How to install and use new Mac-style note taking app Notes in Ubuntu

Quickly jotting down whatever is there in your mind and creating to-do lists for the stuff that you want to do is directly related to your productivity, regardless of whether it's your professional or personal life. Creating notes is not a difficult thing to do per se, but still many of us ignore this simple exercise, burdening our brains with excess information.

While the good old pen-and-paper way of taking notes still works for many, if your work involves computers, you can take advantage of plethora of applications that are designed and developed specifically for note taking. If you are on Linux, and are looking for a simple and elegant note taking app, you may want to check out the appropriately named Notes, which we will be discussing in this article.

Please note that all the instructions and commands mentioned in the article have been tested on Ubuntu 16.04 LTS, and the version of the Notes app that we've used here is 0.9.0.

Notes

Notes is basically an open-source, cross-platform note taking application, available for Windows, Linux, as well as Mac platforms. According to the tool's GitHub page, Notes "has the potential to be something much bigger, and much better at empowering the people using it." The application also has a dedicated website where you can find a good overview about it.

Download and Install the Notes app

Downloading and Installing the Notes app is very easy. Just head to the Download page on the official website, and download the tool package for your system. For example, in my case, the steps that I just mentioned fetched a .deb file named notes_0.9.0_i386.deb.

Now, to install the tool, I just executed the following command:

sudo dpkg -i notes_0.9.0_i386.deb

And finally, to launch the Notes app, you can either search for the app through Unity Dash:

Ubuntu Notes app

or run the following command:

Notes

Keep in mind that in both cases you need to type 'N' and not 'n'. Otherwise, your system won't be able to find what you are looking for (I know that's counter-intuitive, and that's why it got me stuck for almost half an hour).

Notes Usage/Features

Here's the tool's UI when it's launched for the first time:

Notes features

You can't help but notice the Mac-inspired user interface. Design-wise, the tool displays a list of all the notes sorted by time in the left pane. Select a note and its content shows up in the editor (the right part of the application's window) where you can create or modify notes.

The tool creates a note - titled New Note - for you by default. As you start writing, whatever you write in the first line becomes the new title of your note. For example, I wrote "Test Note" in the first line.

Add a note with the Notes app

Click on the '+' icon over the note-taking area and a new note gets created with the same default name.

Use the plus icon

Click the delete icon on the top right to delete a selected note. Moving on, the tool also lets you easily search notes. All you have to do is to type whatever text you want to search in the search box present at the top-left of the Notes app window.

To test the search feature, I created a couple of notes over and above the first note that I created in the beginning.

Search for notes

Now, I wanted to find the note that contained the text "is another." So I just typed in these couple of words in the search box and as I finished, the result was already below the box.

Notes search result

To make your writing experience even more smooth, Notes offers the Auto Save functionality, which means that it automatically saves your notes so that you don't have to worry about hitting the Ctrl+S key combination again and again to save whatever you write.

For those who hate using mouse while typing, Notes also provides keyboard shortcuts for whatever you might want to do while working with the application. Here's the complete list of keyboard shortcuts that the app offers:

  • Ctrl + N             Create a new note
  • Ctrl + Delete      Delete selected note
  • Ctrl + F              Select the 'Search' box
  • Ctrl + E              Erase the text in 'Search' box
  • Ctrl + L              Set focus on notes list
  • Ctrl + Down       Set focus on notes list and select one note down
  • Ctrl + Up            Set focus on notes list and select one note Up
  • Down                 Select one note down
  • Up                      Select one note up
  • Enter                  Set focus on the selected note content
  • Ctrl + Shift + F    Switch to fullscreen
  • Ctrl + Shift + L    Maximize the application
  • Ctrl + Shift + M   Minimize the application
  • Ctrl + Q              Quit from the application

For the curious bunch, who are always interested in knowing more, it's worth mentioning that the Notes' GitHub webpage also contains a Wiki section where the author has shared their philosophy, explained the application's current and future design, the technology behind the tool, its current state, and more.

Conclusion

Being a basic note-taking app, Notes - I'd say - should be a good starting point for beginners. What I really liked about Notes is that its UI is really smooth to use - it's easy to create. edit, and delete notes, and not to mention the incremental search feature. Another point worth mentioning is that the tool stores the notes locally instead of cloud, something which could get a thumbs up from privacy advocates.

However, on the flip side, the tool lacks several useful features that you may find in many of its contemporaries, and NO it's definitely not an Evernote alternative. Even the author of the application effectively admits that Notes is a basic note-taking app when they say that the tool "has the potential to be something much bigger, and much better at empowering the people using it." The project is also seeking contributors, in case you're interested.

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From: Notes App at: 2016-11-07 20:32:38

Thanks for the review! Keep an eye on the progress of Notes in the coming months.

It would surely get to be a replacement for Evernote and much better than it.

More importantly, it would be a better version of itself in every iteration, hours of work our contributors have been putting into it will show up in the experience we are aiming toward - creating a great writing experience for people and a great place for your thoughts to be.