5 Best Note-Taking Apps
Unless you have a photographic memory, you probably take notes, whether it’s taking minutes to a meeting, jotting down things to remember during a telephone call, or coming up with your weekly shopping list.
Of course, there’s an app for that. In fact, there are dozens of note-taking apps – too many to cover in this blog post, in fact. Wikipedia compares 36 different solutions, and one blog post we found attempted to compare 69 apps.
We know you don’t have time for that, so we’ve whittled the number of note-taking apps down to five possibilities:
Evernote (free/$7.99 per month, Android/iOS/Windows/MacOS/Web) – The 800-lb. gorilla in note-taking apps, Evernote can do it all. You can attach images, audio, web content and even PDFs to a note, organize all your notes into notebooks, and even tag your notes. It comes as a stand-alone app for Android, iOS, and both Windows and Mac. The app is so elegant you’ll want to install it everywhere.
Alas, there’s where the negatives start to pop up. Evernote has to make money, so the “Basic” version will allow you to install the app only on two devices. You’ll need to use the clunkier web version on other devices. You can upload only 60MB of info per month, and you’ll have to pay to access premium features such as digitizing business cards, searchable documents within notes and offline access to your notes.
OneNote (free, Android/iOS/Windows/MacOS/Web) – If you’re a Microsoft adherent, you’ll find that OneNote integrates well with other Office apps, allowing you to create notes within other apps. It offers pretty much everything Evernote does, but it’s free. It allows you to draw on notes with a stylus, and you can place images, text boxes and tables anywhere. Versions are available for Android and iOS.
Free does have its drawbacks, though; the interface is a little clunky, although it’s a lot like other Microsoft apps. It also uses SharePoint, and if you want to use OneNote for personal use and have a business SharePoint account, you may have to juggle accounts, which may get confusing.
Google Keep (free, Android/iOS/Web) – Don’t need a standalone app? Google Keep will sync with everything via its web interface and apps for both Android and iOS. It’s very simple and clean, but that’s the good news.
The bad news: If you want other bells and whistles, Google Keep doesn’t have it. It’s just a place to jot down to-do items; the action item on the actual note says “List item.” Go somewhere else if you need organization and multimedia integration.
Notepad (free, Windows) / TextEdit (free, MacOS) – If you’re a programmer who stays in front of your laptop all the time and have no need to sync with a mobile device, stick with the apps that come with your operating system. They don’t offer any bells and whistles – just text. But when it comes to taking notes, isn’t that all you really need? Plus, gurus have adapted these apps to implement productivity methods such as Getting Things Done.
Pen and paper ($2.26) – What? No app? No syncing, multimedia, tagging or text recognition? Nope. Many people prefer the old way of taking notes, and some studies have shown that students who took notes with pen and paper actually remembered more and had a deeper understanding of the material than those who took notes digitally. Take that, mobile apps.If you want to try to hack your way into some bells and whistles, some people have done amazing things with paper: Bullet journals, Moleskine PDAs and the Hipster PDA.
The important thing is to find a solution that fits the way you work. If your mobile app is your lifeline, there are dozens of note-taking apps that you can choose from. If you need access to your notes no matter where you are, look for cross-functionality for PCs, mobile phones and web. And if you’re a fast writer, there’s nothing wrong with a pen and notebook.
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