How to Install and Use Joplin Note Taking App on Linux

Joplin is an open-source Note-taking and To-Do application, which comes in two flavors: Desktop application and Terminal application. In this article, we will only take a look at the Desktop version. Joplin is available on Windows, Linux, and macOS. It is also available on mobile platforms like android and IOS. Since it is free to use, Joplin is a good alternative for applications like Evernote.

It is also possible to export notes from Evernote (.enex) and import it in Joplin. Joplin notes are in Markdown format and follow Github style with few variations and additions. Joplin supports cloud synchronization with various cloud services like DropBox, NextCloud, WebDav, OneDrive, or network file system.

Joplin Features

  • Comes with Desktop, mobile and terminal applications.
  • Web Clipper for Firefox and Chrome browser.
  • Support End To End Encryption (E2EE).
  • Synchronization with various cloud services like Nextcloud, Dropbox, WebDAV, and OneDrive.
  • Import Enex files and Markdown files.
  • Export JEX files and raw files.
  • Support notes, to-dos, tags, and Goto Anything feature.
  • Notifications in mobile and desktop applications.
  • Extra support for math notation and checkboxes.
  • File attachment support.
  • Search functionality and Geo-location support.
  • External editor support.

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How to Install Joplin in Linux

For demonstration purposes, I am using Ubuntu 20.04 and as per the official documentation, the recommended way is to use the following script to install it on all modern Linux distributions.

$ wget -O - https://raw.githubusercontent.com/laurent22/joplin/dev/Joplin_install_and_update.sh | bash

Once Joplin is installed go to “Start → Type JoplinStart the application”.

Joplin Interface

Joplin notes are written in Github flavoured markdown with few additional improvements. You can either create markdown special characters manually or there is an option bar to insert the special characters as shown in the below image.

Joplin Option Bar
Joplin Option Bar

If you decide to sync your notes with cloud services all you have to do is press “synchronize”. It will take you to login options depending upon which service you are connecting with.

Joplin Clou Sync
Joplin Clou Sync

Notes are organized in Notebook and sub-notebooks(1) like a directory structure. You can add as many tags (2) to your notebook. Searching the notes in a long list of notebooks is made easy with search bar (3) as shown in the image.

Joplin Notebooks
Joplin Notebooks

Customize Joplin Appearance

You can modify Themes, Font size, and Font family from the Appearance tab. Go to “ToolsOptionsAppearance” to modify the parameters. Joplin comes with light and dark themes.

Joplin Themes
Joplin Themes

Joplin External Editor

Joplin allows you to edit your notes in an external editor like an atom, vscode, sublime, etc.. whatever is installed in your system. You have to explicitly set which editor to be used in settings else default text editors will be automatically preferred.

Go to “ToolsOptionsGeneralPath” to set up an external editor. I am setting up the sublime text as my external editor.

Set Editor in Joplin
Set Editor in Joplin

To start editing in an external editor simply press "CTRL+E" or “NoteToggle external editing”.

Joplin Synchronization

There are different cloud services Joplin can sync with. To set sync with cloud service go to “ToolsOptionsSynchronizationtarget”.

Joplin Synchronization
Joplin Synchronization

Joplin Encryption

Joplin supports E2E encryption. To enable encryption, go to “ToolsOptionsEncryptionEnable Encryption”. You have to set a master key password which will be prompted once encryption is enabled.

Enable Encryption in Joplin
Enable Encryption in Joplin

A master key along with a password is created which will be used to encrypt notes. For security reasons, this password is not recoverable. So make sure you remember the password.

Joplin Master Keys
Joplin Master Keys

Now start syncing your notes in cloud services or mobile applications. All your data will be encrypted and sent to a synced service. It may take some time to sync the encrypted data and sometimes sync seems to hang. Just hold and let sync complete because it will be running at the backend and for us, it may seem to be hung.

To disable E2E encryption press “Disable encryption”. If you have multiple devices, disable one device at a time and sync the services.

Disbale Encryption in Joplin
Disable Encryption in Joplin

Joplin Keyboard Shortcuts

There are lists of defined keybindings which can be modified and exported in JSON format. Go to “ToolsOptionsKeyboard Shortcuts” to get the list of keybindings.

Joplin Keyboard Shortcuts
Joplin Keyboard Shortcuts

Joplin Web Clipper

Webclipper is a browser extension that allows us to save screenshots and webpages from the browser. Currently, web clipper is available for Chrome and Firefox.

Go to “Menu barToolsOptionsWeb clipperEnable web clipper service”.

Enable Joplin Web Clipper
Enable Joplin Web Clipper

Web clipper will be started and will listen on port 41184.

Joplin Web Clipper
Joplin Web Clipper

Now install the browser extension. I will install the Firefox extension.

Install Browser Extension
Install Browser Extension

Once I installed the web clipper extension from the browser then you can use it to clip URL, Image, or HTML as shown in the image below. It has an option to choose which notebook to save and tag to be used.

Web Clipper
Web Clipper

That’s it for this article. We have seen what is Joplin and how to install it and some of its powerful options. There is a lot more to Joplin compared to what we have discussed in this article. Explore Joplin and share your experience and feedback with us.

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3 thoughts on “How to Install and Use Joplin Note Taking App on Linux”

  1. How come the new applications cannot use already existing file formats (.txt, .doc, .odt, etc.) rather than creating new ones (.jex, .enex)??? Do the developers think that by inventing and using a proprietary file format, their application will be more successful or survive longer? IMO, the opposite is/will be true.

    If I cannot import Joplin or Evernote files into already existing apps. I am not going to use them. If I cannot export my current files to Joplin or Evernote, I will not use them.

    Reply
      • Ahhh! The old Love-It-Or-Leave-It reasoning. If you can’t praise it, don’t make any comments.

        Unfortunately, that kind of thinking stifles progress.

        Reply

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