TP-NOTE(1) Version 1.13.8 | Tp-Note documentation

Table of Contents

4.1. New note without clipboard
4.2. New note based on clipboard data
4.3. New note annotating some non-Tp-Note file
4.4. Editing notes
4.5. Automatic filename synchronization before and after editing
8.1. Template variables
8.2. Template filters
8.3. Content-template conventions
8.4. Filename-template convention
8.5. Register your own text editor
8.6. Change the default markup language
8.7. Change the sort tag generation scheme
8.8. Store new note files by default in a subdirectory
8.9. Customize the built-in note viewer
8.10. Choose your favourite web browser as note viewer
12.1. Contribution


Tp-Note - save and edit your clipboard content as a note file.


tp-note [-b] [-c <FILE>] [-d] [-e] [-p <NUM>]
        [-n] [-v] [-V] [-x <DIR>|''|'-'] [<DIR>|<FILE>]


Tp-Note is a note-taking-tool and a template system, that consistently synchronizes the note’s meta-data with its filename. Tp-Note collects various information about its environment and the clipboard and stores them in variables. New notes are created by filling these variables in predefined and customizable Tera-templates. In case <path> points to an existing Tp-Note-file, the note’s meta-data is analysed and, if necessary, its filename is modified. For all other file types, Tp-Note creates a new note that annotates the file <path> points to. If <path> is a directory (or, when omitted the current working directory), a new note is created in that directory. After creation, Tp-Note launches an external text editor of your choice. At the same time the system’s default web browser is started and connected to Tp-Note’s internal web server. This server watches and renders the edited note file and generates a live preview.

After the user finished editing, Tp-Note analyses eventual changes in the notes meta-data and renames, if necessary, the file, so that its meta-data and filename are in sync again. Finally, the resulting path is printed to stdout, log and error messages are dumped to stderr.

This document is Tp-Note’s technical reference. More information can be found in Tp-Note’s user manual and at Tp-Note’s project page.


Tp-Note operates in 4 different modes, depending on its commend-line-arguments and the clipboard state. Each mode is usually associated with one content-template and one filename-template.

4.1. New note without clipboard

In case the clipboard is empty while starting, the new note is created with the templates: [tmpl] new_content and [tmpl] new_filename. By default, the new note’s title is the parent’s directory name. The newly created file is then opened with an external text editor, allowing to change the proposed title and to add other content. When the text editor closes, Tp-Note synchronizes the note’s meta-data and its filename. This operation is performed with the [tmpl] sync_filename template.

Example: the clipboard is empty and <path> is a directory (or empty):

> tp-note "./03-Favorite Readings/"


> cd "./03-Favorite Readings"
> tp-note

creates the document:

"./03-Favorite Readings/20200306-Favorite"

with the content:

title:      "Favorite Readings"
subtitle:   "Note"
author:     "getreu"
date:       "March  6, 2020"
lang:       "en_GB.UTF-8"

4.2. New note based on clipboard data

When <path> is a directory and the clipboard is not empty, the clipboard’s content is stored in the variable {{ clipboard }}. In addition, if the content contains an hyperlink in Markdown format, the hyperlink’s name can be accessed with {{ clipboard | linkname }}, its URL with {{ clipboard | linktarget }} and its title with {{ clipboard | linktitle }}. The new note is then created with the [tmpl] clipboard_content and the [tmpl] clipboard_filename templates. Finally, the newly created note file is opened again with some external text editor. When the user closes the text editor, Tp-Note synchronizes the note’s meta-data and its filename with the template [tmpl] sync_filename.

Note: this operation mode also empties the clipboard (configurable feature).

Clipboard simulation

When no mouse and clipboard is available, the clipboard feature can be simulated by feeding the clipboard data into stdin:

> echo "[The Rust Book](" | tp-note

Tp-Note behaves here as if the clipboard contained the string: [The Rust Book](

4.2.1. The clipboard contains a string

Example: While launching Tp-Note the clipboard contains the string: Who Moved My Cheese?\n\nChapter 2 and <path> is a directory.

> tp-note "./03-Favorite Readings/"


> cd "./03-Favorite Readings/"
> tp-note

This creates the document:

"./03-Favorite Readings/20200306-Who Moved My"

with the content:

title:      "Who Moved My Cheese"
subtitle:   "Note"
author:     "getreu"
date:       "2020-09-11"
lang:       "en_GB.UTF-8"

Who Moved My Cheese?

Chapter 2

We see from the above example, how the [tmpl] clipboard_content content template extracts the first line of the clipboards content and inserts it into the header’s title: field. Then, it copies the entire clipboard content into the body of the document. However, if desired or necessary, it is possible to modify all templates in Tp-Note’s configuration file. Note, that not only the note’s content is created with a template, but also its filename: The [tmpl] clipboard_filename filename template concatenates the current date, the note’s title and subtitle.

