TP-NOTE(1) Version 1.21.5 | Tp-Note documentation


Jens Getreu

Table of Contents

4.1. Create a new note with empty clipboard
4.2. Create a new note based on clipboard data
4.3. Create a new note annotating a non-Tp-Note file
4.4. Convert a text file into a Tp-Note file
4.5. Use Tp-Note in shell scripts
4.6. Editing notes
4.7. Automatic filename synchronization before and after editing
6.1. The document’s header and body
6.2. Links to resources and other documents
8.1. Register your own text editor
8.2. Change the file extension for new note files
8.3. Configure the natural language detection algorithm
8.4. Change the default markup language
8.5. Change the sort tag character set
8.6. Customize the filename synchronization scheme
8.7. Store new note files by default in a subdirectory
8.8. Customize the built-in note viewer
8.9. Choose your favorite web browser as note viewer
9.1. Template types
9.2. Template variables
9.3. Template filters
9.4. Content template conventions
9.5. Filename template conventions
14.1. Contribution


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


tpnote [-a ] [-b] [-c <FILE>] [-d <LEVEL>] [-e] [-l <LANG>]
       [-p <NUM>] [-n] [-t] [-u] [-v] [-V] [-x <DIR>|''|'-']


Tp-Note is a note-taking tool and a template system, that synchronizes the note’s metadata with its filename. Tp-Note analyses its environment and the clipboard content and stores the result in variables. New notes are created by filling these variables in predefined and customizable Tera-templates. In case the first positional parameter <FILE> points to an existing Tp-Note file, the note’s metadata is parsed and, if necessary, its filename is adjusted. For all other file types, Tp-Note creates a new note in the same directory annotating the file. If the positional parameter <DIR> points to an existing directory (or, when omitted, the current working directory), a new note is created in that directory. After creation, Tp-Note launches the systems file editor. Although the configurable default templates are written for Markdown, Tp-Note is not tied to any specific markup language. However, Tp-Note comes with an optional viewer feature, that currently renders only Markdown, ReStructuredText and HTML input. In addition, there is some limited support for Asciidoc and WikiText. Finally, the note’s rendition is live updated and displayed in the user’s web browser.

After the user finished editing, Tp-Note analyses eventual changes in the notes metadata and renames, if necessary, the file, so that its metadata 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 5 different modes, depending on its command line arguments and the clipboard state. Each mode is associated with one content template and one filename template.

4.1. Create a new note with empty 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 it to change the proposed title and add other content. When the text editor closes, Tp-Note synchronizes the note’s metadata 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):

tpnote "./03-Favorite Readings/"


cd "./03-Favorite Readings"

creates the document:

"./03-Favorite Readings/20211031-Favorite"

with the content:

title:      "Favorite Readings"
subtitle:   "Note"
author:     "Getreu"
date:       "2021-10-31"
lang:       "en-GB"

4.2. Create a 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 | link_text }}, its URL with {{ clipboard | link_dest }} and its title with {{ clipboard | link_title }}. The new note is then created with the tmpl.from_clipboard_content and the tmpl.from_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 metadata 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](<>)" | tpnote

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.

tpnote "./03-Favorite Readings/"


cd "./03-Favorite Readings/"

This creates the document:

"./03-Favorite Readings/20211031-Who Moved My"

with the content:

title:      "Who Moved My Cheese"
subtitle:   "Note"
author:     "Getreu"
date:       "2021-10-31"
lang:       "en-GB"

Who Moved My Cheese?

Chapter 2

We see from the above example, how the tmpl.from_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.from_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](

tpnote './doc/Lecture 1'

Tp-Note’s templates tmpl.from_clipboard_content and tmpl.from_clipboard_filename create the following document:

./doc/Lecture 1/20211031-The Rust
title:      "The Rust Book"
subtitle:   "URL"
author:     "Getreu"
date:       "2021-10-31"
lang:       "en-GB"

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 contains the string: ---\ntitle: Todo\nfile_ext: mdtxt\n---\n\nnothing.


This creates the note: 20211031-Todo.mdtxt with the following content:

title:      "Todo"
subtitle:   ""
author:     "Getreu"
date:       "2021-10-31"
lang:       "en-GB"
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.from_clipboard_yaml_content and the tmpl.from_clipboard_yaml_filename templates.

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

echo -e "---\ntitle: Todo\nfile_ext: mdtxt\n---\n\nnothing" | tpnote

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 \
| tpnote

creates the note file 20211031-Jens Getreu's with the webpage’s content converted to Markdown:

title:      "Jens Getreu's blog"
subtitle:   ""
author:     "getreu"
date:       "2021-10-31"
lang:       "en"

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

-   [Home](
-   [Categories](

4.3. Create a new note annotating a 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_file_content and tmpl.annotate_file_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 metadata.


tpnote "Classic Shell Scripting.pdf"

creates the note:

Classic Shell"

with the content:

title:      "Classic Shell Scripting.pdf"
subtitle:   "Note"
author:     "getreu"
date:       "2021-10-31"
lang:       "en-GB"

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

The configuration file variables filename.extensions_* list all the file extensions that Tp-Note recognizes as own file types. Only foreign file types can be annotated.

