Note-taking apps I’ve used from the age 9 to 27

Photo by David Travis on Unsplash

Starting with walled gardens

A Word document was my dear diary when I was 9 years old. Password protected, it felt secure enough to hide my childish thoughts from the prying eyes of my guardians. (On their defense, my privacy was always respected.)

What an embarrassment to expose my “poems” to the Internet! This is the first time I hope no one understands my native language.

Leaning towards plain text

Like OneNote and EverNote, CintaNotes is still a walled garden. Importing txt files into CintaNotes was a tedious labor. This was especially staggering to me, because I wrote most of my plain-text notes on an electronic dictionary (more on this later).

A screenshot of a folder named “Notes” showcasing some Markdown files, each being one piece of note.
A screenshot of a folder named “Notes” showcasing some Markdown files, each being one piece of note.

To share my notes online, I wrote a blog engine

When I was in high school, there was a hype of building your own websites among my friends. Some of my friends put Flash animations on their homepages, and some put blinking GIFs on their landing pages. Being a logophile, I wanted to share my writings.

A screenshot of t.t.t, my own blog engine.

Poor Markdown editors pushed me online

On macOS, I enjoyed nvALT. Sadly, it was never updated after 2017, and newer versions of macOS dropped support for it. That’s around the time when I started my graduate studies.

Earliest stories on this blog date back to 2016.

My current setup

In 2020, Zettelkasten enjoyed a surge in popularity. Following the trend, I started using Obsidian. Initially planning to keep it a more private wiki, I soon fell in love with it and migrated all my notes there. People loved my setup, too: This article of touring around my note clusters was very popular.

Graph view of my notes in Obsidian today.

Final Words

We all organize notes differently. On reflection, it seems that I have never settled with a best software to organize my digital notes. Instead, I switched between tools from time to time, leaving siloed repositories for each stage of my life.

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Ming

Ming

Tech writer with creative analogies. Website: https://myli.page | Donate: https://ko-fi.com/mingyli