Software list

There are numerous digital Zettelkasten programs available. This note collects links and pointers for choosing the right one. For comparison, see Software comparison.

Note that it is likely that the tool you use doesn’t really matter all that much. The original Zettelkasten was a huge stack of paper slips and even that worked great. There is one case where the choice of the tool has a huge impact, namely the case where the tool you use is discontinued. To avoid being left with a stack of 5000 notes that you can no longer access, prefer tools that export/save to common formats, like txt files.

Source: This is collected from this discussion thread. The discussion also lists lots of other tools by name.

Software (ordered alphabetically)

DEVONthink

Emacs

Neuron – Zettelkasten - plain-text and editor-independent

  • Platform: Linux, OS X and Windows (Windows support requires WSL)
  • Note storage: Markdown
  • Why would you choose Neuron:
    • Future-proof
    • Open source
    • Statically generated web interface
    • Folgezettel Heterarchy
    • Built on Pandoc, with note-linking support
    • Use from command-line with any editor
    • Or, use the upcoming web app Cerveau

Notion

nvALT

Passfindr – Security and Productivity

  • Platform: Android, Web
  • Note storage: Plain Text/Rich text
  • Why would you choose Passfindr:
    • Can encrypt notes
    • Plain text notes without templates. You can design each note however you wish.
    • Fast
    • Can publish notes on web

Org-roam – A plain-text personal knowledge management system

  • Platform: Windows, macOS, Linux (requires Emacs)
  • Note storage: Plain Text
  • Why would you choose org-roam:
    • Connections, backlinks and built-in graph visualization.
    • Extensible using the Emacs ecosystem
    • Open Source; licensed under GPL3
    • Inclusive and active community of users passionate about Personal Knowledge Management; on Discourse and Slack.
    • Well documented; see the manual.

Roam Research – A Note taking tool for networked thought

TiddlyWiki – A Non-linear personal web notebook

  • Platform: Web browser (self-hosted)
  • Note storage: Single HTML file
  • Why would you choose TiddlyWiki
    • Self-hosted
    • Browser based
    • Numerous plugins
    • Can typeset math
    • Network graph for exploring notes

The Archive

Trilium Notes

  • Platform: Linux, Windows, OS X
  • Note storage: SQLite + HTML
  • Why would you use Trilium Notes?
    • Fully offline, but sync server (which is also full web app) can be setup to synchronize multiple clients
    • Strong encryption of “protected notes”
    • Auto back linking and visualization of relationships between notes
    • It’s relatively easy to script the app with custom behavior
    • Automatic versioning of the notes
    • Exports to a nice directory hierarchy with MD/HTML file per note

Vim-Zettel – Zettelkasten in VIM

  • Platform: Linux, Windows, OS X, maybe others
  • Note storage is plain text/markdown/wikiformat
  • Why would you use Vim-Zettel?
    • If you already use Vim, this is a natural option
    • Backlink generation
    • Fuzzy searching
    • Custom note templates and custom file naming
    • External links
    • Link verification

Visual Studio Code

VS Code can be used with certain Markdown / Zettelkasten extensions:

  • linkist: create persistent links between markdown documents in your workspace
  • vscode-memo: Markdown knowledge base with bidirectional links built on top of VSCode (works with neuron)
  • Insert Date String. One can configure a customized ID (timestamp) when creating notes.
  • Markdown Notes. Another extension in the same genre of vscode-memo (see above). provides the links, backlinks, and tagging capabilities. Supports auto-completion via Intellisense.

Zettlr – A Markdown Editor for 21st Century

  • Platform: Linux, Windows, OS X
  • Note storage: plain text/markdown
  • Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vStbtF4_grE
  • Why would you choose Zettlr?
    • Integrates with literature managers like Zotero and JabRef. Easy citations
    • Heatmap search
    • Good language support

Storage Management (The Kasten)

Plain text, file system-based zettels will require some level of protection.

Backup

One should always backup their data. Select a mechanism for your particular operating system. For example, macOS users should include their zettels as part of the regular backup process on their machine.

Offsite synchronization and versioning

OptionDescription
Cloud synchronization (e.g., OneDrive, Google Drive, Dropbox)these provide the synchronization of data to a cloud-based server in the event of loss or theft of one’s machine.

Version control system (e.g., GitHub, GitLab, BitBucket) | These services provide offsite storage and automatic synchronization (if configured correctly). Additionally, these services provide versioning so one can track the evolution of their knowledge base. Note: this option is probably more attractive to individuals with an IT / engineering background.