KeyNote: Tabbed notebook and personal information manager, with tree structure and strong encryption. Open source.

Latest news

October 2009: I no longer maintain KeyNote. The last version released here is the 1.6.9 update package. I am happy to announce that, as of 2009, further development has been taken up by Daniel Pradov, who has been releasing new versions under the name of KeyNote NF (New Features). The project page is here.

20 Oct 2005: All projects are closed down
Lawrence Lessig once declared email bankruptcy. Though I haven't done a tenth of his work in my life, I must declare a "hobby programmer bankruptcy". A writer's block. An intellectual meltdown to incapacity. I have deceived myself, for years now, that I would continue developing these projects. Unfortunately, in doing so I have also deceived many of you, and I must ask that you accept this belated, inadequate apology. More...

Introduction to KeyNote

Keynote is a flexible, multi-featured tabbed notebook, based on Windows standard RichEdit control. It's always accessible with a single keypress, even if you work in another application. Take a look at the screenshots page.

The basic idea in KeyNote is that you can include many separate notes within a single file. This means that you do not need to open several files - for most purposes it is enough to create only one file and hold all your notes inside it. With the addition of the tree-type notes, you now have a three-dimensional notebook: many notes within one file and a multi-level, nested pages within a single note. Optionally, KeyNote can encrypt your data securely using the Blowfish or Idea algorithms. Keynote's interface and behavior are extremely configurable.

KeyNote was written to overcome major limitations in other popular information managers, both free and shareware. KeyNote is the only information manager that offers a combination of simple and tree-type notes, rich text editor, ability to mix freely many notes of different types in a single file and secure encryption. This makes KeyNote the most flexible and one of the most powerful applications of this kind currently available. Some functions, such as "virtual nodes", per-file configuration settings, multiple backups or WordWeb integration are unique and, to my knowledge, not supported by any other notebook program, freeware or shareware.

With powerful text formatting capabilities, easily navigable interface and additional features such as styles, macros, plugins, and templates, KeyNote is has become the favorite note keeper, diary, outliner, knowledge base and information manager for thousands of users.

What is KeyNote useful for?

In general, any structured of free-form information, especially the kind of information which lends itself to hierarchical representation, such as lists or outlines. KeyNote's powerful search facility quickly locates information you're looking for.

The ability to store many notes in a single file means no hunting for files scattered all over your computer. For many users it will be enough to create just one KeyNote file and add notes to it, with each note covering a separate topic (e.g., "To do", "Addresses", "Bookmarks", "Finances", etc.)

Built-in strong encryption allows you to secure your files against unauthorized access or modification.

The "virtual node" feature additionally allows you to pull together many files and edit them all within a single KeyNote file, while the original files remain on disk (so there is no need to perform any conversion).

Examples of use:

Version 2.0 of KeyNote will further enhance KeyNote's usefulness by the addition of several new types of nodes, including a grid (a simple spreadsheet), HTML browser and image viewer.

KeyNote is Open-Source

KeyNote is distributed under Mozilla Public License (MPL). A separate website has been established on to facilitate Open-Source development of KeyNote. Please see the Open-Source development section for details.

Information for developers

KeyNote supports macros and plugins. These are documented in the Help file. Software developers can easily create independent plugins that will work in tandem with KeyNote, and a development kit is available, containing full documentation and source code examples.

System requirements

KeyNote works with Windows 95, 98, ME, NT4, 2000 and XP.
Required component: Microsoft standard richedit control, version at least 2.0 ("riched20.dll")
For Windows 95 and 98, you may need to install version 4.01 of Microsoft common controls, if it is not yet present on your system. This version is installed with Microsoft Internet Explorer 3.01 or later. A separate update is also available.

The origins of KeyNote

The concept of KeyNote is based on a similar tabbed notebook application I have been using for several years: DaRT Notes, by Andrew v.d. Merwe.

DaRT Notes is an excellent and free program. I have gotten used to it so much that I never, literally never use pen and paper anymore. The author was very responsive to all comments, and for a long time the program grew in features and functionality.

However, the development of DaRT Notes ultimately stopped. I have finally decided to create a similar program, one that would have most of the original DaRT Notes features, and then some more. Hence KeyNote.

KeyNote is NOT a "clone" of DaRT Notes, though. It is similar, but not a one-to-one equivalent. It is a bit slower :) but more flexible and featureful.

Important note to DaRT Notes users: KeyNote can read and save files in the format used by DaRT Notes. Since KeyNote has some additional functionality, certain features or properties will not be preserved across sessions. For instance, DaRT Notes has no tab icons, so whatever icons you specify for the tabs in the file, will be lost after you save and reopen the file in the DaRT Notes format. However, if you would like to try out KeyNote without having to transfer all your notes, you can. If you open a DaRT Notes file, it will be automatically saved in that format, too. If you wish to change the format in which the file will be saved, open the File properties dialog box and in the "Format" list choose "Keynote text file". Note that the file extension will be automatically changed depending on the format in which the file is being saved, so there is no danger of accidentally overwriting your DaRT Notes file.

Many thanks to the author of DaRT Notes, Andre v.d. Merwe, for providing a very reliable and useful application, and for inspiration. Also, many thanks for documenting the file format used by DaRT Notes.

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