Note taking


If you've used a macOS or iOS device recently, you couldn't have helped but notice that these platforms have a proliferation of note-taking applications. This could be because the iPad works with an optional pencil and is ideal for making written notes in an educational setting, but it could also be how users of those systems like to work. Either way, these note-taking applications typically look fabulous and will offer writing and PDF annotation, letting you scrawl your own notes around a document, or draw your own diagrams. But despair not, Linux users. Rnote is the closest we've seen to an open source Linux application come to feeling like one of those applications, and it does a wonderful job of capturing the clean, minimal aesthetic, while still offering much of the same functionality.

Much of the design credit goes to GTK4 because Rnote takes full advantage of this rapidly advancing toolkit. There are rounded corners, smoothly animated transitions, icons in the top bar, and beautifully rendered fonts. The main view is the drawing area, which is obviously a lot easier to use if your device supports touch input or if you use a stylus of some kind. But even without these, there are the usual drawing tools you might expect, including lines, rough and smooth shapes, and both solid and textured brush strokes. There are also several selection modes for modifying your doodles, and you can even turn on "drawing sounds" to add a little extra authenticity. You can then import an image or PDF to draw over and save the whole mess as an .rnote file, although you can also export as an SVG or PDF file, or even as a file for the competing Xournal++ note-taking application. The only big missing feature is the ability to add text fields, but that's being worked on.

Project Website

Rnote is a beautifully minimal note-taking application that takes full advantage of GTK4.

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