What Is The Best Zettelkasten Software?

Are you looking for the best zettelkasten software? Learn more about the zettelkasten method below, and find the best software programs to help you.

Whether you want to write an academic paper or learn about a new topic, you must take notes effectively. Everyone has their note-taking style, but one popular method is called zettelkasten. 

This personal knowledge management system is commonly used to research and study new material. It can be an excellent way for you to learn about a new topic, and there are software programs that can help you use this method more efficiently. Dive into the ins and outs of the zettelkasten method below, and look at a few software options that can help you.

What Is the Zettelkasten System?

The Zettelkasten method, also called the slip-box method, is a strategic note-taking system used for writing and thinking. It has become one of the top knowledge management methods to help you organize the knowledge you uncover while studying or researching. 

Even though this method can help you stay organized, it is also very effective at helping you improve your memory and knowledge retention. The system’s goal is to take every new note you create, organize them effectively, and turn them into permanent notes in your mind. In this fashion, the digital zettelkasten system can improve your memory recall, teach your mind how to uncover patterns, and help you apply your knowledge more effectively.

A few reasons why you might want to use this system include:

  • To learn how to organize your information and a manner that uncovers patterns systematically.
  • To locate the information you need more easily, even years down the road.
  • Based on the information you uncover while researching or studying, you can develop your ideas.
  • The overall goal of this method is to help you connect the dots between different pieces of knowledge. Then, you can form your thoughts and opinions based on what you see. By connecting the dots between different ideas, you can increase your knowledge and become more productive while studying or researching. 

Several zettelkasten software programs can help you get the most out of this method.

1. Obsidian

Price: There is a free plan available. The pay plan starts at $25, a one-time payment only
Best For: Those who love drawing mind maps on a desktop computer

Best Zettelkasten Software: Obsidian
Obsidian allows people to link their ideas together, forming a mindmap

Obsidian is a powerful note-taking software with various unique, contemporary features. It allows people to link their ideas together, forming a mindmap. There is an idea placed in the center, and then each supporting idea branches off of that. 

Because you can link your ideas together, it is perfect for those using the Zettelkasten method. The user interface is straightforward. You can add hashtags to your notes, create footnotes, and even add a hyperlink or two, along with internal links and backlinks. This makes it easier for you to spot patterns in your workflow and uncover how various ideas are related. This is the crux of the zettelkasten method, and you can even turn on and off certain features that well. It runs well on Windows, macOS, and Linux, so it is a versatile program that will run well on just about every central platform; however, there is no mobile application available. 

  • It gives users the ability to work offline.
  • You can create a mind map using existing markdown editor files.
  • Highly customizable.
  • Customer complaints are handled quickly and efficiently.
  • Not open source. 
  • You can only access it using a desktop computer. 
  • Also, the program can be a bit slow and clunky at times. 

2. Roam Research

Price: There is a free trial available. The paid plan starts at $100 per year
Best For: Academic professionals who do a tremendous amount of research regularly

Best Zettelkasten Software: Roam Research

Another popular zettelkasten tool is called Roam Research. This is a desktop app that has been specifically designed to help people organize their ideas more effectively before writing an academic paper or essay. Furthermore, the application helps people solve problems that they might not otherwise be able to solve by uncovering patterns, which is the center of the zettelkasten method.

The application is easy to use, it gives people the ability to collaborate in real-time, and the user can make new pages constantly. Then, the pages can be tied together, helping people link ideas. In addition, the application gives users the ability to work on one central note. Then, they can open another note and designate that it is supposed to link to the central note. Users can quickly bounce back and forth between pages when this happens, discovering how the ideas might link together. 

  • It is straightforward to link ideas together.
  • The interface is clean and does not have a lot of distractions.
  • Users can integrate images and videos easily.
  • The learning curve is very short.
  • There are no printing capabilities included in the program.
  • There is no way to export documents in Docx or PDF formats.
  • There is no web clipper available. 

3. Logseq

Price: Free. Donations are encouraged
Best For: Those who prioritize their privacy and like making to-do lists

Best Zettelkasten Software: Logseq

Logseq is an open-source knowledge base management program that prioritizes privacy. It is used to write, organize, and distribute thoughts with others as you see fit. In addition, you can use the program to connect your thoughts as you see fit. Then, you can see your knowledge graph grow as you link various ideas together, which is supposed to represent new neurons and ideas coming together, which is a perfect example of the zettelkasten method at work.