4.2.2. The clipboard contains a hyperlink

Example: <path> is a directory, the clipboard is not empty and it contains the string: I recommend:\n[The Rust Book](

> tp-note './doc/Lecture 1'

This creates the following document:

./doc/Lecture 1/20200911-The Rust
title:      "The Rust Book"
subtitle:   "URL"
author:     "getreu"
date:       "2020-09-11"
lang:       "en_GB.UTF-8"

I recommend:
[The Rust Book](

When analyzing the clipboard’s content, Tp-Note searches for hyperlinks in Markdown, ReStructuredText, Asciidoc and HTML format. When successful, the content template uses the link text of the first hyperlink found as document title.

4.2.3. The clipboard contains a string with a YAML header

Example: <path> is a directory, the clipboard is not empty and it contains the string: ---\ntitle: Todo\nfile_ext: mdtxt\n---\n\nnothing.

> tp-note

This creates the note: 20200911-Todo.mdtxt with the following content:

title:      "Todo"
subtitle:   ""
author:     "getreu"
date:       "2020-09-11"
lang:       "en_GB.UTF-8"
file_ext:   "mdtxt"


Technically, the creation of the new note is performed using the YAML header variables: {{ fm_title }}, {{ fm_subtitle }}, {{ fm_author }}, {{ fm_date }}, {{ fm_lang }}, {{ fm_sort_tag }} and {{ fm_file_ext }} which are evaluated with the [tmpl] copy_content and the [tmpl] copy_filename templates.

Note, that the same result can also be achieved without any clipboard by tying in a terminal:

> echo -e "---\ntitle: Todo\nfile_ext: mdtxt\n---\n\nnothing" | tp-note

Furthermore, this operation mode is very handy with pipes in general, as shows the following example: it downloads some webpage, converts it to Markdown and copies the result into a Tp-Note file. The procedure preserves the webpage’s title in the note’s title:

curl '' | pandoc --standalone -f html -t markdown_strict+yaml_metadata_block | tp-note

creates the note file 20200910-Jens Getreu's with the webpage’s content converted to Markdown:

title:      "Jens Getreu's blog"
subtitle:   ""
author:     "getreu"
date:       "2020-09-11"
lang:       "en"

<a href="/" class="logo">Jens Getreu's blog</a>

-   [Home](
-   [Categories](

4.2.4. Use Tp-Note in shell scripts

To save some typing while using the above pattern, you can create a script with:

> sudo nano /usr/local/bin/download

Insert the following content:

curl "$1" | pandoc --standalone -f html -t markdown_strict+yaml_metadata_block | tp-note

and make it executable:

> sudo chmod a+x /usr/local/bin/download

To execute the script type:

> download ''

4.3. New note annotating some non-Tp-Note file

When <path> points to an existing file, whose file-extension is other than .md, a new note is created with a similar filename and a reference to the original file is copied into the new note’s body. If the clipboard contains some text, it is appended there also. The logic of this is implemented in the templates: [tmpl] annotate_content and [tmpl] annotate_filename. Once the file is created, it is opened with an external text editor. After editing the file, it will be - if necessary - renamed to be in sync with the note’s meta-data.


> tp-note "Classic Shell Scripting.pdf"

creates the note:

"Classic Shell"

with the content:

title:      "Classic Shell Scripting.pdf"
subtitle:   "Note"
author:     "getreu"
date:       "March  6, 2020"
lang:       "en_GB.UTF-8"

[Classic Shell Scripting.pdf](Classic Shell Scripting.pdf)

The configuration file variables [filename] extensions_* lists all file extensions that Tp-Note recognizes and opens as own file types. Others are treated as described above.

This so called annotation mode can also be used with the clipboard: when it is not empty, its data is appended to the note’s body.

4.4. Editing notes

If not invoked with --batch, Tp-Note launches an external text editor after creating a new note. This also happens when <path> points to an existing .md-file.

Example: edit the note from the previous example:

> cd "./03-Favorite Readings"
> tp-note 20200306-Favorite

4.5. Automatic filename synchronization before and after editing

Before launching the text editor and after closing it, Tp-Note synchronizes the filename with the note’s metadata. When the user changes the metadata of a note, Tp-Note will replicate that change in the note’s filename. As a result, all your note’s filenames always correspond to their metadata, which allows you to find your notes back quickly.


> tp-note "20200306-Favorite"

The way how Tp-Note synchronizes the note’s metadata and filename is defined in the template [tmpl] sync_filename.

Once Tp-Note opens the file in an text editor, the note-taker may decide updating the title in the note’s YAML metadata section from title: "Favorite Readings" to title: "Introduction to bookkeeping". After closing the text editor the filename is automatically updated too and looks like:

"20200306-Introduction to"

Note: the sort-tag 20200306 has not changed. The filename synchronization mechanism by default never does. (See below for more details about filename synchronization).


-b, --batch

Do not launch the external text editor or viewer. All other operations are available and are executed in the same way. In batch mode, error messages are dumped on the console only and no alert window pops up.

Tp-Note ignores the clipboard when run in batch mode with --batch. Instead, if available, it reads the stdin stream as if the data came from the clipboard.