Note that the file annotation mode also reads the clipboard’s content: when it is not empty, its data is appended to the new note’s body.

4.4. Convert a text file into a Tp-Note file

Consider the content of the following text file Ascii-Hangman--A game for whose creation date is 13 March 2022:

A little game designed for primary kids to revise vocabulary in classroom.

To convert the text file into a Tp-Note file type:

tpnote --add-header --batch "Ascii-Hangman--A game for"

NB: the --add-header flag is actually not necessary, as it is enabled by default through the configuration file variable arg_default.add_header = true.

As a result of the above command, Tp-Note converts the filename into:

20220313-Ascii-Hangman--A game for

and prepends a YAML header to the file’s content:

title:      "Ascii-Hangman "
subtitle:   "A game for children"
author:     "getreu"
date:       "2022-03-13"
lang:       "en-GB"
orig_name:  "Ascii-Hangman--A game for"

A little game designed for primary kids to revise vocabulary in classroom.

4.5. Use Tp-Note in shell scripts

  • Use case: download a webpage and store it as Tp-Note file

    Using the method displayed above you can save time and 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 | tpnote

    and make it executable:

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

    To execute the script type:

    download ''
  • Use case: synchronize recursively filenames and metadata

    The following synchronizes bidirectionally all filenames with the note’s YAML header data.

    TPNOTE_USER="John" find . -type f -name '*.md' -exec tpnote -a -b {} > /dev/null \;

    The direction of the synchronization depends on whether the .md file has a valid YAML header or not:

    • A YAML header is present and valid: the header fields might update the filename (see template tmpl.sync_filename). A possible sort-tag at the beginning of the filename remains untouched.

    • No YAML header: a new header is prepended (see template from_text_file_content) and the filename might change slightly (see template from_text_file_filename). A possible sort-tag at the beginning of the filename remains untouched. If the filename does not start with a sort tag, the file’s creation date is prepended.

4.6. Editing notes

Unless invoked with --batch or --view, 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"
tpnote 20211031-Favorite

4.7. 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 helps to retrieve your notes in large data pools.


tpnote "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 person taking notes 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).


-a, --add-header

Prepend a YAML header in case the text file does not have one. The default template, deduces the title: and subtitle: header field from the filename. It’s sort-tag and file extension remain untouched. In case the filename is lacking a sort-tag, the file creation date in numerical format is prepended. As this option is activated by default, it has no effect unless you set arg_default.add_header = false in the configuration file.

-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 windows pop 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 you 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. This is particularly useful for debugging new templates. The option -d off silences all error message reporting and also suppresses the error pop-up windows.

Note, under Linux, when -d trace is given, no pop-up messages appear. Instead, the logs are dumped to the console from where you started Tp-Note.

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

    tpnote.exe --debug info

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

    tpnote.exe --debug info > 2>&1

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

    tpnote.exe --popup --debug info

The same can be achieved by setting following configuration file variables (especially useful with 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. Alternatively you can set the environment variable TPNOTE_BROWSER="" to the empty string. Another way to permanently disable the web server is to set the configuration variable arg_default.edit=true. When --edit --view appear together, both the editor and the viewer will open and the arg_default.edit variable is ignored.

-l LANG, --force-lang=LANG

Disable automatic language detection when creating a new note file and use LANG instead. LANG is formatted as IETF BCP 47 language tag, e.g. en_US. If LANG is -, the environment variable TPNOTE_LANG or - if not defined - the user’s default language, as reported from the operating system’s locale setting, is used.

-p PORT, --port=PORT

Sets the server port that the web browser connects to, to the specified value PORT. If not given, a random available 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. In addition, the flag in scripts can be especially useful for testing .md-files. See section EXIT STATUS for more details. The section METADATA FILENAME SYNCHRONIZATION shows alternative ways to disable synchronization.

-t, --tty

Tp-Note tries different heuristics to detect whether a graphic environment is available or not. For example, under Linux, the DISPLAY environment variable is evaluated. The --tty flag disables the automatic detection and sets Tp-Note into console only mode: now only the non GUI editor (see configuration variable: app_args.editor_console) and no viewer is launched.

-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. The configuration setting arg_default.edit=true or the environment variable TPNOTE_EDITOR="" disables the viewer. However, with --view given at the command line, the viewer appears, regardless of the value of arg_default.edit.

As most users do not expect the viewed file to change, --view is usually used together with --no-filename-sync.

-V, --version

Print Tp-Note’s version, its built-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.


Choose how local links in the exported HTML file are written out: off, short or long (default). No link rewriting occurs, for the MODE off. The MODE short rewrites all local relative links to absolute links, whose base is the first parent directory containing the marker file .tpnote.toml (filename customizable). NB, the directory of the marker file defines the base for all absolute local links in your Tp-Note file! The mode long rewrites all local links to absolute links whose base is the system’s root directory /. For relative local links this is performed by prepending the path to the note file. Absolute local links get the path to the marker file .tpnote.toml prepended. In case you do not place a .tpnote.toml file in a parent directory, the base for absolute local links in your note file is interpreted as /. The right mode to choose depends on how you view the resulting HTML: if you publish on a web server, then short is a good choice. If you view the HTML file directly in your web browser, better choose long. NB: You can also set this option via Tp-Note’s configuration file with the key arg_default.export_link_rewriting.


Tp-Note considers a text file to be a valid note file, if its:

  • file extension is listed in one of the configuration file variables filename.extension_*; if its

  • content has a valid YAML header and

  • the YAML header contains a key whose name is defined in the configuration file variable tmpl.compulsory_header_field (default title).

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.

6.1. The document’s header and body

Tp-Note is designed to be compatible with Pandoc’s andRMarkdowns document structure as shown in the figure below. In this documentation the terms YAML header, header and front matter are used as synonyms to designate to document’s metadata block at the beginning of the text file:


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 Tp-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.


There is no restriction about the markup language being used in the note’s text body. However, the default templates assume Markdown and the file extension .md. Both can be changed easily by adapting Tp-Note’s configuration file. Besides the requirements concerning its header, a valid Tp-Note file must have a filename extension that is listed in one of the configuration file variables: filename.extension_*. The latter also determine which internal markup language render is called for Tp-Note’s internal viewer.

6.2. Links to resources and other documents

The document’s body often contains (inline) links to resources e.g. images and links to other documents. The link syntax depends on the markup language used in the Tp-Note file.

Here some example links in Markdown notation:

  • A website: [blog](<>)

  • An inline image with relative local URL: ![Alt text](<images/my logo.png>).

  • A link to another Tp-Note document with a relative local link: [my doc](<../../notes/my>)

  • The same as above, but using the short autolink syntax: <http:../../notes/>

  • A link to another Tp-Note document with an absolute local link: [my doc](</home/kanban/docs/my>) The base for absolute local links is the first parent directory containing the marker file .tpnote.toml. If absent, absolute local links refer to the root directory /.

  • A shorthand link to another Tp-Note document. Instead of writing out the full file name, only the first characters of the note’s sort-tag 20230508- are given, e.g. the link [my doc](<docs/20230508>) points to the file ./docs/20230508-my Alternatively, the shorthand link can be expressed as autolink as well: <http:docs/20230508>. If more than one document with the same sort-tag exist, the viewer displays the first in alphabetical order. To set up a different order, you can extend the sort-tag until it becomes unique, e.g. rename the example document to ./docs/20230508-1-my to obtain the unique sort-tag 20230508-1-.

Although Tp-Note’s built in viewer follows absolute and relative URLs, usually the latter are preferred. They make moving documents easier, as relative links do not break when the source and the destination documents are moved together.

Tp-Note’s exporter function --export converts a given Tp-Note file into HTML and adds .html to the output filename. Links in the documents content to other Tp-Note files are hereby rewritten by appending .html to their URLs. This way you can convert groups of documents to HTML and later browse from document to document in you web browser. The option --export-link-rewriting allows you to fine-tune how local links are written out. Valid values are: off, short and long.

In order to achieve this, the author must respect the following convention concerning absolute local links: The base of absolute local links in Tp-Note documents is always the directory where the marker file .tpnote.toml resides (or / if none exists). The option --export-link-rewriting decides how local links in the Tp-Note document are converted when the HTML is generated. If its value is short, then relative local links are converted to absolute links. The base of the resulting links is again the directory where the .tpnote.toml file resides (or / if none exists). Consider the following example:

  • The Tp-Note file /my/docs/car/ contains

  • the absolute link /car/scan.jpg,

  • and the relative link ./photo.jpg.

  • The document root marker is: /my/docs/.tpnote.toml.

The images in the resulting HTML will appear as

  • /car/scan.jpg.

  • /car/photo.jpg.

For --export-link-rewriting=long, in addition to the above, all absolute local links are rebased to /’. Consider the following example:

  • The Tp-Note file /my/docs/car/ contains

  • the absolute link /car/scan.jpg,

  • and the relative link ./photo.jpg.

  • The document root marker is: /my/docs/.tpnote.toml.

The image paths in the resulting HTML will appear as

  • /my/docs/car/scan.jpg.

  • /my/docs/car/photo.jpg.

So far, we have seen how Tp-Note’s viewer and HTML exporter converts the destination of local links [text](destination). Concerning the link’s text property, the situation is simpler as the text property never changes. However, there is one exception: when the text property contains a URL starting with http: or https: only the file stem is displayed. For example, the link: [http:dir/my](<http:dir/my>) is rewritten into [my file](<http:dir/my>) during the rendition process. This explains why the autolink <http:dir/my>. appears as my file in the browser.


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 _, -, , \t, . 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 will automatically prepend 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 metadata, 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


Consider the following document with the filename:


and the content:

title:      "1. The Beginning"
subtitle:   "Note"
author:     "Getreu"
date:       "2021-10-31"
lang:       "en-GB"

As -My is not equal to -'1. The, Tp-Note will rename the file to 20211031-'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:       "2021-10-31"
sort_tag:   "20211101-"

When Tp-Note synchronizes the note’s metadata with its filename, it will also change the sort tag from 20211031- to 20211101-. The resulting filename becomes 20211101-'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 20211101-'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 these 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 behavior any time by deleting the sort_tag line in the note’s metadata. The same applies to the file_ext variable.

