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How to make notes efficiently…with Wikidpad

February 13th, 2007 by James · 12 Comments

As part of my research I continually have great ideas and want to take notes.With time my note taking has evolved, from using pen and paper to using MS Word. Even though storing data in Word files looks pretty, it is slow to load and even slower to navigate. The jump from paper to text enabled searching within each document, and more recently, with desktop search software it is possible to search your computer from your browser. efficiently

Writing your notes in Hypertext enables you to cross-link documents , but editing and publishing to a webserver is time consuming and sometimes complicated. Wikidpad is the next evolution. A cross between a wiki and a notepad style text editor. Pages created in Wikidpad can either be kept on your computer, published on the web or as I will show you, easily stored on your mobile phone or PDA.

The Basic WikidPad application

This is Wikidpad, files are both edited and viewed in the same application.The pane on the left shows the tree of files and their relations the pane on the right shows part of my Cushing’s entry.

Adding a page to Wikidpad

Last night I saw an interesting case of cerebral venous sinus thrombosis (CVST), so I did a few web searches and consulted my favourite texts and wanted to make some notes about it.

Creating the page. I classify venous thrombosis as a primarily neurological disorder and so will create a page initially off my basic neurology page.

I did this by navigating to my Neurology page and typing [Sinus Venous Thrombosis], Wikidpad needs to know that I want this to be a link to a new page. There are 2 ways to let Wikidpad know that this is a link rather than simply a piece of text. One way is to make the words camel-case style, that is to joint 2 words and capitalise the second word eg SinusVenousThrombosis or enclose the link in square brackets. Now I have placed my link if I click on it it will create a new wiki-page.

This new page automatically shows up on the tree on the left under neurology. You can see that the name of the page has already been entered on the top of the wiki page on the right pane and has been set as bold. You can make text bold either by prefixing it with to + signs, or by selecting it and clicking bold on the toolbar. I am now going to add some notes which can easily include bullet points, or links to the web.

To add notes simply click on the pane and type away. To make a bullet list either click on the bullet list icon or just start each line with a *. To add a link to another wikipage simply type the name of the other page in CamelCase or enclose it in square brackets.

Here is the completed page with bullet points and relevant links.

The real power of wikidpad of course is when you start linking your pages together.

Exporting WikidPad Pages

I currently export my wikidpad pages to html format (The format used for the world wide web) so my notes can be easily viewed on my phone, but these could easily be uploaded to a website. This can be done either as a single html file, which can be slow on mobile phones, or a set of html files.

Here the sinus venous thrombosis page can be seen on my mobile, yes the screen is small but it is quick enough to be usable on the wards or in clinic if you don’t have Internet access.

Searching your Wiki

Google desktop is my current favourite desktop search solution, and luckily both the .wiki files and the html files produced by wikidpad are indexed, so those notes are really easy to find.

  • Alternatives to WikidPad
    • Microsoft OneNote: I had a trial copy of the 2003 version of this a year or so ago, its now been updated to 2007. The collaborative working features in 2003 were good though it was a large install and runs quite slow on my machine. Oh yeah it costs around £79.
    • Key Note RTF rather than Html output, but is freeware and looks pretty.
    • Evernote Commercial and free offerings of the same program, for USD 29.99 you get synchronisation features and more.
  • Tags: Free · Open Source · Research · Software

    12 responses so far ↓

    • 1 10 killer free applications for the Medical Research Student (Windows) Part 1 // Mar 10, 2007 at 9:01 pm

      […] best note taking software I have used, which you can read about in my previous article here, is WikiPad. Wikidpad is both open source and free and avilable from […]

    • 2 jimstein // Jun 12, 2007 at 3:19 pm

      Basket notepads: looks like a great replacement for OneNote in the Linux. Else wikedpad is great.

    • 3 James // Jun 12, 2007 at 7:45 pm

      Thanks Jim, it looks great..shame for the Windows community that it is KDE only..


    • 4 Peter Krokenberg // Oct 3, 2007 at 1:07 am

      Nice post. I tried it and another app called ConnectedText. The latter is more powerful and robust but it is not free. ConnectedText has a better user interface and some nice features. I think you should give a try.

    • 5 Mike Johnson // Oct 8, 2007 at 3:05 pm

      tiddlywiki is another option – GUI is like a cross between a wiki and a blog, it’s all in one html file so very portable. If you want it available via the web, head over to

    • 6 James // Oct 8, 2007 at 7:11 pm

      Mike: I must admit I really liked TiddlyWiki, it worked well…but at the time of writing the blog entry I needed static html as this worked well on a phone or PDA.

      More recently I have started using a BlackBerry, which has no feature that allows you to traverse links on local html files…though once I have fixed that I will post something.

      Peter. I will download it and give it a go.



    • 7 Graham // Aug 12, 2009 at 12:09 am

      James, WikidPad is really very x-platform: underneath, it’s all Python. I have it running (and syncing very easily between:
      Windows XP home computer; and
      Ubuntu Linux with Fluxbox (neither KDE nor Gnome- much lighter weight for an old laptop); and
      Portable on a USB stick so I can run it from any old Windows machine at uni.

    • 8 ALVARIO KATINDASA // Oct 25, 2011 at 6:05 am


    • 9 irammanzoor // Jan 14, 2012 at 11:24 am

      i like your ideas very much and thanks to make a solution of my problem.

    • 10 park noin // Feb 14, 2012 at 7:12 am

      Thank for your post.
      i heard about wiki-pad yesterday and come your notes today,
      and understand how to use wikipad.
      Thanks again.

    • 11 Sam // Feb 6, 2013 at 10:35 pm

      WikidPad is awesome. I added some functionality that allows me to underline, color, resize and change font easily. If you are interesting on doing this just e-mail me. I will be glad to help.

    • 12 Sam // Feb 6, 2013 at 10:38 pm

      I forgot e-mails are not shown. Well, here it is.

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