Nextcloud Notes App is amazing

The Nextcloud notes app is worth using, because it stores notes in a logical and natural way, secures your notes and ensures you will never lose access to them.


By. Jacob

Edited: 2023-10-07 20:20

Nextcloud's notes app is very well made; the best thing about it is that the notes themselves are stored as plain .txt files in a readable file system tree, so you can easily handle and backup all of your notes outside of Nextcloud simply by copying a directory or editing the text files directly with a text editor. Another great thing about this is that you always have access to your notes; even if the app itself breaks you can still read and edit your notes with a simple text editor.

Note. If you are still using note-taking apps that does not store your notes as plain .txt files, then you are exposing yourself to the risk of loosing access to your notes.

Nextcloud notes is an app that needs to be installed on your Nextcloud server, and then you can optionally install a seperate notes app for Nextcloud on your phone. Remember, separate apps exist for the normal Nextcloud file sync, and for handling your notes. This is a bit confusing, and in my opinion Notes should just be integrated in the main application.

I personally started using Nextcloud notes app after nearly losing access to all of my notes in Apple's notes on Mac, a problem that could have been avoided if Apple would simply store the notes as plain .txt files in the file system. The users home directory would have been a natural choice. E.g. /home/myuser/notes/

Markdown support

Notes in Nextcloud have a nice preview you can enable by default, and when you need to edit the notes, you simply enable the edit mode where Markdown is supported.

Markdown takes very little effort to learn, and I already use Markdown on GitHub, so it only comes natural for me to use it when taking notes in Nextcloud. It means I can edit in Plain text and not be distracted by poorly designed WYSIWYG editing – or worse – the unwanted copying of styling from source texts!

If you want to take a note of some code, you can use ´´´ to create a code block:

if ($a == $b) {
  echo 'True';

And for headings:

# First level heading
## Second level heading
### Third level heading

Unfortunately, the preview mode does not support HTML, and in my opinion it really should, because it's a text-based format that many of us use.

OneNote, Mac, and iOS note taking apps

The note taking APPs from Microsoft, Apple (and probably others), are just horrible. For one, I have no idea where the notes are physically stored on my device – or the cloud for that matter – and plain text mode is disabled by default. In fact, I am not even sure plain text mode can be turned on in iOS, and on Mac it took me quite a bit of time to figure out how to do it.

On iOS, I have had massive problems simply placing the text cursor to make text selections, and if there happen to be a link in the text, the app will make users unintentionally open the link instead of performing the intended action, which is usually text-selection. This is also a symptom of the broken rich text editing mode, and it could have been avoided by keeping it plain text!

How am I supposed to edit or copy my own notes when I can't even locate them in the file system on my device? Also, if the notes are synced in a cloud drive, then they should ideally be stored in a sensible and intuitive file system hierarchy. There is absolutely no reason to hide the physical files from the user!

Another horribly irritating "feature" of note taking apps in general, is expressed when copying and pasting text; to my astonishment, it is quite normal for note-taking apps, and even text editors, to copy the styling of the text you are pasting. This is an absolutely horrendous feature that no sane person would ever need. When I write text, then I expect it to be plain text. When I take a note, then I also expect my note to be written in plain text. I have absolutely no need for styling.

For whatever reason these apps are also closed source, and that is despite the fact that note-taking is such a simple task – there can not possibly be any reason to keep the apps as closed source. Additionally, if you are paying money for a note taking feature, then you are simply doing it wrong.


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