In the past, if you were struck with inspiration while doing your weekly shopping, you'd have to scribble your idea down on a scrap piece of paper or maybe even your arm. Today, we have access to powerful note-taking apps that allow you to capture and organize any idea on any device. But with so many options, how do you decide on the best note-taking app for you? Fear not — we've compiled a list of the best note-taking apps available right now.
You knew it was coming! Founded in 2007, Evernote is one of the most popular note-taking apps out there, with over 225 million users as of 2019. Looking at Evernote's comprehensive list of features, it's no wonder that it's so widely used. For example, you can add notes in a variety of formats, including text, images, PDF documents, scanned handwritten notes (provided that you have legible handwriting) and even audio clips.
Evernote's versatility makes it an excellent note-taking app for people who like to capture notes on a napkin when they're on the go, as well as people who prefer a more organized approach. You can organize your notes into notebooks, add tags, create notes from calendar events, and even automate your note-taking.
There are four price plans for Evernote: Free, Personal, Professional, and Evernote Teams. Ignoring Evernote Teams, for now, the main difference between the plans is device syncing, storage and access to AI-based features. For example, you're limited to syncing with up to 2 devices with the free plan, but the Personal plan offers unlimited syncing. In terms of AI features, Evernote can make personalized content recommendations, such as links to web articles, based on what you type, among other features like geolocation searching.
In 2020 Evernote released a thoroughly updated version of the app for iPad and Android tablets, ironing out some of the previous bugs and making it easier for users to transition between note-taking on the tablet vs. computer.
Overall, Evernote is a robust and powerful note-taking app, but its premium versions are slightly expensive for the average user. As a result, most people will need a good reason to justify going beyond the free version.
OneNote is the only note-taking app that can match the mastery of Evernote, and it's totally free. Both apps are similar in terms of functionality - you can draw, record audio, scan images, embed spreadsheets, and organize notes with ease on either of them. However, there are some distinct differences. OneNote is the better option if you want the most features without opening your wallet. Still, Evernote has the edge when it comes to content clipping, organization, and UI.
It's also important to note that while the OneNote app is free, you are limited to 5GB of cloud storage. However, you can buy more storage if you need it, and Office 365 users get much more storage (1TB-6TB).
Notion is a relatively new note-taking app with a specific focus on collaboration. In fact, it's more than a note-taking app; it's also a project manager and a reference wiki. So it can be your all-in-one workspace solution if you want it to be.
You can create new notes, called pages, and then populate them with "blocks". Blocks are essentially responsive elements like images, audio, video, text, checklists, code snippets, files, and web bookmarks. You can also embed your current work tools to create a hub for everything you and your team are currently working on. The tables in Notion also function more like databases than tables — every row in the table is its own note that you can update freely.
Notion offers four pricing plans: Free, Personal Pro, Team, and Enterprise. With the free plan, you get access to unlimited pages and blocks, can sync across all devices, and share with up to 5 guests. However, if you want to experience some of the more powerful collaboration features, you'll want the Team version.
The first three note-taking apps on our list utilize a similar approach to note organization — tags, folders, collapsible note hierarchies. However, Roam Research does things differently. Described as a "note-taking tool for networked thought," Roam Research links notes together in a web structure (or graph database), making it easy to visualize the relationship between notes.
If you've struggled to find a note-taking app that sticks, it could be down to the hierarchical nature of traditional note-taking apps. They are top-down, with each note having a dedicated place in the hierarchy. This makes them great for project-based work, but not so much for those sparks of inspiration you have. Roam Research's network-based approach allows each note to function autonomously, connecting to other notes when it fits organically.
The downside to Roam Research is the price — the Pro version is $15 a month or $165 a year, and there's no freemium version, only a free trial.
Not happy with your note-taking habits? Looking for a more organized way of note-taking that will replace your old notebook? These four tools will transform the way you organize your notes and will boost your productivity. Give them a try and see which one suits your style the best.