Work and life management with Joplin

Following a role change at work I have rather a lot more stuff to keep track of now, and my new responsibilities quickly outgrew my previous note-taking setup of plain markdown files in a notes folder. I began looking for a free, open source software solution that could better fit my needs and within a few days of trying it out, Joplin became indispensable to me.

I like that I can write notes in markdown, attach files, write clickable checklists for todo list items, link between notes, and sync the lot across my devices using my Nextcloud server. Joplin has a good cross-platform desktop app, and mobile apps are available for Android and iOS. They’re nicely-designed and have light and dark modes, which I often switch between depending on the time of day.

Privacy and security

Notes are kept private and secure by configuring end to end encryption in the apps to protect data in transit, and encrypted at rest on my server and devices. Encryption at rest isn’t something the Joplin apps currently do for you, so you’ll need to ensure your data is encrypted on your devices (and server if applicable) yourself. That’s a good practice to follow anyway, though.

Editing and organising

Simple markdown formats notes beautifully, and includes useful functionality like checklist items, links between notes, and even syntax highlighting for code snippets. Notes can be organised in to notebooks and sub-notebooks, tagged, and there’s a great global search function that you can invoke with a keyboard shortcut to search for text across all of your notebooks if you know exactly what you’re looking for but don’t want to drill down through the notebook/sub-notebook directory structure.

Try it

I encourage anyone looking for a free, private alternative to Evernote and OneNote to give Joplin a try. In the short time I’ve been using it it has really impressed me, and I’m getting so much use out of it that I’ve happily donated to the project to support the developer. I’m a lot more organised now thanks to their work!