Notational Velocity might just be the coolest note-taking program ever invented, thanks to this guy.

The only downside is that it sadly only seems to be available on OSX, which will make me think twice about switching back to Linux.

Jump to Installation and setup.

What is it?

Notational Velocity provides a simple interface for entering notes.

Notational Velocity

Even more importantly, it is very easy to search for notes - typing 'qqn' into the search bar leaves only the notes containing that string visible. More about the 'qq-trick' in the next post.

Notational Velocity

Installation and setup

  1. On OSX, if you are using High Sierra, rather download nvALT. Otherwise, the original NV can be found here. From now on, we shall just refer to NV, although it could be nvALT. Open the downloaded file and install.
  2. Open NV, and copy/paste/save the tutorial files to Textedit, for later (keep them open)
  3. Go to Notational Velocity-Preferences-Notes-Storage, and under Read notes from folder, select the folder where you want your notes to be saved. Tip: choose a folder in your Dropbox folder; will make it easy to synchronise with an app on your phone
  4. Still in Notational Velocity-Preferences-Notes-Storage, under Store and read notes on disk as, select Plain text files. Note that you may need to go to the folder and delete any Notes and settings file that has just been created.

Another post will discuss how to sync these notes with your phone (Simplenote or 1Writer).


However, there is a very similar, open source, cross-platform alternative called nvPy. Hats off to the developer who made this alternative. There is also an alternative named nvalt.

There is also another program called Simplenote which interestingly started as a homage to nv - but more about Simplenote later.

Using Notational Velocity

The qq-trick

A great way to go through/schedule tasks is to use the qq trick. More about the qq-trick in the next post.


The documentation for NV is really good.


I really enjoy using NV, and it can be used to sync notes with your smartphone using Simplenote. This is discussed in the next post.

Even though it is several years old, if you are interested in why/how NV was created, it is worth reading an interview with its creator.