Take the 2-minute tour ×
Super User is a question and answer site for computer enthusiasts and power users. It's 100% free, no registration required.

For quite a while I have been on the outlook for a programm to keep track of my ideas. Some, like Chandler, seem to be good for local use, some, like a wiki, for use in an intranet or the internet. OneNote of MS pops up to mind.

But what I am looking for is a software that lets me categorize entries, link them together, see the neighbourhood of ideas (ideas with similar tags or subjects), helps me correlate ideas by keyword analysis. Automatic or semiautomatic tagging or keywording would help. Maybe mindmapping as an additional view.

What do you use for your ideas?

To distinguish this from notes taking: I think knowledge management is much more then collecting notes. I expect categorization, keywording and tagging, different views, drill down, and much more.

I remember way back there was an unfamous software called Magellan under DOS (giving away my age here). It automatically linked notes I took based on shared words (fulltext search and links on words except trivials). It linked addresses to names used in a note. Later on I helped develope a search bot that would search the internet and a knowledge base based on content of a new note. I worked on a project to map tags based on nearness (programmer and mathematician are closer then programmer and gardener). Mac has a timeline that offers a certain view on files ("I know I did something with that file yesterday, but what is it called?")

I would like to have software that categorizes and links notes and other objects of knowledge (addresses, appointments, graphics, documents) and comes up with surprising combinations, reminders of past activity and glimpses of information.

share|improve this question
Similar question (posted later but more popular than this): superuser.com/questions/4549/what-is-your-notes-taking-tool –  Jonik Jul 27 '09 at 10:03
What is your goal? To organize your thoughts Mindmaps are a good tool. To organize knowledge then you are looking at a WIKI. If you want to track sources of information then note taking software if needed. –  Jim C Jul 27 '09 at 12:21

11 Answers 11

up vote 8 down vote accepted

I use Evernote - it replaced OneNote for me because it has an iPhone application, so everything is in sync.

share|improve this answer
I think evernote is the PERFECT way to store ideas. I can take pictures, say them out loud and record them, or type them in on my iPhone app. The Windows/Mac clients are also wonderful. Evernote has become an indispensable tool for keeping track of ideas for me. –  Jorge Israel Peña Jul 15 '09 at 9:15

I use Microsoft Onenote.

  • It is nicely integrated into office
  • It saves automatically
  • It has a great screenshot utility

I also have a text document with all sorts of howtos.

share|improve this answer
It also has very nice formatting tools. OneNote 2010 will have cloud storage and mobile access as well. –  Herb Caudill Jul 15 '09 at 21:44
OneNote to rule them all. –  surfasb Nov 23 '11 at 22:31

TiddlyWiki -- fast, portable, easy to manage and extend.
You may also want to look at the ServerFault question: How do you track your notes/references?

There are some more tools at Tools for Organizing Thoughts page.

share|improve this answer
+1 For this - the portability is very nice –  David Hall Jul 15 '09 at 23:12
Is it possible to provide an up-to-date link to the Tools for Organizing Thoughts page? Thanks. –  Umber Ferrule Jul 16 '13 at 14:42

I got mediawiki installed locally on my computer. Basically, its the wiki engine that wikipedia uses.

I have marked http://localhost/ on one of my speed tabs (I use opera, which is always on). So, as soon as I get an idea, I go to my browser and press ctrl+2 (or whatever tab I have stored it. I'm consistant on ctrl+2 so it helps my muscle memory remember this).

It might take a little while to get used to mediawiki's formatting, but once you're used to it, opening a new tab, going to the wiki, typing the idea, and then ctrl+w would become second nature.

share|improve this answer
+1 for a Wiki System I use Dokuwiki (dokuwiki.org/dokuwiki) it's a bit simpler ;) –  Gregor Jul 15 '09 at 9:09
@Gregor After checking the link, I have to admit that Dokuwiki looks simplier. I won't fix what's broken but if I (heaven forbids) lose my database, I would try Dokuwiki out. Thanks for the recommendation. –  MrValdez Jul 15 '09 at 9:13

Try Evernote

share|improve this answer

Tried many of the products listed here, but have now settled on PersonalBrain

share|improve this answer
+1: Doesn't appeal to me, but it's what the OP was asking for. –  Nikhil Chelliah Jul 15 '09 at 10:41

I have been using FreeMind for quite some time now. I'm sure you'll find it easy to use for mind-mapping.

share|improve this answer

UltraRecall, now. I used to use Treepad, but switched b/c it doesn't support unicode.

share|improve this answer

There's a lot on the EverNote vs. OneNote debate on LifeHacker:


share|improve this answer

I use Things.app on Mac OS X.

I set up a global hotkey (control-command-space) to quickly capture ideas when I think of them at the computer. I use the iPhone app to add new items when I'm away from the computer.

I use DEVONthink for extended notetaking and archiving.

In the past I've used a variety of wiki software: PmWiki, TiddlyWiki, DokuWiki in server and local install modes.

I also use good ol' paper and pen, but often translate to digital format manually.

I don't mindmap. I never learned the "proper" technique (it wasn't cool yet when I was in college :-)), and I find it cumbersome compared to my workflow with Things.

share|improve this answer

FWIW, I'd also like to suggest PersonalBrain (couldn't upvote, rep not yet sufficient)

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.