Two Keyboard-Driven Note Taking Apps for the Linux Desktop

26 April, 2021

Ah, the mouse … It made computing so much easier for so many people. Why memorize a bunch of arcane commands when you can point and click?

There are times, though, when a mouse just gets in your way.

Some people, believe it or not, work better with just their keyboards. Using combinations of keystrokes and navigation keys makes them more efficient and more productive, even in a graphical environment.

One task that lends itself quite well to being keyboard driven is note taking. Let’s take a quick look at two note taking applications for the Linux desktop that work better with just a keyboard.


Whether it actually does or not, nimblenote seems to take its cue from nvALT (an open source note taking tool for Mac OS). While nimblenote is a bit more stripped down than nvALT, it’s still effective.

You install nimblenote using using a Snap package, which can do from the terminal by typing snap install nimblenote. When you first fire it up, you get some help text to orient you.

nimblenote when you first start it up

Type the name of your first note in the search box at the top of the window, and then press Enter. From there, start typing. nimblenote automatically saves your note as you type.

Taking notes in nimblenote

You can create notes, tasks lists, and checklists. nimblenote highlights basic Markdown formatting that you add to a note. It also supports what that developer calls Markdown actions. When you press ALT+Enter while beside a checklist box or link, nimblenote marks the checklist item as complete or opens the link, respectively.

When you’re finished typing a note, press Esc to go back to search box. As you accumulate notes, a list of them displays under that search box. If you have a lot of notes, you can type part or all of the name of the one that you want to find in the search box to filter the list.


The developer’s website states that Notorious is Made for power users. Don’t let that put you off. Even if you’re not a power user, you might find Notorious useful.

In many ways, Notorious is similar to nimblenote — right down its appearance and basic functions. That’s not to imply that Notorious is a copy of nimblenote. It’s more than that.

You can install Notorious using Flatpak or grabbing and compiling its source code. There’s also a package for Arch Linux.

The first time you start Notorious, you get a blank canvas.

Notorious after you start it up

Type the title of your first note (or any subsequent note that you create) in the search box at the top of the window and then press Enter. From there, start typing.

Taking a note with Notorious

When you finish working on a note, press Esc to return to the search box. When you have several notes, you can type all or part of the name of the one you want to find in the search box. If you need help with Notorious’ keyboard shortcuts, press CTRL+? to open a help page.

Notorious also has some useful configuration options. You can:

Setting preferences in Notorious

None of that makes Notorious heavy. It’s still quite a light and snappy tool.

nimblenote and Notorious aren’t for everyone. But if you need something light and keyboard driven with which to take notes, then give them a look. You might find one (or both) to be what you’re looking for in a desktop note taking tool.

Scott Nesbitt