If you’re anything like me, which is probable, you need to take more notes. Like, seriously, whether it’s from playing CTF’s like HackTheBox or from Cert Training like the PWK labs. Notes not only help organise your already sporadic thoughts, they also provide large crossover with reporting, half the job in any red team position.

I recently switched from using Nano for my rough notes with some clean up in GDocs to CherryTree, so I’m gonna show some of my new-found benefits of CherryTree whilst also giving you a better understanding of the program.

Ready? Let’s go.

First things first, if you’re using a pentesting OS such as Kali 2019.02, CherryTree is pre-installed. Otherwise, installation instructions can be found here. Once CherryTree is open, you can start to lay out a structure for the Document. CherryTree uses objects called Nodes in a Tree structure to provide a nested experience. Nodes can have child nodes which can also have child nodes, etc.

To create a Node, either press Ctrl+N or select Add Node under the Tree menu. To create a sub-node, or a child node, press Ctrl+Shift+N or Add SubNode under the Tree menu. When creating a node, you can decide its properties: name, color, icon and syntax highlighting, if any. Ctrl+Shift+D will duplicate a Node, and F2 will let you change a Node’s properties again.

Within a single node, many different elements can be added. Images and files can be embedded, and the formatting of text can change with the usual italics, bold and colours. CodeBoxes can also be implemented to make use of syntax highlighting and anchors can be used to make direct links between nodes.

I recommend making a base template that you are comfortable with, instead of repeating the progress of making a new CherryTree document for each use. Upon first-time saving of the document, you will be prompted to choose the storage type. I recommend “SQLite, Not Protected (.ctb)” unless a password is required, in which case .cbx is your best bet.

Once you are done with your notes, you can export them into more conventional formats, such as PDF. To do this, select the format you wish to export to in the Export menu. In the “Involved Nodes” window, select “All the Tree” and then export and save your new file.

For practise, and as an example for this, I have completed the “Devel” retired box from hackthebox.eu and taken notes using CherryTree. I used my personal HTB template for CherryTree and afterwards exported to PDF. I will attach these two files here, to help others to get the grasp of CherryTree.

Devel.ctb - CherryTree Document
Devel.pdf - Exported PDF File

Figure 1 ~ Screenshot of the Tree View from my “Devel” notes.

Expect additions to this as I discover more about CherryTree.