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The 12 Best Note-Taking Apps

Woman in an orange blouse using an app on her smartphone.

We’re caught between a rock and a hard place. The world of business and technology is moving faster than ever. Yet we’re expected to stay constantly up-to-date and 100% accurate. As operations speed up because of technology, the right techs also make it easier for us humans to keep up at that breakneck speed.

Note - taking is one area where the right technology can significantly improve your productivity, increase efficiency, and reduce the mental and emotional wear and tear inherent in a fast - paced life.

With that said, the number of apps out there leaves you unsure which one “thinks as you do” or has the features you need. Which one will make your life easier, not harder? There’s always a learning curve. But you realize sticky notes, illegible handwriting, and endless paper are not the ways to succeed in 2022.

So we’ve compiled 12 of the best note - taking apps out there in 2022, along with their strengths, so you can make an informed decision.

The 12 Best Note-Taking Apps of 2022

1. Microsoft OneNote

  • Available On: App Store | Google Play | Microsoft
  • Allows You To:
    • Pin often - referenced notes to the top of your page or the front of your notebook.
    • Secure your work with password protection and touch ID.
    • Share notes and notebooks with your team.
    • Save and access notes and notebooks across all devices, thanks to cloud connectivity.
    • Take task notes and create to-do lists.
    • Choose from a variety of pen colors and settings.
    • Use the “Convert to Shapes” mode to change your handcrafted designs into eye - catching shapes.
    • Share and collaborate with your remote and in - house teams.
  • Why You'll Love It: One of the most versatile note - taking apps on the market, OneNote provides exceptional levels of functionality while remaining extremely easy to use. It is particularly remarkable for its outstanding organizational capabilities and its secure cloud storage. For these reasons and more, business and tech authority Harry Guinness named OneNote the best free note - taking app of 2022.

2. Notebook

  • Available On: App Store | Google Play | Mac App Store | Windows | Linux
  • Allows You To:
    • Create different types of notecards for notes that range from checklists to rough sketches.
    • Sync to the cloud across all mobile, desktop, and web - based devices with secure data backups.
    • Incorporate text, audio, photos, and other files into your customizable notecards.
    • Scan and annotate documents quickly and easily.
    • Organize and access notes within grouped notebooks and across multiple notebooks.
    • Search for objects or text within photos.
  • Why You'll Love It: Perhaps the best free app for syncing notes across multiple devices, Notebook packs a lot of features and operations into a sleek package. Even better, Notebook is completely ad - free.

3. Apple Notes

  • Available On: App Store
  • Allows You To:
    • Add tables to your notes to automatically organize information.
    • Scan paper documents directly into your notes.
    • Add photos to a note quickly and easily using your camera or photo library.
    • Add website links with thumbnails.
    • Collaborate easily using shared folders.
    • Use passwords to secure notes that hold personal information.
    • Sketch in your notes with your finger or Apple Pencil in your choice of brush styles and colors.
    • Keep all your notes stored securely in the cloud and updated automatically on all of your devices.
    • Sync automatically across devices with iCloud.
  • Why You'll Love It: A standard app on most Apple devices, Notes has been a simple, straightforward, and reliable note - taking app for more than 15 years. Although it remains easy to use and occupies a small amount of storage space, today’s Notes offers a surprising amount of functionality. On his recent list of “13 Things You Didn't Realize Apple's Notes App Could Do,” PC contributor Lance Whitney praises its quick access to key options and commands, optional thumbnail views, precise sharing perimeters, and ability to sort information according to a range of criteria. The latest version of Notes features a smoother interface, a home screen widget, and new Apple Pencil capabilities.

4. Simplenote

  • Available On: App Store | Google Play | Mac App Store | Windows Store | Linux
  • Allows You To:
    • Easily jot down notes for secure storage, sharing, and/or publishing.
    • Take advantage of an extremely simple and highly intuitive interface.
    • Set the app so that your work is backed up automatically.
    • Organize your notes with tags and pins.
    • Sync your notes across all your devices.
    • Keep your work secure using fingerprint and password protection.
    • Save multiple versions of the same note for easy reference.
    • Autocompletion
    • Note interlinking
    • Action suggestions based on how you use the app
  • Why You'll Love It: Although it doesn’t have the bells and whistles of a OneNote or a Notebook, Simplenote remains true to its name by making digital note - taking simple for everyone. Its neat and orderly interface offers the average consumer a quick and seamless way to catalog and track important business matters.

5. Agenda

  • Available On: App Store | Mac App Store
  • Allows You To:
    • Ensure that you never miss another deadline with a platform that is decidedly “date - focused.”
    • Type text, draw with a pencil, or easily upload and annotate documents.
    • Plan and document every stage of project development.
    • Connect to your calendar to add notes and due dates to events.
    • View chronological notes using past, present, and future view options.
    • Create notes with images, file attachments, tags, lists, and links.
    • Sync notes across all iOS devices with iCloud.
  • Why You'll Love It: Made specifically for business administrators and project managers, Agenda is an exceptional resource for easily accessing notes that you created on a specific day at a specific time. Although the free version of this app is relatively extensive, it also comes in a subscription version that comes with a number of additional features.

