Take handwritten notes on Linux with Write

Linux isn’t short of traditional note taking apps, but tools for handwritten notes? Well, those are a little trickier to come by.

Xournal is considered the go-to app by touchscreen Linux users wanting to make handwritten notes on virtual paper using a stylus or a finder. And it is indeed a solid choice.

But I recently discovered a free Xournal alternative for Linux (as well as Windows, Mac and Android and iOS) and it’s specifically tailored for taking handwritten text.

It’s called (aptly) ‘Write‘.

Perfect Handwritten Notes App for Linux

Stylus Labs’ Write isn’t a new app but it’s not merited much in the way of mentions online. Prior to today I hadn’t even heard of it — so there’s a good chance you haven’t either!

Write is free (but not open-source) software. It’s available for Windows, Linux, macOS and Android, with handy download packages prebuilt for all systems.

While this app is infrequently updated don’t let that put you off: it works perfectly on Ubuntu (and presumably other modern Linux distros too – let me know in the comments).

Now, it’s important that I stress upfront that Write is not a handwriting recognition app. You can’t scrawl your thoughts 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”. It has a feature set designed specifically for that task, and specifically for touchscreen and stylus use (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.

Thought not directly comparable, Write reminds me of Microsoft OneNote an app Microsoft often uses 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 scribble away for as long as you need to without needing to click any buttons to add more pages as it’s all automatic.

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.

Download Stylus Labs Write

The Linux version of Write is distributed as binary packaged in a .tar.gz archive. Simply download the archive, extract, and then double-click on the Write runtime inside the folder. Alternatively, run the install.sh script to add a menu item for the app.

This app does require a couple of dependencies to run which you may not have installed:

sudo apt install libqt5widgets5 libqt5network5 libqt5svg5
Apps Video evernote handwritten notes note taking apps touchscreenapps xournal