin

Another great thing with Joplin is its synchronization capabilities. You can sync against many targets, including NextCloud, Dropbox, and OneDrive. The methods for configuring synchronization vary based on target and application type, so I encourage you to check out the Joplin homepage to learn more about it.

You can also implement end-to-end encryption in Joplin by simply setting a password on all your devices. This prevents anybody, even those running the servers at the synchronization target, from seeing your data, which can be a boon for privacy and security.

You should be all set to begin using your new Joplin notes app. Make sure you check out some of our other posts on notes, including ones about the best cross-platform note-taking apps and digitizing your handwritten notes.

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