Use MyNotex as a Lightweight Evernote Alternative in Linux

Evernote is often praised as the best note-taking app. Although it’s multi-platform, Evernote doesn’t have an official Linux version; however, there are many good alternatives. MyNotex is a Linux application that doesn’t get featured on lists of Evernote alternatives, which is a shame. It provides the same core functionality as Evernote without the unnecessary bloat and expenses.

The installation is really easy. If you can’t find MyNotex in your distribution’s repositories, head to the official website. You’ll find .deb and .rpm packages as well as those for Arch Linux. You can also download the source tar.gz file, unpack it in a folder and run the “your-folder-name/opt/mynotex/mynotex” file.

On Debian, Ubuntu and Ubuntu-based systems, install MyNotex by typing

sudo dpkg -i downloaded-mynotex-deb-file.deb

or by double-clicking it in your file manager. Remember that MyNotex requires SQLite and GTK.

MyNotex is localized into several languages (French, Italian, Spanish, German…), and you can download the translation files from the official website.

To start working with MyNotex, create a new MyNotex file (“File -> New”). This file is actually a database (with .mnt extension) and it will contain all your notes. The interface is divided into sections for a better overview of your projects.

mynotex

1: “Subjects” pane on the left: a list of your Subjects (the equivalent of Evernote Notebooks);
2: “Comments” box with custom information about each Subject;
3: “Notes” list with title and date for each note within a Subject;
4: Editing area: the body of your note. Here you can format the text using the icons from the toolbar, insert images, links and files;
5: “Tags” pane with a list of all tags used within that MyNotex file. The number denotes how many times a tag was used;
6: Info area with customizable fields and navigation arrows to move between notes within a subject.

The status bar on the bottom shows which note is currently selected, when it was modified and how many characters it contains.

An example: you want all your recipes in one place. First, create a MyNotex file called “Recipes.mnt”. To organize your recipes into Subjects, make a few – either by clicking the “Add Subject” button in the toolbar or from the “Subjects -> New” menu. Let’s name them “Mexican”, “Italian”, and “Japanese”.

Your sushi recipes will be notes within the “Japanese” Subject. Create them by clicking the yellow post-it “Add Note” icon, or again, from the “Notes -> New” menu. Then you can add tags to further categorize your recipe – just type “seafood”, “healthy” and “fish” into the “Tags” area above the title. Don’t forget the commas.

mynotex-interface

Photos of sushi can be inserted by drag-and-drop into the “Attachments” area on the right, or from the Notes menu. You can attach text or PDF files, and they are automatically saved in a .zip file in the same folder as your Recipes.mnt file. MyNotex can also import text files, LibreOffice files, Gnotes and Tomboy notes, and save them as separate entries.

Every note can be exported as HTML, opened in a browser and in LibreOffice Writer, copied and pasted in LaTeX format, and printed directly from MyNotex. You can move notes between Subjects: select a note and press “Ctrl + Shift + M” or click “Notes -> Move” to initiate the dialog.

MyNotex supports Activities, which is great for project management or to-do lists. Activities are managed in a table-like pane that appears when you press “Ctrl + Shift + A” (or click “Notes -> Show activities”). The pane partially covers the note editing area, but you can resize it.

mynotex-activities

When you add activities to a note, its name will be italicized in the “Notes” list. An activity can have sub-activities – just indent them under the main activity. You can also rearrange them, copy them in a CSV format and paste into a spreadsheet software.

MyNotex has a relatively simple (and perhaps limited) “Options” dialog. You can only change basic formatting and visual features – for example, make the whole MyNotex window transparent.

mynotex-options

But don’t worry: MyNotex toolbar and menus have all the options you need. The “Search” feature lets you find notes by title, tags, and keywords. You can encrypt and password-protect notes (they’ll be colored red in the “Notes” list). The “Search within text” feature won’t look through them to protect your privacy.

To maintain your collection, use the “Tools -> Compact” option that automatically makes a backup of your .mnt file and reduces its size. You can also exchange notes and attached files between two MyNotex files, as well as set up automatic synchronization. It’s even possible to online-sync two MyNotex files on different computers. You’ll find great, detailed advice for this in the MyNotex user guide (check “? -> User manual” or the official website).

True, MyNotex lacks options that Evernote and its alternatives offer. It doesn’t have integrated OCR capabilities or online storage. You can’t automatically feed your email into it, nor can you install a dedicated browser add-on for web clipping. On the flip side, you don’t need an account to use MyNotex, and it’s completely free. There are useful templates for different purposes of MyNotex, and you can always clip web content manually and just insert it.

Have you ever tried MyNotex? How do you organize your notes and to-do lists? Jot it down in the comments.

Image credit: office note pen ipad coffee micron