-c FILE, --config=FILE

Load the alternative config file FILE instead of the default one.

-d LEVEL, --debug=LEVEL

Print additional log-messages. The debug level LEVEL must be one out of trace, debug, info, warn, error (default) or off. The level trace reports the most detailed information, while error informs only about failures. A warn level message means, that not all functionality might be available or work as expected.

Use -b -d trace for debugging templates, if the HTTP server (viewer) does not work as expected -n -d debug, if your text editor does not open as expected -n -d info --edit or to observe the launch of the web browser -n -d info --view. The option -d trace shows all available template variables, the templates used and the rendered result of the substitution, which is particularly useful for debugging new templates. The option -d off silences all error message reporting and suppresses also the error popup window.

All error messages are dumped in the error stream stderr and appear on the console from where Tp-Note was launched:

tp-note.exe --debug info

On Windows the output must be redirected into a file to see it:

tp-note.exe --debug info >debug.txt 2>&1

Alternatively, you can redirect all logfile entries into popup alert windows.

tp-note.exe --popup --debug info

The same can be achieved by setting following configuration file variables (especially useful under Windows):

debug = 'info'
popup = true

The value for [arg_default] debug must be one out of trace, debug, info, warn, error (default) and off. They have the same meaning as the corresponding command line options.

-e, --edit

Edit only mode: opens the external text editor, but not the file viewer. This disables Tp-Note’s internal file watcher and web server, unless -v is given. Another way to permanently disable the web server is to set the configuration variable [viewer] enable=false. When --edit --view appear together, --view takes precedence and --edit is ignored.

-p, --port=PORT

Set server port the web browser connects to, to the specified value PORT. If not given, a random free port is chosen automatically.

-n, --no-filename-sync

Whenever Tp-Note opens a note file, it synchronizes its YAML-metadata with its filename. --no-filename-sync disables the synchronization. Mainly useful is this flag in scripts for testing .md-files. See section EXIT STATUS for more details. The section METADATA FILENAME SYNCHRONIZATION shows alternative ways to disable synchronisation.

-u, --popup

Redirect log-file entries into popup alert windows. Must be used together with the --debug option to have an effect. Note, that debug level error conditions will always trigger popup messages, regardless of --popup and --debug (unless --debug off). Popup alert windows are queued and will never interrupt Tp-note. To better associate a particular action with its log events, read through all upcoming popup alert windows until they fail to appear.

-v, --view

View only mode: do not open the external text editor. This flag instructs Tp-Note to start an internal file watcher and web server and connect the system’s default web browser to view the note file and to observe live file modifications. This flag has precedence over the configuration variable [viewer] enable=false. When --edit --view appear together, --view takes precedence and --edit is ignored.

-V, --version

Print Tp-Note’s version, its compiled-in features and the path to the sourced configuration file. The output is YAML formatted for further automatic processing.


Print the note as HTML-rendition into DIRECTORY. -x - prints to stdout. The empty string, e.g. --export= or -x "", defaults to the directory where the note file resides. No external text editor or viewer is launched. Can be combined with --batch to avoid popup error alert windows.


A Tp-Note-note file is always UTF-8 encoded. As newline, either the Unix standard \n or the Windows standard \r\n is accepted. Tp-Note writes out newlines according the operating system it runs on.

Tp-Note is designed to be compatible with Pandoc’s andRMarkdowns document structure as shown in the figure below.

<YAML-front matter>

The YAML front matter starts at the beginning of the document with --- and ends with ... or ---. Note that according to the YAML standard, string-literals are always encoded as JSON strings. By convention, a valid note-file has at least one YAML field named title: (the name of this compulsory field is defined by the [tmpl] compulsory_header_field variable in the configuration file and can be changed there).

Note that prepended text, placed before the YAML front matter, is ignored. There are however certain restrictions: If present, the skipped text should not be too long (cf. constant BEFORE_HEADER_MAX_IGNORED_CHARS in the source code of Tp-Note) and it must be followed by at least one blank line:

Prepended text is ignored.

<YAML-front matter>

There is no restriction about the markup language used in the note’s text body. However, the default templates assume that Markdown and the file extension .md is used. Both can be changed easily by adapting Tp-Note’s configuration file.


Consider the following Tp-Note-file:

20151208-Make this world a better

The filename has 4 parts:

{{ fm_sort_tag }}{{ fm_title }}--{{ fm_subtitle }}.{{ fm_file_ext }}

A so called sort-tag is a numerical prefix at the beginning of the filename. It is used to order files and notes in the file system. Besides numerical digits and whitespace, a sort-tag can be any combination of -_.[1] and is usually used as

  • chronological sort-tag

  • or as a sequence number sort-tag.

      08-Tax documents

When Tp-Note creates a new note, it prepends automatically a chronological sort-tag of today. The {{ fm_title }} part is usually derived from the parent directory name omitting its own sort-tag.

