Notenik - This could be serious competition for Obsidian et al

This new, free, open source notetaking app available on the Mac App Store has a really impressive list of features. I am scratching my head figuring out what the catch is and why it has not taken off more quickly. Very impressive.

It has export to HTML and publish to Medium features as well which are superior to Obsidian and others.


Pretty sure I tried Notenik a while ago. I remember being impressed by some aspects of it, but also came away feeling it’s a very opinionated app.

That isn’t in itself a bad thing! By my opinions differ. :joy:

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I’m impressed - I particularly like the database-like ability to have different fields. The ability to order notes and export them as a single MD note in that order is really useful and rare (Obsidian has a slightly clunky plugin to do this). The way it handles file attachments is slightly odd, but actually pretty useful (especially since they remain available to other tools).

Biggest weakness compared to most other tools now is the separation between display/edit and the inability to change the edit font (as far as I could tell). Editing seems very bare bones - you can’t even CMD-B to bold text.

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I think one of the major advantages that Obsidian has is the community support, like plug ins. Not sure Notenik ( or even Logseq, for that matter) will eventually build up to the same extent.

Also there is no mention of iPad /iPhone version in the roadmap (or may be I missed that)

On the positive side, like @rkaplan mentioned,

I agree - community support makes Obsidian powerful. While its developers are terrific, the community extends its potential exponentially.

There’s also a cost involved in shifting from one note taking tool to another. I moved from Roam to Obsidian but the ‘next thing’ would need to be incredible for me to uproot and switch again.


Definitely true, and local file markdown support is (as discussed elsewhere on this forum) only partly helpful, as you’re also giving up/changing functionality operating on those files.

It’s important to find an app that does most of what you want to do in its core (for me that is Ulysses for writing). I used a couple of plugins for Obsidian (early adopter!) which fell out of support and ceased to work with new ‘live’ editor. When your workflow relies on a certain individual a) continuing to use Obsidian b) continuing to use Obsidian in the same way that caused them to write a plugin, there’s a risk. Of course, there’s a similar risk with an app that has a sole developer.

Agreed… for me, the export to HTML or Medium are key features. Both Roam and Obsidian seem to me somewhat like walled silos if I want to share info. Yes Obsidian Publish exists (for a fee) but it does not work with many plugins so it is a mixed bag there. The ability to output HTML and thus create a simple static website from notes is quite flexible as a way to share information.

I agree! And the developer seems to be a good guy, too. I’m playing with it.

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The developer come on the forum looking for feedback in May last year.

Quite a good thread here

I like the application. The template notes are useful and it has many in/output options. My only issues are I find the top level navigation ( the collections) and some of the note linking a bit clumsy (or at least I am not used to it).

But it is a powerful app that deserves more of my time to understand it.

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Hey, this is Herb Bowie, the Notenik developer. Just wanted to say thanks for the discussion and consideration – especially since the thread was started on my birthday! A nice gift. Let me just point out a few things about Notenik to those who might be interested.

  • Notenik is free and open-source. It’s just me working on the development, and it’s about a half-time gig for me (the rest of my time I’m an author and user of Notenik). So I’ve decided to focus my efforts on the Mac platform. The notes themselves are just text files, and can be synced to other platforms, and edited using other apps – on the Mac, or on those other platforms.
  • Notenik is written in Swift using AppKit – no JavaScript or Electron here. This has both positive and negative implications, but it’s good to understand. I was recently alerted to one of the upsides by a blind user who said that Notenik was the only app she could find in this space that was completely accessible using VoiceOver! That made both of us happy.
  • I initially released a version of Notenik written in Swift about 2 1/2 years ago, and have been releasing enhancements about every two weeks since then. So while the basic interface has retained the same look and feel, there have been a lot of enhancements along the way.
  • As to why Notenik is such a well-kept secret… well, I’m not entirely sure. Part of it comes down to a lack of advertising budget for a free app. Part of the answer is because Notenik as it currently exists has kind of snuck up on people, due to the iterative development model. And part of the answer, I’m sure, is that it’s only available on the Mac, and most media outlets (if not users) are much more focused on apps that run on the iPhone and the iPad (not to mention Windows and Android platforms).
  • One final point: I’m always happy to entertain enhancement requests. The basic nature of the app won’t be changed as a result, but if there are missing features that would make the app more useful, I’m always happy to consider them – and often implement them fairly quickly.

Thanks again for the discussion!


Hey, one or two more clarifications here.

I recently worked with Evan Travers over a few development cycles to address whatever issues he found in maintaining a single set of notes that could be used with both Obsidian and Notenik. He was very helpful in pointing out several ways in which Notenik mucked with his files in ways that he did not like, and we worked together until he reached a point at which he could include Notenik on a list of a small set of tools that would be interoperable with his text files. So I just wanted to point out that there need not be a conversion cost involved, or any need to commit to Notenik as the only app for working with your notes.

Also, although I’m a solo developer working on Notenik, it is all modern open-source code written in Swift, and it’s all core functionality (no third-party plugins), so I have every intention of it being around for years, with all the functionality it has today, plus whatever else makes the cut along the way.

Hope this helps!


Thank you for coming back to the forum. Always great to see a developer here engaging directly. Notenik is a terrific app, and great to see it is entirely compatible.

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FYI: The latest version of Notenik (9.6.0) now allows the user to adjust the font(s) used on the Edit tab.


Also, there’s a new Notenik Discussion forum, hosted on Discourse, at Very much early days for the forum, but feel free to check it out, sign up if you like, and leave comments there.


Just a note to point out that Notenik is now up to Version 11.1.0. I generally release something new every couple of weeks, and am a big believer in ongoing, organic, incremental improvements.

Also, Notenik just got a nice review in the January 2023 issues of MacAddict & MacLife. So perhaps the well-kept secret is beginning to get out!

Thanks as always for the thoughtful discussion.


I just discovered the Query Builder, a quick, easy, and highly configurable way to display a Notenik collection as a grid, spreadsheet-style! Plus there is a clickable menu item to regenerate the grid view after I’ve made edits to the underlying data.

From the knowledge base, see Query Builder.

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This :point_up_2: is the ultimate in future-proofing.
If the unthinkable happened, or Microsoft created a clone, as was the suggested cause for the demise of Circus Ponies Notebook, someone else could “fork the repository” (I.e. make a copy) and continue development.

Or if someone wanted an editor with the Dyslexie font, or rainbow backgrounds, or what have you - again, developers working in public, sharing their code, makes this a possibility.

Kudos @hbowie for creating free and open source software :trophy::beers: