After exiting the Linux world for a few years to do the gaming PC thing, I have recently come back to the fold. For the most part, the transition has been easy, but there's one 'tool' I'm having problem replacing: Evernote.

As some of you may know, Evernote does not provide an official client for Linux, and the unofficial alternatives are... Pretty lacking. Currently, I have a pretty sweet setup when it comes to writing notes to Evernote in the form of Sublime Text + the Evernote plugin, but when it comes to viewing notes I'm stuck with the not-very-good web client. For that reason, I'm investigating Emacs + Org mode as a replacement.

I should also note that I'm not a total newcomer to Emacs. In fact, back before I switched to Windows I was one of those guys who was using Emacs for everything from note-taking and writing LaTeX documents to listening to music and emailing. That being said, I never figured out a way to do the one thing I do a lot in Evernote, and which is trivially easy on that platform, but not so easy in Emacs/Org: building up large collections of tagged, searchable notes with lots of images.

To give an example, I have a collection of favourite female actresses, musicians, models, and so on. Each of these is a single note with an image and one or more tags depending on the occupation of the persion in question, so that I can quickly view, say, actresses who are also singers:

I have similarly-structured collections for movies/tv shows, videogames, and books. All of these are quite large, and that's one of the areas where I begin to run into problems with Emacs and Org-mode.

For instance, I attempted to somewhat-replicate the above collection using a single Org file; the plan being to sift through said file using agenda views and tags/keywords. I created a directory for this agenda file to live, as well as the necessary image files, but this was about as far as I got before realizing that it was going to take me forever to select the images I wanted to use, copy each one into the folder, set the attribute to scale the image to a reasonable size, and then link the image itself---which I have to do manually at my current level of knowledge, otherwise Org opts for an absolute link that will present problems when viewing the file in clients on other machines from the synced folder (I'm using SpiderOak):

Other options I have looked at include Bookmarks+ and Image-dired. In fact, I remember using Bookmarks+ as a collection manager back when I was an Emacs obsessive, and am still referenced on the Emacswiki for the my somewhat-novel use of that particular plugin. The limitation I ran into then as now, though, is that Bookmarks+ doesn't do thumbnails, and I like to be able to 'see' and then read, instead of the other way around, if that makes sense.

Image-dired, on the other hand, does image thumbnails, and even supports tags, but I don't know of any way to 'save' certain tag views, and the process of marking/unmarking and then viewing is somewhat clunky compared to searching in Evernote or agenda views in Org-mode.


So I know what I want to accomplish in Emacs is possible, but I'm uncertain as to whether it can be accomplished efficiently given the size of the collection/library I'll end up having. Is there an easy, relatively-straightforward-to-implement way of creating image-rich, tagged entities in Emacs which can be searched and sorted, and which would also be the sort of thing you could put in a sync folder without breakage occuring?

Also note that if you think there would be another application more suited for what I'm trying to do (yes, I know it's heresy to even entertain the notion that something should be done outside of Emacs), then I am definitely open to suggestions.

Oh, and if it's relevant, I'm using Spacemacs.

  • I suspect if you use the spacemacs tag some people assume the question is specific to spacemacs and ignore it if they're not a spacemacser. Dec 11, 2017 at 20:53

1 Answer 1


Use Bookmark+ together with image-dired or Dired+.

Bookmark+ lets you create autofile bookmarks, which essentially means that you can treat files as bookmarks. In particular, you can tag them.

Image Dired (part of vanilla Emacs) lets you show image files using thumbnails in Dired.

Dired+ lets you show an image preview (aka thumbnail) in a tooltip when you mouseover an image-file name in Dired. Option diredp-image-preview-in-tooltip controls whether this happens and how (full-size image or thumbnail preview of whatever size). Examples.

Dired+ also provides special support for Bookmark+ autofiles. Minor mode diredp-highlight-autofiles-mode highlights them for easy recognition, and you can easily mark them and do other things with them. And Bookmark+ lets you cycle through sets of bookmarks (e.g. image autofiles) - slideshows.

There are really quite a few possibilities.

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