6. Joplin

  • Available On: App Store | Google Play
  • Allows You To:
    • Take task notes and make to-do lists with extraordinary ease.
    • Choose among a range of customizable interfaces and layouts.
    • Sync notes on all attached devices while automatically backing up your information in the cloud.
    • Save web pages directly to your notes with a web clipper for both Chrome and Firefox.
    • Offers easy import of notes from other apps.
  • Why You'll Love It: Although it doesn’t support collaboration and offers no handwriting or sketching functionality, Joplin is extremely easy to use and comes with a surprising array of highly efficient features. In light of this, productivity apps and software expert and contributing editor to PC Jill Duffy called Joplin a great open - source alternative to Evernote and ranked it the overall best free and open - source note - taking app option for 2022.

7. Evernote

  • Available On: App Store | Google Play
  • Allows You To:
    • Create notebooks, planners, and organizers with a touch of the keyboard or screen.
    • Sync notes, notebooks, and journals across more than one device.
    • Take notes and create journals in a wide variety of formats.
    • Click web pages into notes.
    • Connect to your Google Calendar to attach notes to deadlines.
    • Incorporate printed documents, sketches, PDFs, audio, and video into your notes.
    • File handwritten notes that you have scribbled on paper.
    • Create multiple notebooks that are organized by specific categories or interest groups.
  • Why You'll Love It: Harry Guinness echoes the sentiments of countless tech authorities when he calls the paid version of Evernote the “ultimate digital notebook.” The free version of Evernote, however, is a bit less thrilling. For example, you can only sync two Evernote devices for free while you can sync a limitless number if you pay. That said, the free version of Evernote remains quite impressive when it comes to taking and managing notes with ease and providing a versatile array of features.

8. Squid

  • Available On: Google Play
  • Allows You To:
    • Write things down as you would on any paper notepad with an active pen, passive stylus, or finger.
    • Use any Android phone, tablet, or Chromebook.
    • Wirelessly cast notes and PDFs to screens and projectors to share them with colleagues or clients.
    • Add visuals to your notes by importing images or making drawings.
    • Mark up images, PDFs, and screenshots in real time.
    • Change both the color and thickness of your letters.
    • Export notes to Google Drive, Dropbox, and other hosting services.
    • Fill out blanks in forms and contracts without printing them.
  • Why You'll Love It: Aside from the fact that it shares the name of a popular Netflix show, you’ll love it because it transforms handwriting to text. Squid is essential for anyone who prefers to take notes in longhand. Throw away those legal pads and the clutter that goes along with them for a digital system that is highly organized and secure. With Squid, you can embrace old - school note - taking but do it in a more productive way.

9. Notes Writer

  • Available On: App Store
  • Allows You To:
    • Mark up actual digital documents with ease.
    • Upload multiple documents in each note and insert new documents as you see fit.
    • Reorder and delete documents within each note.
    • Readily copy and paste from between notes.
    • Organize notes into unlimited folders for different purposes.
    • Fill out and sign scanned forms and documents.
    • Sync and share notes across hosting services, such as Google Drive and Dropbox.
    • Export documents to PDF, HTML, RTF, TXT, and more.
    • Upload your thoughts by recording audio to attach to the note.
    • Side by side editing for PDF
    • Darkmode
  • Why You'll Love It: If annotating documents is essential to your business, you’re going to adore Notes Writer. In addition to handling annotations better than paper, Notes Writer has a calendar for tracking events and a “Sketcher” function for drawing by hand and designing graphics.

10. Otter.Ai

  • Available On: App Store | Google Play | Chrome
  • Allows You To:
    • Speak to notate.
    • Integrate with Google Meet, Microsoft Teams, and Zoom.
    • Set reminders to record meetings and take notes on them.
    • Automate meeting note - taking for regular meetings.
    • Import audio, webinars, training sessions, and video files after the fact for transcription.
    • Run an audio or video recording on a separate device to transcribe the video while you do something else.
    • Easily highlight what’s important and edit the transcription if the conversation got off track before sharing it with the team.
    • Automatically designate who’s speaking so sidebar comments don’t get mistaken for meeting agenda items.
    • Share both the original audio and its transcription with absent team members to adapt for both visual and auditory learners.
    • Keep hybrid teams all on the same page.
    • Click a note to hear how the speaker said it to clear up any ambiguity or misunderstanding.
  • Why You’ll Love It: If you are a very visual learner or other - abled and struggle with auditory note - taking, this is the tool you have been waiting for. It has strong accuracy, automatically corrects misspeaking for cleaner results, and is easy to use. You’ll be amazed at how much time it saves you.

