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What is on this user guide?

Useful links

  • Searching within this User guide: 

  • Support email address: 


Creating an account

New users need to register an account. This is performed automatically when using their Aalto ID credentials. 

By default, the new user is automatically assigned a team based on their Aalto credentials and Aalto profile.

Logging in

  1. Go to:
  2. The option "Aalto University" will automatically be selected.
  3. Click the Go button.
  4. Enter your Aalto ID credentials.
  5. After successful verification, you will be taken to the default experiment page.
Aalto Notebook landing pageAalto login pageExperiments/Home page for Aalto Notebook

Create New Experiment

After login, you can create experiments and start recording your data.

  1. Click the "Create" button in the top right of the screen.
  2. Fill out the necessary experiment details.
  3. Click "Save".

See below for the short Getting Started video to see a walkthrough of creating an experiment.

Create New Templates

Each user can have their own Experiments templates.

  1. Go to the USER PANEL in the lower-left corner of the page.
  2. Click on the TEMPLATES tab
  3. Click "Create" and modify the template.
  4. Click "Save" when finished.

Editing Experiments


The tags allow you to easily group experiments together. You can think of it as folders, but more powerful because each experiment can have many tags, thus allowing you to cross-search efficiently! All experiments with the same tag will be accessible by clicking this tag or searching for it.

  • To validate a tag, press Enter key or click outside the input field. It is saved immediately. 

The number of tags is not limited. Click on a tag to remove it (in edit mode). Tags are common to a team. Autocompletion favours the reuse of existing tags. See the animation below to see how tags are made.


The date is today’s date by default, in the format YYYYMMDD. You can edit it as you wish. The real creation date/time is stored in the database in another column.


This useful feature lets you set the ‘status’ of an experiment. By default you can have :

  • Running (selected as default upon creation)

  • Need to be redone

  • Success

  • Fail

These status can be modified completely by the admin in the admin panel.


The title of your experiment. A duplicated experiment will have an "I" character appended to the title upon creation.

Experiment (Body)

This is where you describe your experiment and write your results. It is a rich text editor where you can have formatting, tables, colours, images, links, etc.

To insert an image in this field:

  1. With the image open in any software program, copy the image.
  2. Anywhere in the text field, press Ctrl+V to paste the image.
  3. The image will be automatically uploaded and pasted into that space.
  4. The default name for the image will be "image.png"

If you wish to keep the image name on upload:

  1. First, upload it by dragging it in the ‘Attach files’ block. 
  2. Then you will see a new block appear just below, with a thumbnail of the file, its name and size. 
  3. Right click on the image and select «Copy link location». 
  4. Next, click on the «Insert/edit image» button in the toolbar of the rich text editor (third button before the last). 
  5. Paste the link location. Press OK. 
  6. That’s it, you have an image inside your main text.

Make sure to right click on the thumbnail and not on the name!


Steps are a way to list the things one need to do during the experiment.

To add steps:

  1. Edit a specific experiment.
  2. Go to the steps section.
  3. Enter a step and click Tab or Enter.
  4. Click the Save button to save all of your changes.

So you can write several steps, and once they are done, click the checkbox to declare them finished. This is quite useful for long experiments spanning over several days, where the “Next step” will be shown in Show mode (index list), so you can see at one glance what is the next thing to do for this particular experiment.

Note that you can also declare steps in a template.

Steps will also appear in your Todo list.

Linked Items

This field allows you to link an item from the database. The number of links is not limited.

  1. Type the name of what you want to link and you will see an autocompletion list appear. 
  2. Select the one you want to link.
  3. Press Enter. 

The number of links is not limited. This feature can also be used to link an experiment to a particular Project. If you have a «Project» Item Type and have a Project item in your database, you will then be able to see all experiments linked to this project by clicking the Link icon.

Attach a File

You can click this region to open a file browser, or drag-and-drop a file inside. The file size limit depends on the server configuration, and there is no limit on file type. If you upload an image, a thumbnail will be created. There is no limit on the number of files you can attach to an experiment.