The metadata filename synchronization 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 synchronization, add the YAML header field filename_sync: false.

title:      "1. The Beginning"
filename_sync: false

Note, that in the above described examples, the information flow always goes from the YAML note header towards the note’s filename. However, when Tp-Note opens a text file without a YAML header, a new header is added automatically. In this case the information flow goes from the filename towards the header, namely in the opposite direction. Once the new header is prepended to the text file, a regular filename synchronization - as described above - is triggered and executed as described above.

Technically, all rules and logic of how the synchronization is executed, are encoded in customizable so-called filename templates (cf. section Templates).


Tp-Note’s configuration file resides typically in ~/.config/tpnote/tpnote.toml under Unix or in C:\Users\<LOGIN>\AppData\Roaming\tpnote\config\tpnote.toml> under Windows. tpnote --version prints the current configuration file path.

Besides the standard configuration path, Tp-Note searches for its configuration data at the following locations:

  1. If the command line parameter --config <path> is given, <path> indicates the location of the configuration file.

  2. If the environment variable TPNOTE_CONFIG="<path>" is set, <path> indicates the location of the configuration file.

  3. At startup all parent directories of the note file path are searched for a file named .tpnote.toml. If present and its content is not empty, Tp-Note interprets the file’s content as configuration file. Continue otherwise.

  4. Tp-Note tries to find its configuration data at the operating system’s standard location indicated here above.

When Tp-Note starts, it first tries to find its configuration file. Once found, the syntax of the configuration is checked. If not correct, the configuration file is renamed and replaced by a file with correct syntax and default values. If Tp-Note fails to find a configuration file at any of the above locations, it writes a default configuration file at the expected standard location.

Tp-Note is best customized by starting it once, and then modifying its default configuration.

tpnote -V -b

To create a configuration file in the current directory invoke Tp-Note with -c.

tpnote -V -b -c .tpnote.toml

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.

8.1. Register your own text editor

There are two ways to modify the default file editor, Tp-Note launches when it starts: either you can modify the configuration file variables app_args.editor and app_args.editor_console, or alternatively, you can set the TPNOTE_EDITOR environment variable (cf. examples in the chapter ENVIRONMENT_VARIABLES below).

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 tpnote --debug info --popup --edit.

The following example showcases the configuration for the Kate file editor. The entry kate launches the binary, while the command line parameter --block guarantees, that the launched process blocks until the user closes the editor. Tp-Note detects the end of the process, checks if the title of the note files has changed in its YAML header and renames the note file if necessary.

editor = [

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 file editor can be launched with the --wait option, Vim with --nofork or Kate with --block (see example above). However, Tp-Note also works with forking text editors. Although this should be avoided, there is a possible workaround:

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

Whereby FILE=$(tpnote --batch) creates the note file, vi "$FILE" opens the vi-text editor and tpnote --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 set up 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 tpnote.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 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. Neither process should fork when they start (see above).

Examples, adjust to your needs and taste:

  • Neovim in Xfce4-Terminal:

    editor = [
        '+colorscheme pablo',
        '+set syntax=markdown',
  • Neovim in LXTerminal:

    editor = [
        '+colorscheme pablo',
        '+set syntax=markdown',
  • Neovim in Xterm:

    editor = [
        'DejaVu Sans Mono',
        '+colorscheme pablo',
        '+set syntax=markdown',
  • Neovim in Alacritty:

    editor = [
        '+colorscheme pablo',
        '+set syntax=markdown',
  • Helix-editor in XFCE4-Terminal:

    editor = [

8.2. Change the file extension for new note files

Tp-Note identifies the note’s markup language by its file extension and renders the content accordingly (see filename.extensions_* variables). For example: the variable filename.extensions_md lists all file extensions, that are regarded as Markdown files:

extensions_md = [ 'txt', 'md', 'markdown' ]

The default file extension for new note files under Windows is defined as:

extension_default = 'txt'

If you prefer rather the file extension md for new notes, change this to:

extension_default = 'md'

This modification does not change how the note file’s content is interpreted - in this case as Markdown - because both file extensions .txt and .md belong to the same extension group defined in filename.extensions_md.

8.3. Configure the natural language detection algorithm

When creating a new header for a new or an existing note file, a linguistic language detection algorithm tries to determine in what natural language the note file is authored. Depending on the context, the algorithm processes as input: the header field title: or the first sentence of the text body. The natural language detection algorithm is implemented as a template filter named get_lang, which is used in various Tera content templates tmpl.*_content in Tp-Note’s configuration file. The filter get_lang is parametrized by the configuration variable tmpl.filter_get_lang containing a list of ISO 639-1 encoded languages, the algorithm considers as potential detection candidates, e.g.:

filter_get_lang = [

As natural language detection is CPU intensive, it is advised to limit the number of detection candidates to 5 or 6, depending on how fast your computer is. The more language candidates you include, the longer the note file creation takes time. As a rule of thumb, with all languages enabled the creation of new notes can take up to 4 seconds on my computer. Nevertheless, it is possible to enable all available detection candidates with the pseudo language code +all which stands for add all languages:

filter_get_lang = [

Once the language is detected with the filter get_lang, it passes another filter called map_lang. This filter maps the result of get_lang - encoded as ISO 639-1 code - to an IETF language tag. For example, en is replaced with en-US or de with de-DE. This additional filtering is useful, because the detection algorithm can not figure out the region code (e.g. -US or -DE) by itself. Instead, the region code is appended in a separate processing step. Spell checker or grammar checker like [LTeX] rely on this region information, to work properly.

