Taking Notes with Notes-Up

8 February, 2021

How do people take notes on the Linux desktop? Let us count the ways ...

Actually, let’s not. There are just too darned many ways to do that deed.

Into that mix comes Notes-Up, a simple yet flexible app for taking, editing, and organizing notes on the elementary OS desktop. Let’s take a closer look at Notes-Up why don’t we?

Installing Notes-Up

The fastest and easiest way of doing that is through the elementary OS AppCenter. That just takes a click or two, and all the work is done for you.

If you prefer to embrace your inner geek, then you can grab the source code and compile Notes-Up yourself. I’ve never done that, so I can’t tell you how smooth or not the process is.

Regardless, let’s assume all went well and you have a copy of Notes-Up on your computer. It’s time to start working with it.

Using Notes-Up

Fire up the application. Its user interface is reminiscent of Standard Notes or Joplin.

Notes-Up when you first start it

The Notes-Up window consists of three panes:

Add a note (called a page) by clicking the New Page button at the bottom of the middle pane in the Notes-Up window. An empty editing window displays.

Editing window in Notes-Up

Click New Page in the top-left corner of the window and type a title for the note. If you don’t, New Page displays as the note’s title in the list of notes. That can get a bit confusing if you have a lot of notes and they all have that name …

From there, type your note. You can use plain text or format the note using Markdown. If you don’t know Markdown, then check out my book (which is what the link in the previous sentence points to).You can also use the buttons on the toolbar to:

Notes-Up automatically saves your notes and adds them to the All Notes list in the middle pane of the application’s window.

Creating Notebooks

Notes-Up, as I mentioned a moment ago, displays your notes in a long list in the middle pane of the application’s window. As you create more and more notes, it can quickly become difficult to find the one you’re looking for (even with the help of the built-in search function).

To better organize your notes, you can create notebooks, which are like folders that you can use to collect notes on particular topics. For example, you could have notebooks for writing ideas, drafts of blog post, quotes you’ve collected, or notes for a course that you’re taking.

To create a notebook, right click on Notebooks and select

New Notebook.

Creating a notebook in Notes-Up

Type a Name for the notebook. You can also click the Color box to add a colour to better identify the notebook. When you’re done, click Create.

Setting notebook properties in Notes-Up

Once you have a notebook or three, you can move existing pages into them by:

  1. Opening the page.
  2. Clicking Not in Notebook in the upper left of the editing window.
  3. Selecting a notebook in the box that displays.

    Moving a note into a notebook in Notes-Up

  4. Clicking Move.

Do the same thing to add a new note to a notebook.

Some Other Features

Aside from its core functions, Notes-Up has a few other useful features. Let’s take a peek at them.

If you’re not one to create notebooks, or even if you are, you can add one or more tags to your notes. Your tags appear in the left pane of the application.

Tags list in Notes-Up

Clicking a tag displays only the notes to which you’ve applied that tag in the list of notes.

You can export a note by clicking the Menu icon (which is shaped like a gear) in the top-right of the window and then selecting either Export as PDF or Export as Markdown. The Markdown export preserves all of your formatting. The PDF export looks nice, but links don’t work.

You can also select Preferences under the Menu icon.

Preferences in Notes-Up

There aren’t many options — you can set:

Notes-Up is great if you’re just starting out taking notes. If you have a bunch of notes, there’s no way to import them. You need to copy and past them into the application which, depending on the number of notes that you have, can take a bit of time and effort.

Final Thoughts

Notes-Up, as I mentioned at the beginning of this post, is simple. It isn’t packed with every conceivable feature and function. There are people out there who 1) expect their software to have all the bells and whistles (even if they rarely, if ever, use them), and 2) will turn their noses up at Notes-Up just for that.

But Notes-Up isn’t for them. It’s very well suited for someone who only takes notes using one computer and who needs simple way to organize them. And, yes, there are more than a few people who fit that bill. Notes-Up does that job and does it well.

Scott Nesbitt