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Ask HN: What do you use to keep track of bookmarks/notes/snippets?
315 points by danaw on April 4, 2020 | hide | past | favorite | 245 comments
I’m curious as to the tools or techniques people use to keep track of things like bookmarks, snippets of code or text, etc.?

I’ve used a variety of tools (simple browser bookmarks, Pinboard, Evernote, a text file, etc) but have never been very happy with any of the solutions.

Anyone have great tools or methods of storing bits of info for later access?

I’m thinking something that at a minimum has:

- Search

- Tagging

- Support for different content types (links, text, video embeds, photos, etc)

- Also would be nice to have mobile app, browser extension, API, Zappier integration, etc

Any suggestions?

I found the perfect answer to this question, in a way its comical. You use a blog! Use a blogthis bookmarklet/extension. You select a bit of text on a web page, click the blogthis button and POOF a wonderful formatted post with a block quote in an editor comes up. You write your own ramble under it. Add appropriate tags and/or categories.

If you want to be really meta about it you start blogs about separate topics. Enable comments if you like but don't make an effort for others. The target audience is just you. Real traffic is even undesirable since it requires comment moderation. A private/invitation only blogger blog honestly will do just fine. Host your own if its not a big deal for you.

Funny notes:

Not a week goes by without an email from someone looking to do SEO on my bookmarks.

Google search banned one of my blogs one time, probably because it had to many links or a lot of links to unpopular pages.

I arrived at this formula trying to build an audience for my blogs both high and low effort postings did nothing. Why should I even care? I find everything onthere fascinating. The largest one has a ton of people making claims that seem to good to be true. If it was aimed to create an audience I would have to endlessly explain to what extend I believe the claims.


I even write postings for my own amusement http://blog.go-here.nl/8616

Funny about the SEO emails. Same here. I did this with Textpattern... It's up to something like 3000 links now? Anyway I also get people pointing out dead links of _their own_ because they changed domains or whatever...but really, 99% of those are links in which I've lost interest anyway. If I have the time and interest to fix a single link or even a batch, I'm pretty lucky. The entries are descriptive so they're pretty easy to search up anyway.

I still update that DB but most commonly keep links in text files now, either journal files or files for specific topics. Then I use grep or silver searcher or Catfish to look them up. I'm considering exporting my DB for this purpose as well.

I find that I do go back more often to: Music I liked, blogs or sites that were well-designed, Project Gutenberg books I liked, and Wikipedia articles I enjoyed.

The cool thing about links kept in a blog with categories assigned is just as you said--you can start microblogs really easily and this was always a strength of Textpattern: Lightweight software that supported multiple blogs out of the box, just go create a new "section" and you're off and running. TXP tags are also kind of fun. Anyway... I'm sure there are tons of ways to do this now. I also remember making multiple RSS feeds for DB categories for use in third party sites.

Thanks! I do really like the idea of turning my notes/bookmarks into a blog for various reasons. The micro blogs on topics is a cool idea too

I couldn't find a Chrome extension named "blogthis" or "blog this". Can you give me a link to that extension? Thanks

WordPress has a bookmarklet called “Press This” which sounds very similar: https://wordpress.com/support/press-this/

Tumblr support link blogs (link, quote,picture,video categories builtin)

I use org mode. It's actually why I started using emacs (spacemacs specifically).

I have a notes folder. Everything goes in there.

I have a raw.org file and a notes/raw directory. This is where I put downloads (videos/etc) and notes on that content. These notes are unsynthesized but tagged by content (e.g. dev, python, architecture).

I periodically review recent notes and pull out the especially useful data into more synthesized files, such as python.org.

I also maintain a couple "log" files, called worklog.org and devlog.org. This is what I use as a scratchpad for work and personal dev respectively. Each day gets an entry in the file.

I have an inbox.org file which is where I add a TODO for anything I might want to do, such as 'read this article in the future'. I don't really move stuff out of it though - I just mark it as done when I do it. Things get tagged here too, so if I feel like learning something about elixir, I can just look in inbox.org for a TODO tagged elixir.

I also have a comprehensive "learn" directory that lives outside my notes folder. This is where any notes or learning based activities that requires source files goes. That is organized primarily by tech, then has folders such as "examples", "basics", and "workbook". Workbook is where I store notes and code related to going through longer tutorials or books. So for example, I've been going through elixir recently: I have a folder at learn/elixir/workbook/getting-started for going through this: https://elixir-lang.org/getting-started/introduction.html

I'm not completely happy with how the learn directory works out - it kinda fragments the structure of my notes. But it's the best way for me I've tried.

This. Being plain text is so important.

I don't use org mode because I don't use emacs, but I really like the concept of organizing your notes and knowledge in plain text, so much that I want to make my own thing. It's in private beta right now [1], and I've been dogfooding it for the past two months and really enjoying it.

I especially wanted to have a graph overview of all the links between the notes. It's also super nice to be able to embed local copies of PDFs, images, and voice notes, so I know as long as I back up my hard drive, I'll never lose them.

[1]: https://obsidian.md/

FWIW you can use org mode without emacs https://opensource.com/article/19/1/productivity-tool-org-mo...

To flatten the file hierarchy for the lookup, especially if there are non-org files, you could try opening files using counsel-projectile (narrow a single flat list of file using regexes)

If a search-like interface works for you (such as counsel-grep-or-swiper) then the exact directory structure where you store your notes is less important (even a single [big] org file can work).

It might be easier to edit an Org tree than a directory tree.

I built https://histre.com/ for this.

It's an "Effortless Knowledge Base".

The idea is that we throw away a lot of the signal we generate while doing things online and this can be put to good use for ourselves.

Histre aims to help with the whole "knowledge funnel", if you will. It aids the casual online research we all do (ie the explore -> filter -> decide loop). For example, it removes friction in taking notes on links you're looking at, with free-form tags that you don't have to create first and other such niceties that add up. And it easy to group notes into notebooks and share with teams. In short, when you have to look at a bunch of links for something (decide on your next vacation -- after this virus is behind us of course, people to hire, material for your next blog post, etc) Histre makes your life easier. But this is just the starting point for what Histre intends to do.

IMHO the biggest problem with apps like Evernote, Notion, Pocket etc is that it becomes digital hoarding, and not a knowledge base. And the knowledge base focused apps out there involve a lot of manual upkeep, which almost never happens, especially at work. Things start out okay and quickly fall into disrepair. I'm differentiating from the other note taking apps by automatically putting together a knowledge base (grouped by topic etc).

There is Hacker News integration that you may want to try. It lets you import and optionally share the stories you upvote.

How do you fix the never-read again problem?

I resurface them when you read similar topics in the future, so that it is brought up when it is relevant to you again. This is a work in progress.

After more than 20 years of bookmarking, I now accept it as irrational behavior. I don't return to bookmarked and annotated material. Yet, that doesn't stop me from preparing for the moment that I may.

Maybe I should stop..

I don't think that it is entirely irrational. When I was in school, I used to take notes in class. Often I'd copy my notes into a nicer form so that I would eventually be able to review them more easily.

I almost never reviewed the notes. The act of recording and organizing them helped fix the concepts in my mind so that I didn't need to.

(I do tend to review my bookmarks from time to time, and I tend to use [Joplin](https://joplinapp.org) to capture them along with notes about why they're being saved, these days.)

I don't think.. I've also bookmarked everything from 1996...

And I've lost everything every five years or so...

I would say 40% of my Google search are for content that I know I have bookmarked someplace... And can't find where... :(

When you type in the address bar it autocompletes your Bookmarks. It does the same for History as well, but you can't really sync history across browsers.

Safari seems to - I just got a new Mac recently and all my bookmarks are there again - probably through iCloud

the app I used for meditation wanted you to acknowledge distracting thoughts head on, then move back to meditation. I'd see this as similar, you acknowledge it's interesting but don't have time now, bookmark it and move on. If you didn't acknowledge it, it might nag at you to go back and read it thru out the day.

That's a nice way to look at it. Like the GP, I almost never return to bookmarks.

same, it's a free-meal kind of hoarding at that point

that said, it may be of use one day and I should finally write that sqlite local bookmark checker / tagger / trimmer / archiver. That would be an actual benefit

A flat text file. I will never again use anything proprietary or even non-human readable. A single text file combined with search does everything. If you require multimedia then just put the path to where it is on disk as text.