The corresponding configuration looks like this:

filter_map_lang = [

When the user’s region setting - as reported from the operating system’s locale setting - does not exist in above list, it is automatically appended as additional internal mapping. When the filter map_lang encounters a language code for which no mapping is configured, the input language code is forwarded as it is without modification, e.g. the input fr results in the output fr. Subsequent entries that differ only in the region subtag, e.g. ['en', 'en- GB'], ['en', 'en-US'] are ignored.

Note, that the environment variable TPNOTE_LANG_DETECTION - if set - takes precedence over the tmpl.filter_get_lang and tmpl.filter_map_lang settings. This allows configuring the language detection feature system-wide without touching Tp-Note’s configuration file. The following example achieves the equivalent result to the configuration hereinabove:

TPNOTE_LANG_DETECTION="en-US, fr, de-DE, et" tpnote

If you want to enable all language detection candidates, add the pseudo tag +all somewhere to the list:

TPNOTE_LANG_DETECTION="en-US, de-DE, +all" tpnote

In the above example the IETF language tags en-US and de-DE are retained in order to configure the region codes US and DE used by the map_lang template filter.

For debugging observe the value of SETTINGS in the debug log with:

tpnote -d trace -b

If wished for, you can disable Tp-Note’s language detection feature, by deleting all entries in the tmpl.filter_get_lang variable:

filter_get_lang = []

Like above, you can achieve the same with:


8.4. Change the default markup language

Tp-Note’s core functionality, the management of note file headers and filenames, is markup language agnostic. However, there is one content template tmpl.annotate_file_content that generates a hyperlink. The hyperlink syntax varies depending on the markup language. Hence, you should not forget to modify the tmpl.annotate_file_content content template, when you change the default markup language defined in filename.extension_default.

8.4.1. Change default markup language to ReStructuredText

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:




    Alternatively, the above can be achieved by setting the environment variable TPNOTE_EXTENSION_DEFAULT:

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

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

    with the following line encoded in ReStructuredText syntax:

    `<{{ path | file_name }}>`_

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

8.4.2. 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"

When Tp-Note triggers the next filename synchronization, the filename extension of the note file will change to .rst. The above modification applies to the current note only.

8.5. Change the sort tag character set

Sort tags for new notes are generated with the [TMPL] *_filename templates and updated with the [TMPL] sync_filename template.

By default, the digits 0-9, 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.

8.6. Customize the filename synchronization scheme

The filename synchronization scheme is fully customizable through Tp-Note’s filename templates. To design such a custom scheme, start to set up your synchronization rules in the tmpl.sync_filename template. Then adjust all tmpl.*_filename templates to comply with these rules. In order to verify your design, check that the following holds for any sequential application of one tmpl.*_filename template followed directly by the tmpl.sync_filename template: The latter should never change the filename initially set up by any tmpl.*_filename template.

Secondly, make sure that the expression in tmpl.sync_filename describing the filename’s sort tag e.g. {{ path | file_sort_tag }} is always followed by a variable with the sanit(force_alpha=true) filter set, e.g.:

{{ path | file_sort_tag }}{{ fm_title | sanit(force_alpha=true) }}

The first expression guarantees, that it resolves only to characters defined in the filename.sort_tag_chars set, while the second expression is known to not start with such a character. This way Tp-Note is able to separate sort tags in filenames and avoids cyclic filename change. Or, in other words: the tmpl.sync_filname template should always give the same result, even after repeated application.

To debug your tmpl.sync_filename template, create a test note file and invoke Tp-Note with --debug trace and --batch:

tpnote --batch --debug trace

8.7. 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, let’s say Notes/, instead, you need to modify the templates tmpl.annotate_file_filename and tmpl.annotate_file_content:

Replace in tmpl.annotate_file_filename the string:

{{ path | file_sort_tag }}


Notes/{{ path | file_sort_tag }}

and in tmpl.annotate_file_content:

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


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

Unlike early versions of Tp-Note, relative links can now start with ../. This became possible with the introduction of link rewriting in the HTML rendition code of the viewer feature. Relative links are now always converted into absolute links before being sent to the browser. See subsection Links to resources and other documents for more details about link rewriting.

8.8. 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 delaying 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 quite 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 tmpl_html.viewer and tmpl_html.viewer_error. The following code example taken from tmpl_html.viewer illustrates the available variables:

viewer = '''<!DOCTYPE html>
<html lang="{{ fm_lang | default(value='en') }}">
<meta charset="utf-8">
<title>{{ fm_title }}</title>
<link rel="stylesheet" href="{{ note_css_path }}">
  <pre class="note-header">{{ note_fm_text }}</pre>
  <div class="note-body">{{ note_body_html }}</div>
  <script>{{ note_js }}</script>


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

  • {{ note_css_path }} is the CSS stylesheet path required to highlight embedded source code. This path is hard-wired and understood by Tp-Note’s internal web server.