A note’s filename is in sync with its meta-data, when the following is true (slightly simplified, see the configuration file for the complete definition):

filename on disk without sort-tag == {{ fm_title }}--{{ fm_subtitle }}.md [2]

Consider the following document with the filename:


and the content:

title:      "1. The Beginning"
subtitle:   "Note"
author:     "getreu"
date:       "March  6, 2020"
lang:       "en_GB.UTF-8"

As -My is not equal to -'1. The, Tp-Note will rename the file to 20200306-'1. The If the filename had been 05_02-My, it would rename it to 05_02-'1. The

Note: When the YAML front matter does not contain the optional sort_tag variable, Tp-Note will never change a sort-tag. Nevertheless, it might change the rest of the filename!

The reason why by default Tp-Note does not change sort-tags is, that they define their order in the file listing. In general this order is independent of the notes content. The simplest way to organize the sort-tags of your files is by renaming them directly in your file-system. Nevertheless, in some cases you might want to have full control over the whole filename through the note’s YAML front matter. For example, if — for some reason — you have changed the document’s date in the front matter and you want to change the chronological sort tag in one go. In order to overwrite the note’s sort-tag on disk, you can add a sort_tag variable to its front matter:

title:      "1. The Beginning"
date:       "March  7, 2020"
sort_tag:   "20200307-"

When Tp-Note synchronizes the note’s metadata with its filename, it will also change the sort-tag from 20200306- to 20200307-. The resulting filename becomes 20200307-'1. The

The sort_tag variable also becomes handy, when you want to create one single note without any sort-tag:

title:      "1. The Beginning"
sort_tag:   ""

In the same way, how it is possible to pin the sort-tag of the note from within the note’s metadata, you can also change the file extension by adding the optional file_ext variable into the note’s front matter:

title:      "1. The Beginning"
file_ext:   "rst"

This will change the file extension from .md to ’.rst. The resulting filename becomes 20200307-'1. The Beginning--Note.rst.

Important: rst must be one of the registered file extensions listed in the [filename] extensions_rst variables in Tp-Note’s configuration file. If needed you can add more extensions there. If the new filename extension is not listed in one of theses variables, Tp-Note will not be able to recognize the note file as such and will not open it in the external text editor and viewer.

Note: When a sort_tag variable is defined in the note’s YAML header, you should not change the sort-tag string in the note’s file name manually by renaming the file, as your change will be overwritten next time you open the note with Tp-Note. However, you can switch back to Tp-Note’s default behaviour any time by deleting the sort_tag line in the note’s metadata. The same applies to the file_ext variable.

The metadata filename synchronisation feature can be disabled permanently by setting the configuration file variable [arg_default] no_filename_sync = true. To disable this feature for one time only, invoke Tp-note with --no-filename-sync. To exclude a particular note from filename synchronisation, add the YAML header field filename_sync: false.

title:      "1. The Beginning"
filename_sync: false


Tp-Note’s configuration file resides typically in ~/.config/tp-note/tp-note.toml on Unix or in C:\Users\<LOGIN>\AppData\Roaming\tp-note\config\tp-note.toml> on Windows. When Tp-Note starts, it tries to find its configuration file. If it fails, it writes a default configuration file. Tp-Note is best customized by starting it once, and then modifying its default configuration. For a detailed description of the available configuration variables, please consult the const definitions in Tp-Note’s source code file

The configuration file is encoded according to the TOML-standard. Variables ending with [tmpl] *_content and [tmpl] *_filename are Tera-Template-strings (see:

Tp-Note captures and stores its environment in Tera-variables. For example, the variable {{ dir_path }} is initialized with the note’s target directory. The variable {{ clipboard }} contains the content of the clipboard. To learn more about variables, launch Tp-Note with the --debug trace option and observe what information it captures from its environment.

8.1. Template variables

All Tera template variables and functions can be used within Tp-Note. For example {{ get_env(name='LANG') }}' gives you access to theLANG’ environment variable.

In addition Tp-Note defines the following variables:

  • {{ path }} is the canonicalized fully qualified path name corresponding to Tp-Note’s positional command line parameter <path>. If none was given on the command line, {{ path }} contains the current working directory path.

  • {{ dir_path }}: is identical to {{ path }} with one exception: if {{ path }} points to a file, the last component (the file name) is omitted and only the directory path is retained. If {{ path }} points to a directory, {{ path_dir }} equals {{ path }}.

  • {{ clipboard }} is the complete clipboard text. In case the clipboard’s content starts with a YAML header, the latter does not appear in this variable.

  • {{ clipboard_header }} is the YAML section of the clipboard data, if one exists. Otherwise: empty string.

  • {{ stdin }} is the complete text content originating form the input stream stdin. This stream can replace the clipboard when it is not available. In case the input stream’s content starts with a YAML header, the latter does not appear in this variable.

  • {{ stdin_header }} is the YAML section of the input stream, if one exists. Otherwise: empty string.

