Office & Productivity apps like Microsoft Office, Google Docs, Evernote, etc are a great way of keeping track of all your notes and journaling, but it more often than ever comes with the cost of your privacy.
Most of these productivity apps collect & store pretty much everything you have stored in them, as most of them are now cloud-based, and have privacy-invasive telemetry built-in; and use that data to better target ads or just sell it to a third party.
Now that you are aware of privacy risks that comes with using these productivity apps, let’s dig in to find you secure productivity tools and services that does respect your privacy.
Private Office Apps
I’ll be listing some private alternatives to productivity tools like Microsoft Office & Google Docs that you can use in this section:
LibreOffice is a free and open-source office suite that is compatible with other major office suites, and is available on all operating systems. It is an independently-developed fork of OpenOffice.org suite by The Document Foundation.
LibreOffice works offline, is compatible with all different types of file extensions, with no telemetry built-in. It has all the productivity tools you need like word processor, spreadsheet, presentation, etc.
CryptPad is a freemium & open source, private-by-design alternative to popular office tools and cloud services. It is an office suite of zero knowledge, real-time collaborative editors and applications, all of your content is end-to-end encrypted.
CrytPad works without registration, you can work anonymously, the free version is feature-rich. You can support them by signing up for premium version for as little as €5/month, which gives you more storage, and faster support.
EtherPad is a highly customizable open source online editor providing collaborative editing in real time. You can edit documents, write articles, press releases, to-do lists, etc, in real time, collaboratively, with your friends, and colleagues.
NextCloud is a suite of free and open source client-server software, including Office productivity tools, files syncing & sharing, private communications & meetings, calendar, emails, and much more.
NextCloud lets you create your own file hosting services on a private server you control. You have full control over your data, the only limits on storage and bandwidth are the limits on the server provider.
Disroot is a community-driven platform providing free & open source online services based on principles of freedom, privacy, federation and decentralization. It hosts many privacy-friendly services with no tracking, no ads, no profiling, and no data mining!
- Email — Rainloop
- Cloud — Nextcloud
- Social Network — Diaspora
- Forum — Discourse
- Chat — XMPP
- Documents — Etherpad
- Spreadsheets — EtherCalc
- Paste Bin — PrivateBin
- File Upload — Lufi
- Search Engine — searx
- Polls — Framadate
- Project Board — Taiga.io
- Calls — Jitsi-Meet
- Git — Gitea
- Audio — Mumble
Disroot is based in Amsterdam, is maintained by volunteers, and relies on donations and support from its community. All the services are free, thanks to donations and FOSS, you can support by donating or by buying extra email or cloud storage.
Alright, here are my recommendations for private note-taking apps that you can use to store your notes securely across all your devices:
Joplin is a free and open source note-taking and to-do app, which can handle numerous notes that can be organized into notebooks and tags. It secures your notes via end-to-end encryption and can sync through Nextcloud, Dropbox, OneDrive, WebDAV or the file system.
You can easily import from Evernote and plain-text notes, all of your notes are searchable, can be copied, tagged and modified either from the applications directly or from your own text editor.
Joplin supports multiple languages, has geolocation support, you easily can attach images, files, and much more. It is available for all your devices, and has a web clipper for Firefox and Chrome browsers.
Standard Notes is a freemium and open source private notes’ app that makes your notes end-to-end encrypted across all your devices. It is very simple and easy to use, and has support for powerful extensions, and beutiful themes.
Standard Notes automatically syncs your notes across all your devices with no limit on data capacity and devices. You can add lots of great functionalities like markdown, spreadseets, and code support.
There’s an extension that lets you push note changes to a public or private GitHub repository, and turn on 2FA too, you can use it offline via native apps or by using their online web access.
Turtl is another freemium and open source secure and private collaborative notes’ app. It uses end-to-end encryption for your notes, website bookmarks, documents, and much more.
You can easily organize and share your notes, bookmarks, passwords, images, and files, write notes using markdown format, search across all your notes easily, thanks to Turtl’s spaces feature.
Turtl supports multiple languages, TeX math expressions, and much more. It is available across all your devices, and has browser extensions to easily bookmark websites.
Paperwork is a free and open source self-hosted notes-taking app that is designed with privacy and security in mind. It lets you securely capture ideas and manage your notes and documents on your own server.
It is currently under development, so it isn’t as feature-rich as other note-taking apps mentioned above, and there can be a few bugs here and there, you can easily set up Paperwork on Docker.
Overall, it seems like a really great privacy-respecting alternative to Evernote, Microsoft OneNote, or Google Keep.
Org mode is another free and open source major mode for GNU Emacs, that can be used for keeping notes, maintaining To-do lists, planning projects, and authoring documents with a fast and effective plain-text system.
It is feature-rich with options for clocking, capturing from other apps like web browsers, PDF viewers, etc as well as support for working with source code. It is also available for iOS and Android.
Private Productivity Tools
These are more productivity tools i have come across that are free, open source, secure, and respect your privacy:
PrivateBin is a minimalist, open-source online paste bin where the server has zero knowledge of pasted data. Your data is always encrypted/decrypted in the browser using 256-bit AES.
It is an improved version of ZeroBin, with options for password protection, discussions, expiration times, markdowns, and much more.
Write.as is a cross-platform, privacy-oriented blogging platform. It’s anonymous by default, letting you publish without signing up. No ads, distraction-free, and built on a sustainable business model.
Write.as doesn’t require any personal information. When creating an account, Write.as is the official instance of WriteFreely, an open-source, minimalist, federated, self-hosted blogging platform.
Cryptee is a freemium and open source, privacy-friendly service for storing documents, files and photos, based in Tallinn, Estonia, that provides anonymity, security and ultimate deniability.
Cryptee uses a client-side AES256 zero-knowledge encryption, with all the features like live sync with unlimited devices, document editing, to-dos, markdowns, hotkeys, code highlighting, latex, etc.
EtherCalc is a free and open source web spreadsheet, letting users edit the same document at the same time. Everybody’s changes are instantly reflected on all screens, no sign-ups required.
Dudle is an online scheduling application, which is free and open source. You can schedule meetings or make small online polls. There is no e-mail collection or need for registration.
Framadate is a free and open-source online service for planning an appointment or making a decision quickly and easily. No registration is required.
Visual Studio Code is hands-down one of the best code editors, but it comes with Microsoft’s telemetry built-in. VSCodium tries to tackle this problem.
VSCodium is free and open source, community-driven, freely-licensed binary distribution of VS Code, without Microsoft branding, telemetry and licensing.
- Metadata Removal Tools: Your metadata is just as important as the actual data, make sure you remove metadata from your files before sending it to anyone or uploading them online using these tools.
- Secure Encryption Tools: Encrypt your important files and your devices using these secure and open source encryption tools.
Private Office & Productivity Apps
That wraps up private office and productivity apps that you can you use to do your work securely, without being spied on, and have complete access to your data.
That’s all folks!
I will be updating this page frequently with more private note-taking apps. You should check out recommended secure browsers that respect your privacy.