I totally understand avoiding proprietary formats, but why write off non-human readable formats? I've been using sqlite for things like this. I figure sqlite is not going anywhere. And in the worst case scenario, if for some reason the software I use to interact with the sqlite db was no longer tenable, I could easily dump my data out of it into a text file.

How is your database structured? One table for everything? Something fancy? How do you use it?

Nothing too fancy, the skeleton of the schema is basically just:

    Tags(tag_id, tag_name)
    Files(file_id, file_address)
That's for organizing files using tags. I can organize notes like this by either putting notes into many text files and tagging them, or by putting notes directly into the DB with another Notes table. I've prioritized the former, since many of my "notes" are actually photographs of whiteboards or other non-text data. Storing textual notes directly in the sqlite database works well too though.

To interact with the system, I threw together a quick emacs client and a GUI client. Nothing fancy or pretty yet, but functional enough for my day-to-day use.

Bit flips and other errors kill or make non-flat formats only non-trivally accessible. Anything requiring programatic interpretation is fragile.

I use a notes directory with multiple flat text files named in some brief but sensible way.

I alias a command ('showNotes') to open the directory in sublime and use sublime's search to search my text files or edit/add files as appropriate.

I use to just stick to plain text and code snippets but have started using markdown for newer notes.

Same here. I've been using a 'notes' file since I first got into Unix back in the late 80s. I've kept with it ever since. I still haven't found something I like better. So portable, easily searchable and easy to manipulate with standard unix tools, etc.

Do you use a mobile device to edit? How? That always seems to be my sticking point with text based methods. It’s not easy to modify with my phone.

How is text not easy to modify on your phone? If anything this is a problem with phones being terrible computers and not text files. But I don't see how anything I said about how I do it on a desktop computer does not apply also to phones.

Not only that - how do you do structure? I'm especially thinking about trees here, which is how most concepts seem to be presented the best.

I store my text notes on Dropbox, using various subfolder layers. The android app allows both creation and editing of .txt files.

I self host Seafile. It has a simple and markdown friendly editor in its mobile app.

Plus the version control ^^

I'm using org-mode's link functionality to maintain a simple multi-file text wiki. I'm not an org-mode wizard, so I'm probably not using all the functionality available in org-mode, but it's enough for me.

It won't work for some. I often need to remember charts, pictures, maps... I need a visual nudge or hint to quickly scan thing. I can't tag/annotate everything all the time.

> never again use anything proprietary or even non-human readable

100% agree with this. I have settled on a very lightly (headers and lists) formatted markdown file. I like how I can just click on bookmarked link from the rendered HTML file to load in the browser (vs. copy paste from text files).

I did write a script to parse this file to mark broken (non 200 response code) links but forgot about it till now. Time to fire it up again.

do you edit the file on tablets/phones too? how do you handle multimedia on those devices?

I'm in the same boat, but would be on the market for a lightweight tool that searches for hashtags in the file

Every text editor has search. Tags are just words. If you put the text into the text file it is automatically a searchable "tag". If you want you can put some markup around it but it's really not needed.

fair point

only thing I can think of that I'd want that grepping doesn't provide is some ability to define multiline sections that get captured in a search

I mean, grep will find content in those sections but won’t be limited to those.

To limit it, if you devote the first 3 lines to title, summary, tags

You could extract the first 3 lines of each file and grep those.

If not, if they have a prefix,

You could grep those first then grep the output.

    grep -E ‘title:|summary:|tags:’ | grep ‘query’
A simple script can be built.

What about `grep` ?

Here is my flow:

1. Use Pocket[1] to store anything I want to read it later

2. Use Reader View extension[2] to store it as a clean PDF file or screenshot it

3. Use PDF reader to annotate it.

4. Save the file to one of my Knowledge-Base folders[3]

5. Use ripgrep to search it later [4]






You can automate some of this with https://archivebox.io if you're interested.

Thank you!Great project!

Hacker News' "favorites" is now my bookmarking service :-) It's like a poor man's Del.icio.us. (It doesn't checkmark majority of the OP's boxes). But if your interests align with mine fp, ML, lisp then you may want to check out my favorites list. https://news.ycombinator.com/favorites?id=marai2

Yes, me too! So much so that I created an API [1] to quickly access my favorites in a machine-readable format (JSON), which I use to display them on my website: https://mihir.ch/#hn.

[1]: https://github.com/plibither8/hn-faves-api

I'm the same. I often favourite posts I find noteworthy, useful or I want to revisit later. It's a pity you can't favourite with a single click from the list view (e.g. front page) or for comments from the thread view. I think, especially for comments, the favourite feature is hard to discover and inconvenient to use. Wish it would be easier so more people would use it because skimming through other peoples favourites is also an entertaining pasttime.

"pasttime" is a good description. On slow HN days when there is less interesting content to me on the front page I'll check out my favorites and then have an "holy cow! I have so many interesting articles I need to catch up on" moment :-)

What I would really like to do when I have some spare time is write a browser extension that will randomly inject a few of my favorite links into the HN frontpage for me so I can passively revisit these posts and discussions I've saved.

These days, I simply don't. I used to have multiple ways of storing content but I found that they were write only, as I never went back and read what I was storing. These days, I simply read the article now or don't bother with it, rather than procrastinating on reading it.

I have run into the same situation; it doesn't really matter how to write down 'to read' articles if you never actually go back.

I used to drop bookmarks, use a reading list or drag the url to my desktop but the writing method was never the issue, it's the reading.

A folder in dropbox, and Pinboard for bookmarks.

I mostly enter plaintext files by date and grep as needed. "tags" == "words in the file" for me, I make sure to stick a keyword somewhere if I really want to be able to find it by "tag". Related files go in folders named so they'll be adjacent to the file that references them. More specifics: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=22279802

Works on every system, syncs any way I want, and I expect it to still work decades from now.

Bookmarks tho are currently just in Pinboard (I should fix that), in part because I mostly don't organize them - I use full-text search with the archival account. I have a pretty good memory for "I know a thing exists with this phrase / a couple words, I just don't remember the name", so that covers the vast majority of my retrieval needs.

I use a wiki. It allows me to find anything that I wrote or published over the last decade, and I can usually find anything in about 5 seconds. This approach requires working openly, but is very effective in retrieving anything that I need to share as I work. Check out my log at https://wiki.opensourceecology.org/wiki/Marcin_Log - where I have access to the last 3 years on a single page. Thoughts?

I use OmniOutliner. Before that, existed, waaaaaay back in the early history of the Macintosh, I used Dave Winer's MORE outliner. So I've been using outliners for the described purpose for more than 30 years.

Using an outliner has always worked, for me, as well as I could possibly want. BUT there is one trick I use that makes a huge difference.

I embed keywords into my outlines. I use words starting with underscores (I started doing this before there were hashtags; now I would use the hash symbol). So a headline might have a keyword in it, in which case I can instantaneously find it. On the mac, I can even use Spotlight to instantaneously find a keyword in whatever outline it may appear in.

Also, for subordinate subjects in subheadings, I embed sub-keywords starting with *. (The same sub-keyword might appear several times in an outline, under different main keywords.)

This technique empowers me enormously in saving all kinds of notes, links (to the web and to on-machine files), etc. and being able to get to any one of them almost instantaneously, even if I don't remember what outline it's in (which is rare).

One advantage to using outliners is that there's a common format, OPML, that most outliners can import and export. So if the product you're using dies over the decades, you can just switch to another one.

I highly recommend this technique.

Unless something appeared out of nowhere in the past couple years, I'm pretty sure only MS' OneNote has most of those features—specifically the variety of content including web page clipping along with your own notes, and the multitude of clients. However, I couldn't get past its ‘pinboard’ organization of stuff in a note, so never really used it.

There's also Turtl that's similar to Evernote—but it uses Markdown for formatting, so also can't say anything about it.

On my part, I came to prefer my own written notes over clipped content and media, and IMO an outliner is way better than anything else for organization of such notes, specifically when keyboard shortcuts are good. Alas the competition is thin in this space: I used Workflowy for a while, which worked great for text and shown promise, but was stuck feature-wise after a couple years. Aside from Workflowy, it's pretty much Org-mode or OmniOutliner. Gotta say I do miss page-clipping from Evernote, and would be happy to see something good in this vein for Emacs/Org.

I also use OneNote at work for capturing anything worth remembering in a meeting, and screen grabs from a webex. It captures the text in images and indexes it for searching later, which I do frequently. I don't mix personal notes and tasks into this notebook.

