Software

How to install and use Firefox Notes

The new Firefox Notes experiment lets you have simple notes synced between desktop and mobile devices. Here's how to put this feature to work.

You're on the go. Your busy work schedule has you bouncing between your desktop and your mobile device on a constant basis. When you take notes, how do you sync them between devices? Google Keep is a great option. But what if you have adopted Firefox as your browser of choice and are keen on using as many of its tools as you can? There just happens to be a new Test Pilot Experiment called Notes that allows you use a sidebar tool to keep notes and sync them with an Android mobile app (aptly named Notes By Firefox). Notes supports markdown and allows you to add, edit, and delete notes. It's a simple app that does one thing and does it well.

I'll warn you, Notes isn't perfect. In fact, it's still very much an experiment. Although I had no problems syncing the mobile client to my Firefox account, I only had success syncing the experiment in one out of three Firefox browsers I tested. However, that one I did manage to get to sync works like a charm. So if you're so inclined to test out new apps and services, let's install and sync Firefox Notes.

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Installation: Desktop

The first thing you'll want to do is install the Notes experiment. To do this, follow these steps:

  1. Open Firefox on your desktop.
  2. Point your browser to the Notes page.
  3. Click the Enable Notes button (Figure A).
  4. When prompted, click Add and then click OK.

Figure A

Figure A

If you don't have Test Pilot installed, the button will say Install Test Pilot & Enable Notes.


That's all there is to installation. You should now see a left sidebar in your Firefox browser. You're ready to connect Notes to your Firefox account for syncing.

Connecting and syncing

The next step is to connect Notes to your Firefox account. At the bottom of the sidebar, you'll see a button labeled Sign In To Sync (Figure B).

Figure B

Figure B

Signing in is as simple as a click of a button (in theory).

Click the Sign In button and when prompted, enter your Firefox account credentials. If you have your Firefox account protected with 2FA (which you should), you'll have to retrieve a code from your authentication application (such as Authy or Google Authenticator). If authentication is successful, the Sign In button will change to a Synced notification (Figure C).

Figure C

Figure C

A successful authentication means your notes are in sync.


Android app

Installing the Android app is simple. Follow these steps:

  1. Open the Google Play Store app on your Android device.
  2. Search for Notes by Firefox.
  3. Locate and tap the entry By Mozilla.
  4. Tap Install.
  5. Allow the installation to complete.

If you already have the Firefox Browser installed on your Android device, and it is connected to your Firefox account, you can simply click the Sign In button (at first launch of the mobile app—Figure D), then type your Firefox account password and (if necessary) type a 2FA code.

Figure D

Figure D

Signing into Notes by Firefox.

If you've not already signed into your Firefox account on your mobile device, you'll be prompted to do so after tapping the Sign In button.

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Ready to go

At this point, Notes by Firefox is ready to use. You can start creating simple notes or more complicated notes (using Markdown). As noted by the Welcome to Firefox Note, formatting is done with the following:

  • Headings: Begin a line with # or ## or ### followed by a space to create a heading 1, heading 2, or heading 3
  • Bold: **text** or __text__
  • Italics: *text* or _text_
  • Bulleted list: Begin a line with * or - followed by a space
  • Numbered list: Begin a line with 1. or 1) followed by a space
  • Code: `text`

Outside that, you shouldn't have any problems using the Notes experiment. As I mentioned, this is in pre-release, so expect bugs (such as the possible inability to sign in from the web browser). But even with the bugs, Notes is an outstanding way to keep simple notes synced between your desktop and mobile devices. If you're looking for a one-trick-pony app that doesn't confuse the issue with an abundance of features, this might be exactly what you're looking for.

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Image: Jack Wallen

About Jack Wallen

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website jackwallen.com.

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