Replacing cloud-based To-Do apps with Orgzly and Syncthing

In the past few years I tried out multiple To-Do list apps like Todoist, Pomotodo, Trello (which was a bit of an overkill for this purpose) etc., and finally settled on Google Keep for personal tasks and Emacs Org-mode for work-related To-Do lists since I do all my work on my work laptop and wouldn’t need mobile synchronization for it.

Recently, I was looking for a non-cloud alternatives for most of my cloud-based apps, basically to reduce my dependence on the entire Google suite of apps. I installed F-Droid and tried a few Free and Open-source (FOSS) apps. One app called Omni Notes looked exactly like Google Keep and I was using it for a while, till I discovered Orgzly.

Orgzly is basically an emulation of Emacs Org-mode on the mobile. This means I don’t have to use two kinds of apps for my To-Do lists. I can write my To-Do lists in Emacs and edit them on the go on my mobile. This sounds a lot like Microsoft Word for Windows Mobile, doesn’t it? Well, I was looking for a FOSS alternative. Now the whole problem is syncing my notes. I could have hosted NextCloud on a Raspberry Pi at my home and set it up with Dynamic DNS and used it to keep these in sync. But that’s a lot of work and needs additional hardware. Instead, I decided to use a peer-to-peer synchronization tool called Syncthing.

Syncthing on Work Laptop

Syncthing is very easy to use and has both desktop and mobile apps. I created a folder called ~/Sync on my laptop and moved my Org-mode lists there. Then, I setup Sycnthing to sync that folder to the mobile device.

Orgzly sync options

Orgzly has a sync feature. I just had to point my Orgzly to use Syncthing’s folder on the mobile device and select “Sync”. Syncthing did its job of getting my notes from desktop to mobile and Orgzly displayed them in Org-mode.