Zettelkasten Forum

Best ZK software for Windows, 2021

I've been deep into the Forum and other sources on this one (and completely despondent that the Archive doesn't support windows!). I'd love to have a hybrid system like many of you that allows for both handwritten and digital. Is there a link to updated (like, 2021) thoughts on the best ZK software for someone who is not tech savvy or who is the average user?

As background, I'm currently working on a book that is due this year. So getting into a streamlined way of doing this early on (this is my first week in the program!) feels important. I've gone down several rabbit holes on this one and would appreciate insights for easy software implementation for Windows.

And what might it take to get @christian and @sfast to create a Windows version of The Archive? :D


  • Possibly Obsidian. (I use it on Mac but it is cross platform)

    "Best" is subjective of course, others may argue for other software.

    I will say though there are at least a couple people IIRC who described writing a book using a ZK-ish / Andy Matuschak-ish approach in Obsidian, including one who is featured in a video from Nick Milo. Look up Linking Your Thinking on Youtube to find that video.

  • Hi bforbes,

    Fairly new to the ZK world...fortunately, discovered this great site recently.

    If you want to use a proprietary system, online, than as davecan mentioned there's Obsidian...there's also Notion and Roam, etc.

    I decided I'd prefer a non-proprietary, open-source, app, that you don't need to be connected to the internet to use, and portable. So, in process of learning TiddlyWiki (TW) and already customizing it using several plug-ins that people have created and sharing with the community.

    One great thing about TW is that the program is just a html file, so you can open it in any web browser and use it.

    I'd suggest you check it out and see if it works for you.

    You can get some support here as some people here are using it as well as on the google group, large community there.

    In addition, there are quite a lot of YouTube videos too. I'm starting to work my way through the video tutorial series by Francis Meetze, on #2 now.....it has some great ideas to tune up TW...

    There's also NessLabs page on getting started. Pretty good, but she leaves out a few steps here and there and somethings are bit out of date. However, she does mention some TW upgrades.

    When I went to link about TiddlyBlink, David Gifford's, TW plugin, that page mentions that he's replaced TB with 'Stroll', available to everyone to use. Very nice! and I'm using it now, take a look:

    Check it out!

    Hope this helps.



  • @davecan Thank you.

    @ArchiMark Thank you. I'm excited about this system, but setup is an issue. You're right: I'm interested in non-proprietary systems only (but forgot to add that in my initial post), particularly since my research is so closely tied to my livelihood. I'll take a look at TW, thank you!

  • edited March 2021

    Obsidian is technically proprietary but all of the content is simply Markdown notes, just as with The Archive. So the notes you create are completely portable. It also has a growing rich plugin ecosystem.

    I suspect one could (fairly) easily port notes between Obsidian and The Archive, and between Obsidian and a purely open source tool like VSCode and the Dendron plugin for it which adds a lot of Obsidian-style zettelkasten-style features. (though it isn't designed explicitly for ZK work)


    (Dendron also looks a lot like Obsidian, at least superficially, and has a feature Obsidian lacks, which I'm not sure is or isn't needed: note schemas)

    I'm not affiliated with Obsidian, but I do think it is superior to Notion and Roam both of which lock your data away in proprietary formats on their servers. (last I checked that was how Notion works, I could be wrong about that) "Superior" here meaning open access to my data since the intent is to build a lifelong set of notes. I've been burned by tools like Evernote before, not going down that road again.

    By comparison, all my notes are simply Markdown files on my local file system, and I use an Obsidian plugin to auto-commit all changes to a remote git repository every 5 minutes so I have easy version control and rollback capabilities as well.

  • @bforbes
    You're welcome.

    Check it out....I'm realizing now that at first glance it may seem like there's a fair amount to do to set it up. However, it's really not that way. TW is really very usable as-is. Although think it's really worth a small amount of effort to upgrade it a bit, before you add a lot of your own data.

    I would try it, watch one or two of Meetze's videos and then if you're feeling comfortable, try adding 'Stroll' to TW.

    While on Stroll page, click on 'Add Stroll to your TW' tiddler button in list on left side. Then drag and drop the yellow pill shaped button near top of page to your TW page. You'll see a green horizontal bar at top of your TW page appear. Let go of the button anywhere on your TW page, then click the 'Import' button. Then click the little 'checkmark' button on TW page to save it.

    Then if you want to use Markdown, go to:
    and drag and drop the link near bottom of page:
    '$:/plugins/anstosa/tw5-markdown' into your TW page and after you see the green bar, drop the link on your page, click 'Import' button, then click the checkmark button to save it.

    Then, click on 'Troubleshooting' tiddler on left side list on Stroll page and follow instructions under heading 'Markdown'. Two items to do. Then click 'checkmark' button to save changes.

    Then close your TW and re-open it and Voila! you'll have all the Stroll items in your TW file.

    Seems like a lot to do, but should take 5 - 10 minutes to add Stroll. Worth the small effort I think.

    Let us know if any questions.

  • @bforbes said:
    I've been deep into the Forum and other sources on this one (and completely despondent that the Archive doesn't support windows!). I'd love to have a hybrid system like many of you that allows for both handwritten and digital. Is there a link to updated (like, 2021) thoughts on the best ZK software for someone who is not tech savvy or who is the average user?

    I'm not sure why it's not mentioned more frequently on this forum, but there is a program called Zettlr that works on almost any computer platform, and is simple to install and use. You can download it at:


    Zettlr has one advantage of being "software agnostic", that is, it creates and works with plain text files. I usually use The Archive because I love it and work mostly on a Mac. My ZK files are stored in Dropbox. On the odd occasion when I need to access them from a Windows-based machine, I start up Zettlr, point it to those same plain text files in Dropbox, and voilà, I'm up and running.

    I've also tried Obsidian but find it more confusing for a newbie (like me) than Zettlr.

    I recommend you have a look at Zettlr before deciding.

  • There is a very interesting application Hypernomicon. Open Source, Multi-Platform. Integrates with Zotero. http://hypernomicon.org

  • @GeoEng51 Zettlr does look interesting.

    Obsidian is still pre-1.0 software and it is updated every few days. It is also an Electron app with a plugin architecture and its plugin API is being built out over the past few months so the number of plugins is growing significantly. The developers are committing to core features and pushing additional feature requests to plugins as much as possible.

    So that could be one source of confusion, because it can be configured in so many different ways to do many different things, all revolving around the concept of "note taking."

    In that sense I see it as becoming a sort-of "emacs for note taking" – not that it is literally as powerful as emacs but that it exposes an increasingly rich plugin API and its plugins can take advantage of the entire NodeJS ecosystem to expand it in a wide variety of ways.

    In that sense it is similar to VSCode, but where VSCode is a mature app focused on software development this is still a pre-1.0 app focused on note taking specifically.

  • I'm using sublime_zk. It's Sublime Text plugin, and yes it's abandoned, but works very well.
    GIT: https://github.com/renerocksai/sublime_zk
    Forum: https://forum.zettelkasten.de/discussion/77/renes-sublimetext-for-zettelkasten-package-talk-and-more/p1

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