Zettelkasten Forum

Zkn3 Program Help

Hello! I've just gotten into the Zettlekasten method, and am hoping to use it as an undergraduate and beyond, with other programs like SuperMemo -- hopefully starting young will mean I'll have more time to learn all I can, which I'd love :D
Pardon me for forum etiquette mistakes, and I thank you for your help with a first post!

I've ordered the book "Taking Smart Notes," and downloaded the Zkn3 program by Daniel Ludecke. I know there's a lot of programs but I figured I'd dive in with one, and I can go on to reassess other options later.

Unfortunately, I can't find any how-to guides anywhere, besides a YouTube channel I think made by Ludecke himself (https://www.youtube.com/user/dzkn/videos). The videos look thorough but are in German, and the Autotranslate CC option seems pretty garbage, so I can't make any use of them. I also see that the PDF of Ludecke's slides (https://strengejacke.files.wordpress.com/2015/10/introduction-into-luhmanns-zettelkasten-thinking.pdf) has some screenshots with pointers describing different aspects of the program, but it's not exactly a how-to guide.

Has anyone experience with the program, and could detail how they learned to use the program proficiently? And what, if any, resources they were able to use? Thanks!


  • I learned to use the program by just trying stuff in a test file. It took about a week. I wish I had had some documentation but after a week of using it I felt comfortable. As I learned I put instructions in my Zettelkasten. I'd be happy to share them with you. They are not very extensive as I didn't write up some of the more obvious operations. If you have some specific questions I'd be happy to try to answer them.
    It was equally important to understand the Zettelkasten process. Having some idea of what results I was expecting accelerated the learning process.

  • There is an old wiki for the "Zettelkasten" - which has been destroyed:
    But the Wiki is only in german.

    Mit freundlichen Grüßen / Greetings

    Ich bin ein Westfale, und zwar ein Stockwestfale, nämlich ein Münsterländer – Gott sei Dank! füge ich hinzu...

  • What are your difficulties? I used it (10 years ago... oh, dear) and just fiddled my way in.

    I am a Zettler

  • I'm using ZKn3 on an iMac. I want to upgrade to the newer version but am not technically qualified to set up the Java environment. Can anyone point me to either good documentation or to someone who could guide me through it?

  • @cestjeffici how long have you been using it and how large is your note collection? Curious about your experience. Try leaving a comment on the github page for it, someone there might be able to point you towards how to.

  • @cestjeffici Downloading Java from the website should do the trick already, no need for a developer environment: https://www.java.com/en/

    Author at Zettelkasten.de • https://christiantietze.de/

  • @ctietze said:
    @cestjeffici Downloading Java from the website should do the trick already, no need for a developer environment: https://www.java.com/en/

    I think there's two versions - one that runs with Java 8, and one that runs with the dev environment of Java 9. In any case, I couldn't get the latest version made for Java 8 to open at all, which is not an uncommon problem, it seems, so I had to go back another version.

    After all that, I decided it wasn't really what I was looking for and gave it up 😂

  • edited June 8

    According to the hub, there are to versions. One package for Java 8 and one for 9+. For the Version 9+ you need the full development-kit, because there is no higher version than 8 for the Java JRE.

    Here you can download the kit:

    As far as I remember, there was a discussion in the git of ZKN3, were the developers pointed out that issue and they plan to pack newer versions of the ZKN3 with the java libaries the app needs, so in the future this whole java-download-shenanigans is (hopefully) over for the non-technical user. ^^

    I do not use ZKN3 anymore but I think you just load the new app and open your ZKN3 database there.

    I worked with ZKN3 and I would not recommend using it. I think the whole problem with this software is, that it tries to adapt the workflow you would have with an analoge zettelkasten. It forces you into a specific way handling your notes. Even the author of the book you mentioned seems to look for alternatives. 1 So I would suggest to try some other software, before you go for the app.

    1. minute 40-45 I think: ↩︎

  • runit: Thanks for the response. ZKN3 fits my workflow perfectly. I'm not having issues with the old release, just feel I should be up to date. I will wait a while and see if the next release includes the required Java element.

  • Ya I had not problem with ZKN3 and my workflow also. The only reason I stopped using it was because it wasn't plain text with markdown.

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