For several years I've used Google Tasks for organizing my personal notes because it's cross platform and works like my brain. I have a small list of things to do today, that rotates frequently, a well-organized larger "Backlog" that I pull from after I've emptied the "Today" list. There are other topical lists like "Music" for notes and tasks that don't usually get flagged as done. Some bookmarks get into Tasks, if I'm pretty sure I'll use them again. But mainly I save stories in Newsblur if I think they're worth revisiting.

> It captures the text in images and indexes it for searching

Funny thing, that happens to be one of Evernote's selling abilities—I guess MS is really thorough in replicating the feature set. From seeing the screenshots and the description for the first time, I knew it's basically ‘MS Evernote’.

OmiOutliner looks ... okay, but it's Apple only anyway.

I don't see any reason to use Workflowy over Dynalist, which is what I use daily. But I'd really like to see a comparable FOSS version (Org-mode has the features in theory, but emacs just has none of the modern UX I expect and Orgzly is at best okay for quick notes).

I use notion as my "inbox stuff". Whenever I see something interesting (book, article, whatever), I use the chrome extension and send it to that inbox. On the phone, I can also "share to notion" which sends it to that inbox. Once in a while, I review that inbox and then prioritize things in other notion pages or in more actionable items.

It works pretty well. The only big issue is how slow it is to cold start. My fix is to use google keep on mobile for very quick note (I.e. someone tells me something), and then I'll manually copy it to inbox later in the day.

Notion would be a great tool for me, but the lack of a desktop client for Linux and a usable client for Android makes it useless.

Their desktop app is just a wrapper. You can "appify" it using Chrome or Webpin (https://github.com/artemanufrij/webpin/) or whatever.

Since I have to use Windows at work, I can guarantee you're not missing anything by doing that. I just keep it in a pinned tab in Firefox and use Alt+1 to quickly reach it.

What I am bothered with is the lack of official API which makes it difficult to auto-populate some stuff.

I did a project where I collected a ton of links using notion’s chrome extension. It took several days to do. My intention was to then go copy all of those links into an Excel sheet with additional data.

Nope. Every single link was a Notion URL. I was pissed. Never using that app again because it made me realize my options for migration away from Notion would always be very limited.

I'm puzzled by your comment. When I grab a link using their Chrome extension they don't alter it in any way. And the fact that their format is essentially markdown means that nothing is lost when you use the markdown export feature - making migration away much cleaner.

which mobile operating system do you use?


I don't collect things I "need to get to", if that makes sense. I collect things I'm willing to spend time curating, which generally means they go in a file somewhere under a directory called "References". References means music I like and art I want to study and writing I want to return to. If I want to have a log of what I was interested in, I privately journal about it(Which I am happily using Penzu[1] for).

The trick to all personal information management, which recurringly appears in HN threads on the topic, is to focus on your filters, not your collection. You collect hastily, in anger; you are not a professional archivist with respect to your own collection. You will misspell and missort. But it is easy to punch "Save As" and get it in a file somewhere with a few words to search by. And so the filter, the post-hoc, is the greater necessity.

Fortunately, when it's in the form of files, you can apply a mix of hierarchy, tag and search methods. There's software for this. I currently use TagSpaces[0]. I don't spend a great deal of effort manually tagging, I just organize a little bit of hierarchy and throw some keywords in the filename.

As well, I expect to lose a little bit of the paper trail at times. Precise origins and authorship are not always accessible. Redundancies may occur. The point of the curation is to make a useful product for yourself, one that accommodates many informational needs - to collect ideas, create a course of study, or put yourself in a particular mindspace. You have many years to keep developing it.

[0] https://www.tagspaces.org/

[1] https://penzu.com/ (Why this and not plaintext? It has an app, and it auto-syncs.)

I switched to Notion a couple months back and it's been amazing for me. I've been able to consolidate my notes, my archives, my daily schedule, etc into one place. They don't have an API and I'm pretty much fine with that. Without the API I'm much more mindful of what's going into Notion and spending my time thinking about things instead of automating too many things to be able to keep up with.

But that's just my use case. I'm sure 99% of their users want an API.

It’s the other way around. 1% or their users want an API, probably less

True. 99% of their users on HN want an API. :)

would you mind to ellaborate on how do you organise things in notion? I could use some ideas and inspiration thanks!

I use the PARA method but continually try to refine things. Start here with Marie Poulin: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ebI3zExav2c

All her Notion videos and techniques are worth watching. Also https://www.notion.vip is a great resource.

I find topic forest to be by far the best approach I've ever tried. Inspired by: https://twitter.com/valentin_pd/status/1107781980102356993

Joplin [1] to take secure, E2EE notes stored in the cloud and markdown-formatted.

It also has a web browser addon for taking web snippets, and it even supports MermaidJS diagrams.

[1]: https://joplinapp.org

I use Joplin too, and like it. I have never heard of MermaidJS before. That looks really useful. Thanks for sharing it.

The other thing I really like about Joplin is the side-by-side markdown and formatted view. I've taken saving half-baked blog posts in Joplin until I'm ready to post them, and it's nice to be able to grab the markdown and dump it straight into hugo's markdown-ish files.

Fellow Joplin user and I love it, but do you know of a better alternative to their search? I wish I could grep the raw files, but I think they're stored locally with some kind of encoding.

I use wallabag for bookmarks. It’s easy to self host and their browser extension works well.


I’m still looking for a good self hosted evernote/onenote style app.

I've been using wallabag for years too and it's worked well for me. I like that the mobile app downloads the articles for reading offline later and with minimal distraction.

I'm currently considering using Zotero so I can keep better track of topics I'm researching so I'm curious to hear more about people's experience with it, including across devices. For example is there as easy a way to share a URL to it on Android as there is with wallabag?

For notes I was using Evernote once upon s time then migrated to nvAlt synced via Nextcloud. On mobile app the notes are available in the Nextcloud app and editable in any markdown or text editor. Since switching back to Linux I've been using nvPy.

Bookmarks: locally in the browser. Either I use them a lot, or they die forgotten. Not very good on this.

For code snippets: Gists and StackOverflow. I treat StackOverflow as public global wiki. The good side of the two is that they are both very well indexed by Google, and it happened several times already I came across my own gists/stacks from several years ago.

Apart from that, I have a "dotfiles" repo where I have a lot of aliases, sometimes trivial, sometimes really long complex pipes. Not all of them are directly usable, but if I remember alias name, I can `type <aliasname>` in bash and it shows me the command, and I can copy and change it as needed.

Recently, I started using GitHub private repos for tracking random knowledge. For example, I'm learning about finance and I put random stuff all there (links, screenshots, quotes, my own analyses) as GitHub issues. The advantage of this is that I'm always logged in to GitHub anyway on all my devices, so the friction is lower than any other solution, and I'm less likely to forget "where did I have this stuff"; plus it's the same markdown syntax I use everyday, and CTRL-V works for pasting images.

I also started using GH issues for some complex personal tasks, say, I need to do some lengthy paperwork for government which consists of N things. The possibility to put screenshost, links, checklists all together is pretty nice (I don't put any personal info there).

It's a bit weird to use GH so much, but out of my laziness and pragmatism, this works best for me.

One more place I use: Twitter. There's in general too much stuff I read everyday to not forget about most of them (even if I bookmark), but somehow the fact of tweeting about something makes me remember it more.

I use https://pinboard.in for bookmarks. Tag the URL with the search terms I would have used if I were to find it again using google.

Having one of the mobile apps that support pinboard is also an essential part of my workflow.

I use Google Keep for more general life stuff, general notes I need to remember when people tell me and even shopping lists.

For development and work notes, I rely on the desktop version of https://boostnote.io/.

+1 for pinboard!

I'm an academic. As such, I got used to work with Zotero [1], first as a simple reference manager, but over time as a more robust platform to keep track "of things like bookmarks, snippets of code or text", and even associated files.

The why: Zotero is open source, respects privacy, and it allows you to keep a local repository of your things, disconnected from its cloud. And yeah, it also offers you a cloud storage solution if you need it. Plus, I love how it ingrates so seamlessly with my browsing experience.

The how: Zotero works like a three stage tool.

The first stage concerns its browser connector, the plugin that lets you store the references you want to keep. You can think of bookmarks as references too.

The second stage corresponds to the when the work within Zotero itself. Here is where you add your notes, snippets, crosslimks, tags, etc. Since it's your references database, you should invest some time to find a good workflow as to find in the future whatever you need in as little steps possible. It's worth the effort to get used to Zotero's possibilities (you can even manipulate its database directly through sql commands if you're into it).

The third stage is the integration tool that works with your text processor. This step mostly applies to writers only, the folks who really need to keep close attention between what they say and where they took it from. This is where Zotero shines, for it allows you to keep a close tie between the things you actually quote on your text and the works/data you reference in its appropriate section.

In any case, what starts as a simple reference manager can, with some imagination, become a very elegant solution to gather bookmarks, notes, snippets, etc in just one place.

[1] https://www.zotero.org/

I'm the founder of https://kontxt.io and I initially built it as a solution to effectively save and share information in context. You can save links, clone websites, convert PDFs (and most other documents since they can be converted to PDFs) to websites that's enhanced with a real-time collaboration & note taking layer. Tag everything from documents to page parts. Organize with folders. Share documents and folders with google doc like share permissions. You can upload URLs and documents directly, use the chrome extension, or even add the collaborative features to your own sites.

Check it out and let me know what you think. I'll be adding search soon, a public feed like Twitter for discovery, and a way to extract and use highlights across documents. If you try it out, like it, and want to start using it, I'll add basic search across titles and tags for you this week.

Google keep.

I make one keep for each of my projects whether it is professional or personal. Even for daily tasks like shopping and keeping track of payments i make keep. I color code them according to category and have it as a chrome app and mobile app.

What scares me with Keep is that there is no access to the notes beside the app.

I am a GSuite user so it would be nicely integrated with my workflow but I am afraid they will close it someday and I will lose them.

Their refusal to add an API is weird as well.

You can download all your Keep notes via Google Takeout.

And there's an unofficial Python API, that works well and is actively maintained: https://github.com/kiwiz/gkeepapi

How do you "make one keep" for each project? Separate Google accounts?

I don't know how he does it, but you can use tags for projects.

Since 2012 and still happy with the following.

1) Permanent storage: Big flat text file.

2) Fleeting notes: Whatever. If it's good enough (maybe 5-10% of these notes) I'll make the effort to copy it to permanent storage from slips of paper, email, simplenote etc. Most of the time, second glance on the fleeting note reveals it is not worth it and the note can be tossed (rewarding!). They are important, though, because you need the second glance to know.

I used to stress text files not being "mobile friendly". These days I prefer not to make permanent notes on mobile. But you can view them easily, they're just text.

As for local multimedia, I just mention in the text file that I have an image or video stored somewhere. If I need it, I can find it. Too much hassle making permanent filesystem URL:s or anything like that.

Max gain with minimum effort. Plus, I LOVE tossing useless fleeting notes.

May I ask, how you organize your one big text file?

It's been around for quite some time and is not internally coherent, but it is optimized for search.

I always have Title and formatted date (2020-04-04) and then some text for the note. I make effort to include keywords as part of my notes, not formal hashtags. Sometimes I just add new notes to the end, sometimes I make the effort to put a new note in the middle of the file next to related note. Bit of a mess, but works with search.

I mostly use QOwnNotes (https://QOwnNotes.org) for Markdown-based note taking, synced to my private Nexzcloud instance. If it ever goes away, I'll still have the plain markdown files plus metadata in a SQLite database.

For bookmarks and long-reads I've mostly made the transition from Pocket to Zotero (https://www.zotero.org), originally intended for literature management. One feature I wish it had is support for more complex semantic relationships between items to be able to create a more comprehensive knowledge graph (e.g., A cites B, X is related work to Y, a URL is the implementation of an abstract algorithm in a research paper). Anybody know of a suitable plugin maybe?

I have been working on Rumin (https://getrumin.com/) as a "build your own knowledge graph" tool that works well with existing apps and websites.

It is currently in private-ish alpha, but thought you would find it useful. Happy to do a 1-1 too to show you my workflows :)

I also use QOwnNotes to take and manage my notes and I've been looking for a solution to store and organize bookmarks for some time, never thought that Zotero would be a good fit for that.

Could you share, based on your experience, what are the good parts of Zotero for this use case and where it falls short?

Sorry, I missed your reply..

Here's my workflow in a nutshell: I use the Zotero browser extension to add items to Zotero, the extension takes care to automatically attach a snapshot of the web page or paper to the newly created entry in Zotero. For academic papers or blog posts, I'll try and extract additional web links (e.g. Github repos) and add those to the entry as well. Within Zotero I have a nested structure of collections/folders to roughly structure the entries by type (papers, blog posts, reports, books, ...).

I make liberal use of tags to classify the content and keep track of my reading status (Reading List and Read), for which I have saved searches in Zotoro, so I can easily find something to read, whenever I have a bit of time.

For academic papers that I've read in-depth, I'll extract the most relevant references and add them to the library as well and cross-reference them using the "Related" feature. This feature is what I was mentioning in my original post - it only allows for a single generic "related" association between entries. If I could customize the type of relation, I could model almost arbitrary knowledge graphs here.

Thanks for the explanation.

Not exactly an answer to the question, but thoughts inspired by it and in service of it...

It's in vogue right now to have one tool "do it all," but I disagree with this approach. 1. It is driven by business economics and not an improved user experience. 2. Simple/focused tools are better suited to particular jobs, while larger encapsulated toolsets devolve to serve the denominator. 3. Reliance on a single behemoth is a fragile position that makes change burdensome.

So – multiple tools, each optimized for a specific function, is the way to go!

Obligatory mention of emacs+org. I've tried everything and anything, and it seems to be a common pattern that people with a streak of perfectionism go through a long journey of dissatisfaction with tools, a journey which seems to settle in emacs+org-mode for many.

I really, really like the combination of Joplin, the Joplin extension and Pocket. The export tools offered by the Joplin extension combine well with the readability processing/formatting that Pocket applies. You can save a markdown-version, save URLs only, the complete HTML of a page, or just some text you've selected.

I have some boilerplate HTML that adds spoilers and a couple other bits to make my rendered notes look nicer and help me study, along with a couple of templates for embedding YouTube videos, Spotify and Github Gists. Most of this is on the Joplin forums, I encourage you to take a look if that sounds appealing to you.

There's a mobile app, and Joplin exposes a REST API the extension uses - I have a few hacky scripts to help me use Joplin as a CMS for a website (still a messy WIP, might show this & the templates to HN soon).

I'm exploring Emacs & Org-mode right now since it pairs well with Haskell, which I'm learning during this whole lockdown thing - even with all my Joplin-based stuff I can see why people accept the trade-offs and buy into it completely. Now might be a good time to try emacs+org out, for those lucky ones just riding lockdown out at home.

Orgmode from emacs. It is a text file, has tags, can embed photos (not sure about video). I think mobile app orgzly is there iirc.

Previously I have used textfiles for everything. Then I moved to vimwiki. Now I am currently using orgmode which I find amazing and versatile.

Features I find useful in this context

- ace-link is great for opening visible links in a couple of keystrokes

- org-store-link for linking arbitrary places in various (possibly remote) files inside emacs

- org-agenda to generate various hierarchical/tags/other criteria views

- counsel-grep-or-swiper (with ripgrep) works well even for several years worth of notes without the need for explicit indexing

- org-attach manages attachements such as pdf files (copy/open/sync/etc) pdf-tools with a hydra enables convient reading, search of the files in emacs

- Org Babel for cleaning, querying data (among other things). Inline images work e.g., generated by emacs-jupyter

- OrgMobile for agenda views, pushing notes from mobile

For links, Raindrop.io has imho the best combo of features and nice UI. I've been a happy premium user for years. It has: - tags - collection & subcollections - search (includes metadata extraction) - a really good and fast UI - a generous free tier - browser extensions + mobile apps

It has nice extras like - keep private archives of webpages - warn you about broken links - ...

Alternatively I use Are.na for a lot of visual/conceptual/design stuff.

Oh and since you requested it, Raindrop.io does have an API!

I use a low-effort approach based on the OneTab plugin, which doesn't involve tagging or categorizing in any way—just archival. See https://addons.mozilla.org/en-CA/firefox/addon/onetab/ or https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/onetab/chphlpgkkbo...

Basically, when you end up with 15+ open tabs at the end of the day and all of them were kind-of-relevant to your quest, but you don't have time to read them right now, just click the onetab button and they get put away for checking later.

I say to myself one day I will come back to this archive and organize/tag it properly but that day hasn't come yet ;) In the meantime the onetab list is very helpful for ad-hoc searches using CTRL+F (e.g. what was that blog post that explained X that I was reading last month?)

