This post will explain what free note-taking software is presently available, as well as how to choose the best one for your needs.
When you’re taking notes, keeping track of what you need to remember might be a time-consuming chore.
The good news is that current note-taking programs can be adapted to individual users’ needs.
The majority of them have an easy-to-use structure that makes it easy to organize and retrieve your notes, and some even have fascinating added functions.
Let’s have a look at the many note-taking applications and tools available.
What makes a great note-taking app?
Each of our best applications roundups is put together by a real person who has spent years learning about, testing, and writing about software.
We spent several hours researching and testing programs in each area, really using them as they were intended to be used and comparing them to our requirements.
We never take payment for placement in our articles from any app or for links to any site in order to maintain the trust of our users and deliver honest assessments of the categories and apps we analyze.
Read the whole analysis on the Zapier blog to learn more about our process and the criteria we apply to choose highlighted applications.
With so many possibilities, we established some strict criteria for what a top-tier notes app should feature.
- The apps must first and foremost deliver on their claimed capabilities. Although it may appear to be a modest threshold to clear, many applications fall short. Not every note-taking app must support styluses or convert photos to text, but if it does, those features should be well-implemented and delightful to use.
- Second, none of the note-taking programs could possibly have a learning curve. Pen and paper were the main rivals here, not other note-taking apps. If I couldn’t start a note-taking app and scribble down a few thoughts as soon as I could reach across my desk for my Moleskine and a pen, it didn’t make the cut. Other features, like as editing and sorting notes, were held to the same standard, since they could not appear forced or artificial.
- Similarly, the fundamental benefit of utilizing a notes app rather than a real notebook is that it can be accessed from any device at any time, whether you’re at your workplace desk, at home on the couch, or in the air. The fundamental minimum for an app was cross-platform compatibility (desktop and mobile) and offline functionality. Even if you don’t have Internet connectivity, you can still use your laptop.
- Finally, there was the cost-benefit analysis. When it comes to something as long-lasting as notes, we have to evaluate it against the service’s ability to continue running and providing server-based features like synchronizing in the future. Subscription costs for some of the best programs are usually not prohibitively expensive, as long as they are proportionate to the value delivered.
The 19 best note-taking softwares
Because of unique features or a straightforward design, some of the best note-taking tools stand out from the pack.
You may use this list of the most popular notetaking apps to choose the one that works best for you.
Monday.com’s project management software includes a note-taking tool.
This software distinguishes itself from the competition by offering configurable note-taking templates for a range of circumstances (project reviews, phone conversations, email campaigns, etc.).
Of course, notes taken using this software may be shared with the rest of your team.
Monday.com offers various complex and collaborative capabilities, including the opportunity to take notes.
If you want to take effective notes, you must use Evernote.
This note-taking tool is secure and versatile, since it can handle many formats at the same time.
If you have material in many types, such as text, audio, photo, pdf, or email, you may quickly combine them.
Even while Evernote is commonly considered as top-tier note-taking software, its high price tag may dissuade some customers.
More reading: The Best Evernote Substitutes
Bear is a simple note-taking application.
It uses a tree-like structure to organize its users’ notes.
Bear’s ability to use hashtags to organize notes is a remarkable feature.
That little flaw?
This note-taking program is only available on Apple devices.
Microsoft One Note
Microsoft provides a free note-taking application named One Note.
It’s full of handy features that will help you keep your notes nice and organized. One Note leaves the user alone to a large extent.
In reality, a note resembles a blank sheet on which you can easily scribble, draw, or upload images.
The name of this note-taking tool reflects its ease of use: Simple Note.
This tool makes taking and organizing notes a simple, and you can even interact with others on shared papers.
In related news, here are some of the most popular Trello alternatives.
Dropbox Paper is an excellent piece of corporate cooperation software.
This note-taking app is based on the concept of information sharing and exchange, and it may be improved with features such as the integration of Slack or Google Calendar into its user interface.
Google Keep is the greatest note-taking tool if you currently use Google’s productivity package.
It allows you to arrange everything in Drive so that you can locate what you need when you need it.
You can sync your notes with Gmail, and the collaboration tools are just as handy if you’re part of a team.
Ulysses is one of the few note-taking programs that can handle longer texts such as blog posts and essays.
Because it is integrated with WordPress, you can compose and submit blog posts without leaving WordPress.
