Building Your Own Personal Wiki with Note-Taking Tools

Oct 5, 2023

In the age of information, managing and organizing data is crucial. Whether you're a student, professional, or just someone with a penchant for information, having a personal wiki can be a game-changer. This comprehensive guide will take you through the ins and outs of creating your own personal wiki using note-taking tools, focusing on their features, benefits, and how they can streamline your information management process.

Understanding Wikis

"Wiki" is derived from the Hawaiian term for "quick". In internet parlance, wikis are swiftly edited hypertext publications accessible via a web browser. They can host multiple pages catering to different subjects. While Wikipedia is the most renowned example of a wiki, the concept was first brought to life by Ward Cunningham with the WikiWikiWeb in 1995.

Wikis stand apart from traditional content management systems as they have no specific owner. In most cases, any user is free to create new pages and edit existing ones.

Classifications of Wikis

Public Wikis

Public or external wikis are freely accessible on the Internet. They serve as knowledge hubs on various topics. Wikipedia and WikiTravel are notable examples of public wikis.

Private Wikis

Private wikis, also known as internal wikis, are limited to a specific team or an entire enterprise within a company. They are used to manage a company's internal knowledge base, including processes, procedures, guidelines, and policies.

Personal Wikis

Personal wikis differ from public and private wikis in regards to their scope and intended audience. They are owned and used by a single person, and they contain information of personal interest. They are usually not publicly accessible, changing the technical requirements for the wiki engine.

Personal wikis often use desktop wiki software that works as standalone local and offline wiki software. Some can even be installed on a portable drive, creating a portable wiki software.

Personal Wiki Terminology

  • Desktop wiki: A wiki installed on a computer, not browser-based.

  • Local wiki: A wiki whose data is stored on a computer, not in the cloud.

  • Offline wiki: A personal wiki that doesn't require Internet access to function.

  • Portable wiki: A wiki installed on a portable drive.

  • Single-user wiki: A wiki with a single owner and user.

  • Standalone wiki software: A synonym for an offline desktop wiki software.

Why You Need a Personal Wiki

You can use a personal wiki for various purposes:

  • Clear your mind: Use your wiki as an external brain. Document everything that occupies your mind.

  • Note-taking: Use your wiki as a flexible note-taking app. Create new pages for each idea.

  • Personal knowledge base: Document how to do certain things so you have a blueprint for next time.

  • Client manager: Use your wiki to manage client details, meeting notes, and important dates.

  • Project management: Keep all your project details in one place.

  • Research: Keep all your research notes and references in a single place.

  • Free form database: Use your wiki to track your collections.

Best Personal Wiki Software Requirements

Different from public wikis that need robust collaborative features and comprehensive page history and revisions, personal wikis require ease of use and efficient page organization tools. Here are some features to look for when choosing the best personal wiki software:

  • Ease of installation: The software should not require the installation of additional software or a server.

  • Text editor: Look for software that offers visual text editing (WYSIWYG - what you see is what you get).

  • Rich text formatting: Depending on your preference, the software should offer advanced formatting features.

  • Bi-directional linking or backlinks: The software should make it easy to see all connected pages and navigate between them.

  • Full-text search: The software should have a powerful search function for finding your information.

  • Page revisions: The software should track changes to your pages.

  • Encryption: If your wiki contains sensitive private information, the software should offer some form of password protection.

  • Portable wiki: If you travel a lot and use different computers, having your wiki on a USB drive can be helpful.

  • Table of contents: The software should provide a list of all wiki pages for easier navigation.

  • Import: If you already have data in the form of documents, spreadsheets, and PDFs, the software should offer strong import capabilities.

Top Tools for Building Personal Wikis

While there are many personal wiki systems available, most require technical knowledge or additional software to run. Based on ease of installation and use, we recommend two programs: MyInfo for Windows users and TiddlyWiki for Mac or Linux users.

MyInfo (Windows)

MyInfo is a desktop-based personal wiki software for Windows. It offers a WYSIWYG text editor, support for rich formatting, images, tables, and text styles, impressive full-text search, password protection, portability, a comprehensive table of contents, strong linking functions, and imports many different file formats.

TiddlyWiki (browser-based)

TiddlyWiki is a browser-based personal wiki software suitable for Mac or Linux users. It is easy to install, but it requires the use of a special wiki markup, which may require a learning curve. However, all commands are available in a toolbar, which lessens the learning curve.

Best Personal Wiki Software (2023)


When it comes to creating a personal wiki on Windows, MyInfo is the top choice with its comprehensive features and ease of use. For Mac or Linux users, TiddlyWiki is a solid option to consider.


  • What is a personal wiki?

  • Why should I use a personal wiki?

  • What features should a good personal wiki software offer?

  • What are the best personal wiki software options in 2023?

  • Are there any good browser-based personal wiki software options?

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