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

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

  • {{ note_js }} is the JavaScript browser code for live updates.

  • {{ extension_default }} (c.f. section Template variables).

  • {{ username }} (c.f. section Template variables).

  • {{ lang }} (c.f. section Template variables).

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 tmpl_html.viewer_error (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_html }} the HTML rendition of the text source with clickable hyperlinks:

error = '''<!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_html }}
<script>{{ note_js }}</script>

Customize the built-in HTML exporter

Customizing Tp-Note’s HTML export function works the same way as customizing the built-in viewer. There are some slight differences though: The role of the tmpl_html.viewer template - discussed above - is taken over by the tmpl_html.exporter 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 tmpl_html.viewer_error template. Note, in contrast to the previous template tmpl_html.viewer example, the source code highlighting CSS code is now embedded in the HTML output with <style>{{ note_css }}</style>

8.9. Choose your favorite 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 favorite web browser on top. Alternatively, you can set the TPNOTE_BROWSER environment variable (cf. examples in the capter ENVIRONMENT_VARIABLES below).

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 tpnote --debug info --popup --view.


All TP-Note’s workflows are customizable through its templates which are grouped in the [tmpl] section of Tp-Nots’s configuration file. Configuration file 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 Tera variables, launch Tp-Note with the --debug trace option and observe what information it captures from its environment.

9.1. Template types

The content of a new note is composed by one of Tp-Note’s internal customizable templates, hence the name Tp-Note, where Tp stands for template. Which of the internal templates is applied depends on the context in which Tp-Note is invoked: e.g. the template for clipboard text input is called tmpl.from_clipboard_content. If the clipboard contains text with a YAML header, the template tmpl.from_clipboard_yaml_content is used.

In total, there are 5 different tmpl.*_content templates:

  • tmpl.new_content

  • tmpl.from_clipboard_content

  • tmpl.from_clipboard_yaml_content

  • tmpl.from_text_file_content

  • tmpl.annotate_file_content

In general, the templates are designed in a way, that the text input stream - usually originating from the clipboard - ends up in the body of the note file, whereas the environment - such as the username - ends up in the header of the note file.

Once the content of the new note is set by one of the content templates, another template type comes into play: the so-called filename template. Each content template has a corresponding filename template, e.g.:

  • tmpl.new_filename

  • tmpl.from_clipboard_filename

  • tmpl.from_clipboard_yaml_filename

  • tmpl.from_text_file_filename

  • tmpl.annotate_file_filename

  • tmpl.sync_filename (no corresponding content template)

As the name suggests, the role of a filename template is to determine the filename of the new note. This is done by evaluating (deserializing) it’s YAML header. The values of the note’s YAML header fields are can be accessed in filename templates through various {{ fm_<key> }} dynamically created template variables. For example the value of the YAML header field title: can be accessed with {{ fm_title }}. Once the filename is set, Tp-Note writes out the new note on disk.

Most of the above templates are dedicated to the creation of new note files. However, two of them have a special role: prepend header to text file and synchronize filename:

  • Prepend header to text file (new feature in Tp-Note v1.16.0): When Tp-Note opens a regular text file without a YAML header, a new header is prepended automatically. It’s data origins mainly form the filename of the text file. The templates applied in this use case are: tmpl.from_text_file_content and tmpl.from_text_file_filename.

  • Synchronize filename: This function mode is invoked when [Tp-Note] opens an existing note file, after it’s YAML header is evaluated. The extracted header information is then applied to the tmpl.sync_filename template and the resulting filename is compared to the actual filename on disk. If they differ, [Tp-Note] renames the note file. The tmpl.sync_filename template operates on its own without a corresponding content template.

Note, that in the operation mode synchronize filename, the header data overwrites the filename of the note, whereas in the operation mode prepend header the filename data is copied into the new prepended header. Keep in mind, that even in the latter mode the filename might change slightly. This is because after the header creation with the tmpl.from_text_file_content template, the tmpl.from_text_file_filename template is applied, which might cause a slight filename modification due to its sanitization filters (cf. sanit() in the section Template filters).

You can disable the prepend header feature by setting the configuration file variable arg_default.add_header = false. To disable all filename synchronization, set arg_default.no_filename_sync = true. This guarantees, that Tp-Note will never change neither the filename nor the YAML header of an existing file.

For a more detailed description of templates and their defaults, please consult the const definitions in Tp-Note’s source code files and in the directory tpnote-lib/src/.

9.2. Template variables

All Tera template variables and functions can be used within Tp-Note’s templates. 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, {{ dir_path }} equals {{ path }}.

  • {{ note_fm_text }}: is the header as raw text of the file {{ path }} points to. Note, this variable is only available in the templates from_text_file_*, sync_filename and the HTML templates below.

  • {{ note_body_text }}: is the content of the file {{ path }} points to. If the file does not start with a front matter, this variable holds the whole content. Note, this variable is only available in the templates from_text_file_*, sync_filename and the HTML templates below.

  • {{ note_file_date }}: is the file system creation date of the file {{ path }} points to. Note, this variable is only available in the templates from_text_file_*, sync_filename and the HTML templates below.

  • {{ 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 from 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: TPNOTE_USER, LOGNAME, USER or USERNAME.

