Best apps to take notes and stay amazingly organized

Published on 21 February 2012

Best notes taking appsThese days, it seems that we have more to remember than ever. Trying to balance personal, business and family life is hard enough, but if you factor in keeping track of all the to-do’s, appointments and notes one has to remember for all of those things, it can be an outright nightmare. So, what is the best app to take notes ?

If you are a small business and you are looking to organize your business day you should definitely have a look at AtTask (now known as Workfront), Clarizen, Proworkflow or Mavenlink.

However, despite doing most of their work on computers and mobile devices, many people still use pencil and paper to keep track of the things they need to remember. While that can be effective, there are many services out there that aim to replace “dead tree” note-taking and provide features that physical notes simply can’t have.

If you’re looking for a tool, either a business app or for personal use ( to take notes on your mac),  to help you get more organized, here are a few  services to consider, including what they can do to help make your life a little bit easier. Find  below our selection of 7 of the best software to organize your notes

1. Evernote

When it comes to online note-taking, Evernote is the biggest player around and for good reason. Working through a series of apps available for both desktops and mobile devices, Evernote allows you to record and store just about anything. You can clip from Web pages, upload notes to yourself, take a photo of something you want to remember or even upload a PDF.

Evernote will make all of your notes searchable, even scanning your images and translating them into text. You can organize your notes into notebooks and further drill down with tags and text that you add. Best of all, items you save in Evernote are not just stored locally, but they are also synced via the Web so they will appear on all your devices, including Evernotes’ Web interface.

Evernote is free to use for up to 60 MB of data uploaded per month. Premium users, who pay either $5 per month or $45 per year, get up to 1 GB of data per month and additional features such as faster image recognition and offline notebooks. It is also one of the best offline notes taking app.

2. SpringPad

Fundamentally, SpringPad is very similar to Evernote in that it allows you to clip information and place it into a notebook. However, SpringPad distinguishes itself in two key ways. First, it exist entirely in the cloud (though Google Chrome users can still enjoy offline access via the Web app) and second it is sensitive to the types of data used.

For example, if you want to remember to watch a movie, you can save the name of the movie and SpringPad will pull in other information about it including cast, crew and where you can buy/view it.

SpringPad is currently free and does not offer a paid version. However, products purchased through SpringPad, such as through Amazon, do use an affiliate code.

3. Diigo

Diigo is something of a departure from the other two as it is seen primarily as a social bookmarking app, not a note taking one. However, Diigo has features and tools that go well beyond mere bookmarking.

Not only can you tag pages and order them into lists, but you can also leave notes on the pages, highlight critical content and even take screenshots to upload to your notebook. You can also establish a “read later” list of content you don’t have time to look at right now but want to come back to.

It’s a simple, powerful way to organize and remember what you find online. Diigo is free for unlimited bookmarks but premium plans, which start at $20 per year, offer additional features such as full text searching of bookmarks, unlimited screenshots and unlimited highlights.

4. Microsoft OneNote

For those who live and breathe in Microsoft Office, Microsoft OneNote may be a natural choice. OneNote operates through pages where you can enter text, add images and even place documents. However, unlike a word processor, it is completely free-form, much like a pasteboard.

OneNote saves pages into sections and notebooks. OneNote primarily exists as an offline app, using the file extension “.one” but later versions allow for cloud syncing and even offer mobile versions for iPhone and Windows mobile.

OneNote is available for both Windows and Mac as part of the Microsoft Office suite.

5. Zoho Notebook

Zoho Notebook operates similarly to Microsoft OneNote in its use of pages and notebooks, but it is completely cloud-based, existing solely in your browser.

With Zoho Noteook, you can bring in content from a variety of sources including text, images, HTML, video, audio and other Zoho apps. You can then embed that content onto a page and position it in whatever way you want.

Zoho Notebook is entirely Web-based though there is a Firefox plugin. No mobile apps are available. Zoho Notebook is free.

6. Simplenote

Simplenote is exactly what the name says, a simple way to take notes. Using the Web version, mobile app or any of the third-party apps available for Mac, Windows and Linux, you can jot down notes and have them sent to the cloud, where they are synchronized for later viewing.

However, beyond tagging notes and searching through them, there’s no advanced organization. Instead, Simplenote focuses on speed and simplicity.

Simplenote is free to use but a premium account, which costs $20 per year, enables unlimited access via third party apps and more backup versions of your notes.

7. Tomboy

Tomboy is an open source application for Windows, Mac and Linux that aims to make note-taking easy. Tomboy focuses on simplicity rather than depth of features, making it easy to save and find notes at will.

Tomboy boasts a wiki-like linking system that makes it easy to link between notes. Notes can be organized into notebooks, as with similar systems. However, there is no online syncing feature or mobile version as Tomboy is a desktop-only app.

Tomboy is free to use and can also be extended through a variety of add-ons.

All in all, the only reason to use pencil and paper for jotting notes is if it truly is the best method for you. With so many different note taking tools and apps out there, there’s almost certainly one that works for the kind of work you do.

Whether you need an offline-only option, a cloud-based tool or a hybrid of the two, there are services out there that can help.

You can check a longer list to compare online task management software and choose the one that fits your particular needs.

Image credit to Flick user S@Z

10 thoughts on “Best apps to take notes and stay amazingly organized

  1. Javier de la Dehesa

    I like Catch, too. I think it fits in the category. It allows to take simple note with attachments through a web interface and smartphone apps.

  2. Nilson B

    Very nice list that gives one food for thought when thinking outside de box, (ie, beyond the already-decaying Delicious (RIP!) or Google Bookmarks’s rather clumsy interface). 

    And it is thanks to Delicious’s lethargy that I have for once decided to export my bookmarks to Diigo and give its innovative (and tempting) features a go!

  3. Paul Grubb

    The native app for iPhone and iPad are pretty cool now that hey sync to iCloud – yes they are not very feature rich, but they do the job.  

    For a combination of Evernote features and the ability to capture hand written notes I use Notability –

  4. free fax

    I’ve tried Zoho notebook and it’s very user friendly but I prefer an Application that can separate all my priority activities to non-priority.

  5. Mary Kaichini

    I agree with Jeff that we need some software which can help to arrange and work with tasks and other team members. I think we need a kind of universal app which will allow to combine all these requirements. Something like Comindware task management.

  6. Mary Kaichini

    I agree with Jeff that we need some software which can help to arrange and work with tasks and other team members. I think we need a kind of universal app which will allow to combine all these requirements. Something like Comindware task management.



    In business app, I’d like to recommend a great one which integrated an
    interesting concept; saving time from your notes.
    This app, Beesy, generates
    automatically a ToDo list from a smart note taking. Also, the advantage is you
    can esasily send your minutes by email. I love testing new business/
    productivity apps such as Evernote, Penutilmate, Omnifocus, Awesome but it’s
    the first time I see an app so well done. 
    I recommend Beesy for people
    which often have meetings.

    Great post :)




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