OneTab also has a "share as webpage" for sharing a "bundle" of research links.

I use OneTab too in the same way. I guess the part that is missing for me is that it is only for links and that the content just disappears and I end up with a huge backlog. It is a cool tool tho!

DevonThink native apps on Mac, iPhone and iPad. Includes markdown notes, web scraper, full text search, per-group client side encryption, cross-device sync via self-hosted webdav or public cloud services. They have been around for many years, indie devs in Germany, quick response to support emails.


This. Been trying different tools to arrange my data until found devonthink one day.

For web links I just don't store them anywhere. If I want to go back to something, I either google for it again or possibly search my browser history.

For random thoughts I have a flat text file (4MB currently) to which I just append. I rarely read my past stuff though, but sometimes it's valuable to grep for something I need to recall. There's also something liberating about clearing up your mind by writing stuff that's on your mind down somewhere, freeing up headspace for other things.

For project-related things, and taking notes of book quotes, new words I've encountered etc. I use the app Things. But here again I'm very poor at actually following up on the things I add to it. For some stuff I've added reminders since it has such a feature, but I'm usually just annoyed with my past self for reminding me of something when there's always something more important occupying my time that comes up later.

Same here. The use of the note files is for me to grep back at it after a while and I remember something useful but cannot quite recall.

Are you bemmu that runs candyjapan by the way? Love it. Used to get boxes from you. Was always fun to guess what would come next. I see lots of other places doing the same business model now, but I still think you're the best.

Thank you for the nice comment. Means a lot to me since I just had to pause it because of the coronavirus, hope to restart again after a while.

Apple users may want to check the note taking, hierarchical tagging, page scraping and very hacker friendly iOS and macOS app Bear: https://bear.app. I'm a paying customer but there's also a free version.

Yeah I use it too and it has worked great. It's just markdown, the data is easy to export and the search works well so it's easy to find anything that I drop in there.

They also have a new alpha with an improved editor https://bear.app/alpha/

Mind sharing what features in particular make it hacker friendly? By page scraping, do you mean how it fetches the page title when you paste a link, or have I been missing out on some awesome advanced feature?

For me 3 things make it hacker friendly:

* it uses a markdown like syntax

* all syntactic characters (bold, italic, headline, tags, ...) are always displayed and not converted to rich text format (such as Slack does) while still applying the visual formatting. Like in a code editor, I see all characters which I type

* its underlying SQLite database is documented so that you can integrate/automate to your desire: https://bear.app/faq/Where%20are%20Bear's%20notes%20located/

Very cool, thanks for elaborating! Looks like that alpha has an improved (github flavored) markdown implementation too

Diigo has been my go-to ever since delicio.us folded. You can add any number of tags to each link, and the tags are easily searchable. The interface is not cluttered by enormous graphics, so you can view a large number of items on each page. The browser plugin and mobile app are also rock solid.

Whenever I want to save a article for reading, I add the tag "readqueue", and next time I want to read something interesting, I just search for that tag. When I finish the article, I change the tag to "readDONEqueue". I also have a "watchqueue" for videos.

I use it so much that I even signed up for the paid plan - it's been incredibly useful and has saved me from bookmark hell these past five years.

The apps/tools you use are not that important. The task of keeping a bunch of notes is technically trivial at this point, hence the myriad of note taking apps…

The important thing are the principles you use, your method of how you deal with that information.

Several posters here wrote that they never came back to their notes/bookemarks etc. They used all kinds of tools.

But how do you order and sort your notes in such a manner that you want to come back to them?

This is a good example: https://shime.sh/how-i-apply-zettelkasten-to-roam

Trying http://roamresearch.com/ nowadays. I'm thinking of moving to-dos somewhere else now, though. Maybe into Notion or Trello.

Microsoft Todo (previously wunderlust) has been great for me - I use it alongside roam as to-do in roam is awkward.

I have a text file in Notepad - not even kidding.

For bookmarks I use whatever bookmark solution my browser provides.

My take is that it's rarely about the tool really and more about describing whatever you have there properly.

Currently, I use Microsoft ToDo for lists, Google Keep for text notes, and occasionally [Markdown Notes](http://markdownnotes.com/).

I've been toying with the idea of rolling my own option for years now. These apps are fairly simple, and being able to manipulate and combine the data as I see fit would be really useful. However, I also need to access my todo list and notes from anywhere, on or offline, across multiple platforms.

I use hypothesis (https://web.hypothes.is/) to annotate/bookmark/comment anything on the web. It has a well documented api so you might be able to squeeze some other features out of it quite easily. The only issue I have with it right now is that it doesn't archive pages. I've been looking into ways to integrate existing page snapshotting tools with it but haven't settled on anything yet.


Open Source Free Form Data Organizer (Hierarchical Spreadsheet)

Wiki.js is what I’m currently trying out as a way to manually capture things, but I use a combination of Diigo and Opera’s My Flow as my normal go-to.

I’ve been developing some thoughts around rolling my own database wrapped with a service api to be used by a custom application that pulls my data down from Diigo or Pocket, etc. and then stores it locally. It’d be nice to then build out wiki pages in some way from the local database.

In short, still haven’t found anything that meets all of your bullet points.

I run a minimal email-based bookmarking service called EmailThis.me [1].

EmailThis removes ads, distractions, and clutter from web pages and sends you a nicely formatted email with just the text and essential images. It also gives you the option to save a full PDF snapshot of each web page which is then sent as the email attachment.

It is meant to be a simpler alternative to tools like Pocket, Instapaper, and Evernote.

[1] https://www.emailthis.me

I used to use Emacs and Org Mode, but, like many other commenters here, I noticed that I never went back and reviewed my notes.

Now I'm experimenting with TiddlyWiki, and I've been having a lot of fun with it. With a small modification, I made it so that tiddlers/pages displayed a list of all other tiddlers/pages that backlink to them. This made it very easy to start connecting ideas together, which is something I never succeeded at with my notes in Org files.

I use plain text notes for everything. Have been since 2001.

A while back I open sourced a script that helps me easily create them in a few different ways without leaving the terminal: https://github.com/nickjj/notes

Then I let grep and friends handle the problem of searching as needed.

I don't really worry about things like photos because I treat photos differently than notes or text snippets.

How do you access your Work notes from home, or Home notes from work?

Since it's just a bunch of month dated text files you can easily sync them using github, dropbox, google drive or whatever file sharing service you prefer.

For bookmarks, I've been quite happy with a combination of Firefox's built-in bookmarks and Firefox Sync. That gets my bookmarks to all my devices, and then Firefox can search URLs and titles and tags directly from the address bar. I add tags to bookmarks if I think I might want to find them later by a keyword that doesn't appear the title or URL; a strong hint for that is if I used those keywords to find that page to begin with.

I'm building a personal content app[1] which has a primary goal of providing lots of flexibility in how you take notes / store your content, but then when you need (or want) to, allows you to very easily share that content with others. The major difference of the platform is that you take notes in the form of "cards" rather than documents, which makes everything a bit more portable and easy to share / structure.

Flexibility is provided by having three different ways to structure your notes:

- graph hierarchy: cards nest inside of each other instead of using any kind of "folder" system, and children can have multiple parents.

- hyperlinked graph (notes are markdown, and you can easily make links to other notes in the body of your notes)

- flat structure using tags

Of course, you can mix-and-match those systems as much as you want.

And then sharing (which is still quite nascent at the moment, but kinda works) is somewhat complex given the level of control we wanted to give users over how they share, but the gist is – you can share any card with anyone, or "publish" a card under a parent that you share with someone else, and they will automatically be given access to that card.

I'd really love to hear any feedback people from the HN community have. I realize that many in the HN community are very privacy focused and so would never use a proprietary / online system for their notes, but I think we provide enough value to make it worth it for even some hardcore privacy lovers.

[1] https://supernotes.app

I have been using Twitter as a bookmark system since the past 10 years, it works great - you can search, tag (#hashtag) as well as supports different content

You can even download all your tweets and there are hundreds of twitter apps and tools around it.

Additional benefit is additional followers, cloud sync and it's simplicity

Do have a look at my account http://twitter.com/@techiejayk

I'm doing the same. Works perfectly.

That is a very interesting topic. I have not yet found the perfect solution.

Currently I am using a mix of Pocket, Notion, start.me, and sharing instantly bookmarks between my different devices.

