The 10 Best Note-Taking Apps for Your Personal and Professional Life

Stay organized and productive with a notes app

Note-taking apps are more useful than you might think. Taking notes with pen and paper works just fine for some, but if you have a smartphone or tablet, using an app designed for note-taking can truly change the way you get things done.

Whether your note-taking style demands minimal design and slick gesture-based functions, or advanced organization and cataloging of various media, chances are there's a notes app that's right for you.

Here are 10 of the best to consider, whether you're using a Windows or Mac computer, an Android device, iOS, Chrome OS, or another operating system.

01
of 10

Evernote: Organize All Your Notes Into Categorized Notebooks

Evernote
Screenshot of Evernote.com
What We Like
  • Available for Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS devices.

  • Use on the web; browser extensions available.

  • Excellent search function for notes.

What We Don't Like
  • Free basic plan is limited in features.

  • Monthly cost for premium plan is pricey.

Practically anyone who has ever looked into note-taking apps has come across Evernote—which tops the list. This powerful tool lets you organize notes into notebooks, which can be synced across as many as two devices. All free accounts also get 60 MB of space for uploading files to the cloud.

A few compelling features of Evernote include the ability to clip web pages and images, search for text inside images, and share and work on notes with other users. Plus and Premium subscriptions get you more storage, the opportunity to use more than two devices, and access to more advanced features.

Compatibility:

  • iOS.
  • Android.
  • macOS.
  • Windows.
  • Web.
02
of 10

Simplenote: Note-Taking for the Minimalist

Simplenote
Screenshot of Simplenote.com
What We Like
  • Design is minimalist and simple.

  • Syncs to all your devices.

  • Works with most popular platforms and devices.

What We Don't Like
  • May be too simple for some users.

  • Text notes only; no images or other media.

  • No text formatting.

Evernote is great if you need extra storage and fancy features, but if you're looking for a stripped-down notes app with a clean, minimal interface, Simplenote could be for you. Built for speed and efficiency, it lets you create as many notes as you like and keep them all straight with basic organizational features such as tags and search. 

You can use Simplenote to collaborate with others, and all notes are automatically synced across your account whenever changes are made. A nifty slider feature allows you to go back in time to previous versions of your notes, which are always automatically saved before you make any changes to them.

Compatibility:

  • iOS.
  • Android.
  • macOS.
  • Windows.
  • Linux.
  • Web.
03
of 10

Google Keep: Use Cards to Make Note-Taking Fun and Colorful

Google Keep
Screenshot of Google.com/Keep
What We Like
  • Organize with customizable labels.

  • Set time and location-based reminders.

  • Free and well-integrated with the Google tech ecosystem.

What We Don't Like
  • No desktop app; notes are available on the web.

  • Maximum of 50 labels; no hierarchical label organization.

  • Web clipper saves URLs only.

  • No text formatting.

With a more visual approach, Google Keep's card-based notes are perfect for people who want to see all their ideas, lists, images and audio clips in one place. You can color-code your notes, add other attributes so that they're easy to find, and share your notes with others who need to access and edit them. Like Evernote and Simplenote, changes made by you or other users with whom you share your notes are automatically synced across all platforms.

You can set up time- and location-based reminders so that you remember to do something at a specific place or time. When typing is inconvenient, the app's voice memo feature lets you record a message for a quick note in audio format.

Compatibility:

  • iOS.
  • Android.
  • Google Chrome Web Browser.
  • Web.
04
of 10

OneNote: Build on the Power of Microsoft Apps With Your Notes

OneNote
Screenshot of OneNote.com
What We Like
  • Compatible with Google Chrome, Apple Watch, and web browsers.

  • Syncs well across all your devices.

  • Lots of options for note formatting and design.

What We Don't Like
  • No quick customizable tagging for simple organization.

  • Notebook, section, and page structure is inefficient to navigate.

  • Search functionality isn't as slick as Evernote or Google Keep.

Microsoft's OneNote is an app to consider if you regularly use Microsoft Office apps such as Word, Excel, and PowerPoint; the app is fully integrated with them. Type, write, and draw using the freeform pen, and use powerful organization tools like pinning to easily find what you're looking for later.

Use OneNote to collaborate with others and access the latest versions of your notes from any device. Capture an image of a whiteboard or slideshow with automatic cropping, and make an audio note without having to use an external recording app.

Compatibility:

  • iOS.
  • Apple Watch.
  • macOS.
  • Android.
  • Windows Phone.
  • Windows.
  • Google Chrome Web Browser.
  • Web.
05
of 10

Notebook: A Stunningly Visual Note-Taking Experience

Notebook
Screenshot of Zoho.com
What We Like
  • Design is bright and appealing.

  • Text, checklist, photo, audio, sketch, and file cards.

  • Supports Mac, Windows, iOS, Android, and web access.

  • Customize notebook covers, use your own images.

What We Don't Like
  • Needs more art for notebook covers.