11. Notion

  • Available On: App Store | Android | Microsoft | Web-based option
  • Allows You To:
    • Integrate with common tools like Trello, Dropbox, Google Drive, and Asana, among others.
    • Customize the technology to work within current workflows.
    • Create multiple workspaces for your team to manage various projects and have everything they need all in one place.
    • Collaborate with your team.
    • Tag notes and categorize them to improve note context and reduce note clutter.
    • Download team workflow templates created and used by Notion users and then modify them to work the way your team needs it to.
  • Why You’ll Love It: Notion is a note - taking app that’s made for remote team collaboration. The tool is highly adaptable, allowing you to decide how you use the tools. Vinay Hiremath, co-founder and head of engineering at Loom, uses the tool for his team and appreciates that “Notion continues to be the easiest way to get information centralized somewhere and shout it out to someone else.”

12. Obsidian

  • Available On: App Store | Google Play | Mac Store | Linux
  • Allows You To:
    • Create brainstorming trees with outgoing links.
    • Converge notes with a similar idea via backlinks.
    • Use plug-ins, themes, community - created tools, and custom CSS to customize the tools to “think as you do.”
    • Store data locally and access the text outside of Obsidian, preventing you from losing work if something unforeseen happens.
    • Encrypt your notes.
    • Back up your files through a Dropbox integration when you’re on wi-fi.
    • Access files and use most of the app’s features without the internet.
  • Why You’ll Love It: Obsidian is great for creative people who struggle to get all of their ideas together. They start a note. Leave it. Then start another one often repeating work, leading to note chaos and clutter. You’ll love how this tool kindly corrals your idea generation back around by suggesting you link to or continue similar notes you already have out there. Basically, the app allows you to quickly see what you already have, so you don’t do extra work. YouTube Educational Influencer CGP Grey says, “I don’t give app of the year awards, but I would 100% give it to Obsidian for slowly taking over almost everything I do that has anything to do with text files.”

9 Tips for Choosing the Best Note-Taking App for Your Needs

Considering the wide array of note - taking apps on the market today, it should come as no surprise that they differ quite dramatically in terms of focus, functionality, and features. Therefore, the best note - taking app for your business will be the one that best fits your specific and unique wants and needs.

Ask yourself a few questions: what are your current note - taking habits and how do you plan to use your note - taking app? What functions do you value the most? Do you simply want to take notes or do you require significant help when it comes to organizing, storing, sharing, and applying those notes? With a little self - examination, your answers to these questions will inevitably lead you to the “best” note - taking app for your needs.

You can also consider the following tips when making your decision.

Tip #1: Consider the app's interface.

While simple, logical, and ergonomic interfaces are obviously valuable, many apps with streamlined interfaces may suffer from a lack of features and functionality. Is it clean and intuitive? Are there lots of prompts (or ads)? If you find that there's something unnatural about the experience, try another one.

Tip #2: Focus on your main goals.

Think about what paper notes can’t do for you and hone in on your needs. Will you be sharing your notes with others and require tidying - up tools that can turn your thoughts into presentations?

Tip #3: Think about what other functionalities you'd like to have to enhance your note-taking processes.

Is it important to incorporate your notes into a larger workflow system? How much would you benefit from sharing your notes with multiple business partners, clients, and employees across a spectrum of devices? Do you want to include pictures, graphs, video/audio clips, website pages, or other special items in your notes? While you don’t want the unnecessary clutter of functions that you don’t need, you certainly want to get the most out of your app when it comes to meeting your exact wants and needs.

Tip #4: Figure out how you prefer to take notes.

Do you like to type notes, dictate them with your voice, or write them with your hand? If you prefer handwriting, would you rather use a stylus or your fingertip?

Tip #5: Analyze your budget.

Is cost a factor? If you found the perfect app, would you be willing to pay for it? Or do you just want to try out something new (and free) for now?

Tip #6: Do some research on the developer.

Does the developer have a good reputation and track record?

Tip #7: Read the ratings.

What do online reviews reveal about the apps’ bugs or issues?

Tip #8: Find the helpers.

Does the app include customer support?

Tip #9: Do some trial runs for each app.

Using a note - taking app can save you tons of time and eliminate those “Uh-oh, I should remember this but don’t” moments. But before you commit to one, try downloading trial versions for the ones that appeal most to you so you can get a feel for each.

Originally published by Corey Whelan on January 4, 2019.
Updated by Leigh Clayborne on June 21, 2022.

Image courtesy of Donson

Last updated on Nov 21, 2022.

Originally published on Jul 07, 2022.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Berxi™ or Berkshire Hathaway Specialty Insurance Company. This article (subject to change without notice) is for informational purposes only, and does not constitute professional advice.

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