I use Notion for serious notetaking, almost project management stuff that I want to keep track of in a structured manner.

I have started to use start.me as my new homepage on every devices. What I really like about it is the ability to add quickly any bookmarks in it, I still access it from all my devices, including smartphones, tablets, laptop or desktop computer.

My ultimate goal would be to have everything in a single tool, but this seems really complicated today. Either the tool doesn’t have the functionality, is not fast enough or cross platform enough.

I have always favored to minimize the amount of different tools to use for that.

I am still very surprised that there is no standard tool to annotate web sites easily. It should be something much more natural that we should all be able to do, directly in the browser.

Everyone is talking about the JavaScript package fatigue, but we should start to talk about the application fatigue. There are so much different applications available, it’s really hard to make choices. And stick to them on the long run.

Looking forward reading your inputs!

(DevonThink Pro)[https://www.devontechnologies.com/apps/devonthink], on Mac, iPad and iPhone, with a Scanscnap Scanner. It’s the bees knees.

I’ve been living in it for many years now, it contains every document, snippet, Video, etc. In multiple Databases, synced over a WebDAV.

I use flat files written in Markdown for various notes. On my Mac I use Ulysses for editing, on my Android phone it's Markor.

For bookmarks and long term URL storage there is my open source tool LinkAce: https://www.linkace.org/ I built this tool because there were no tool that I actually liked.

I use instapaper to store any articles I want to read later and I periodically open it up on my iPad to read things I've saved.

I have evernote notebooks for storing research notes plus occasional phone pics of book pages when I'm reading things on paper. Sometimes I even remember what on the two-page spread it was that interested me when I go back over those pictures.

I was thinking about writing an email based platform for that. Idea being, you can send an email with whatever content to an unique email address and some time in the future, e.g. determined by a phrase in the subject, it is sent back to you. With that, I would manage articles to read, have a way to quickly note ideas and so forth.

Haven’t had the time to write it, though.

You're describing https://www.followupthen.com/ pretty closely.

I use a simple git repository and Markdown files.

From there it's easy to convert those into a blog post if needed using a static site generator.

As for editing the files, VSCode + markdownlint extension covers the authoring, file handling and searching.

For bookmarks I use a wiki:


For snippets I use wiki too although a different one:


Wow, walked away for a few hours and such activity, LOVE IT! Thanks for all the response, now to try everything out ;)

Self-hosted instance of Shaarli - it is simple, fast and reliable:


You can't embed videos, on mobile the web version works well. Has simple browser extensions and a terminal client. I.e. works everywhere.

Diigo. It just works. Has plugins and mobile apps, as well as an outline building tool for research. One of the few tools I started paying for before the trial was over. They also have a free plan.

I don't remember bookmarks, we remember sentences, phrases, or images, so why not just grab those?

My rule is if I'm reading something that I'm not instantly applying, I might as well keyword it and highlight anything that I might want to remember.

The results? It is super handy to have a search engine to quickly look up something.

Creating your own tags in a way you remember, also can be really helpful.

There's no reason other tools couldn't accomplish the same, but I've been using Diigo for over 10y without too much issue.

Happy to look at other alternatives.

I use a directory structered with a wiki Dir, log Dir, a few others, in which markdown formatted notes are saved, as well as any other kind of file I want to save. You can use many tools to browse a filetree of markdown files, I use QOwnNotes on the desktop and Markor on Android. The Dir is synced, I use Resilio but many tools would do the job. This way I have a privately 'hosted' 'system' which is quite flexible in term of software and longevity; so many tools exist and are bound to exist to interoperate with this I do not worry about lockin or things like that. Been using this setup in various forms for nearly a decade, and I think at least a decade more.

I've setup a Telegram channel with only myself in it. Works great a cross all my devices.

i use devonthink.

i keep a www group (~folder) and add web archives and bookmarks to it. it's become a local internet for me.

i first search there for anything i found useful or interesting in the past. that cuts out a lot of the noise i see on google. if i can't find it in devonthink, then i visit google.

i also use devonthink with iawriter to store notes and loose thoughts, but i keep those in a separate group. [2]

[1] https://www.devontechnologies.com/apps/devonthink [2] https://ia.net/writer

OneNote for private notes. GitHub repositories for public notes. My own tool, Static Marks [1], for bookmarks.

[1] https://darekkay.com/static-marks/

I use plain text files for notes that don't require major formatting and figures (e.g., notes on programming, sysadmin, food recipes, etc.). To find something later, I simply grep -iR <word> inside the notes directory.

I also make notes involving equations and figures, and for that I first make draft versions of the notes on letter-sized unruled paper using a fountain pen, and then LaTeX them up when I think that they're worth typing up. I almost never LaTeX notes without making draft notes first. Sometimes I also use my office's scanner to scan my handwritten notes.

I also have a Pinboard account for bookmarks.

I use a combo of Google Keep, Taskwarrior, Firefox bookmarks, my blog and my mastodon account.

And of course I use features like Gitlab/Github stars.

It's just then a matter of remembering what you're looking for to know where to look.

after surviving so many bookmarking apps, including my own and delicious, I gave up and resort to simply emailing myself the link.

That approach is pretty effective so far. I can tag by adding whatever phrases I want in the email.

I do this, and sometimes I also copy the entire text of the article to simplify search in gmail.

I tried things with bells and whistles such as tagging, and embedding content and honestly it ended up just distracting me / creating more work for me to do. I found myself fighting with stylization, yak shaving small things when all I wanted was to jot down a link or idea.

I've now reverted back to just a flat files that I attempt to use markdown in. My home directory has a folder named Notes, that contains these NOTES.md and such. Write it in whatever text editor you want, but I mostly use Sublime Text. Email myself bits and pieces to transfer the data between devices.

I recently found Checkvist for note taking. The progressive web app is really fast to load. The best part is extensive keyboard shortcuts for everything. Prior to finding Checkvist, I used text files for years.

I am simply using emails. I have dished out every notes apps, emails are great to store memos / notes / reminders / posts... You can search them easily, tag them, filter them. And I do not depend on another third party, well only on my email provider. Also you are sure to come back to your bookmark as it land to your inbox, it doesn't die in an app you will never open. I have build a simple iOS and Android app to send links, images, notes, reminders in one tap by email, you simply register your email once and you re done. https://apps.apple.com/us/app/boomerang-email-myself/id11544... https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.boomerang....

I like omni focus. It's got a good web app which has a sharing extension in ios so I can easily share links to it and tag them. Search is great and the Mac app seems nice. Web client fine for pc.

Standard Notes. Simple, encrypted, open source, and has nice consistent apps on every platform.


I also use Google keep and google reminders when I need a reminder. Mainly because of the Google calendar integration which is great.

A folder with all my org files, under version control and kept in sync with my mobile device using syncthing I couldn't find better for me, I even keep track of my expenses...

I made a Hugo theme based off of the HN design for a link aggregation site https://github.com/spaghettiwews/hugonews. It's a bit ridiculous in that you have to use Git and CI/CD to update it, but it was fun to do and I actually use it here: https://bookmarks.wews.co/

Highly recommend Circles for this purpose: https://circles.app/

You can store random links, notes, check lists, todos, and so on, and optionally share it with others as well.

Notes are plain text so no proprietary formats, and you can download all your notes as a zip file.

Like other commentators I used to use plain text files on local disk but the limitation of that approach is that it is only available on one machine.

I love the tool I built, www.minimal.app, for exactly this. Among notes apps, it more closely resembles a real notebook (simple yet powerful).

The big differentiator is the Note Lifetime: after a week or so, unedited and unpinned notes "die" or get archived, keeping the notes list current/relevant.

It doesn't have every feature (by intention), so it's best used in conjunction with other tools. It's not an entire desk – just a notebook.

I use jrnl (https://jrnl.sh). I have a bookmarks journal called "bm", so I can add a new entry with notes by entering `jrnl bm` in my shell.

It supports tagging and searching, stores everything in plain text, has optional encryption, and is FOSS. I've tried a lot of the solutions in this thread and so far jrnl has been the "just right" solution for me.

I use diigo.com , mainly because of its ability to highlight content on any web page. But it offers support for tagged bookmarks, notes and snippets as well.

I use pinboard for bookmarks. I put tons of tags on each link so I can look at them later.

