Installing RedNotebook on Mac OS X

RedNotebook by Jendrik Seipp is one of my favourite free open-source multi-platforms applications.

It is a the digital and better version of the good old lab notebook, that is usually red, that are often used in labs by scientists and researchers around in labs around the world. It can be used to log experiment results, to take meeting notes, to manage a to do list, to write thoughts on a specific issue, to doodle, and the list of options goes on and on.

Lab notebooks are great. However, one crucial feature is missing: The ability to search the lab notebook for a specific word, or a combination of words. Another drawback is Size, weight and storage space needed. These notebooks. If you are running a lab for 20 years, you must have many notebooks taking so much space in the office, and again looking for a specific result, or a specific idea that you noted in your notebook is then a nightmare.

RedNotebook, have the best the “analogue” lab notebooks with all the added value, of the search feature, the easy to navigate calendar, and the possibility to keep multiple-backups of the entire record regularly.

But a quick search for “Agenda” or “Keeping kab notes” software will show many result. So why RedNotebook. The answer is also an advice of 30 years experience of PC use.

The advice when choosing a software to keep notes over decades is to chose a software that:

  1. Stores the records as raw text
  2. Stores on your machine
  3. Uses no special file format, but a file format that the operating system can access and index its content, like .txt or .json.

This way, if the software you are using discontinued, you will still be able to search through the files and will still be able to find what you are looking for without the need for that App. This will also make it possible to migrate the alternative software.

RedNotebook satisfies those rule and is open-source and is free to use, it was developed for Linux. However, it is available also on Windows, and also on Mac but with some limitations.

If you want to run the latest version of RedNotebook on you Mac OS X machine, follow the instructions below to install the software from source.

Installation Instruction

First let’s clone the repository to a special directory in our home folder

$ mkdir ~/Documents/workspace
$ cd ~/Documents/workspace
$ git clone

Now let’s try to run rednotebook, to check what dependencies are required:

$ cd ~/Documents/workspace/rednotebook
$ chmod u+x run
$ ./run

We need to install GTK+ for Mac OS X. The easy way to do it, is to use the script:

$ cd ~/Documents/workspace
$ wget
$ chmod u+x
$ ./
$ rm 

Now let’s install the dependencies

$ brew install pygobject3 glib libffi cairo gtksourceview3
$ brew install gdk-pixbuf atk librsvg
$ brew install gsettings-desktop-schemas adwaita-icon-theme
$ brew install enchant

The following command, installs the required packages to the Python3 packages library. Here we assume that you have python3 and pip3 installed and configured on your Mac OS X machine.

$ export PKG_CONFIG_PATH="/usr/local/opt/libffi/lib/pkgconfig"
$ pip3 install pygobject pyyaml

$ gdk-pixbuf-query-loaders > /usr/local/lib/gdk-pixbuf-2.0/2.10.0/loaders.cache

$ glib-compile-schemas /usr/local/share/glib-2.0/schemas/

$ chown -R `whoami`:admin /usr/local/share/locale/
$ wget
$ tar xf hicolor-icon-theme-0.17.tar.xz
$ cd hicolor-icon-theme-0.17
$ ./configure --prefix=/usr/local/
$ sudo make install
$ cd ..
$ rm -rf hicolor-icon-theme-0.17

Now we are ready to install rednotebook:

export LANG=en_US.UTF-8
export LC_ALL=en_US.UTF-8
$ cd ~/Documents/workspace/rednotebook
$ pip3 install --user .

That commands copies the rednotebook python script to /usr/local/bin. You can check if that worked by changing to the /usr/local/bin directory and looking for the “rednotebook” script. If your PATH environment variable was setup correctly to include you must be now able to call rednotebook from the command line prompt.

You can test that the system finds rednotebook by typing:

$ which rednotebook

And you can make sure /usr/local/bin is currently setup in the environment by checking the output of the following command

$ env | grep PATH

If everything went well, rednotebook is now ready to run for the first time. Run the rednotebook command:

$ rednotebook

You can settle for the option of running rednotebook in a Terminal window by typing the command, but if you want rednotebook as an App in the Applications folder, then we need to create a Mac OS X App.

The easiest way, in my opinion to create the App that runs the rednotebook shell script is by using the The steps are described in the screenshots:

  • Chose “Application” from the list of document types:
  • Chose “Run Shell Script” from the action library
  • Add the command to run RedNotebook in the box. Make sure to include the path to the executable.
  • Save the automation document in the Application folder as

Now that the is in the Application folder, you can start it by double clicking the icon like any other app. However, app has the automator icon. To change that, follow the following instructions:

  1. Select the app in the Application folder, and click ⌘ + i to open the information window about the rednotebook app
  2. Click on the small icon in the upper left corner of the information window to select it. If you did it right, the icon should be highlighted.
  3. Copy the rednotebook png image below, and go back to the information window of the rednotebook app. and paste the image onto the information window (with the small automator icon selected). That will replace the automator icon with the rednotebook image.

Another way to create a Mac OS X app from a shell script, you can use the following smart and minimal script called appify by Mathias Bynens. The script at the moment of creating this post looks like this:


if [ "$1" = "-h" -o "$1" = "--help" -o -z "$1" ]; then cat <<EOF
appify v3.0.1 for Mac OS X -
Creates the simplest possible Mac app from a shell script.
Appify takes a shell script as its first argument:
    `basename "$0"`
Note that you cannot rename appified apps. If you want to give your app
a custom name, use the second argument:
    `basename "$0"` "My App"
Copyright (c) Thomas Aylott <>
Modified by Mathias Bynens <>
exit; fi

APPNAME=${2:-$(basename "$1" ".sh")}

if [ -a "$" ]; then
	echo "$PWD/$ already exists :("
	exit 1

mkdir -p "$DIR"
cp "$1" "$DIR/$APPNAME"
chmod +x "$DIR/$APPNAME"

echo "$PWD/$"

However, i will explain this later because i am hungry and i don’t want my date to wait… tbc.

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