- Most note-taking apps are free to download. Some offer more advanced features with a paid subscription.
- There are many reasons to use a note-taking app, but some of the best purposes are to stay organized and engaged and to retain records for future use.
- Some of the best note-taking apps are OneNote, Evernote, Google Keep, and Joplin.
A Brief History of Note-Taking
As humans, we love taking notes. Be it a shopping list, meeting minutes, or ideas for a novel, many of us jot down short sentences or doodles meant to remind us or others of essential thoughts and ideas.
While we may never know the oldest recorded notes, we do have some famous notebooks from the 16th century. For example, Sir Walter Raleigh’s notes, later published in his History of the World, were written by hand while he was imprisoned in the Tower of London. These notes include detailed maps.
Therefore, consider this; people were doodling ideas and taking detailed notes many centuries ago just like we use note-taking apps today. Additionally, around the 18th century, shorthand became popular, and what developed is similar to what people use today to take quick notes.
For example, students or the police may use shorthand to jot down key points they don’t want to forget. Today, we can take notes shorthand, but we can also use our voice. Most note-taking and text editing software can convert our speech to the written word.
We won’t know where the future of note-taking may lead, but it appears humans will always have a reason to take notes. And with that, let’s look at the top reasons to use a note-taking app.
4 Reasons to Use a Note-Taking App
Here are the top four reasons to use a note-taking app today.
1. Note-Taking Apps for Staying Organized
It can be hard to stay organized when taking notes using a pen and paper. Typically, notebooks become a jumbled mess of different ideas and random doodles. However, with a note-taking app, you can organize them by date, subject, class, project, or just about any other way you can think of.
Also, the best note-taking apps will include a tagging feature that lets you further organize your thoughts. You only need to search for a specific word to find all the notes tagged with that word. You certainly cannot do that using a paper notebook.
2. Note-Taking Apps for Sharing and Collaborating
A lot of work environments require employees to take notes in some manner. From taking meeting notes to recording brainstorming sessions and jotting down lunch orders, notes are a part of our daily lives.
Note-taking can be a profoundly personal activity. Some people like taking notes using a pen and notepad, while others like using sticky notes.
However, imagine what a desk would look like if all the notes on paper were unkempt. It probably wouldn’t look professional, nor would the notes be easy to share with others. However, a note-taking app changes all of that.
For example, say you’re a designer working with other designers. Now, say you need to develop rough designs for a new product. You’ll find It’s easy to do when drawing and editing within these apps. Once you’re ready, you can instantly use the same app to share and collaborate with other people.
3. Note-Taking Apps for Keeping Engaged and Alert
Have you ever found yourself dozing off during a meeting or presentation? Try taking notes! Note-taking is a great way to help you remember what you’re hearing and stay engaged through it all.
Additionally, in a study conducted by Ness Labs, they found that actively taking notes helps you retain more information.
4. Note-Taking Apps for Retaining Records for Future Use
How many times have you needed to refer back to something your boss asked you to do? And how many times have you forgotten something you didn’t want to, only to wish you had taken a quick note to remind you? If this has happened to you, take heart because you’re definitely not the only one.
However, with a good note-taking app, you’ll never have this issue again. Note-taking apps allow you to take notes pretty much anytime, anywhere.
Also, most of the best note-taking apps will enable you to use them offline. Now that we know why we should use an app to take notes, let’s look at some of the most popular and best ones.
The Best Note-Taking Apps
These are our picks for the best note-taking apps you can use today.
Microsoft’s OneNote, released in 2003, allows users to work in a single notebook organized with tabs to keep things pretty. OneNote lets you clip webpages using Chrome or Edge browsers. Also, you can effortlessly search pages and tags, so you’ll never lose your notes again.
Unfortunately, you can only import previous OneNote notes, nothing else. However, you can add files like photos to your notes. Finally, you can encrypt your password-protected notes for added security.
- Included in Windows 10 and 11
- Export PDFs and XPS files
- Take notes offline or online
Evernote is one of the most popular note-taking apps for a reason. From the moment you open the app and work through a short tutorial, you’ll notice how user-friendly the developers keep this app.
While the default is a three-columned note page, you can easily edit this to one or two columns. Or, you can choose to make horizontal rows instead.
Our biggest gripe about Evernote is that a lot of the key features require a paid subscription plan. For example, you have to buy a subscription plan to create checklists. Finally, Evernote allows the encryption of text notes and dividers, but you can’t encrypt things like checklists.
- Search tags and keywords in all of your notebooks and PDFs
- Clip web pages from Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge, then edit them to your heart’s content
- Take notes offline or online
3. Google Keep
Google Keep is also an easy-to-use note-taking app. With a simple user interface and easy-to-navigate menus, Keep is easy for Google power users to stay organized and productive.
For example, you can easily create a to-do list. Once you’ve made your list, pin it to the top of your notebook. That way, you can refer to it throughout the day or week.
As for security, Google encrypted the Keep app to keep hackers out of your notes. However, Google still has access to your Keep. Unfortunately, Keep’s 15GB storage limit includes your other Google apps. That means Keep share’s that 15GB limit with your Gmail account, too.
Also, Google has discontinued its support for the Keep app, but you can still access your notes. You can also access Keep online.
- Add photos, lists, and labels to your notes
- Set reminders for your notes
- Syncs across app and web
- Take notes offline or online via the app
Joplin is a little different from other note-taking apps on our list, as it’s open-source. An open-source app typically means it’s free to use. But what it really means is that you can edit the source code and personalize it with plugins or other customizations.
While you can use Joplin for free, you have to pay for the cloud service to sync and share your notes. Joplin also allows you to create multiple notebooks, adding photos and other assets by either uploading them or using your computer’s copy/ save function.
Finally, Joplin is well-known for its end-to-end encryption that keeps your notes safe.
- Customize with available plugins or create your own scripts
- Publish notes online and get a unique URL to share
- Enjoy open-source, free note-taking
- Take notes offline
Using Note-Taking Apps
People like to use note-taking apps because they make organizing important information easy and convenient. Most note-taking apps allow you to write text, draw pictures, upload media, and clip web pages to save for later.
In addition, the best note-taking apps include features like tagging and searching to find what you’re looking for. Overall, a note-taking app helps everyone from stay-at-home moms to nurses and CEOs create organized and beautiful notes without the need for pen and paper.