For work related notes I use Onenote and put To-Do things on my google calendar

Pocket Extension (iOS Sharing and Mac/Chrome) --> Zapier --> Slack and Airtable

Slack for searching through the most recent ones easily. I am already in there so it is a good ephemeral location for something I may want to revisit in the past week. I've got a channel specifically for link sharing so even though it is noisy it is easy to hop in and out or mute.

Airtable for long term storage and periodic curated link-sharing.

Here are a few notable solutions that I haven't seen mentioned yet:

- https://getpolarized.io/

- https://www.zotero.org/

- https://archivebox.io/ (+ Pocket/Pinboard/bookmarks for aggregation)

I just use a single spreadsheet on Google Sheets. This is mostly for ideas/things I want to explore with three columns:

Name, Description, Notes

It's been working well so far.

I use Firefox's Email Tabs [0] add-on to send full articles, sometimes multiple at a time, to my gmail address. That makes them searchable and archived should they ever go down.

[0]: https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/email-tabs/

I only ever look for old links in my mailbox (I either save them or send them to someone). So I use the Linkdrop add-on : one click, and it sends a daily e-mail with the links. Everything ends up being centralized and searchable in my mailbox, I'm happy with it. https://www.linkdrop.co/home

Firefox bookmarks became much more useful to me when I started using its tagging feature. Combined with the ability to sort search results by last visited date, it gives me a complete picture of my past work on a topic at a glance.

For everything else, I'm still relying on OneNote 2016 (not the modern version), but only because I haven't yet found a suitable replacement.

For bookmarks I use my own webapp called Kyselo, which I also use for writing my diary. See https://github.com/severak/kyselo

It has simple Wordpress-like tagcloud. Fulltext search is currently not implemented at frontend, but I have adminer instance on it and I can search in it.

I'll speak for Bookmarks and Notes.

Agenda has a date focused format for Notes which is great for keeping track notes over time. Combining that with the different categories and sections allows me to easily separate out by subject/project.

Also, they have apps for Mac/iPad/iOS which is great.


Hi there, maker of PageDash here, https://www.pagedash.com/

PageDash works like Evernote Web Clipper but it basically archives the entire page as HTML and associated resources (without distortions, ahem). We have search and tagging support as a premium feature. 30MB free monthly uploads!

Hi Jonathan,

Does PageDash allow repeated snapshotting of the same page over time? My use case is I monitor competitors pages / product features / marketing.


Hi there, unfortunately no. But I believe I've seen this feature in other products in specialize in this. A quick google revealed https://visualping.io/


I attentively following this thread. I currently use pocket to save online articles, but the service feels unreliable, since I'm unable to find some articles that I have read through them a few years ago.

However, there is a constant feeling in this thread that the saving an article (or something) and never going after it again is a problem. Why is that?

Quiver from Happen Apps : Best Notebook so far . It does have some minor hiccups, but overall the best app to replace all of the above tools if you can learn how to organize the content . Its note taking app , and it does that job super well . Other fluff like cloud sync .. multi level note taking is something you have to deal with ..

Bytebase (I'm one of the creators) is built for keeping track of notes and snippets on your own or with your team.

Everything you create is one short snippet or "byte" and these snippets can be grouped into different "collections" using tags.

Would love any feedback.


Nice aesthetics.

I wouldn't want to upload my notes and snippets to your website unencrypted.

OK, here it goes:

* Bookmarks - as a Chrome user, I'm signed in and I'm syncing my bookmarks. I suppose the fact that I'm annoyingly pedantic kind of helps it because my bookmarks menu is as organized as it can get: https://i.imgur.com/3XwO5rU.png With this in mind, searching, tagging and so on is a non-issue.

* Notes - that kind of depends. If it's something on the go, Keep does it for me.

* For large data, I'm using a bucket where I just shove everything there, cron for certain folders on all my computers, rsync and that's that. Much like the first point, my pedantic nature takes care of searching and tagging.

* For personal data it's a cloud storage but the sync is custom built(linux and android): encrypts everything with and syncs it. And a small computer at home which pulls everything and keeps it locally(still encrypted, key is kept away and I pull it out only if I need to). That is the part which is largely unorganized but I only keep personal documents there so it's 40-50mb of encrypted data so not a big deal if I need to find something.

* Snippets - github/gitlab, whichever is more accessible at the moment.

You can use https://tefter.io It's an app I develop which has all the features you need plus a command-line app. https://github.com/tefter/cli

I have just started experimenting with this: http://www.topicquests.net:4000/ - it's far from MVP status but I am finding it useful to do research. A beginning user's manual is in the wiki at its github repo

The project uses wikilinks to create or update Topic pages which backlink to the journal entry. It then allows you to connect topics with relations; it then will paint a graph for each topic that has such connections. Connections are also topics with the full semantics of the statement made by connecting two topics; you can then wire connections in a coherence graph.

For personal/private notes, I built https://www.build.my/logbook

For public notes, I use GitBook https://www.aizatto.com/why-gitbook

I'm considering buying a license of confluence for small teams and run it at home. The price is ridiculous (like 20$/year) but it's full featured.

I've considered running MediaWiki but confluence is light years ahead, particularly at editing.

I could run it in docker, set a reverse proxy and be done with it.

If it turns out to be useful, I think $20/year is quite reasonable.

Surely the OP meant 20 was super cheap for the value. A nickel a day...

I am using OneNote + Chrome bookmarks synced across devices. OneNote's search is quite bad, sometimes it does not work and most of the time it cannot get you where you want, the page layout when you put more content is sometimes terrible, but otherwise it is good enough.

I use github gists for notes and code snippets. The search tool is great. I can always export them or create new ones using the API too. Obviously it doesn’t support all media types but for my use case it’s good enough. I used to use TiddlyWiki which was decent for text.

You won't like this but for notes and thoughts I use a whatsapp group chat named "Notes" pinned to the top, with myself as the only member. I can access it on mobile and desktop (through the web version). And it supports all multimedia one would like to.

Same here. It also "supports" media.

Google keep. It turns everything into an action. Don't have time for it? Set a reminder and archive it. Done with it? Archive it. Give it tag for searchability if it's important.

Works well on all devices.

Biggest recommendation: Stop hoarding notes you're not going to use for anything

pinboard, mendeley, and a versioned org-mode notebook.

I use Instapaper for bookmarks, and Quiver for saving whole pages, and writing notes. Quiver is Mac / iOS only and the iOS version is read only, but I push most of my notes / clips to iCloud and have had good results for a few years with this workflow.

I use vimwiki to keep a track of this. Its a plugin for vim and I've built a decent knowledge base in it. The plugin also provides html conversion, so Ive set a git hook that does this and uploads the html to my server for easy access from my phone.

I use Roam Research for search, tagging, daily thoughts, and everything else. The software has changed my life and there is a growing developer community who is making it better every week. Very culty product that is getting popular quickly.


The Zotero reference manager. Firefox plugin works great and it even saves a snapshot so that one can access the web page later when has passed into 404 heaven. Synced with their server (paid) to have the same bookmark database on all devices.

On macbook, I use alfred : https://www.alfredapp.com/ It is freemium, and bookmarking feature is free. It is much more than storing bookmarks though.

I keep temporary notes in Notepad++ and then migrate them to Zim Wiki for search/tagging/hierarchical categorizing, etc. . Works very nicely, but media must be stored on disk and linked to. It doesn't embed natively.

Personally I use pocket to keep track of my bookmarks. They provide both search and tagging functionalities and the app is very fast and intuitive to use.

I'm not sure if they integrate with zappier but I would be surprised if they didn't.

@harrisonjackson mentioned they use poclet with zapier to forward things to slack: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=22782082

I use a folder with markdown notes & syncthing to sync them between my devices. I also run a cron job on my phone to regularly push them up to a private GitHub repo for online access.

Android - markor

PC - vscode / typora

Online - GitHub's editor & markdown viewer

Dogfooded http://handlr.sapico.me

Has tags, rss, personal mode and etc. And is serving me pretty well.

I emailed bookmarks to myselve in the past ( long time ago)

Take a look and tell me if you like it :)

I created a mobile journaling app that has search, tagging and nothing more. It’s been very useful for me: https://thezenjournal.com/

I've been very happy with Bookmark OS. It has good search, tags, different content, and easy to use notes. https://bookmarkos.com

After going through a series of apps (Yojimbo, Evernote, SimpleNote, Bear, Ulysses), I now manage all my notes in Markdown files, some in git and some synced via iCloud Drive. This has downsides, in particular it's only ok on mobile and lacks integrations. But I find the upside is more important: You can build your own features with shell scripts (that can then be integrated into your editing environment), and you can use your notes in many different applications. E.g., you can use a file manager like the Finder to organize your notes, and you can use tools like grep and diff to search and compare them. You can edit them with multiple text editors, for somethings vim is better for others I like iA Writer.

