Below are summaries of the best note taking apps, including highlights about what makes them different from one another. The Apple-only notes app Bear could easily be mistaken for a distraction-free writing app. It supports Markdown formatting in lieu of presenting an excess of menu options although it does allow you to work with fully viewable inline images. Bear also offers a focus mode that strips away unnecessary bells and whistles from your view. You can add tags to organize your notes by simply using hashtags within the note body.
And Bear stores all your notes as plain text, which keeps the app lightweight. Other features include an info panel for each note showing word count and other metadata, as well as web clipping, or the ability to automatically copy the contents of web pages to one of your notebooks via a browser extension.
There are some showstoppers worth knowing about before you choose Bear. For one, it doesn't have a web app, so you can't simply log into Bear from any internet connected device. The developers who make the app have said that a web app is in the works, but they have yet to pin down a release date. Second, Bear runs on Apple devices only, so it's not a good option for cross-platform folks.
Third, storage and syncing go through iCloud, so you're really at the mercy of read: Finally, the free account comes with some limitations that make it less than ideal as a note taking app no syncing, limited export formats , so be prepared to pay for a Pro subscription. Overall, it's a low-cost note taking app best suited for Apple device owners who are looking for a pared-down experience. Boostnote is a free, open source note taking app made for programmers.
The winner: Evernote
What makes it special for programmers? When you create a new note, you choose either Markdown note, used for creating any kind of text document, or snippet note, which simply gives you a text editor for code. When creating and editing Markdown notes, Boostnote puts an extra panel on the right side of your window to preview the formatting of the note as you write. You can create any kind of notes you want in this note type.
Markdown notes even support LaTeX blocks, for those writing hefty mathematical formulas.
- More than just text!
- The runner-up: Simplenote.
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Snippet notes, however, look like code in an ordinary code editor, with visual cues you'd expect, such as line numbering and color-coding of text. With Boostnotes, you can work with text snippets, too. Text snippets are lines of text you tend to use repeatedly, whether boilerplate or particular lines of code. Other excellent features include customizable hotkeys, the ability to change the font, and dozens of light and dark visual themes for the interface. Storage is entirely in your hands with Boostnote, so you can keep your notes saved locally and percent offline, or you can pop them into a file storage and syncing service of your choosing to make them accessible to you everywhere.
Evernote was an early leader in the digital note taking space. In many ways, it shaped expectations about what a note taking app should do and how it should look. It's one of the most capable services you'll find, supporting a wide variety of note types text, images, audio memo, sketches, scanned documents, checklists, clipped web pages and with excellent tools for organizing and searching your notes as well.
It has apps for all the major platforms, and with a Business account, you can even use Evernote for real-time chat and collaboration with colleagues. One of Evernote's most impressive features is its ability to search text found in images. If you snap a photograph of a for rent sign, for example, and save it to your Evernote account, you'll later be able to find the note by simply search for the word "rent.
Evernote also doubles as an excellent scanner, and if you combine those two features, you can use the app for some pretty interesting projects, such as digitizing recipes from books. Evernote also integrates with other apps and tools you use, such as Google Drive, Slack, and Salesforce. If you can't find the app you need among the natively supported ones, you can create new Evernote integrations using Zapier.
Evernote handles all the syncing and storage.
2. Zoho Notebook
Basic members that is, those on the free plan get 60MB of space per month for storing notes and uploading files. It's also worth noting that the free plan lets you sync only two devices, a limitation that may or may not work for you. Unused space each month doesn't roll forward. Learn 30 tips for Evernote to make the most of your notes. Microsoft OneNote is a full featured note taking app that can do more than just about any other, save for Evernote. The two square up rather equally, though they couldn't be more different in their look and feel. While Evernote looks squarely like standard business software, Microsoft OneNote mimics paper.
When you create a new note, you can click anywhere on the page and add content to that spot, just as if you were working with paper, rather than be tied to the linear movement of the cursor. You can choose a background for your notes that looks like textured or lined paper or use templates for meeting notes and more. OneNote also mimics the classic binder, with notebooks, sections, and tabs for organizing your notes. With OneNote, you can type text, drag and drop images and file attachments into notes, use a digital highlighter, create checklists, record audio, draw sketches, and so forth.
And because each note is meant to appear like a piece of paper, you can move elements around the page, placing an audio memo next to a block of text, for example. As much as OneNote fondly embraces some elements of paper, it's also technologically savvy. Scan and upload images of handwriting, such as a picture of a whiteboard with notes, and Microsoft's OCR will make all the writing searchable. For every note you can open a record of its version history, too. And an ink-to-text feature lets you write by hand and have your text converted to type.
OneNote also integrates with other apps, such as mobile scanning app OfficeLens and the paperless system NeatConnect. You can create more OneNote integrations using Zapier. OneNote is free to use, with no feature limitations in the free version. Syncing occurs via Microsoft OneDrive, and non-paying members are capped at 5GB though you can earn additional space through some promotions and purchases. Microsoft OneNote is perhaps the best free note taking app you can find. It's easy to learn to use, too, although you can rely on Zapier's tutorial for OneNote if you need some pointers.
