How to Use Google Keep

You can use Google Keep on Android and iPhone

Google Keep is Google's free note-taking app that makes it easy to type, dictate, draw, or snap a photo to create a note. Keep's desktop version, Android, and iOS apps synchronize seamlessly so that your notes are always accessible across all devices.

The Google Keep app looks and operates almost identical on both the Android and iOS apps. The only time there is a difference between how the app works on these devices is when you interact with the phone's software, such as saving a bookmark to Keep. Here are instructions for the app, desktop versions, and for specific devices as needed.

Getting Started with Google Keep

Keep is available as an app or you can access Google Keep on the desktop using Keep's site. If you are a Chrome user, you may also want to grab the Chrome extension to make it easier to save bookmarks as you surf the web, which we will discuss later. Once you've downloaded the app, or are on the Keep page on your desktop, a prompt will ask you to enter your Google account information.

How to Use Google Keep

You can choose preferences for the way you engage and how Google Keep appears in the Settings menu.

  1. On the desktop, find Settings by selecting the gear at the top of the screen.

    Keep desktop settings
  2. On mobile, find the settings by tapping the three horizontal lines on the top left of the screen. Control the way notes appear, times for reminders, and whether you see images on bookmarks with rich links.

    Three screens showing search and settings locations in Google Keep
  3. To create your first note, select Take a note in the rectangular box on the Keep screen window. Start typing, or expand the + at the bottom of the note to take a photo, choose an image, draw or dictate your note. 

    Take a note box in Keep

    Once you've created your first note, Keep automatically saves your note. You can continue to add photos, recordings, drawings, or other text to your notes, or create a new note.

  4. Keep uses labels and colors to help you organize your notes. You can create as many as 50 different labels to organize your notes, and a single note can also have multiple labels.

    On the desktop version, select the note(s) you want to label, choose the three-dot menu in the upper right, and select Add Label or Change Label, if applicable. Type the name of the label you want to create.

    Add label in Google Keep

    You can also select the palette icon to see a pop-up window of colors.

  5. Add labels to a note in the Keep app by selecting the three dots in the bottom right of the screen to see the labels option.

    Three screens show how to add labels to Keep notes

    Whenever you create a new note, type #, and begin typing the letters of the label for the note, and Keep will bring up a list of your labels that match. Select the label you need.

  6. Keep automatically adds the last note created to the top of the Keep workspace. If you have a running to-do list that you want to always appear on top, you can Pin the note so that all the other notes stay behind. Select the thumbtack pin the note at the top of your desktop. To unpin a note, simply click or tap the thumbtack.

    You can do this for as many notes as you need to keep on top.

  7. If there are notes that you do not want to see on your desktop, but still need, you can archive the note. The note is still in Keep, but you won't be able to see the note on your desktop. Archived notes show up in a keyword search.

    Archive button on Keep note

    You can see all of your archived notes at once by selecting Archive from the keep menu by tapping the three horizontal lines at the top left side of the desktop and mobile versions. To remove a note from the archive, simply re-select the archive button.

  8. If you draw a note or create a photo note, Keep uses Optical Character Recognition (OCR) to turn any words within the image into text. To activate this feature on your mobile device, select the photo, choose the three dots on the top right of the screen, and then select Grab image text. On the desktop version, the three dots are at the bottom of the screen. 

    Menu location and how to Grab image text
  9. The stylus icon within Google Keep works on the desktop version by with your mouse, and mobile devices and tablets by using your finger or stylus. You can customize the color and switch between pen, marker, or highlighter. You can also select the eraser to start over. Access the stylus on the desktop by selecting the three vertical dots at the bottom of a note and choosing Add Drawing. On mobile devices, select the + sign at the bottom of the note.

    Stylus options in drawing section of Google Keep

    You can also use the stylus to take notes, and use the app to transcribe the note into text by with Grab image text.

  10. Turn any note into a checklist by selecting the plus sign at the bottom of the screen and choosing Show Checkboxes. When you check off an item as done, Keep moves the item to the bottom of the note, with a line crossed through so that you can see completed tasks. 

    Show checkboxes option on Google Keep note
  11. Keep lets you share notes with contacts, automatically syncing any updates or additions across the team of collaborators. To share a note, select Collaborator at the bottom of the note and enter the email addresses of the collaborators. On the app, select the three buttons at the bottom of the screen, choose Collaborators, and enter the email addresses of the collaborators

    Collaborator button on Keep note
  12. Google Keep integrates with Google Calendar and Google Maps. Assign a due date to a Google Keep note by selecting the bell reminder at the bottom of the note on the desktop version and add a date and time. The bell reminder is at the top of the mobile app.

    Remind me icon on Google Keep note

    You can also create a location-based reminder so that Keep will send you a location-based alert whenever you are in the geographic area you assigned. Location services must be turned on your device for this to work. Location-based reminders are helpful when running errands, or to help you remember what you need from the grocery store. 

  13. You can copy a Keep note to a document by copying it to Google docs. Select the three dots at the bottom of the note and choose Copy to Google Docs. To open the Google Doc, in the bottom left of the window, select Open Doc.

    Copy to Google Docs option on Keep note

    If you need to print a Keep note, copy the note to a Google Doc and print the doc.

  14. On the Keep app, the Send button can also be used to copy a note, send a note to an email address, Dropbox, a text message, social media, Trello, or any other app you happen to have on your device. Select the three vertical dots at the bottom of the screen. Choose Send and choose the action or app to share. Once you send or share a note, the note is still available in Keep.

    Send via other apps in Google Keep

    On the desktop, the only option is to copy to Google Docs.

Use Keep to Save Bookmarks from the Web

The Google Keep Chrome extension adds the Keep icon to the top of your browser. When you are on a web page that you'd like to save, click the Keep icon and Keep will create a new bookmark of the page. Keep will also copy any text you highlight from the web page on the same note. You can continue to copy text from the article, by clicking the Keep button, and Keep will continue to add the text you highlight to the same note.

Bookmarking a page to a Keep note

On Android, send a bookmark to Google Keep by selecting the three dots at the top of the web page you want to save and choosing Share link. Select Keep from the apps that appear.

On iOS, select the Share button while visiting a web page you want to save, and choose Keep. Keep will automatically create a note. If Google Keep does not appear as an option, select More and add Google Keep to the list of options.

Share link, Keep Notes, Save on Keep for Android

Syncing: Automatic Across All Devices

Google Keep data syncs to the cloud through an internet connection. Keep is still available offline, but any new notes, or edits to existing notes will not sync until you connect to the internet. 

Syncing is automatic, regardless of the device you are using to access Keep. To open your Keep notes on any device, simply log into your Google account.