I am looking for an app that will help me manage my notes, and after coming across Org-mode, I was wondering whether Org-mode's functionality is strong enough that it can remove the need for me to use another note taking app (because org is more of a task management app), such as Evernote.

My wishes for a note taking app are:

  • can be accessed offline in some form, eg through an iPhone app or desktop client
    • Org-Mode and Evernote can both do this, however it seems like MobileOrg is more aimed at tasks, rather than notes? If this is the case, I probably would use Evernote in addition to MobileOrg.
  • I can clip web content into easily for research
    • Evernote has the browser extension, how is it with Org-Mode? I know I can use c-c c-l, but how suited is it really for taking notes on stuff I am browsing in Chrome/Firefox?
  • has voice notes on the iPhone and computer too, if possible
    • Org-Mode cannot do this on the iPhone, on the computer could I record audio externally and then link the files in?
  • I can add notes too on my iPhone & computer while not connected to the internet
    • both can do this.

The types of notes I am likely to have include: howtos/things I have learnt, documentation on my setup/stuff, research on things I may do in the future, ideas, and task specific notes. I have thought about where I would want to access each of these notes and will post that here if you think it would help.

So, is Org-mode strong enough in note-taking and the requirements I listed that I can avoid the need to use a separate tool for taking notes?


Based on the specific features you ask for, I would guess that org-mode would not be ideal. In particular, its features for integration with browsing are rather limited. (Personally, I use it in combination with delicious; when I am taking notes on a topic, I include a line in my org-mode file which causes it to include the appropriately tagged links from my delicious account directly in the notes).

For at least some of your stated uses, though, org-mode may be very strong candidate. In particular, the way tasks and note taking are integrated can be very nice.

For taking notes on code and configuration, org-mode has some very nice, unusual features. See the org-babel intro to get an idea of what is possible.

  • Great idea with the delicious integration! Any chance I could see the code? I shall have a look at that site :) Jul 27 '10 at 22:09
  • 1
    To include the list in an html exported verison of the page, put the delicious blogroll: <script type="text/javascript" src="http://feeds.delicious.com/v2/js/username/tagname?count=100&sort=date&extended"></script> between #+BEGIN_HTML and #+END_HTML lines. It is also possible to use org-babel to run a bit of code that grabs the delicious links and puts them directly in the org-mode source file (not just the rendered exported web page), but having tried both I find a simple link to the delicious page more convenient.
    – EHN
    Jul 28 '10 at 13:48
  • Nice, thanks for that. May I ask what you used to get it to place it directly in the source file? Jul 31 '10 at 9:00
  • 1
    It's a bit long to put in a superuser comment; the basic approach is to write a bash one-liner that uses curl and the delicious API (see delicious.com/help/api) to get the tags you want and pipe the resulting xml to xsltproc with a template that formats it the way you want. Embed this bash one-liner in an org-babel #+BEGIN_SRC and #+END_SRC pair, and updated it with C-c-c as you like.
    – EHN
    Aug 5 '10 at 21:09

You can do both!

I use evernote for todos, reference, code snippetcs, recipes, receipts, bill scans and more.

I use org-mode for todo lists, and can edit TODOs stored in evernote using emacs evernote-mode via the following in my .emacs:

  (require 'evernote-mode)
  (add-hook 'evernote-mode-hook 
        (function (lambda () 
            (auto-fill-mode 0)
  • Why have to choose orgmode or evernote? Why not both? I prefer your solution.
    – Truong Ha
    Sep 30 '13 at 3:13

You can clip links to org-mode and there also good instructions on how to do it: http://orgmode.org/worg/org-contrib/org-protocol.php. Just make sure you use a recent version of org-mode. I have only tested this in Linux, but it was quite easy to set up. Org mode lets you clip selection or links and you can also specify capture templates. One thing that I like is that I get all the clips in the same file and it is easy to refile the notes in Emacs.

As for mobile use I think mobileorg is nicer app than the evernote one and it is perfectly suitablefor note taking. The only thing I miss is the ability to email notes to org-mode, but Its not too difficult to implement.

So I recommend you go with Org-mode especially if you're an Emacs user. You can always put your audio files to Dropbox and use them with iPhone. There is also Evernote mode for Emacs http://code.google.com/p/emacs-evernote-mode/, so it is possible to combine the two if you know elisp.


I've thought about this question myself. I think that if web-clipping is a priority for you, then you're better off with Evernote or Onenote. Orgmode will not do you much good in the way of rich content. However, my priorities are different; I want my files to be in plaintext so I am not tied to the evernote app, and I don't use too much in the way of rich content in my notes. My current setup is orgmode sync'd with Simplenote. I would use dropbox if my work allowed it but it does not. Simplenote is a nice lightweight application that might work for you if you didn't need pictures. Org-mode does permit fairly easy file linkage if you need to link to external media. If you created a hierarchy inside a dropbox folder along with your orgfiles, you could quickly create the links.

I think the creator of org presented a central use case as a note taking app that allowed filtering for task items. For example, if you are at a meeting and you take a bunch of notes but also jot down a bunch of action items, you can go back and filter out all of the action items into a single list. You can also set it up so that the action items are tagged.

Org also will allow you to export to latex or html for publishing; I don't know if referenced files show up in the published document.

One feature that evernote wins on, and what keeps me coming back, is it's nice search function. I'm still a newbie on emacs, so I'm sure there's a way for me to search my notes, but Evernotes' search function is very easy to use.

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