An honorable mention goes to Google Keep , another very capable and free note taking app. If you think in images rather than words, your note taking app should still give you tools to express yourself. Milanote caters directly to designers and other visual thinkers but it's not for sketching.
It's more of a pasteboard or pinboard, presenting you with a canvas on which you can paste images, arrows, text blocks, checklists, and other elements. Milanote has a drawer on the right side of the page that holds page elements you intend to use but haven't placed yet. Secondly, the Basic Account only allows offline access to your notes from the desktop app. This could be another big deal-breaker for a lot of folks, especially those who want to get the most out of using the app on the go. Editing a text inside of a note, for example, contributes to your upload limit, as does rotating or deleting a picture inside a note.
In fact, pretty much anything you do that requires the app to re-sync your notes across your devices contributes to your limit. So what about the upgrades? There are two paid versions of Evernote: Premium and Business. Both get you a hefty boost to the monthly upload limit 10GB and 20GB, respectively , as well as access to more personalized customer support.
Shelling out some money also affords you blanket offline access to your notes, syncing across unlimited devices, and the ability to forward emails into the app. You can annotate PDFs, search text in uploaded documents, and digitize business cards with both upgrade options as well. Not only that, but the intuitive functionality of the app makes it downright pleasant to use. We highly recommend giving the Basic Account a try before you commit to a paid plan.
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When it comes down to entering those credit card digits, you may find that you can live without some of the features and go with a more affordable or free alternative. You can create notes and notebooks, tag entries, restore older versions of notes, insert audio clips, clip content from web pages, mark up embedded media, and make sketches with your finger or stylus.
If you want to work together on something, you can share notes to let other users view and edit them. If you decide to get a full Microsoft Office subscription, OneNote integrates nicely with the other Office apps, allowing you to do things like create notes from your Outlook emails or embed spreadsheets from Excel. Where OneNote falls a little short, however, is in its user interface.
Reorganizing notes has its frustrations as well since clicking and dragging pages from one notebook to another can be spotty. Syncing can also have you pulling your hair out sometimes, especially when it comes to the mobile versions of the Office apps — one day it works seamlessly, and the next it may be on a massive delay or just not work at all. Still, Microsoft puts out a lot of updates, and fixes and new features are automatic and frequent, especially with an Office subscription.
As its name would suggest, Simplenote is a note-taking app that focuses on pure, streamlined simplicity. The first noteworthy heh feature of Simplenote is its vast availability compared to other apps. In fact, there is no paid version of Simplenote at all, so you get all the features up front with no strings attached. The app is also remarkably fast — so fast, in fact, that you can edit a note on your desktop and watch it sync in real time to your device. This efficiency is refreshing compared to other note-taking apps with syncing delays that can put a damper on fast-paced work.
Notes for Mac: Notes overview
Simplenote also has a super intuitive and handy-dandy history feature that lets you access every version of every note you take, regardless of how many edits you make. You can also export notes as text documents, in case you want to have access to them somewhere outside of the app. The Markdown option also lets you add images and link to websites within a note fairly easily once you get the hang of it. Google Keep.
Unlike list or notebook-based apps, Google Keep uses a card interface that can make it easier to visualize your priorities and quite frankly, is just more fun to look at than a boring list. Each note you create is its own card, and you can choose from several different types to suit the needs of a particular idea or task.
They had to be versatile. They had to help me get organized, easily and intuitively.
The best way to take notes on a Mac
I might take the notes on a mobile device, but I might write a paper or a story on a laptop or desktop— so I want quick, easy access to the notes in both locations. The apps had to be available on both major mobile platforms, to give users maximum flexibility. Evernote wins for its ease of use, awesomely organized notebooks, and accessibility across platforms.
Power users beware. Then again, the vast majority of the note taking I do is just writing stuff down. For one thing, cut-and-paste quotes are stripped of coding, so everything you paste and type has the same, simple text-style font and format. And you can tag each note as much as you want, making organization a snap. In this case simplicity is a virtue, in the cause of simply getting stuff done. While I found Evernote and Simplenote to be the best overall note-taking apps, others stood out for specific features, which you might want to consider depending on your needs.
Forget Apple Notes: 5 Unique Note-Taking Apps for Mac
Like Evernote, you can organize your notes into broad notebooks and narrower note entries. Also unlike Evernote, accessing notes on other devices is not a seamless transition. It performed better in Firefox. The app does offer lots of formatting options, but that almost seems like a distraction: So why use it? The prime audience will, of course, be current Microsoft customers, especially users of its OneDrive cloud-based system for creating documents and presentations. This is a specialty note-taker worth mentioning, because some people just like the feel of a stylus in their hand when taking notes.
The following apps all have their strengths, save one: All of them are built primarily for iOS. Its best feature? Students may find its audio sync feature especially helpful for taking notes during long lectures. It only incorporates typed notes, pictures, and recordings. It may also go a little further in helping you get organized, with color-coded arrows to guide the way.