Over time I’ve built a ton of my own features into the system, for example I've built my own documentation system. It's essentially like have my own `man` pages for GUI and CLI apps I use, that just document the features I commonly use.

An example documentation directory:


How you can lookup documents:


My own snippet system:


Looking up a snippet:


My own project management system:


(All of the above can be integrated into any scriptable text editor, e.g., I can use all of these feature from vim, i.e., fuzzy search and open a note, or the same with VS Code (I’m working on building up VS Code over time as a non-modal editor to complement vim). I.e., these scriptable text editors become a custom note taking environment built to my requirements. Since most things are written in bash, it’s easy to use any text editor on top. All you need to do is call the shell scripts from the editor and a light layer of text-editor specific GUI details on top.)

All of this stuff emerged organically over time based on my needs and the growing complexity of managing more and more information and more complicated tasks. The problem all single app solutions run into is they just don't scale and grow with you.

To solve the mobile issue, my process is very simple: I use OmniFocus which allows me to instantly save a URL, text note, or anything else to my inbox, and then I just process (categorize and save) the new notes each morning before I start working. If I really need a note on my phone, Spotlight works surprisingly well for looking up a note by name in iCloud Drive (just turn off Spotlight for every app you don't want to search), and I can use Working Copy for notes in git, finally if I have to, I can ssh to a remote server with Blink Shell and use shell tools from iOS (for any note that's in git, those are also on the server).

The specifics of my system aren’t important, what I like is having a system that grows with me, and that I can customize to my needs.

I use Zim Wiki and Joplin. Still learning note-taking though.

Additionally, I use Pocket to save webpages. Later when I re-read them, I extract useful info from them & save them in my note-taking tools.

Saving this to Trello to come back and read the recommendations later.

Sublime & Markdown.

Intellij and asciidoc, the plugin for it is excellent.

A combination of Stickies.app, Reminders.app, Asana, Google Keep, Trello, Snoozed Emails drafts, Chrome Bookmarks bar, Toby extension... and a notebook

Markdown files in a sensible directory structure, hash tags, stored in Dropbox, checked in to a private github repo, managed in vscode.

Checks all the boxes for me.

nvAlt on Mac for plain text notes synced in a Dropbox folder, iOS with 1Writer (excellent IMO) for mobile, plain old vim with those notes on Linux.

And pinboard.

I’m liking Firefox bookmarks for this lately. Syncs between Firefox apps on different platforms, relatively easy to search, extensible, etc.

I put together a chrome extension for saving snippets from YouTube videos, has definitely been helpful. (ClipSnip on the chrome web store)

Alfred copy/paste history on OSX.

It’s great as it can store anything. URLs, short texts, long texts, images, random files, and is super searchable.

This sounds like an absolutely wonderful abuse of copy/paste history. A difficulty is probably how much context you lose if you just want to save a sentence for instance.

For random quotes and sentences, it actually works great. I just have to remember one of the word that is rare enough.

I use my email/imap drafts !! Its on my encrypted server and synced to my email client and can access everything from any device.

DynaList - it's amazing, free, use everyday

Bookmarks: Pocket, Firefox Sync Snippets: Phpaste, MediaWiki, Gogs (git) Notes: Nextcloud (with Notes Android App), MediaWiki

Instapaper for links, textfile for todo lists

My low tech solution: https://pinplz.com

Colored pencils, pens and notebooks. Excellent opportunity to rest my eyes away from the computer screen.

Not pretending to be the most advanced tool but most of the times just using Saved Messages in Telegram.

Emacs Org-mode for desktop and beorg to share from ios is being the best setup so far.

I use pinboard.in for bookmarking, and Simplenote for private stuff, OneNote for work.

Toby is really good. I bought pinboard like 10 years ago when it was cheaper. not bad.

Google Keep never lets you down

iAWriter Saves files to markdown on iPhone and syncs across iCloud. I wish it could sync with google drive or dropbox, but it's the only good markdown editor I've used.

I use several tools, but I try to keep the following system:

The main (top level) groups are:

* Personal (finances, insurances, gov, health, personal interests, etc)

* Work

* Church (I'm volunteering for some church-related projects, I keep those projects separated from the Work folder)

I use those 3 main categories for my notes, my calendar events and my todolist.

Then, in every one of those main categories, depending on the tool, I have folders for each project. For example, in my Work folder, since I am working on my startup, I have: NameOfTheStartup, Freelancing (contains small client project folders), BigFreelancingClient1, etc.

Also, I have a naming convention for folders that are "meta" : they start with an underscore (so they show on top) and are named in ALL_CAPS. Example:

* _EVENTS (for recurring things to do when something happens within those categories of my life. Those can refer to a _PROCEDURE)

* _KNOWLEDGE (for storing information for those categories, such as PDFs, ebooks, etc)

* _THINKING (for notes about things I think about in those categories. It can contain notes of books I'm reading.)

* _PROCEDURES (for common tasks that I have documented)

* _LOGS (contains text files where I put time-ordered events that occurred within those categories of my life)

Tools I'm using (in order of prevalence):

- Todoist for short term events/todos

- The windows File Explorer. They contain Docx, PDF, md, Xlsx and txt files. (Lacking consistency with file formats)

- Google Calendar for long term events

- Standard Notes for quick notes that are mostly grouped by project. They take the form of BATF (Big-Ass Text-File : http://www.43folders.com/2005/08/17/life-inside-one-big-text... ) where I simply take notes of commands I need and shell outputs I need to analyze or keep for later.

- For bookmarks, I use PinBoard. It's good enough for me.

- Keybase has file storage, so I use that to store my journaling (in txt form). For tagging in my journal, I use a special `[tag]` syntax.

My system also has a weekly routine that includes:

* Taking long term events/tasks from Calendar into my Todoist (next 7 days).

* Looking at all the files in all the _EVENTS folders.

* Taking a look at the next 4 weeks in my Calendar.

Is there anything out there that incorporates timelines?

this might sound like nonsense but i keep a small list of titles im really interested in and just search HN.


Firefox Bookmarks and Zotero

Documents, believe it or not. And I'm really happy with how it works. I use Google Docs, but Word or whatever would work too.

One of the key things is I don't try to create some kind of central repository of every link I care about. In fact, I explicitly avoid this. (So I don't have a huge document with all my links. Nor do I have or want any kind of single, comprehensive database of all my links.)

If I'm dealing with a particular topic, I want those links together in one place. Eventually when I move on and forget about that topic, the links are pretty irrelevant, and since they are organized together in that document, there's basically O(1) cleanup to get that clutter out of my life: just stop looking at that one document.

Usually how a new document forms is that I'm working on or researching some topic, and I start getting that feeling that I have a lot of browser tabs that I don't want to lose. At that point, I create a new document, the title is whatever topic I'm working on, I create some headings to categorize things by type, and then in outline format I add links along with a very brief word or two about what is useful about that link.

You're probably thinking that copy/pasting links and typing stuff is a lot of overhead compared to just hitting a hotkey to bookmark something. It is more work, but it's easily worth it. Every time I make one of these documents, I'm glad I did because it becomes a lot easier to find stuff and remember which stuff is important. Sometimes the process of organizing it into categories even helps me understand the topic better. Sort of an exercise in getting everything in one place and seeing the 30,000 foot view.

So for example, my most recent one is called "COVID-19 resources". The top-level headings are "Practical Advice" (info on DIY masks, links to charts of symptoms compared to flu and allergies, a video on hand washing technique), "News and Info" (the John Hopkins map, other maps, graphs and charts, links to online discussion forums, CDC and WHO articles, wikipedia articles), and "Local Info" (state and local government status and announcement, health department twitter account, local guide to restaurants with takeout), and "Volunteer Info" (opportunities to help).

Come to think of it, I really need to add a section called "Science and Research". I've run across several interesting papers and articles about the disease, and I keep digging to re-find these links when I want to refer to it again. They belong in this document.

Anyway, hopefully at some point COVID-19 won't be front of mind for all of us, and I will stop opening this document every day to check the latest stats. But I'll still have the doc if I want to refer to it.


Emails to myself.

I use pinboard.in



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