My Personal Note-Taking Tool: Sublime Text 3


If you’re anything like me, you have a terrible short term memory.  Over the years I’ve devised numerous systems for keeping track of notes, and I almost always have some sort of note-taking method on hand, be it a moleskin, a phone, or even the most trustworthy of applications: Notepad. Now, I love the handy Microsoft tool which has been with Windows since the beginning, but it certainly shows its age at times. I find it often doesn’t display special characters in files that I open (which as a SysAdmin makes editing configuration files often problematic). It also isn’t the best in terms of features.

Now there are numerous challengers to the throne of Notepad, and I’ve used pretty much all of them at some point. By far the best one I’ve ever used is Sublime Text.  I’ve been using Sublime Text for several years now and love it. It fulfills all of my criteria for note-taking programs:

It’s fast:
Sublime Text opens in about a second, similar to Notepad. I’ve tried other programs which take forever to open. If I’m trying to dump something out really quickly, like a number or code being told to me over the phone, that can be killer.

It’s stable:
I’ve yet to see it crash in thousands of hours of usage. It even opens files which are several megabytes large without freezing up like Notepad or Microsoft Word does.

It allows multitasking:
You can open multiple documents at the same time, and they all exist in the top as tabs, just like you’re used to with your browser. Dragging files into Sublime Text opens them as new tabs, rather than obliterating the current document like Notepad.

It auto-saves everything:
This is the big one. I’ve kept scratch notes in Notepad before and had them all wiped out when my laptop decided to shut off rather than go to sleep, or when Windows decides it wants to blue screen. You can save all of your scratch notes somewhere, but this becomes a pain weeks or months later when you come back to them and can’t make heads or tails. Sublime Text automatically saves everything. I’m typing this post in Sublime Text right now. I just closed the window without saving, and reopened it, and the article was still here, along with all of the other tabs I had open. If I decided I no longer need one of my scratch tabs, I can close it specifically and tell Sublime Text to get rid of it.

It’s very powerful and highly customizable:
For those who find themselves familiar and comfortable in Vim, you’ll be glad to know that Sublime Text is very customizable, with nearly every bit of the interface can be changed or themed to suit your needs. There’s even an extensive package manager to add new plugins to Sublime Text. But the thing I love about it most, and what first drew me in, is the regex. For those of you who are wizardly enough to grok regular expressions, Sublime Text is your Swiss army text editor. I’ve found this supremely easy to alter files, grab data from large documents, and generally do other magic that only regex allows.

It’s Free(ish):
Sublime Text is currently available as a free trial, with an indefinite trial period. Occasionally after you save a file, it will as you if you’d like to buy it, but there’s never any penalty for saying no. The license is $70 and that money goes to support the developers. I’d say give it a shot and if you fall in love with it as I have, help support a great product.