Zettelkasten Forum

Zettelkasten Workflow with Typora, Alfred and Mathjax

Hello everybody,

Just a short post to describe my workflow with Typora. This could be useful for people who want some "nice" rendering of Mathjax while having some kind of clickable links and autosuggestion for links.

A few workds about me: I just started creating a Zettelkasten after having read How to take smart notes and the forum. I am a PhD student in Economics, and my notes have thus a bit of math using Mathjax.


I first started with Bear, but didn't like the proprietary format and the lack of easy rendering of Mathjax syntax. I then rapidly switched to Markdown, where I tried iA Writer (I enjoy the implementation of Tags but it doesn't have [[wiki]] links or any kind of links, for that matter) and Atom. Atom is great with a few plugins that allow for wikilinks and Mathjax rendering in a preview, but I ultimately settled on Typora because of the smoothness of its mix of WYSIWYG and plain text.

Keyboard Maestro

To have proper links in Typora, I use a Keyboard Maestro macro from somebody on the forum that I modified. Indeed, in Typora, there is no [[wikilinks]] but only standard markdown links like this name of the link. The Keyboard Maestro macro transforms those links into [filename] so that I can still "click" those links in [[wiki]] only apps and have nice links in Typora.


I also use Alfred macros to easy create new notes and ids. For example, cmd+@ will open a worflow in Alfred. I can then type the title of the note, and Alfred will create a note with my usual template, the title of the link and a unique id YYYYMMDDHHMM, and open this note in Typora. I found that minimizing the cost of creating a new note pushed me to add as much knowledge as possible to my Zettelkasten.

With "cmd+&", I start an Alfred workflow searching inside my note folders for anything within the text of my notes. I can thus simply search my notes by tags, titles or content.


I use a special tagging strategy, since I use only tags for "projects". When I tag a note, I ask myself "for which project could this be useful"? My projects being usually papers and classes. I feel that this strategy pushes me to have a concrete view.

Wishlist and improvements

This workflow works fine for now, but there is still a few things that I would like to improve:
1. I don't have a good workflow for references. Let's say I want to make a reference to this paper Author 2020. Right now, I use [@author2020] which is a bibtex reference, but Typora doesn't recognize those so it is a bit useless. Maybe I should switch to "normal" references.

  1. I would like a way to have a list of available tags like in the left panel of iA Writer. This would ease the navigation inside the zettelkasten. I am specifically looking for a script that would transfer my note tags into Mac OS tags, but haven't found any yet (I think project nvUltra should have this feature, so maybe it would be possible to have some standalone script?)

  2. I would like to adapt the Backlink script to my particular workflow, but haven't found a way to do it yet. I tend to [[link]] quite a lot (that's the point right?) but I am usually too lazy to add the relevant backlinks myself.

  3. I am still unsure of the difference between a reference note and a zettelkasten note. Right now, my workflow will be to read a paper, write a reference note and then put the main ideas into some notes. However, sometimes a concept is a paper, and it's hard to see the difference between the two (like model of Author 2020 could be a reference note and also a zettelkasten note, this this model is a concept in itself). I have the same issues with literature reviews: a lot of the academic work is to do literature reviews. Does it make sense to create literature notes in my zettelkasten or should they only be in my reference folders?

I would appreciate any comments and inputs!

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