powered by text files


Using deft mode for notes in Emacs

Deft mode is one of my favorite discoveries of emacs, especially when combined with the magic of org-mode.

I use the combination of both deft and org-mode almost every day. If I’m doing an interview, taking notes in a meeting, keeping a personal backlog or ideas for a project, then this is what I’m using.

Deft solves the problem of where to put text files. Org-mode structures what goes into them.

Deft can be installed via emacs packaging. I configure it like this:

(when (require 'deft nil 'noerror)
     deft-extension "org"
     deft-directory "~/Dropbox/Notes/"
     deft-text-mode 'org-mode))

I put the default folder within my Dropbox folder. This ensures notes are backed up and available on any computer where I’m using Dropbox and emacs.

Once in deft mode (M-x deft):

To search for a particular file, just start typing and the results are filtered in the same view.

For me, this has been near perfect for quick note taking. My current notes folder holds over 150 org files and is still fast to search.

When sharing notes from meetings with others, I use org-mode’s export feature (C-c C-e A), then highlight the part I want, and send it to the clipboard (M-| pbcopy) to paste into email.

Getting a solid system for note taking in emacs has helped with how often I use the same text editor. This was also part of my motivation of migrating my blog to text files (although markdown formatted).

Additional tips

To launch emacs from the command line with deft mode open, I set the following alias:

alias de="emacs --eval '(deft)'"

Often I have similar formats for things like notes, minutes or interviews. To avoid lots of typing, I use yasnippet to create templates.

For some examples, see my dotfiles.