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This is a very simple, and at the moment very rough, Emacs lisp package that can assist your interaction with the Simplenote iPhone application and web application developed by the Cloud Factory. Notice that simplenote.el is not developed or endorsed by the Cloud Factory.

This package has been tested only under Emacs 23.1.1. Although I hope it works under older versions of Emacs (at least Emacs 22) I have not tested it. Furthermore, this is pre-alpha quality software and there is a high probability that it will cause irreparable harm to your notes. Use at your own peril and keep a backup of your notes.

The software is distributed under the GPL license version 2.


This package relies on your system having a program that can establish secure connections to the Simplenote serverm, such as openssl. openssl comes pre-installed with Mac OS X and Linux. For Windows you will need to install openssl before using simplenote.el. The openssl client appears to be available from or

If you have gnutls-cli installed on your system, then Emacs' tls.el will first try to use this program to establish a secure connection. This doesn't work for me. If you have problems with gnutls-cli you can either uninstall it, or change the value of the tls-program variable. For more information consult the documentation for the tls.el package.

Installation and configuration

Important note: If you are already using a version of simplenote.el before Nov. 26 2009, first make sure that your local notes are synced to the Simplenote server and then do a clean install of simplenote.el by removing the simplenote-directory (by default ~/.simplenote). Then follow the current installation instructions.

After downloading the package, put the file simplenote.el in a directory where Emacs can find it during startup and then add in your .emacs the lines

(require 'simplenote)
(setq simplenote-email "")
(setq simplenote-password "yourpassword")

where the email and password are the ones that you use to login to the Simplenote application. simplenote.el keeps a local copy of your notes in a directory defined in the variable simplenote-directory. Its default value is ~/.simplenote. You can change the value of simplenote-directory before calling simplenote-setup. The latter checks for the existence of simplenote-directory and some necessary sub-directories and creates these if they do not exist.


There are two usage modes for simplenote.el. It can be used as a browser for your notes (with local caching) or you can synchronize individual notes to the Simplenote application and later edit them on the iPhone. These two approaches do not exclude one another. I will explain these two approaches below.

Simplenote browser

Give the command M-x simplenote-browse. If this the first time you will see an almost empty buffer. Click on the [Sync] button to download your notes from the Simplenote server. If you have not set the variables simplenote-email or simplenote-password you will be asked interactively for their values.

The rest of the interface should be more or less clear. You have the option to create new notes, and edit or delete existing notes. Syncing is not automatic but has to be invoked manually either by clicking the [Sync] button at the top of the Simplenote browser or by M-x simplenote-sync-notes.

Deleting a note just marks the note as deleted in order to give you the opportunity to undelete it if you change your mind. After syncing the note gets deleted from the local cache but still exists (marked as deleted) on the Simplenote server. The note will be permanently deleted only after syncing through the iPhone Simplenote application or by using the Simplenote API.

Sync individual files

The idea here is that you have a text file that you want to edit on your iPhone when you can't use your laptop for example during a bus commute. First, while visiting the text file that you want to sync run M-x simplenote-create-note-from-buffer. This will create a new note on the Simplenote server with the contents of your file. Each note is identified by a key which is saved by simplenote.el in the buffer-local variable simplenote-key. In order for the key to persist after you close the file you must save it. For this reason the function simplenote-create-note-from-buffer adds a file-local variables section at the end of your file. If your file already has file-local variables you will need to do some editing.

Then you use the functions M-x simplenote-push-buffer and M-x simplenote-pull-buffer to send local changes to the server and get changes from the server respectively.


  • Get rid of the need for a [Refresh] button.
  • Handle gracefully the case where there is no connection to the Simplenote server.
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