Taking Notes with V-Notes

23 January, 2023

Note taking applications like Obsidian, Logseq, Craft and others have become the darlings of the personal knowledge management (PKM for short) crowd. Tools like that have many features and offer opportunities for their users to endlessly twiddle and twern to make those applications more than they are. Or, sometimes, more than they should be.

But not everyone is an adherent of PKM or of pushing tools to their limits. There are folks out there who only need something simple with which to jot down ideas or thoughts, to store that pithy quote or link or recipe. Something that’s basic, fast, and which packs few frills.

A note taking tool which fits that bill is V-Notes, a very stripped down app for the GNOME desktop. Let’s take a look at it.

Getting V-Notes

As with most software for the Linux desktop these days, you can install V-Notes using your distribution’s software centre (or whatever your distro calls that). That’s the easiest and fastest way to do the deed.

If it’s not in the software centre, you can install V-Notes using Flatpak by running this command in a terminal window:

sudo flatpak install flathub io.github.vegad.vnotes

Or, should you be the type to embrace your inner geek, download the source code and compile it yourself.

Using V-Notes

Start up the application. You get an empty canvas, as shown below:

V-Notes when you first start it up

Out of the box, V-Notes saves notes in the Documents folder in your /home directory. If you have any text files in that folder, they appear in the file list on the left of the application window. I’ll be discussing how to change that folder in a moment or three.

Create a note by clicking the New Note button in the editing area, or by clicking the + icon on the toolbar. A new tab opens, with an editing area and a formatting toolbar displayed, as shown below:

Blank note in V-Notes

Start typing. You can add Markdown formatting by hand, though there’s no syntax highlighting. You can also add bold, italics, and underlining using the buttons on the toolbar. Here’s a note that’s being worked on:

Editing a note in V-Notes

V-Notes automatically saves your notes, though I’ve found that sometimes that doesn’t work or there’s a bit of a lag.

You can disable that function (more on this in a moment) or click Save. The name of your note is taking from the first line of that note. The file is given the extension .txt. You can change that on the Save dialog box.

When you save a note, it appears in a list on the left side of the window, as shown below:

Notes list in V-Notes

Configuring V-Notes

To do that, click the chevron in the top-right of the application window and then select Preferences, as shown below:

Selecting preferences in V-Notes

There are only two options that you can change:

V-Notes Preferences dialog

You can:

As I mentioned earlier in this post, V-Notes saves your notes in the Documents folder in your /home directory. You can change that to any folder in your /home directory. If you use Nextcloud Notes, you can point V-Notes to where you store your notes in your Nextcloud sync folder.

Drawbacks of V-Notes

And there are a few of those. The most prominent one, at least for me, is the font. V-Notes uses a small sans-serif font. While I’d prefer to use a larger, monospace one, there’s no way to change the font or its size.

There’s no way to organize or categorize your notes, or mark them as favourites (which you can do in, for example, the Iotas note taking tool). You can, in your desktop’s file manager, create subfolders in the folder in which you save your notes. Those subfolders display in the notes list on the left side of the V-Notes window, as shown below:

Subfolders (added by hand) in the V-Notes file list

There’s no spelling checker, or a way to get V-Notes to work with any spelling checker.

Final Thoughts

The PKM crowd, and those who like their software complex, will undoubtedly brand V-Notes as being lacking or even useless. But they’re not the intended user base for this application.

V-Notes, despite its limitations, can be a good choice for someone with simple needs when it comes to note taking. It does the job simply and quickly, which are the features that most of us need from any application.

Scott Nesbitt