The best note-taking apps can help you boost productivity. How many times have you said: I don’t have to write it down, I’ll remember it? Guess what? Ten seconds later, you had already forgotten what it was. Does that sound familiar to you?
We all have been there. It doesn’t matter how good your memory is, you’ll always forget things. That’s why it’s important to take notes. Nowadays there is a myriad of ways to take notes. You can either use notebooks, papers, post-it notes, your smartphone, etc. You choose what is more convenient for you.
However, a note-taking app can do considerably more than the old-fashioned way (paper and pen) ever could. The best note-taking apps offer a great writing experience, sharing capabilities, built-in text search, let you snap pictures, upload files, and much more.
We’ve rounded up a list of the 7 best note-taking apps both free and paid versions with a specific set of features that set them apart from the crowd.
The Best Note-Taking Apps
- Evernote, best overall.
- Microsoft OneNote, for a free option.
- Google Keep, best for Google users.
- Simplenote, for the minimalist, distraction-free and easy of use.
- Zoho Notes, best for managing different type of notes.
- Apple Notes, best built-in for iOS, iPadOS, and Mac users.
- Notion, all-in-one workspace.
1. Evernote (Android, iOS, macOS, Web)
When it comes to note-taking apps, Evernote is probably the first thing to come to your mind. It’s long been one of the best, oldest, and most well-known digital notebooks.
It looks simple, but it’s a powerful tool. Whether you want to take quick notes on the go or clip web pages and images, Evernote got you well covered.
Don’t you have time to write it down? With a little microphone in the app, you can record and save your notes for reference. You can also scan and import a document. A mind map tool would be a nice addition to Evernote to make it even more productive.
The basic version gives you 60 MB of uploads per month and syncs up to two devices. It’s free and compatible with almost all devices. However, if you want to use more advanced features, they have a Plus and Premium version for you.
- Incredible search function
- Available web extension
- Limited free basic plan.
- Expensive premium plan.
2. Microsoft OneNote (iOS, Android, macOS, Web)
Part of the Microsoft Office Suite, OneNote is more for educators, students, and business owners. As a matter of fact, it’s one of the best note-taking apps for students.
It’s sort of a digital Notebook, best known for its organization. If you want to organize your notes well and make them searchable, OneNote is the right app for you.
There are so many things that you can use it for. Whatever your project is, OneNote will help you get it done. Its integration with Outlook is another big advantage, so you can email your note directly from the app. You can collaborate with others in real-time as long as your note is saved in OneDrive.
From audio/video recording to creating tables, charts, and hyperlinks to embed almost any file, OneNote can do it all. If you haven’t used it yet, you’re missing out. It’s a powerful note-taking app full of useful features. You can use OneNote on virtually any device.
- Work well with other Microsoft apps.
- Excellent free plan.
- Search functionality needs improvements.
- Clunky UI
3. Google Keep (Android, iOS, macOS, Web)
When you first take a look at Google Keep, it may give you the impression of a sticky post-it note. However, it’s much more than that. Don’t be fooled, embrace, and take advantage of it. It has all the basic features you can think of as a note-taking app.
Obviously, it’s not as powerful as Evernote or OneNote, but it’s pretty solid. You can collaborate with others and share your notes. You can set up time-based, and location-based reminders, to remind you to do things at a specific time or a specific place.
One of the key features of Google Keep is its audio transcription. When you record something, Google will convert that audio to text and attach the audio. You can later delete it if you want to. I’m not sure if that feature works with other languages besides English. I tried it with Spanish; it didn’t work though.
Here is another useful feature of this app. You can save pictures to your notes and extract texts from them with the “Grab image text” feature.
If you’re in a classroom, you can snap a picture, Google Keep will extract all the texts from that image and put them in your notes.
Keep is from Google, so it stays in sync with all Google services and cloud storage. It’s free and available on all major platforms and devices.
- Integrated well with Google’s ecosystem.
- Totally free.
- Available on every platform.
- No desktop apps (available only on the web).
- No text formatting.
4. Zoho Notebook (iOS, Android, macOS, Web)
It’s just gorgeous. If you’re creative and like clean, modern aesthetic stuff, Notebook is the perfect note-taking app for you. The app saves your notes in 6 types of cards: text, checklist, audio, photo, sketch, and file.
