Note-taking apps have a few major advantages over old-school pen and paper. You can search your notes. You don’t need to carry books around with you. You can sync them across devices. And, best of all, you can actually read them.
Unlike your handwritten notes.
But which note-taking apps are best?
That depends on what your needs are. And whatever those needs may be, don’t worry, because we have you covered in our list of the best note-taking apps out there.
7 Of The Best Note-taking Apps for Students
These note-taking apps are ideal for students of any kind, whether you’re taking down lecture notes or recording your own research.
That said, they can also serve in so many other areas of everyday life. Because as we well know, getting ideas out of our heads and into some kind of document or plan frees up mental space so we can be more productive. (We don’t just know this from experience, we know because research.)
So let’s take a look.
First up on our list of note-taking apps? Simplenote. And it wins for its straightforwardness. Simplenote is exactly what it says on the box: It’s a simple app for taking notes.
It might sound paradoxical, but Simplenote’s beauty is in its lack of functionality. Without all the bells and whistles, content is king. It’s the perfect app for getting thoughts, lists, and pages of notes out of your brain and into one place, without any fancy formatting or visuals.
Simplenote uses search and tagging so that you can easily find your notes when you need them. It has a simple slider bar to skip back through your version history and automatically saves and syncs your notes across devices.
And the best part: It’s completely free.
Are you a fan of keeping things organized and structured? Then you’ll love WorkFlowy. And if organization is something you struggle with then, hey, you’ll love it even more. Why? Because WorkFlowy makes structuring your notes easy and natural.
How does it do it? By making indents and bullet lists core to its functionality, so you can easily nest ideas. You can add tags, collapse and expand notes, and collaborate with others. It’s simple, but it works.
As well as being useful for note-taking, WorkFlowy is perfect for jotting down outlines for essays, stories, or other written works, and for storing ideas, task lists, and plans.
Is it possible to make a list of note-taking apps without mentioning Evernote? (Probably not.) Evernote is one of the most well-known, popular, and long-running note-taking apps. And at recent count was boasting more than 225 million active users.
Why is it so popular? In a nutshell, features. Lots of them. Evernote is what you use if you want media-rich, complex note-taking. Study notes? Checklists? Project ideas? Recipes? Travel plans? You get the idea.
Evernote lets you clip pages from the web, so you can save online articles to read later or to make notes about. It also allows you to easily save emails as notes by forwarding them to your unique Evernote email address. You can even create notes out of audio, screenshots, handwritten scribble, and more.
Like anything, Evernote has fans and haters; and which one you are depends largely on whether you see the numerous features as blessings or bloat. It also has limits to the free version meaning if you want to really get serious about using it, you might need to pay a subscription.
But all that said, it is a powerful app for all kinds of note-taking.
Ulysses is great for distraction-free writing thanks to its clean and intuitive design, and yet it still manages to pack a punch in terms of functionality.
Ulysses uses a simple markup system to format your text and also lets you organize notes using keywords, groups, and filters. But perhaps one of its biggest advantages is its export abilities: You can export notes as beautifully-formatted documents, pdfs, or ebooks, or publish your text directly to Medium or WordPress.
Two downsides to Ulysses we must mention. Your note-taking odyssey is not free, and it must be undertaken on iOS. Sorry, Android users but this one’s not for you.
Price: Free trial with monthly subscriptions from $4.99 thereafter or $39.99 per year
Bonus: Another great distraction-free writing app is Bear (also for iOS), which we covered in our post on best apps for productivity.
In case the name of the app didn’t fit the word “note” in it enough times —MixNote Notepad Notes is a notepad app. For taking notes.
Given we’ve listed an iOS-only option, we thought it fair to offer up something for you Androiders as well. This is it. A note-taking app that’s simple to use, elegant, functional, and free.
MixNote Notepad is great for memos, task lists, and text notes but also for slightly more complete notes if you want to add in voice recordings or pictures. Naturally, you can also share notes with colleagues or classmates. Because you’re generous like that.
There’s nothing like an innovative young startup that comes out of nowhere with a brilliant idea and disrupts the scene.
Well, Microsoft is exactly not that. But that doesn’t mean you should overlook OneNote as too corporate or boring. OneNote actually has some handy features for students — like direct integration with the entire Microsoft suite and wonderful flexibility in how notes are laid out (finally, a super easy way to copy out lecture notes from a whiteboard, with diagrams, tables, and all). OneNote is also down for voice and video notes, which most other note-taking apps aren’t.
As for pricing, OneNote uses Microsoft OneDrive hosting, so you get a limit of 5GB free storage and need to upgrade if your little cloud gets too full. It also comes as part of the Office 365 suite.
Not everyone works best in text. And for visual people, it helps to have visual tools. Enter Zoho’s note-taking app, Notebook, which is geared toward colorful scrapbook-style collections of notes. These notes can be text, drawings, photos, to-do lists, voice recordings, or other attachments like screenshots.
One of the beautiful things about Zoho’s app is that you can use it to make note-taking more fun. Colors and images let you add life to those boring-but-important subjects, and the focus on rich media helps to expand your thinking on the vast possibilities of what note-taking can be.
With versions for both Android and iOS, Zoho calls Notebook “The most beautiful note-taking app across devices”, and we’d be reluctant to disagree.
Your turn: Have you used any of these note-taking apps? Do you have a favorite? Tell us your picks in the comments.
For more ways to make the most of the back-to-school season, check out our list of productivity planners.
Author: Tania Braukamper
Tania Braukamper is an Australian-born writer and photographer. She believes in curiosity, kindness, and adventure as a state of mind.