  • {{ extension_default }} is the default extension for new notes (can be changed in the configuration file),

  • {{ username }} is the content of the first non-empty environment variable: LOGNAME, USER or USERNAME.

The following {{ fm_* }} variables are typically generated, after a content template was filled in with data: For example a field named title: in the content template [tmpl] new_content will generate the variable fm_title which can then be used in the corresponding [tmpl] new_filename filename template. {{ fm_* }} variables are generated dynamically. This means, a YAmL front matter variable foo: in a note will generate a {{ fm_foo }} template variable. On the other hand, a missing foo: will cause {{ fm_foo }} to be undefined.

Please note that {{ fm_* }} variables are available in all filename templates and in the [tmpl] copy_content content template only.

  • {{ fm_title }} is the title: as indicated in the YAML front matter of the note.

  • {{ fm_subtitle }} is the subtitle: as indicated in the YAML front matter of the note.

  • {{ fm_author }} is the author: as indicated in the YAML front matter of the note.

  • {{ fm_lang }} is the lang: as indicated in the YAML front matter of the note.

  • {{ fm_file_ext }} holds the value of the optional YAML header variable file_ext: (e.g. file_ext: "rst").

  • {{ fm_sort_tag }}: The sort tag variable as defined in the YAML front matter of this note (e.g. sort_tag: "20200312-").

  • {{ fm_all }}: is a collection (map) of all defined {{ fm_* }} variables. It is used in the [tmpl] copy_content template, typically in a loop like:

    {% for key, value in fm_all %}{{ key }}: {{ value | json_encode }}
    {% endfor %}

Important: there is no guarantee, that any of the above {{ fm_* }} variables is defined! Depending on the last content template result, certain variables might be undefined. Please take into consideration, that a defined variable might contain the empty string "".

For a more detailed description of the available template variables, please consult the const definitions in Tp-Note’s source code file

8.2. Template filters

In addition to Tera’s built-in filters, Tp-Note comes with some additional filters, e.g.: tag, trim_tag, stem, cut, heading, linkname, linktarget, linktitle and ext.

A filter is always used together with a variable. Here some examples:

  • {{ path | filename }} returns the final component of {{ path }}. If {{ path }} points to a file, the filter returns the complete filename including its sort-tag, stem, copy-counter, dot and extension. If the <path> points to a directory, the filter returns the final directory name.

  • {{ path | tag }} is the sort-tag (numerical filename prefix) of the final component of {{ path }}, e.g. 01-23_9- or 20191022-. It is similar to {{ path | filename }} but without returning its stem, copy-counter and extension.

  • {{ path | stem }} is similar to {{ path | filename }} but without its sort-tag, copy-counter and extension. Only the stem of {{ path }}’s last component is returned.

  • {{ path | copy_counter }} is similar to {{ path | filename }} but without its sort-tag, stem and extension. Only the copy counter of {{ path }}’s last component is returned.

  • {{ path | ext }} is {{ path }}s file extension without dot (period),’ or mdtxt.

  • {{ path | ext | prepend_dot }} is {{ path }}s file extension with dot (period),’ or .mdtxt.

  • {{ path | trim_tag }} returns the final component of path which might be a directory name of a file name. Unlike the filename filter (which also returns the final component), trim_tag trims the sort tag if there is one.

  • {{ dir_path | trim_tag }} returns the final component of dir_path (which is the final directory name in {{ path }}). Unlike the filename filter (which also returns the final component), trim_tag trims the sort tag if there is one.

  • {{ clipboard | cut }} is the first 200 bytes from the clipboard.

  • {{ clipboard | heading }} is the clipboard’s content until end of the first sentence ending, or the first newline.

  • {{ clipboard | linkname }} is the name of the first Markdown or reStructuredText formatted link in the clipboard.

  • {{ clipboard | linktarget }} is the URL of the first Markdown or reStruncturedText formatted link in the clipboard.

  • {{ clipboard | linktitle }} is the title of the first Markdown or reStruncturedText formatted link in the clipboard.

  • {{ username | json_encode }} is the username Json encoded. All YAML front matter must be Json encoded, so this filter should be the last in all lines of the front matter section.

  • {{ fm_subtitle | sanit }} the note’s subtitle as defined in its front-matter, sanitized in a filesystem friendly form. Special characters are omitted or replaced by - and _.

  • {{ fm_title | sanit(alpha=true) }} the note’s title as defined in its front-matter. Same as above, but strings starting with a number are prepended by an apostrophe to avoid ambiguity (the default separator can be changed with [filename] sort_tag_extra_separator).

  • {{ fm_all | remove(var='fm_title') }} represents a collection (map) of all fm_* variables, exclusive of the variable fm_title.

8.3. Content-template conventions

Tp-Note distinguishes two template types: content-templates are used to create the note’s content (front-matter and body) and the corresponding filename-templates [tmpl] *_filename are used to calculate the note’s filename. By convention, content templates appear in the configuration file in variables named [tmpl] *_content.