Each card has a unique color to better suit your project. From writing a text card, creating a checklist card for your grocery items, to recording a conversation or your own voice, Zoho Notebook can handle all of those.
With its built-in scanner, you can scan documents and save them to your notes. You can take a picture, upload files to your notes at a glance.
The Web Clipper feature will let you clip text, images, and entire articles from the web and save them to your Notebook. No more need to bookmark web pages, which makes it one of the best note-taking apps for mac.
Zoho Notebook comes with gesture-based functions to give you a better user experience. You can pinch, swipe, flick to organize and rearrange your cards. Touch your cards to interact with them.
It’s so easy and fun to use, you’ll obsess with it. Notebook syncs to the cloud and across your devices, you don’t have to worry about your cards.
- Completely free, ad-free, with unlimited devices.
- Beautiful interface.
- Pre-built note formats.
- Available on every platform.
- Sorting and organization features need improvements.
- Can’t clip images from the web.
5. Simplenote (Android, iOS, Linux, macOS, Web)
Simplenote makes this list, not because it has a lot of fancy features but because it’s simple. If you want a note-taking app free of distraction, Simplenote should be under your radar. It has a clean and simple interface.
You can’t add images and attachments, it’s all about notes. You only have a clean sheet with some basic formatting. The app syncs your notes across all platforms, so you can access them at any time. You can share your notes with others and invite people to collaborate on a new project.
- Minimalistic and simple interface.
- Markdown support.
- Go back in time revision control.
- Completely free.
- Almost too simple.
- No support for file attachment.
- No import notes support.
6. Apple Notes (iOS, macOS, iPadOS)
Notes from Apple comes pre-installed on every Apple device and works with Siri. It’s a solid and the best note-taking app for iPhone and Mac users.
With iOS 11, Notes is not the yellow pad we were used to anymore. It has become powerful. Now you can add photos and videos to your notes. It allows you to add sketches too.
With three different pencils, a ruler, an eraser, and 24 different colors, most people got enough tools to make a decent sketch.
You can collaborate with other iOS users. To do so, just tap on the contact icon at the top right-hand side of the screen. You can add as many people as you want, and can later remove access to anybody.
When you delete a shared note, other people will no longer have access and it will be deleted on all of their devices. All of your data is synced via your iCloud account to all of your devices.
- Works flawlessly with other Apple Apps.
- Built-in scanner.
- Available only for Apple devices.
- Basic note-taking features.
- Limited formatting tools
7. Notion (Android, iOS, macOS, Web)
If you’re looking for a clean note-taking app that’s more compact, aesthetically pleasing, and conducive to productivity, you need to get Notion.
It’s much more than a simple note-taking app. In fact, Notion combines four different tools in one: notes, knowledge bases, tasks and projects, and spreadsheets and databases.
The app lets you customize and personalize the layout, format, and color of your notes. You can move an audio file into a spreadsheet, drag a line to a list, embed images, pages, videos, etc. You basically can streamline anything in the app.
It can be too cumbersome when you first try it because it’s feature-rich. Take your time to get used to it, and you’ll never want to live without it. Here’s a beginner’s guide to Notion to get you started on the right foot. These Notion templates will help you supercharge your productivity, check them out.
Notion offers a free plan with limited features. You can only use up to 1000 blocks with the free version. Once you reach the limit, you can delete blocks or jump to the personal plan for $4 per month, which offers unlimited blocks.
- All-in-one workspace.
- Powerful database.
- Incredible flexible.
- Inexpensive Pro account.
- Free tier is very limited.
- More team-oriented, it can be cumbersome for personal use.
So what’s the best note-taking app in the market right now?
The answer will all depend on your needs.
If you want a beautiful interface and a nice writing experience, Zoho Notebook should be under your consideration. If you care about productivity and accessibility, you should definitely use Google Keep. In case you want an all-in-one workspace, Notion and Evernote should be your top pick.
Some people might want a simple and fast note-taking app to quickly take notes, we’d do Simplenote a great disservice to not recommend it.
If this article helped you find the best note-taking app that fits your needs, please recommend and/or share it, so your friends can enjoy it too.