Linux isn’t short of traditional note taking apps, but handwritten notes? Taking those is a little trickier.
Xournal is considered the go-to app for touchscreen Linux users who want to make handwritten notes on virtual paper using a stylus or a finder.
But I recently discovered a free Xournal alternative for Linux (as well as Windows, Mac and Android) that is specifically tailored for taking handwritten text.
It’s called (aptly) ‘Write‘.
The Perfect Handwritten Notes App for Linux?
Stylus Labs’ Write isn’t particularly new, but it’s not an app that merits much in the way of mentions online. Prior to today I hadn’t heard of it, and there’s a good chance it’ll be ‘new’ to many of you, too.
Write is free (but not open-source) software. It’s available to download for Windows, Linux and Mac (though presumably you’d need to be using the Duet display app with an iPad to get stylus support on macOS).
Although the app hasn’t seen a major update since 2013 – ! – it works pretty much without issue on Ubuntu (and presumably most other modern Linux distros too).
Now, it’s important that I stress upfront that Write is not a handwriting recognition app. You can’t scrawl your ideas down and have them instanta-magically converted into regular digital text to copy/paste elsewhere.
No, Write is pitched as “a word processor for handwriting” and has a feature set designed specifically for touchscreen use, ideally with a stylus (though there’s no reason why it wouldn’t also work with a smudgy finger).
Essentially it’s a drawing app that caters to the written word, freehand notes, diagrams and that sort of thing.
Although not a directly comparable product Write does reminds me (in some ways) of Microsoft OneNote, an app Microsoft often use to demo stylus support on Windows devices.
Like OneNote Write has an infinitely scrolling canvas. This means you’re not restricted within the bounds of a particular page size.The app allows you to literally scribble away for as long as you need to without needing to click any buttons to add more pages.
Write says it supports all of the features you’d expect from a traditional ‘drawing’ application, but adds a chapter’s worth of features tailored specifically towards the handwritten text, including:
- Easily insert blank spaces with automatic paragraph reflow
- Ability to create bookmarks to any text
- Undo/redo dial for quick revisions
- Ruled erase & select
- Supports handwritten URLs/Links
- Freehand drawing
- Lasso select/erase
- Cut, copy, paste actions
- Supports image inserts
- Variety of paper types and pens
- Open, HTML + SVG document format
You can see the core features of Write in action in the following YouTube clip:
Like what you see?
You can download Write for Linux, Windows, macOS and Android from the project website, linked below.
The Linux version of the app is distributed as binary packaged in a .tar.gz archive. Simply download, extract and double-click on the ‘Write’ runtime inside the folder — but do note that app requires a couple of dependencies to run which you may not have installed:
sudo apt install libqt5widgets5 libqt5network5 libqt5svg5
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