Strings in the YAML front matter of content-templates are JSON encoded. Therefore, all variables used in the front matter must pass an additional json_encode()-filter. For example, the variable {{ dir_path | stem }} becomes {{ dir_path | stem | json_encode() }} or just {{ dir_path | stem | json_encode }}.

8.4. Filename-template convention

By convention, filename templates appear in the configuration file in variables named [tmpl] *_filename. When a content-template creates a new note, the corresponding filename-templates is called afterwards to calculate the filename of the new notes. The filename template [tmpl] sync_filename has a special role as it is synchronizes the filename of existing note files. As we are dealing with filenames we must guarantee, that the templates produce only file system friendly characters. For this purpose Tp-Note provides the additional Tera filters sanit and sanit(alpha=true).

  • The sanit() filter transforms a string in a file system friendly from. This is done by replacing forbidden characters like ? and \\ with _ or space. This filter can be used with any variables, but is most useful with filename-templates. For example, in the [tmpl] sync_filename template, we find the expression {{ subtitle | sanit }}.

  • sanit(alpha=true) is similar to the above, with one exception: when a string starts with a digit 0-9, the whole string is prepended with '. For example: 1 The Show Begins becomes '1 The Show Begins. This filter should always be applied to the first variable assembling the new filename, e.g. {{ title | sanit(alpha=true )}. This way, it is always possible to distinguish the sort-tag from the actual filename.

In filename-templates most variables must pass either the sanit or the sanit(alpha=true) filter. Exception to this rule are the sort-tag variables {{ path | tag }} and {{ dir_path | tag }}. As these are guaranteed to contain only the filesystem friendly characters: 0..9 -_, no additional filtering is required. Please note that in this case a sanit()-filter would needlessly restrict the value range of sort tags as they usually end with a -, a character, which the sanit-filter screens out when it appears in leading or trailing position. For this reason no sanit-filter is allowed with {{ path | tag }} and {{ dir_path | tag }}.

8.5. Register your own text editor

The configuration file variables [app_args] editor and [app_args] editor_console define lists of external text editors to be launched for editing. The lists contain by default well-known text editor names and their command-line arguments. Tp-Note tries to launch every text editor in [app_args] editor from the beginning of the list until it finds an installed text editor. When Tp-Note is started on a Linux console, the list [app_args] editor_console is used instead. Here you can register text editors that do not require a graphical environment, e.g. vim or nano. In order to use your own text editor, just place it at the top of the list. To debug your changes invoke Tp-Note with tp-note --debug info --popup --edit

When you configure Tp-Note to work with your text editor, make sure, that your text editor does not fork! You can check this by launching the text editor from the command line: if the command prompt returns immediately, then the file editor forks the process. On the other hand everything is OK, when the command prompt only comes back at the moment the text editor is closed. Many text editors provide an option to restrain from forking: for example the VScode-editor can be launched with the --wait option or Vim with --nofork. However, Tp-Note also works with forking text editors. Although this should be avoided, there is a possible workaround:

> FILE=$(tp-note --batch) # Create the new note.
> mytexteditor "$FILE"    # The prompt returns immediatly as the editor forks.
> tp-note --view "$FILE"  # Launch Tp-Note's viewer.
>                         # After the editing is done...
> tp-note --batch "$FILE" # Synchronize the note's filename.

Remark for the advanced console user: In a similar way, you can launch a different text editor than the one configured in Tp-Note’s configuration file:

> FILE=$(tp-note --batch); vi "$FILE"; tp-note --batch "$FILE"

Whereby FILE=$(tp-note --batch) creates the note file, vi "$FILE" opens the vi-text editor and tp-note --batch "$FILE" synchronizes the filename.

Register a Flatpak Markdown editor

Flathub for Linux is a cross-platform application repository that works well with Tp-Note. To showcase an example, we will add a Tp-Note launcher for the Mark Text Markdown text editor available as Flatpak package. Before installing, make sure that you have setup Flatpack correctly. Then install the application with:

> sudo flatpak install flathub com.github.marktext.marktext

To test, run Mark Text from the command-line:

> flatpak run com.github.marktext.marktext

Then open Tp-Note’s configuration file tp-note.toml and search for the [app_args] editor variable, quoted shortened below:

editor = [

The structure of this variable is a list of lists. Every item in the outer list corresponds to one entire command line launching a different text editor, here Typora and VSCode. When launching, Tp-Note searches through this list until it finds an installed text editor on the system.

In this example, we register the Mark Text editor at the first place in this list, by inserting ’['flatpak', 'run', 'com.github.marktext.marktext'],:

editor = [

Save the modified configuration file. Next time you launch Tp-Note, the Mark Text-editor will open with your note.

Register a console text editor running in a terminal emulator

In this setup Tp-Note launches the terminal emulator which is configured to launch the text editor as child process. Both should should not fork when they start (see above).

