August 23, 2011

Xournal – A Great Note-Taking Application For Linux

posted on April 14, 2011 by

Xournal is an amazing little program that has many great purposes, including the situation mentioned above. If you can develop a simple and easy-to-follow organization structure with your notes, this program can easily become one of your must-haves. Best of all, it runs great on Linux!

What Is It?

Xournal, simply put, is a note-taking Linux application. However, instead of getting a blank box to enter information into, you get a blank piece of “paper” every time you open it up. And that’s all it does, aside from giving you all the tools you could possibly need to pour your heart out on that virtual piece of paper.

Basic Features

note taking linux

If you go ahead and try making a mark on your paper as you would in an image manipulation program, you’ll immediately know what’s going on. Xournal lets you mark on your paper with any lines or handwriting you want. It also has tools for writing text in case you don’t want to write everything out on your trackpad. It also lets you highlight anywhere on the paper, giving you the flexibility as well as the feel of actually writing notes and annotating.

taking notes linux

Further Uses

Starting with a blank piece of paper to take very customized notes is a great thing, but being able to annotate PDF files is even better. Just fire up Xournal and choose “Annotate PDF” under the File menu to open any PDF that you have access to, and it quickly loads into the program and you’re ready to start annotating. It’s definitely a handy feature, especially if you want to write some notes while reading one of MakeUseOf’s many PDF guides!

note taking linux

If you look around some more, you’ll find that the menus are packed with plenty of options at your disposal. Honestly, there are more options that I can even wrap my head around, so you’re more than likely to be covered in case you have a special need. And surprisingly, Xournal is a lightweight application, even with the large range of options. With a barely marked page open, Xournal takes less than 5MB from your RAM!
Tablet owners will have even more pleasure while using Xournal. With the right hardware, it can literally become your virtual paper that you can write on without any issues. Xournal even goes down to subpixels instead of just pixels to create the cleanest, smoothest, and most accurate lines that, when using a tablet, will make up your legible handwriting.


Xournal is an amazing piece of software that holds only a small amount of attention from the community. It deserves much more, and considering that the last version of Xournal came out in 2009, it could definitely use some attention once again. Although my imagination can’t think of what else Xournal could possibly include, I’m sure there are enough people to make it even more valuable.
Do you use Xournal? If so, what was your best experience while using it?  Whether you currently use it or not, how do you think it would increase your productivity and level of organization?