Logseq – The Note Taking Tool

Having spent the summer of 2020 testing out various note-taking tools / apps for personal knowledge management (PKM) purposes, there are a few, in my opinion, which really stand out from the rest. One of these is Logseq (link).

Before going into why I believe Logseq is one of the best note-taking apps out there, it might be worth remembering that instinctively when we need to write something down, the first thing we look for is a pen and some paper. When on the phone and we need to take a number down, the other person instinctively says “do you have a pen ready”. I believe this is because pen and paper:

  • Feels natural,
  • Efficient,
  • Easy to use,
  • Free (minimal cost to owning a piece of paper and a pen),
  • Liberal (only the paper edges define the space you have available),
  • Ownership (you own it and can do what you want with it).

In essence, you can pick up a pen and some paper and write at your heart’s content.

With that out of the way, let’s get into why Logseq, and why I found it (and think you will too) just as easy to use as pen and paper.

Why Logseq?

What makes Logseq what it is, is how the tool came to be, the founder and the team of developers he has with him, in addition to Logseq being a fantastic note-taking tool. The app is still in its early beta days, and there is a lot of development going on, but it is a breeze to use and with each update comes further stability and new features.

The tool came to life as a side project of an immensely friendly chap called Tienson Qin Twitter. Having notes but nowhere convenient to put them, he developed Logseq. His passion for the tool and the time he takes to answer questions and grow the community are incredible. This passion, time and care are directly transferred to the Logseq tool. It is a true joy to use, and when things don’t go according to plan, you can sense he feels the pain and will look to put things right as soon as possible. The Devs also listen to their users’ comments and feedback and shape the future of the app with these in mind.

Logseq is local first (you are in control of your notes) with notes being saved in plain text files in both Markdown and Org Mode formats means that you are not tied into proprietary software – you can easily transfer your notes somewhere else or even open them with Notepad.

The server will never store or analyse your private notes. Even if the website is down or can’t be maintained, your data is always yours. Your notes are stored in the local browser storage using IndexedDB and plain text files in a local directory or on GitHub.

Logseq.com

When visiting Logseq.com we are greeted with a welcome page which highlights what is possible, as shown in the following example:

Although the tool by default opens up on the daily journal page (with a new page being created for each day automatically) it is possible to change this by adding “:default-home {:page “WhateverFile”}” before the last “}” to the config file (under settings). This way you can direct the home page to be whatever note page you want.

Features:

There are many, many features available in Logseq and I have listed below what I consider to be the main ones:

  • Ease of writing notes – open up and off you go
  • Outliner – Can structure your notes how you wish
  • Focus mode – click on a bullet point to focus on that text
  • Collapse / expand – easily expand and collapse blocks of notes to see what is of interest to you in a given moment
  • Note linking – create links between notes at both a page and block-level
  • Backlinking – easily see which pages and block link to the page
  • Sidebar actions – see recent notes or open a note in the sidebar allowing you to work on two notes (or more) at once
  • Embed block – include an embed of a block in another page where you can edit the contents which will be reflected in the original note
  • To-do list – easily create to-do lists
  • Graph View – Visualise a page or your notes collection in a graph
  • Favourites – editable list of favourite notes in an easy to reach location

I have included below a brief video of the things that it can do (please note that there have been a few changes to Logseq since the video was posted – a new and updated video is being prepared)

How I Use Logseq:

You can use Logseq to take and organise your notes and personal knowledge in a non-linear manner. Use it to manage your to-do list, write your journals or, record the unique moments in your life. A brief overview of how I use it daily is included below:

True Local Only Experience:

The introduction of the stable Local Storage option means that it is now possible to store files locally (or Google Drive, OneDrive or DropBox, etc.) instead of having to save the notes in Github. This addition has truly made Logseq local only. I did a quick video overview of this in the following video:

If you were one of the early users of Logseq and want to take your notes from your GitHub repo to the local storage, I found the following manner works best:

  1. Go to your Github repo where you save your Logseq notes and on the right-hand side you should see a green “Code” button
  2. Click this button and then click the last option “Download Zip” (This downloads your notes as a zip file)
  3. Open the Zip folder you downloaded and copy / extract the contents to the location where your local Logseq directory is set. Copy the Journals from the zip to the journals on your machine and same for pages.
  4. Go to Logseq.com and click on the refresh icon beside your avatar (top right hand side)

Pros and Areas of Improvement:

The things I like about Logseq:

  1. Ease of using the tool and getting started,
  2. Saves files locally so you are in total control,
  3. Efficient to jot down something,
  4. Liberal – can indent at your hearts content and chop and change text / reorder as you wish,
  5. Easily search for anything you have written,
  6. Speed of development and a great team behind it,
  7. Free (donations are possible, see OpenCollective link below for more info).

Do you see the resemblance of the advantages of using Logseq to those described why we typically go for pen and paper?

The things I hope to see in the near future:

  1. Better markdown format so that it is easier to copy and paste text between different applications. It feels a little cumbersome at the moment.
  2. Desktop / mobile app for even quicker note-taking – this is more a wish rather than an improvement as working via a web browser is ok.

Conclusion

The ease of using the app and freedom of writing notes and the amazing features that Logseq add to the table to generate ideas from your notes are second to none. The features make this one of the best note-taking apps / tools out there, and with a few more tweaks and improvements, Logseq can set the bar even higher.

More Information

For more details be sure to check out:

Thank you for reading, and I hope you give Logseq a try.