  • {{ lang }} contains the user’s language tag as defined in RFC 5646. Not to be confused with the UNIX LANG environment variable from which this value is derived under Linux/MacOS. Under Windows, the user’s language tag is queried through the WinAPI. If defined, the environment variable TPNOTE_LANG overwrites the value of {{ lang }} (all operating systems).

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.from_clipboard_yaml_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.from_clipboard_yaml_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 are 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

9.3. Template filters

In addition to Tera’s built-in filters, Tp-Note comes with some additional filters, e.g.: file_sort_tag, trim_file_sort_tag, file_stem, cut, heading, link_text, link_dest, link_title and ext.

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

  • {{ path | file_name }} 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 | file_sort_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 | file_name }} but without returning its stem, copy-counter and extension.

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

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

  • {{ path | file_ext }} is {{ path }}’s file extension without dot (period), e.g. txt or md.

  • {{ path | file_ext | prepend(with='.') }} is {{ path }}’s file extension with dot (period), e.g. .md or .md.

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

  • {{ dir_path | trim_file_sort_tag }} returns the final component of dir_path (which is the final directory name in {{ path }}). Unlike the file_name filter (which also returns the final component), trim_file_sort_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 the end of the first sentence, or the first newline.

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

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

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

  • {{ username | capitalize | json_encode }} is the capitalized JSON encoded username. As all YAML front-matter is JSON encoded, this filter code must be appended to any template variable placed in the front-matter block.

  • {{ fm_subtitle | sanit }} is the note’s subtitle as defined in its front matter, sanitized in a file system friendly form. Special characters are omitted or replaced by - and _. See the section Filename template convention for more details about this filter.

  • {{ fm_title | sanit(force_alpha=true) }} is the note’s title as defined in its front-matter. Same as above, but results starting with a sort tag character are prepended with an apostrophe to avoid ambiguity.

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

  • {{ note_body_text | get_lang }} determines the natural language of the variable {{ note_body_text }} and returns the result as ISO 639-1 language code. The template filter{{ get_lang }}’ can be configured with the configuration file variable tmpl.filter_get_lang. The latter defines a list of ISO 639-1 codes, the detection algorithm considers as possible language candidates. Keep this list as small as possible, because language detection is computationally expensive. A long candidate list may slow down the note file creation workflow. If the detection algorithm can not determine the language of {{ note_body_text }}, the filter get_lang returns the empty string.

  • {{ note_body_text | get_lang | map_lang }} maps the detected ISO 638-1 language code to a complete IETF BCP 47 language tag, usually containing the region subtag. For example the input en results in en-US. This additional mapping is useful because the detection algorithm can not determine the region automatically. The mapping can be configured by adjusting the configuration file variable tmpl.filter_map_lang. If a language is not listed in the tmpl.filter_map_lang filter configuration, the input is passed through, e.g. fr results in fr, or, the empty string results in an empty string.

  • {{ note_body_text | get_lang | map_lang(default=lang) }} adds an extra mapping for the map_lang filter: when the input of the map_lang filter is the empty string, then it’s output becomes the value of the {{ lang }} variable.

9.4. 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 | file_stem }} becomes {{ dir_path | file_stem() | json_encode() }} or just {{ dir_path | file_stem | json_encode }}.

9.5. Filename template conventions

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 template is called afterwards to calculate the filename of the new note. Please note that, the filename template tmpl.sync_filename has a special role as it synchronizes the filename of existing note files. Besides this, as we are dealing with filenames we must guarantee, that the filename templates produce only file system friendly characters. For this purpose Tp-Note provides the additional Tera filters sanit and sanit(force_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 variable, but is most useful with filename templates. For example, in the tmpl.sync_filename template, we find the expression {{ subtitle | sanit }}. Note that the filter recognizes strings that represent a so-called dot file name and treats them a little differently by prepending them with an apostrophe: a dot file is a file whose name starts with . and that does not contain whitespace. It may or may not end with a file extension. The apostrophe preserves the following dot from being filtered.

  • sanit(force_alpha=true) is similar to the above, with one exception: when a string starts with a digit 0123456789 or -_, 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(force_alpha=true )}. This way, it is always possible to distinguish the sort tag from the actual filename. The default sort tag separator ' can be changed with the configuration variable filename.sort_tag_extra_separator.

In filename templates most variables must pass either the sanit or the sanit(force_alpha=true) filter. Exception to this rule are the sort tag variables {{ path | file_sort_tag }} and {{ dir_path | file_sort_tag }}. As the latter are guaranteed to contain only the file system friendly characters 0123456789 -_, 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 not allowed with {{ path | file_sort_tag }} and {{ dir_path |file_sort_tag }}.


As discussed above, Tp-Note’s built-in viewer sets up an HTTP server on the localhost interface with a random port number.

For security reasons, Tp-Note limits the set of files the viewer is able to publish. To summarize, a file is only served:

  1. when it is referenced in one of the currently viewed Tp-Note files,

  2. when its file extension is registered with the viewer.served_mime_type list,

  3. if the number of so far viewed Tp-Note files, viewer.displayed_tpnote_count_max is not exceeded,

  4. when it’s located under a directory containing a marker file named .tpnote.toml (without marker file this condition is void).