You can also use this program to organize your tasks and projects. There are commands built-in that will help you prioritize some ideas over others. There is also a query system that you can use to collaborate with other people, collect new thoughts, and make sure you are not overlooking anything. Furthermore, you can take advantage of PDF highlights, flashcards, and numerous other tools. You can even use this program to take full advantage of the slip-box method.

  • This is an open-source program.
  • You can connect various notes, showing how they are related.
  • You can use the daily journal feature to jot down desperate topics and quickly expand on them.
  • The program emphasizes privacy and security.
  • The program is still being developed, so it lacks many features.
  • There is no Android app available.
  • Navigating the app’s various commands can be a challenge at first.

4. Draft

Price: Free and open-source
Best For: Those who need to collaborate with others

Best Zettelkasten Software: Draft

Draft is an excellent program for the zettelkasten method, particularly if you need to work with multiple people. This program integrates with Google Docs, making it easier to collaborate with the other people on your team. You can also keep track of the notes people make, making it easier to see how various people link ideas together. You can use this capability to uncover patterns and analyze research material.

  • It is effortless to use.
  • You can import and export from Google Docs.
  • In addition, the program allows you to collaborate with others.
  • The program does have bugs from time to time.
  • The features are limited compared to other options.
  • It is not the most secure program available.

5. Byword

Price: $10.99
Best For: Anyone who likes to publish on Medium or WordPress

Best Zettelkasten Software: Byword

Byword is an excellent program for those who like to use the zettelkasten method. There are numerous cross-references, tables, highlighting options, shortcuts, and footnotes that you can use to specify how different ideas link together. Furthermore, you can take advantage of the typewriter mode, which will help you focus on the line you are currently working on. Then, you can go back to your notes later, show how they relate, and uncover patterns in your work.

  • Features can help you minimize outside distractions.
  • It links flawlessly to WordPress, Medium, Evernote, and other websites.
  • It is less expensive than most other options.
  • It struggles if you need to produce longer papers. 
  • There is no way to create flashcards.
  • It does not come with any templates. 

6. Zettlr

Price: Free and open-source
Best For: Those who like to work in different languages

Best Zettelkasten Software: Zettlr

The next option you might want to consider is called Zettlr. As the name suggests, this is perfect for those who want to use the zettelkasten method. This robust markdown editor contains everything you need to take notes, link ideas, and write your papers. It comes with inline previews and exceptional support, and it allows you to export in more than 40 file system formats. In addition, it maintains its functionality in more than a dozen languages.

You can use this program to insert images, create charts, and even put together a slideshow. You can also drag citations from programs such as Zotero and Mendeley, making it easier to complete your document. You can also add tags, export in Word, HTML5, and PDF formats, and quickly highlight ideas.

  • It offers a wide variety of features to help organize ideas.
  • Works well with images and slideshows.
  • Works in numerous languages.
  • Has a lot of export options.
  • The program can be a bit slow at times.
  • It has many features, so it can be a bit overwhelming.
  • The program struggles to include videos.

7. Typora

Price: Free for now, but there could be a charge when the development is finished
Best For: Those who like to lay out their notes in various ways

Best Zettelkasten Software: Typora

You may also want to explore Typora for the zettelkasten method. This is an excellent program because it can give you a preview of the final document, perfect for giving you a bird’s-eye view of the notes you have created. In addition, you can look at how all of the different points link together, which you might not be able to see when you are zoomed in, working on a specific one.

You can use this program to create a variety of diagrams, allowing you to customize them to meet the needs of the topic you are working on. When you are done, you can export the file in various formats, which can help you identify patterns down the road. 

  • You can get a preview of the final form to see how the document is formatted and how your ideas link together.
  • There are numerous file management options available.
  • The program comes with numerous custom themes.
  • The image management can be a bit clunky at times.
  • The program has a lot of bugs because it is still under development.
  • It doesn’t have a lot of integrations and plugins with other programs.

Selection Criteria

We used a variety of selection criteria to select these programs. They include:

  • Features Available: We considered the features available, specifically how they relate to the zettelkasten method.
  • Ease of Use: We considered how easy the program was, favoring programs with a relatively short learning curve.
  • Value for Money: We also took the price of each program into account, comparing its price to the features provided.

Then, we compiled the list above. 

Why You Can Trust Me

There are several reasons why you can trust the options on this list. First, we have personally tried every program on the list to see how it works on various platforms. Furthermore, we have produced numerous pieces of content in various formats, which gives us a tremendous amount of experience we can lean on. Finally, we also talked to other people to see what their experiences were like to make sure we got a comprehensive picture. Consider trying out the program to see how they work for your needs for all of these reasons. 

If you are interested in reading more reviews, check out our guide on the best will writing software!

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