Zettelkasten Forum

How do I get started with emacs?

This discussion was created from comments split from: Switching from Notion to RoamResearch.


  • With the risk of hi jacking this topic @ctietze @ I have long been avoiding trying Emacs because of the (imagined?) hurdle of complexity and unintuitive character.

    Can you advise any getting started guides or videos that helped you get onboard with Emacs? Like the way Christian used it in the Range Book Processing video series.

    I am a Zettler, ie 'one who zettles'
    research: pragmatism, 4e cognitive science, metaphor | you can't be neutral on a moving train

  • Thanks for the splitting, now I'll see if anyone presents some pointers B)

    I am a Zettler, ie 'one who zettles'
    research: pragmatism, 4e cognitive science, metaphor | you can't be neutral on a moving train

  • I accepted the fact that I had to invest days and weeks to get into Emacs. My first session lasted from 3:30AM to 19:00PM pretty much non-stop with the exeption of eating. That was just my starter.

    I am a Zettler

  • There are shortcut/cheat sheets available online for free. Get one and practice, practice, practice.

    If you want a book, I recommend Mastering Emacs. Very good, very in depth, but don’t worry about learning it all. If you read it and practice you will be very good at Emacs.

    Stick with it. I’ve been using Emacs now so long (20+ years?) that I don’t remember how I started. But it’s worth it, since I use it daily and it works on Mac, Linux, Windows and the keystrokes even work in many apps or shells.

    I’ve refined my .emacs settings over many years of fine tuning and trying things. I would run across a blog post about this or that feature or add on for Emacs, and then I’d try it. Like I set up org mode in Emacs - before switching to OmniFocus on Mac and iOS. But both were good.

    So the time you spend will be well spent, as you’ll never need another editor for the rest of your life. Seriously.

    The point is that after a while, it becomes muscle memory. You don’t think “how do I split the screen”, you just hit the shortcut keys. You can move around the screen or split screens with shortcuts, not using the mouse at all. Very fast.

    I typically run emacs in a terminal window, so there is no menu or toolbar or any visual cues. This forced me to learn the shortcuts.

    So when you get to that point it is a huge boost to productivity ;-)

  • I'm very tempted to learn Emacs and org mode after watching this video:


    I shared Carsten Dominik's approach regarding taking notes, especially in a professionnel context:

    1. Org mode is designed to facilitate thinking thanks to its outline feature
    2. Org mode is designed to combine writing and planning

    I knew Vim since 2017, it is my universal, multi-purpose texte editor. I use Vim as an external editor with The Archive. Vim can (un)fold markdown sections and it can be useful, even if it is not a full capable outliner. Of course there are plugins to enhance Vim outline capabilities, but I prefer to keep Vim lean.

    I have two separate zettelkasten, one personal, one for work. My personal zettelkasten is used as general knowledge management with a reference manager (BibDesk). I read a lot and take personal notes when reading.

    @project). I use a simple grep (silver search actually) script to find all actions concerning a people or a project.

    But I am wondering if Emacs and org mode is better suited for my professional context.

    Just to share my thought. Feedback welcomed.

  • Org mode is completely awesome.

    Maybe you want to use something else, but thing in itself as such is just very good.

    One point I want to make about it: Like according to the main guiding principle of Markdown, an org-mode file is also easily readable with a human eye. I think this is important and makes org-mode superior to other Markdown alternatives.

    You can start using Org-mode without Emacs. There is a web app…


  • My suggestion is you install doom emacs, which has a nice org module, which in turn will very soon have a "roam" flag.

    It's the easiest way to get going with a nice setup, but leaves you room to grow as you get more comfortable.

Sign In or Register to comment.