Take Digital Notes with These 7 Great Note-Taking Apps

It’s a new semester, which means it’s time to load up on supplies that you might lose and destroy anyways. A backpack can turn into a black hole real quick. Now, if you’re a handwritten notes taker like I have been, those notebooks add up — in terms of money and space. Your backpack gets heavy, shelf space in your room lessens and the balance on your card decreases. But, it can be easier to remember information if you write it out on paper, and that’s where I personally ran into a dilemma. For those like me who need to physically write out notes or have a creative way to lay out information to help remember it, but need to spend less, use less paper and milimalistly use as little space as possible: here are seven note-taking apps that make that possible on most platforms.

  1. 1. Evernote

    This is one of the most popular digital note-taking platforms out there, with in depth organization and various multimedia opportunities. It is organized in “notebooks” where you then add notes inside — as if they were pages. There are various tools on the app that make note-taking on the computer more than just typing, such as a web clipper that allows you to save web pages, articles and PDFs. You can also utilize their document scanner, or try their PDF and document search for text, photos, etc. One of my favorite components is the ability to mobily scan and search handwritten notes (it can read many languages!). It does cost money to have access to all of its features though. And, without premium, you can only sync your notes with two devices. Overall, it is one of the best ways to keep your notes digitally, and is accessible on Windows, Mac, Android, iOS and Browser.

  2. 2. One Note

    This is the app for you if you don’t have the money for the experience that Evernote provides. It too is organized in notebooks, then into sections within the books and then further into pages. It incorporates mixed media where you can hand draw or type on the same page document, but this can make for a messy layout when you have a text box that appears randomly in the middle of the page — you’ll have to test it out and see how you can best use it. There is also a “tag” function, like in Evernote (though, with less options), where you can mark important notes. You can sync your notes on multiple devices, with not limit… for free! This is definitely one to check out. You can find it on Windows, Mac, Android, iOS and Browser platforms.

  3. 3. Apple Notes

    This app is exclusively for Apple products, so if you’re someone who has Apple devices across the board, you just might want to take advantage of this. You are able to have an organized set of folders and utilize multimedia components. Adding people to your notes is a great way to collaborate with others on projects or see the notes they’ve taken. There’s also a web version as well! Although it is possible to import and export photos/notes onto the app, there can be limitations or difficulties with it depending on the device.

  4. 4. Google Keep

    This app is pretty convenient in that it works with Gmail and other Google tabs, as long as you have a Google account. It is a simple design with no organizational features, that looks like your wall or paper full of sticky notes. You can’t search within your notes and you can’t format your text in any way, so there’s little creativity. But, it’s a great place to put information you need to remember, and you can transfer it to somewhere more specific later if you desire.

  5. 5. Simplenote

    This is also a simple note-taking app. It’s one of the easiest ways to keep track of lists, thoughts, information, etc. With a lot of notes written, you can organize them with tags and pins. You can also search your notes for the ones relevant to what you need at the moment. With an account, you can back up your notes onto the cloud, and they are accessible across multiple devices. Simplenote can be used on Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, the web and more.

  6. 6. Zoho Notebook

    This app allows you to take different types of notes — they don’t all have to look the same. The notes look like cards and each of them has a unique color that you can customize. For example, text cards can be pink, checklists might be red and audio might gleam green. This app is great for visual learners. Each card type has functions, like text cards are able to be house to-do lists. The file card can add PDFs and documents to your notes. You can organize your notes into a stack and flip through to find a specific note. It’s another free app available for iOS, Android, Windows and Mac that you might want to check out.

  7. 7. Google Docs

    This last option is an ode to platforms that may not originally be thought of to take class notes on, but can do just the trick if you put your own spin on it. Google Docs, sticky notes on any device, etc. are ways to jot down any information that you need. But, Google Docs is an easy way to keep track of the information professors throw at you. It’s a Google platform that is easy to use and access with any Google account. You can upload images and format text your way. Internet is important when using it, but it’s easy to work with that. And a great part, which we can all attest to when it comes to group projects, is you can easily share a document with others with a Google account and simultaneously collaborate.

Here’s to changing it up a bit if you’re used to approaching class with pen and paper! It has proven to be quite an adjustment for me so far, but I enjoy the options to draw/write with a stylus so it still feels like I’m writing the notes myself. If you want to use less paper, have more space in your backpack, desk and bookshelves, and/or want to spend less money, I highly recommend taking your notes to your technology this semester. Dabble in different note-taking apps and see what speaks to you and makes taking notes interesting! Have fun and slay this semester, smartie! You got this.