But keep in mind that Ulysses is not free and is only available on Apple devices.
You may use Joplin to take notes, create to-do lists, and save web pages as notes, among other things.
However, keep in mind that you may only export your files in raw or Joplin format.
Notion is a note-taking tool for groups.
Its user interface allows you to build your notes using modular construction blocks.
Because of its ability to combine material such as images, movies, site bookmarks, and code snippets, Notion is one of the most complete tools accessible.
Notion is more than simply a note-taking app; it allows you to create a true internal knowledge base.
If you’re determined to stay within Apple’s ecosystem, you won’t have to go far to discover excellent free note-taking software.
Notes (formerly iCloud Notes) is a built-in program that is available on macOS, iOS, and the web.
You can still view your synced notes if you’re not using an Apple device by going to icloud.com/notes and utilizing the web-based version of the software.
If you have enough space in your iCloud account, this is a nice bonus that keeps your notes from being completely tied to your Apple devices.
Apple Notes lacks some of the bells and whistles of our top two picks, but this isn’t a deal breaker.
It also integrates with Apple’s Siri speech assistant.
And it just gets better from here. In shared notes, you may now @mention other Apple users, and you can add tags to your notes by entering #anything.
Furthermore, search is a powerful tool.
Find what you’re looking for, whether it’s a photo, a bit of text, an attachment, a doodle, some scanned text, or even anything within an image (for example, “a bike”).
Begin by creating a new note and begin typing, attaching images, scanning documents, sketching or scribbling, adding checklists, formatting into tables, and much more.
Unlike Microsoft’s OneNote, your notes in this app will stay distinct even if you add multiple items to the same note.
For example, you can’t use the pen tool to delete a text note.
Notes naturally connects seamlessly with all other Apple products because it is officially part of Apple’s app store.
Because iOS devices can sync, you can add notes from your mobile device to your Mac’s Notes software.
When you make a new note, the Attach dropdown menu will have options to Take Photo, Scan Document, or Add Sketch. For example, by tapping Scan Document, your iOS device’s camera will start, allowing you to scan, process, and upload any paper documents (such as letters, recipes, or bank statements) as PDFs.
Apple Notes isn’t as simple as it once was, but it’s still a powerful tool that fits all of our requirements for great note-taking software.
While some consumers may benefit from power-user features, the great majority of Apple’s customers aren’t power users.
Apple Notes starts at $0.99 per month for 50GB of storage, and the first 5GB are free across all iCloud services.
Obsidian is one of a new class of note-taking applications that rethink what a note-taking tool may and should be.
It, like Notion and Roam Research (which didn’t make our list owing to their lack of offline support), wants to be an all-encompassing digital database for your life, and it kind of succeeds.
In compared to the other programs mentioned above, Obsidian has a much more complicated learning curve, so only attempt it if you’re willing to put in some time and effort to get it to work for you.
While it is essentially just a note-taking app that reads Markdown-formatted text files, things may quickly grow complicated.
You may arrange your notes on the sidebar into folders and subfolders, and you can even make internal links between them.
When you press, a dialogue box displays in which you may link to any other note.
This allows you to rapidly refer to previously written notes; for example, you might construct a list of books you’ve read in the last year and add a link to your review of each in your notes archive.
Furthermore, nearly every part of the experience may be adjusted to your tastes.
You may personalize the interface and have as many notes open in one window as you want.
There are also community-created plugins available that take it even farther (to things like a kanban board) than basic text documents.
I can’t think of a better recommendation than my coworker Justin Pot’s: “Obsidian has actually impacted my life.”
Obsidian The majority of functionality are free, however paid add-ons begin at $25. Services such as Sync, which is accessible as a premium add-on, cost $8 per month.
What characteristics should you search for in a reliable mobile note-taking app?
Functionality, user-friendliness, accessibility, and searchability are examples of clearly understood features (and okay, maybe aesthetics, too). 😉
All of this and more is available with ClickUp Docs.
ClickUp is a versatile productivity tool that can be used for everything from project management to taking basic notes and keeping extensive records.
You can carry your notes and projects with you everywhere you go with its mobile app for convenient access.
The doc feature in ClickUp lets you to take notes, jot down ideas, and keep track of to-do lists and reminders, which can all be shared with anybody through a web-accessible URL (or kept private).
ClickUp Docs is an excellent option for small to large teams since it can be used for more than just taking notes.