The HTTP server runs as long as the launched web browser window is open. Note, that the server not only exposes the displayed note file, but also all referenced inline images and other linked TP-Note files. Internally, the viewer maintains a list of referenced local URLs. For security reasons, only listed files are served. To limit data exfiltration in case an attacker gains access to an account on your machine, the number of served Tp-Note files is limited by the configurable value viewer.displayed_tpnote_count_max.

In addition to the above quantitative restriction, Tp-Note’s built-in viewer serves only files whose file extensions are registered with the viewer.served_mime_type configuration file variable. The latter allows disabling the follow links to other Tp-Note files feature by removing all text/* mime types from that list.

Another security feature is the .tpnote.toml marker file. When Tp-Note opens a note file, it checks all directories above, one by one, until it finds the marker file .tpnote.toml. Tp-Note’s viewer will never serve a file located outside the root directory and its children. When no .tpnote.toml file is found, the root directory is set to /, which disables this security feature.

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 attacker 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 internal HTTP server by setting the configuration file variable arg_default.edit = true. Alternatively, you can also compile Tp-Note without the viewer feature. Note, that even if the viewer feature disabled, the --export command line option still works: This allows the authorized user to render the note to HTML manually.

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 or on the Internet.



Tp-Note stores the user’s locale settings - originating from the environment variable LANG (or the Windows registry) - in the template variable {{ lang }}. When the environment variable TPNOTE_LANG is set, it overwrites the locale setting stored in {{ lang }}. man locale describes the data format of LANG, a typical value is en_GB.UTF-8.


When set, the environment variable replaces the default path where Tp-Note loads or stores its configuration file. It has the same effect as the command line option --config. If both are present, that latter takes precedence.


Tp-Note stores the user’s locale settings - originating from the environment variable LANG (or the Windows registry) - in the template variable {{ lang }}. When the environment variable TPNOTE_LANG is set, it overwrites the locale setting stored in {{ lang }}. Unlike LANG, the environment variable TPNOTE_LANG is encoded as IETF BCP 47 language tag, e.g. en-US.


If set, this variable overwrites the configuration file variables tmpl.filter_get_lang and tmpl.filter_map_lang, thus selecting potential language candidates for Tp-Note’s naturaul language detection. The string contains a comma and space separated list of ISO 63901 codes, e.g. fr or IETF BCP 47 tags, e.g. fr-FR. Here is an example of a complete string: de-DE, en, fr-FR, hu. The user’s default locale {{ lang }} is automatically added to the list. Note, that the language detection algorithm determines only the language subtag, e.g. en. The region subtag will be added as indicated in your configuration. Subsequent entries that differ only in the region subtag, e.g. en-GB, en-US are ignored.

The empty string disables the automatic language detection.


For debugging observe the value of SETTINGS in the debug log:

TPNOTE_LANG_DETECTION="de-DE, en, fr-FR" tpnote -d trace -b


If set, this variable take precedence over the configuration file variable app_args.browser. While the latter is a list describing how to invoke various web browsers, TPNOTE_BROWSER contains a string invoking one particular browser, exactly as one would do in a shell: the whitespace separated tokens list contains: the path name of the application, and all its flags and options. For example:

TPNOTE_BROWSER="chromium --new-window --incognito" tpnote

The above instructs Tp-Note to start the web browser chromium with the flags --new-window and --incognito. Unlike in a shell, the backslash and quote characters have no special meaning. Instead, all tokens are percent encoded, e.g. my path becomes my%20path.

The empty string disables the launch of the browser the same way as --edit:


is equivalent to:

tpnote --edit


If set, and you are working on a graphical desktop, this variable takes precedence over the configuration file variable app_args.editor. While the latter is a list describing how to invoke various file editors, TPNOTE_EDITOR contains a string invoking one particular file editor, exactly as one would do on a shell: the whitespace separated tokens list contains: the path name of the application, and all its flags and options. For example:

TPNOTE_EDITOR="geany -sim" tpnote

The above instructs Tp-Note to start the editor geany with the flags -sim. Unlike with shell tokens, the backslash and quote characters have no special meaning. Instead, all tokens are percent encoded. Consider the following example where the space character is expressed as %20:

TPNOTE_EDITOR="geany -sim -c ~/my%20config/" tpnote

The empty string disables the launch of the editor the same way as the command line option --view does:


is equivalent to:

tpnote --view


If set, and you are working on a virtual console, this variable takes precedence over the configuration file variable app_args.editor_console, which defines the command line parameters for invoking a terminal based text editor, such as Emacs, Vim or Helix. Otherwise, the syntax and the operation are the same as with TPNOTE_EDITOR hereinabove. Example of use:

sudo TPNOTE_EDITOR_CONSOLE="nvim" tpnote


If set, this variable takes precedence over the configuration file variable filename.extension_default, which defines the file extension of new note files. In order to activate the appropriate markup renderer make sure, that the value given here is listed in one of the filename.extensions_* list.


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


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 tpnote -n -b <FILE> returns the code 0, the note file has a valid YAML header with a title: field. In addition, when tpnote -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.

14.1. 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 variables {{ fm_title }} and {{ fm_subtitle }} reflect the values in the note’s metadata.