When you are done, click the «Save and go back» button. You are now in view mode. 

Ellipsis menu (the three dots on the top right)

This menu contains an entry to Manage Permissions, allowing you to restrict or extend the read and write permissions for that experiment. By default, all experiments can be viewed by other team members. If you wish to restrict viewing of a particular experiment, set this to ‘Only me’. An admin can also create groups of users, and users can set the visibility of experiments to this group only.

The Switch Editor entry will switch from the WYSIWYG editor (TinyMCE) to the markdown editor. And the Delete entry is to remove the experiment.

Viewing Experiments

In the view mode, several actions are accessible under the date.


Go into edit mode.


Duplicating an experiment allows you to create a new item with the same title, tags, body and links, but with today’s date and running status. Uploaded files are not duplicated. A «I» character will be added to the title to denote that it is a replicate.

Make a pdf

Clicking this will create a pdf from your experiment. The generated pdf will contain all the information related to the experiment.

Make a zip archive

A zip archive will contain the generated pdf of the experiment + any attached files present.


Once locked, an experiment cannot be modified anymore. Unless you unlock it. If it is locked by someone with locking powers (the PI), you will not be able to unlock it.


An experiment can be timestamped if its status can be timestamped (the default ‘Running’ status is not). Once timestamped it cannot be edited anymore.

What happens when you timestamp an experiment :

  • a pdf is generated

  • a sha256 sum of this pdf is generated

  • this data is sent to the Time Stamping Authority (TSA)

  • they timestamp it

  • we get a token back

More info here:


In the bottom right part of the experiment, you can see something like: «Unique elabid: 20150526-e72646c3ecf59b4f72147a52707629150bca0f91». This number is unique to each experiment. You can use it to reference an experiment with an external database.


People can leave comments on experiments. They cannot edit your experiment, but they can leave a comment. The owner of the experiment will receive an email if someone comments on their experiment.


Same as experiments for a lot of things, except there is no status, but a rating system (little stars ⭐). You can store any type of items inside, the admin can edit the available types of items. You can store any type of items inside, the admin can edit the available types of items. In view mode, click the link icon to show all experiments linked with this item. 

Examples of database items types:

  • antibodies

  • microscopes

  • plasmids

  • drugs

  • chemicals

  • equipment

  • projects


This page presents the members and some statistics about the team. You’ll also find here a molecule drawer. Note: this molecule drawer can be displayed when you create an experiment. Go to your user control panel to adjust this setting.


First you need to set some item types as bookable from the Admin Panel. After you select an item from the Scheduler page and use the calendar to book it.

See the video about the scheduler below:

User Panel

The user panel is where you can adjust preferences for your account. You can access it by clicking the link in the bottom left of every page, or through the user menu in the top right.

Preferences tab

From here you can select a language, adjust the display settings, change the keyboard shortcuts, modify the PDF settings, select a different text editor and set the default permission settings.

Account tab

Modify your password, name and contact information. You can also enable/disable two-factor authentication (2FA).

Templates tab

Manage your templates. Once a template has been created, you can add tags, steps and links to it. It will then be available from the Create menu.

API keys tab

Create an API key for your account from this page. API keys are needed if you wish to access resources through the REST API.


You can export experiments in .zip. If the experiment was timestamped you will find in the archive the timestamped pdf and the corresponding .asn1 token.

Todo List

The Todo list will show your saved to-do entries as well as the next steps in active experiments.


On paper notebooks, there was this idea of having another lab member sign every page of a notebook before the page would get plastified to prevent modifications. To my knowledge, this was seldom done properly.

With eLabFTW, you can have this workflow, but it is much easier to achieve:

  • User A finishes an experiment

  • User B, that has locking power (Admin + Lock user group) can go on that experiment and click the lock icon

This prevents user A from modifying the content (like plastifying), and it keeps a log of who locked it and when (like signing the page).