An associative note-taking app.

How to take notes with Thinktool

Published .

There are many ways to take notes.

Thinktool is an associative note-taking application designed to hold an evolving library of notes. You may be used to taking notes once, and then throwing those notes away. In contrast, Thinktool is designed for notes that continually change, grow, and improve as you learn.

In Thinktool, you grow your library by building connections between different notes. The smallest element that you can link to is simply called an item. It looks like this:

An item can represent a topic, a note, a person, an object, or anything else that you may want to write about. Items should be as small as possible to make your links as specific as possible.

Create a new item by clicking the New button on the toolbar. Then, write some notes that you want to keep in your library.

As you're writing, press Alt+L (or Ctrl+L on macOS) to insert links to any important concepts or words. (We'll come back to links in a bit.) Links are showed with a bullet next to them.

Links are the most general way to structure notes, but they're not the only way. Sometimes, an item may fit better inside another item. Try to organize your notes into a tree with the Unindent, Indent, Up and Down buttons on the toolbar.

Did you create some links? Try to click on the bullet next to a link, and notice how the linked item is opened underneath.

In Thinktool, links are bidirectional. This means that everytime you link to an item, Thinktool automatically adds a reference in the other direction. You can find all the references to an item under References inside the linked item.

One of the unique features of Thinktool is that you're not limited to organizing notes in a strict hierarchy.

Of course, links let you freely connect different notes together, like in other tools such as Roam Research or Obsidian.

However, Thinktool goes one step further, by allowing each note to have multiple parents. This lets you freely build up a "loose hierarchy" of notes, without needing to worry about where each individual note belongs.

To make use of this feature, connect two existing items. You can do this with the Sibling, Child or Parent buttons in the toolbar. Start typing the content of an existing item, and then select that item in the popup.

In the same way that Thinktool automatically collects all references to a given item, it will also show you all the parents of an item.

When thinking about where to put a item, ask yourself this: In which context would I want to be reminded of this item? Put your items where you want to see them. Since Thinktool has bidirectcional links, creating a link between two items means that you will be reminded of one item when looking at the other and vice versa.

The point of taking notes isn't to have a complete repository of all possible knowledge. That already exists, and it's called Google. The point of note-taking is to build a curated library of information that is relevant to you, expressed in a way that makes sense to you.

In order to achieve this, it's critical that you regularly revisit your notes.

You should be going back and getting rid of notes or connections that are no longer relevant. Use Remove to remove an item from its parent, and use Destroy to permanently delete that item from the database, removing it from all of its parents.

Taking notes is the process of turning abstract thoughts into a tangible product. It's like writing, but more personal. This is not a trivial task, and you need to put in real effort over a long period of time to get good notes.