Joplin: The True Open Source Evernote Alternative

Brief: Joplin is an open source note taking and to-do application. You can organize notes into notebooks and tag them. Joplin also provides a web-clipper to save articles from the internet.

Joplin: Open source note organizer

Joplin Logo

If you like Evernote, you won’t be too uncomfortable with the open source software, Joplin.

Joplin is an excellent open source note taking application with plenty of features. You can take notes, make to-do list and sync your notes across devices by linking it with cloud services like Dropbox and NextCloud. The synchronization is protected with end to end encryption.

Joplin also has a web clipper that allows you to save webpages as notes. The web clipper is available for Firefox and Chrome/Chromium browsers.

Joplin makes the switch from Evernote easier by allowing importing Evernote files in Enex format.

Since you own the data, you can export all your files either in Joplin format or in the raw format.

Features of Joplin

Joplin Featured

Here’s a list of all the features Joplin provides:

  • Save notes into notebooks and sub-notebooks for better organization
  • Create to-do list
  • Notes can be tagged and searched
  • Offline first, so the entire data is always available on the device even without an internet connection
  • Markdown notes with pictures, math notation and checkboxes support
  • File attachment support
  • Application available for desktop, mobile and terminal (CLI)
  • Web Clipper for Firefox and Chrome
  • End To End Encryption
  • Keeps note history
  • Notes sorting based on name, time etc
  • Synchronisation with various cloud services like Nextcloud, Dropbox, WebDAV and OneDrive
  • Import files from Evernote
  • Export JEX files (Joplin Export format) and raw files.
  • Support notes, to-dos, tags and notebooks.
  • Goto Anything feature.
  • Support for notifications in mobile and desktop applications.
  • Geo-location support.
  • Supports multiple languages
  • External editor support – open notes in your favorite external editor with one click in Joplin.

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Installing Joplin on Linux and other platforms

Joplin app in Ubuntu

Joplin is a cross-platform application available for Linux, macOS and Windows. On the mobile, you can get the APK file to install it on Android and Android-based ROMs. You can also get it from the Google Play store.

For Linux, you can use AppImage file for Joplin and run the application as an executable. You’ll have to give execute permission to the downloaded file.

Experiencing Joplin

Notes in Joplin use markdown but you don’t have to know markdown notations to use it. The editor has a top panel that lets you graphically choose the bullet points, headings, images, link etc.

Though Joplin provides many interesting features, you have to fiddle around on your own to check things out. For example, the web clipper is not enabled by default and I had to figure out how to do it.

You have to enable the clipper from the desktop application. From the top menu, go to Tools->Options. You’ll find the Web Clipper option here:

Joplin Web Clipper
Enable Web Clipper from the desktop application first

The web clipper is not as smart as Evernote’s web clipper that allows to clip portion of a web article graphically. However, you still have good enough options here.

It is an open source software under active development and I do hope that it gets more improvement over the time.

Conclusion

If you are looking for a good note taking application with web-clipper feature, do give Joplin a try. And if you like it and would continue using, try to help Joplin development by making a donation or improving its code and documentation. I made a sweet little donation of 25 Euro on behalf of It’s FOSS.

If you have used Joplin in the past or still using it, how’s your experience with it? If you use some other note taking application, would you switch to Joplin? Feel free to share your views.

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  • “Under active development” must be taken with a large grain of salt.

    Due to its nature of being basically a personal project of one active developer with a day job, a few part time helpers, and a lose community of plugin contributors, the “active” part only applies to the bits and pieces that the developer(s) are themselves interested in.

    Many ongoing issues with Joplin ecosystem haven’t been addressed in years, despite multiple user requests, and probably won’t be ever tackled unless someone decides to contribute this particular code.

    One sore example is the sorry state of iOS app, that lacks very basic functionality like Share. You can’t take a screenshot or download a file and send it to Joplin right from your open browser or screenshot window, like you do with most iOS apps. You have to save it first, then open Joplin, and use its “Attach” menu to browse to the saved file. It takes orders of magnitude longer and makes using Joplin on iOS a chore compared to most other similar software. There’s also no web clipping, no printing, and no sharing of notes from Joplin unless it’s a plaintext markdown format. The discussion on Joplin forum makes it very clear that this will not be addressed by the developer team unless someone contributes the code.

    Likewise, until recently and despite multiple complaints, Joplin used to store encryption passwords (and, I believe, cloud login credentials) in plaintext form in the unencrypted SQL database on desktop clients. The developer’s attitude about this was completely nonchalant, saying it was the computer owner’s responsibility to encrypt their storage location. They finally fixed it in Windows and Mac, but it’s still not fixed in Linux.

    Finally, it’s an Electron app. Which means a huge memory footprint. Which may pose a problem for the users trying to run it on low-spec Linux hardware.

    This is a great project, but as with many similar projects with tiny teams, just because it’s FOSS and can be contributed to by many people, it doesn’t mean it will be. Laurent can get married and have kids tomorrow and the project will immediately hit the proverbial brick wall. All of this needs to be comprehended before someone makes a decision to commit all their notes to it.

      • Maybe you can take a look at this tool , and the question about why you don’t delete unnecessary attachment resources is mainly Considering the possible problems when you need to withdraw your notes, please refer to the discussion:

    • Completely agree with you, Joplin is an awesome project, but it’s suffering the lack of contributors to resolve issues.

      Plug-in feature is a great idea, but the urgency is to push basic features in the Joplin core project (desktop and mobile app). Laurent does his best, however alone is not enough to decide what must be implemented or not. Some work from contributors are a waste because they don’t receive any reply.

    • Completely agree with you, Joplin is an awesome project, but it’s suffering the lack of contributors to resolve issues.

      Plug-in feature is a great idea, but the urgency is to push basic features in the Joplin core project (desktop and mobile app). Laurent does his best, however alone is not enough to decide what must be implemented or not. Some work from contributors are a waste because they don’t receive any reply.

  • OUTSTANDING!! As soon as I’m flush I’ll be contributing. Please don’t let this languish, Evernote was killing me. Joplin not only imported my notes easily, but it also made it simple to reorganize and condense them! Works like a champ with Dropbox and my phone! What a joy, wish I’d switched sooner!!