Wikis, meeting minutes and agendas, knowledge bases, and business portals that may be directly connected to tasks, comments, chat chats, and more are examples of these.
The collaborative editing and detection function in ClickUp Docs allows teams to collaborate in the same Doc at the same time without overlapping, resulting in improved collaborative note taking for everyone.
ClickUp Docs also allows you to attach files and offer links to sites such as YouTube and spreadsheets in your notes.
Using ClickUp Docs’ basic to advanced typography and complete editing capabilities, you may change the font size and color, highlight a phrase in color, add colorful banners to break up the text, and generally show your originality.
The ClickUp mobile app’s Notepad function may be used to rapidly write ideas, reminders, and to-dos, which can then be brought with you wherever you go.
Workflowy is best used as a notes organizer, although having some project management functions.
Workflowy goes much beyond the standard outline. Workflowy creates an outline in a tree structure rather than individual note cards (like you would in a notepad).
Workflowy offers an exceptional level of customisation. Managers may develop short to-do lists for their employees in the same way that writers plan out their works in advance.
Simply add tags to better organize your material.
Workflowy’s new mobile applications are intriguing enough to take a look.
Paper is a note-taking program unlike any other, ideal for those of us who think visually.
It’s more like a notebook in format, so you can start drawing straight away. Make a mental map or a quick cartoon to help you remember.
The notebook tool gives you the structure you need to file and organize your notes and doodles.
SquidNotes is one such application that can correctly copy your handwriting.
It’s a digital substitute for taking notes on a physical notepad or legal pad. You may either use your finger or a suitable pen with the gadget.
When you’re happy with the appearance of your notes, you may change the size, add shapes, and even convert to PDF.
Images may be easily debated and adjustments suggested.
Automattic’s WordPress engineers also created Simplenote to help you keep track of your thoughts and ideas in one location.
Simplenote’s ability to sync notes between Windows, Mac, and mobile devices is a fantastic feature.
Markdown is also useful for marking significant points or sharing code. However, there is no “rich text editor” to utilize.
Simplenote distinguishes itself from competing programs in part by allowing users to effortlessly arrange their notes and revisions using a drag-and-drop interface. Simply drag the toolbar to rewind time.
GoodNotes is a social app that combines digital paper’s greatest characteristics.
GoodNote provides a platform for students to network with peers from all over the world who are studying the same topics in order to share and receive notes.
Community is a free tool that allows users to share their papers and profiles with the community at large.
While the Community function is great for bringing people together, it falls well short of Notability’s note taking capabilities.
- Flashcards are included for use during learning.
- To collaborate with others, use the linkable “Shared Documents” option.
- There is no additional charge for the Mac app.
Coda allows you to merge your words, facts, and cooperation into a single powerful document.
Users may create, edit, and view documents and spreadsheets at the same time; conduct surveys and polls; design and execute their own procedures and automate notifications; and much more.
How to choose a note taking software?
When choosing a note-taking software, the most crucial element to consider is which features you intend to utilize the most.
Do you only want to be able to scribble down notes, or do you also want to be able to add files to your folders?
You should also consider if you want the rest of your team to have access to the notes you take using this application, or if you want to use it just for personal purposes.
There, you may choose between a complicated piece of shared software and a simple online tool.
Last but not least, we recommend that you choose a note-taking program based on the other programs you frequently use (Google Drive, CRM like Monday.com, etc.).
It is critical to choose a note-taking tool that streamlines your daily chores and, ideally, centralizes all of your data.
You are now fully conversant with the best note-taking software available. Hopefully, this will point you in the right direction.
Note Taking Made Easy
The ability to take notes on the go is quite useful. If you have a certain use in mind, it may impact your selection.
Do you want an app with as many possibilities as Ulysses, or do you simply want something simple to put down your grocery list?
If you find yourself spending a lot of time with many tabs open, consider using a universal web-based notepad.
The regularity with which you’ll need drawings and the final location for your notes may influence your choice.
There are people who should avoid exporting.
Note-taking is a pretty personal thing. Some people are meticulous in their notebook organization, with careful folders, subheads, and bullets.
Others, myself among them, take more of a scrawl-it-anywhere-you-can approach.
However you like to take notes—whether they’re text-only or elaborate scrapbooks—there’s a notes app out there that can handle all your weird quirks and note-taking needs.