Examples, adjust to your needs and taste:

  • Neovim in Xfce4-Terminal:

    editor = [
        'colorscheme pablo',
  • Neovim in LXTerminal:

    editor = [
        'colorscheme pablo',
  • Neovim in Xterm:

    editor = [
          'DejaVu Sans Mono',

8.6. Change the default markup language

Tp-Note identifies the note’s markup language by its file extension and renders the content accordingly (see [filename] extensions_* variables). This ensures interoperability between authors using different markup languages. Although Tp-Note is flexible in opening existing note files, new notes are always created in the same markup language, which is by default Markdown. How to change this is shown in the following section.

8.6.1. Change the way how new notes are created

Tp-Note’s core function is a template system and as such it depends very little on the used markup language. The default templates are designed in a way that they contain almost no markup specific code. There is one little exception though. The following configuration variables affect the way new notes are created:

  1. Change the default file extension for new notes from:



  2. Replace the following line in the template [tmpl] clipboard_content that defines a hyperlink in Markdown format:

    [{{ path | tag }}{{ path | stem }}{{ path | ext | prepend_dot }}](<{{ path | tag }}{{ path | stem }}{{ path | ext | prepend_dot }}>)

    with the following line encoded in RestructuredText:

    `<{{ path | tag }}{{ path | stem }}{{ path | ext | prepend_dot }}>`_

As a result, all future notes are created as *.rst files.

8.6.2. Change the markup language for one specific note only

You can change the Markup language of a specific note by adding the variable file_ext: to its YAML header. For example, for ReStructuredText add:

title:    "some note"
file_ext: "rst"

The above change only applies to the current note only.

8.7. Change the sort tag generation scheme

Sort tags for new notes are generated with the [TMPL] *_filename templates and updated with the [TMPL] sync_filename template. By default, the characters _, -, space, \t and . are recognized as being part of a sort-tag when they appear at the beginning of a filename. This set of characters can be modified with the [filename] sort_tag_chars configuration variable. In addition, one special character [filename] sort_tag_extra_separator (by default ') is sometimes used as end of sort tag marker to avoid ambiguity. Note: the above templates and character sets must be matched carefully to prevent cyclic filename change!

8.8. Store new note files by default in a subdirectory

When you are annotating an existing file on disk, the new note file is placed in the same directory by default. To configure Tp-Note to store the new note file in a subdirectory, lets say Notes/, instead, you need to modify the templates [tmpl] annotate_filename and [tmpl] annotate_content:

Replace in [tmpl] annotate_filename the string:

{{ path | tag }}


Notes/{{ path | tag }}

and in [tmpl] annotate_content:

[{{ path | filename }}](<{{ path | filename }}>)

with (Linux, MacOS):

[{{ path | filename }}](<ParentDir../{{ path | filename }}>)

or with (Windows):

[{{ path | filename }}](<ParentDir..\\{{ path | filename }}>)

Please note that webbrowsers usually ignore leading ../ in URL paths. To work around this limitation, Tp-Note’s built-in viewer interprets the string ParentDir.. as an alias of ... It is also worth mentioning that Tp-Note automatically creates the subdirectory Notes/ in case it does not exist.

8.9. Customize the built-in note viewer

Delay the launch of the web browser

By default, Tp-Note launches two external programs: some text editor and a web browser. If wished for, the configuration variable [viewer] startup_delay allows to delay the launch of the web browser some milliseconds. This way the web browser window will always appear on top of the editor window. A negative value delays the start of the text editor instead.

Change the way how note files are rendered for viewing

Besides its core function, Tp-Note comes with several built-in markup renderer and viewer, allowing to work with different markup languages at the same time. The configuration file variables [filename] extensions_* determine which markup renderer is used for which note file extension. Depending on the markup language, this feature is more or less advanced and complete: Markdown (cf. [filename] extensions_md) is best supported and feature complete: It complies with the Common Mark specification. The ReStructuredText renderer (cf. [filename] extensions_rst) is quit new and still in experimental state. For all other supported markup languages Tp-Note provides a built-in markup source text viewer (cf. [filename] extensions_txt) that shows the note as typed (without markup), but renders all hyperlinks to make them clickable. In case none of the above rendition engines suit you, it is possible to disable the viewer feature selectively for some particular note file extensions: just place these extensions in the [filename] extensions_no_viewer variable. If you wish to disable the viewer feature overall, set the variable [arg_default] edit = true.

Change the HTML rendition template

After the markup rendition process, Tp-Note’s built-in viewer generates its final HTML rendition through the customizable HTML templates [viewer] rendition_tmpl and [viewer] error_tmpl. The following code example taken from [viewer] rendition_tmpl illustrates the available variables:

rendition_tmpl = '''<!DOCTYPE html>
<html lang="{{ fm_lang | default(value='en') }}">
<meta charset="utf-8">
<title>{{ fm_title }}</title>
  <pre class="note-header">{{ fm_all_yaml }}</pre>
  <div class="note-body">{{ note_body }}</div>
  <script>{{ note_js }}</script>


  • {{ fm_* }} are the deserialized header variables. All content template variables and filters are available. See section Template variables above.