  • Not geared toward collaborative note-taking.

If you like the idea of Google Keep's card-like interface, then you might find Zoho's Notebook app useful, too. Create a checklist card for your grocery items, a card for a story you're working on with inline images included, a sketch card for some doodling, or even an audio card of your voice. 

Zoho features smooth, intuitive, gesture-based functions that help you organize, reorder, copy, group, and flick through notes to find what you're looking for. Notebook is free and syncs everything across your account automatically, so you always have your notes no matter which device you're using.

Compatibility:

  • iOS.
  • macOS.
  • Android.
  • Windows.
  • Web.
06
of 10

Dropbox Paper: A Collaborative Note-Taking App for Your Whole Team

Dropbox Paper
Screenshot of Dropbox.com
What We Like
  • Strong features for collaboration.

  • Clean and uncluttered look.

  • Add a variety of media; not just links.

What We Don't Like
  • More complex than a simple note-taking app.

  • Paper documents are separate from Dropbox folders.

  • Takes time to get used to.

If you already use Dropbox to store files in the cloud, check out Dropbox Paper. It acts as a flexible workspace built to prevent distraction while helping people work together. This app focuses on collaboration, allowing users to chat with each other in real time while editing any document.

Don't be fooled by its minimal design: Dropbox Paper has lots of advanced features tucked away that are easy to access and intuitive to use once you're familiar with the app. Create new documents, edit existing ones, see all your team activity in an organized list, post and reply to comments, prioritize documents, and more.

Compatibility:

  • iOS.
  • Android.
  • Web.
07
of 10

Squid: The Best App for Taking Digital Handwritten Notes

Squid
Screenshot of SquidNotes.com
What We Like
  • Designed for handwritten notes; use your finger or a stylus.

  • PDF markup is easy.

What We Don't Like
  • Not available for macOS, iOS, or Windows devices.

  • Not easy to sync with other devices.

Squid modernizes the old-fashioned pen and paper with digital features that enhance the note-taking experience. Just use your finger or stylus to handwrite notes just as you would on paper. Similar to Google Keep and Notebook, Squid displays all your most recent notes in a card-like interface for easy access.

Every note has a toolbar at the top that allows you to customize your ink, duplicate what you've written, resize it, erase mistakes, zoom in or out, and more. You can insert PDF files for markup, highlight text, and insert new pages wherever you want.

Compatibility:

  • Android.
  • Chromebook.
08
of 10

Bear: The Most Flexible Note-Taking App

Bear
Screenshot of Bear-Writer.com
What We Like
  • Import notes from other apps.

  • Simple, easy-to-use design.

  • Export to a variety of formats, including PDF and JPEG.

  • Supports Markdown.

What We Don't Like
  • Available only for Mac and iOS devices.

  • Requires a paid plan to sync devices.

Bear is one of the most flexible, beautifully designed note-taking apps available for Apple devices. Made for both quick notes and in-depth essays with advanced markup and options to insert images, links, and more, the app offers a "focus mode" to help you concentrate.

You can customize the theme and typography to fit your style, use a wide variety of editing tools to optimize your notes, quickly add to-dos to any note, tag any note with a hashtag, and much more. The core version is free, but a pro subscription takes your note-taking to the next level.

Compatibility:

  • iOS.
  • macOS.
09
of 10

Notability: Creative Note-Taking for the Apple Fan

Notability
Screenshot of GingerLabs.com
What We Like
  • Good text-formatting options.

  • Text wrapping with images.

  • Works well with Apple Pencil.

What We Don't Like
  • Only for iOS devices.

  • No free version available.

If you like to write by hand, draw, sketch, or doodle, Notability is a must-have. Its suite of advanced note-taking tools lets you combine your handwritten or drawn work with typed text, photos, and videos, and zoom in when you need a closer look.

Notability also lets you do some amazing things with PDF files; you can annotate them, fill them out, sign them, and send them off. Unlike many of the other apps in this list, Notability isn't free, but it's affordable.

Compatibility:

  • iOS
10
of 10

Notes: Basic, Minimal, and Possibly All You Need

Notes
Screenshot of Apple.com
What We Like
  • Handwrite notes and sketch with Apple Pencil.

  • Organize notes with folders.

  • Pin notes to the top of the list.

  • Scan documents using device camera.

What We Don't Like
  • Available only for Apple devices.

  • Basic note-taking features.

  • Only simple text formatting.

Apple's Notes app is uncomplicated and intuitive, yet it does the job with just the essential features. Although you can't organize your notes with hashtags, notebooks or categories, they are neatly organized in the left sidebar, and you can search through them quickly.

Create a checklist, insert photos, customize formatting, or even add another Notes user so they can view and add information to it. Although it doesn't have all the bells and whistles of many other note-taking apps, Notes stands out for getting the job done in the simplest, quickest way possible.

Compatibility:

  • iOS.
  • macOS.