Joplin

It’s spring. Well, late spring by the time you read this. And spring at our house has always meant cleaning, organizing, and gardening. As you might imagine I spend a fair amount of time reading stuff on the internet. Everything from research papers to social media. And there are a fair number of things I read that I’d like to be able to find again. I also spend a fair amount of time in meetings and take notes as my memory ain’t what she used to be. Organizing and remembering are the two things that Evernote used to be good at, but I’ve made the switch to Joplin and maybe you should too.

Way back in 2014, I wrote a piece on Evernote. It, to me was the perfect internet junk drawer. Just grab anything and everything and throw it in. Search for it later. Simple. But as time passed it got increasingly complex and expensive. It still “works” but I wondered if there might be a better option. After a fair amount of time, I narrowed the replacement options down to Obsidian and Joplin. Obsidian is a very powerful tool. It’s what I would probably use if it was only me, but I’m trying to help Mrs. Answer Guy off of Evernote too, so enter Joplin.

Joplin is Evernote simplified. Everything in Joplin is in Markdown format. Markdown is a bit like HTML in that it is a markup language using special symbols to indicate bold, italic, list, header, etc. The advantage of that is it’s not proprietary. No one owns Markdown. No one can start charging you for it.

Joplin is open source and has a strong emphasis on privacy. It stores the notes you take where you want, not on a Joplin server. It supports end-to-end encryption, meaning it writes, sends, and stores notes encrypted.

Joplin does support structuring your information into notebooks and subnotebooks, but more importantly, it supports tagging. If you’ve used Gmail, tags are like labels. Tags mean that a note can belong in more than one group of notes. This is extremely useful for searching but also for discovering relationships in data.

Joplin has a fairly user-friendly interface. And supports writing notes in a way that’s familiar to anyone who’s used rich text in Word, or Pages. The text is converted to Markdown in the background. There are a few limitations as not all possible rich text options are possible in Markdown, but I’ve run into none in practical usage. One practical limitation compared to Evernote is Joplin won’t store a video or music file internally. It will store a link to it, so if you are offline the link may not work.

Joplin is fully accessible offline as you control where the notes are stored. Joplin also supports syncing between devices. Joplin is free to use but does support a subscription service that could be purchased to support synchronizing all your notes between devices. I found it extremely easy to set up syncing using Google Docs. Dropbox and other methods are supported as well.

So, if you’re looking for a notes shoebox that you can organize and find stuff easily later, especially if you’re an Evernote user and looking for a change, try Joplin.