  • {{ fm_all_yaml }} is the raw UTF-8 copy of the header. Not to be confounded with the dictionary variable {{ fm_all }}.

  • {{ note_body }} is the note’s body as HTML rendition.

  • {{ note_js }} is the Java-Script browser code for live updates.

Alternatively, the header enclosed by <pre>...</pre> can also be rendered as a table:

    <tr><th>title:</th><th>{{ fm_title }}</th> </tr>
    <tr><th>subtitle:</th><th>{{ fm_subtitle | default(value='') }}</th></tr>
  {% for k, v in fm_all| remove(var='fm_title')| remove(var='fm_subtitle') %}
    <tr><th>{{ k }}:</th><th>{{ v }}</th></tr>
  {% endfor %}

The error page template [viewer] error_tmpl (see below) does not provide fm_* variables, because of possible header syntax errors. Instead, the variable {{ note_error }} contains the error message as raw UTF-8 and the variable {{ note_erroneous_content }} the HTML rendition of the text source with clickable hyperlinks:

error_tmpl = '''<!DOCTYPE html>
<html lang=\"en\">
<meta charset=\"utf-8\">
<title>Syntax error</title>
<h3>Syntax error</h3>
<p> in note file: <pre>{{ path }}</pre><p>
<pre class="note-error">{{ note_error }}</pre>
{{ note_erroneous_content }}
<script>{{ note_js }}</script>

Customize the built-in HTML exporter

Customizing Tp-Note’s HTML export function works the same way than customizing the built-in viewer. There are some slight differences though: The role of the [viewer] rendition_tmpl template - discussed above - is taken over by the [exporter] rendition_tmpl template. In this template the same Tera variables are available, except {{ note_js }} which does not make sense in this context. As the exporter prints possible rendition error messages on the console, there is no equivalent to the [viewer] error_tmpl template.

8.10. Choose your favourite web browser as note viewer

Once the note is rendered into HTML, Tp-Note’s internal HTTP server connects to a random port at the localhost interface where the rendition is served to be viewed with a web browser. Tp-Note’s configuration file contains a list [app_args] browser with common web browsers and their usual location on disk. This list is executed top down until a web browser is found and launched. If you want to view your notes with a different web browser, simply modify the [app_args] browser list and put your favourite web browser on top.

In case none of the listed browsers can be found, Tp-Note switches into a fall back mode with limited functionality, where it tries to open the system’s default web browser. A disadvantage is, that in fall back mode Tp-Note is not able to detect when the user closes the web browser. This might lead to situations, where Tp-Note’s internal HTTP server shuts down to early. In order to check if Tp-Note finds the selected web browser as intended, invoke Tp-Note with tp-note --debug info --popup --view.


As discussed above, Tp-Note’s built-in viewer sets up an HTTP server on the localhost interface with a random port number. This HTTP server runs as long as the as long as the launched web browser window is open. It should be remembered, that the HTTP server not only exposes the rendered note, but also some other (image) files starting from the parent directory (and all subdirectories) of the note file. For security reasons symbolic links to files outside the note’s parent directory are not followed. Furthermore, Tp-Note’s built-in HTTP server only serves files that are explicitly referenced in the note document and whose file extensions are registered with the [viewer] served_mime_type configuration file variable. As Tp-Note’s built-in viewer binds to the localhost interface, the exposed files are in principle accessible to all processes running on the computer. As long as only one user is logged into the computer at a given time, no privacy concern is raised: any potential note reader must be logged in, in order to access the localhost HTTP server.

This is why on systems where multiple users are logged in at the same time, it is recommended to disable Tp-Note’s viewer feature by setting the configuration file variable [arg_default] edit = true. Alternatively, you can also compile Tp-Note without the viewer feature. Note, that even with the viewer feature disabled, one can still render the note manually with the --export option.

Summary: As long as Tp-Note’s built-in note viewer is running, the note file and all its referenced (image) files are exposed to all users logged into the computer at that given time. This concerns only local users, Tp-Note never exposes any information to the network.


Normally the exit status is 0 when the note file was processed without error or 1 otherwise. If Tp-Note can not read or write its configuration file, the exit status is 5.

When tp-note -n -b <FILE> returns the code 0, the note file has a valid YAML header with a title: field. In addition, when tp-note -n -b -x - <FILE> returns the code 0, the note’s body was rendered without error.


Tp-Note it hosted on:


Copyright (C) 2016-2021 Jens Getreu

Licensed under either of

at your option.

12.1. Contribution

Unless you explicitly state otherwise, any contribution intentionally submitted for inclusion in the work by you, as defined in the Apache-2.0 licence, shall be dual licensed as above, without any additional terms or conditions. Licensed under the Apache Licence, Version 2.0 (the "Licence"); you may not use this file except in compliance with the Licence.


Jens Getreu

[1] The characters _, -, ` ', '' and '.` are considered to be part of the sort-tag even when they appear in last position.

[2] The variables {{ fm_title }} and {{ fm_subtitle }} reflect the values in the note’s metadata.