The four must-have attributes in my ideal note-taking app

PKM ONE
2 min readMar 5, 2023

I was considering what an ideal note-taking application should be and asked Twitter what they expect from their note-taking applications. I guess the fatigue of trying every new note-taking app has kicked in for me. My dating life with note-taking apps is over, and now I want to settle down and get married to one for life.

1. No subscriptions, please

I want my ideal note-taking application to be always accessible without a subscription; I don’t mind a one-time payment if free is not an option. A subscription is useful only when you use an app every day or at least for some hours every month or a year; otherwise, it just adds to your monthly bills, and you feel you are being swindled. There are many times I have used a special type of note-taking app like gemsnotes for just one month for a project and discontinued the subscriptions.

Of course, this is the user perspective, note-taking apps founder would say they have fixed monthly expenses like salaries and server costs. Ideally, when the cost of producing one extra copy is marginal or near zero, the companies can afford to give the users a one-time purchase or even a free copy of their software. There is excellent software like Things 3, Scrivener and iA Writer which are one-time purchases.

2. Established player and is in it for the long term

I want the company to be an established player so they don’t shut down a couple of years down the line. Any product that has been around for five or more years is an ideal candidate for a note-taking app.

3.Local Storage and Markdown

The application should have local storage, which is cross-compatible with other apps and doesn’t have a proprietary file format. Markdown is the best.

The idea is to have as few points of failure in your personal knowledge management workflow.

I am still bitter about getting locked out of Roam Research when they introduced their pricing. It was only at the very last moment I exported my data.

4. Should double down as a Project Manager

As per Carl Pullien’s Time sector process, he recommends the note-taking application to double down as a personal project manager, so I would like it to handle tasks efficiently.

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