Notes, notes, notes! With digital note-taking dominating the academic world, there’s no shortage of note-taking apps to pick from. Well, we’ve scoured the web for the best note-taking apps in 2023, so grab a seat as we embark on a quest to find the perfect app that fits your needs and complements your creative flair. Whether you're looking for a simple sticky-note-style app or a database-driven powerhouse, we've got you covered. So, buckle up and let's discover the best note-taking apps in 2023 to help you jot down your ideas, sketches, and dreams!
1. Apple Notes
Platforms: iOS, macOS, Web
Also known as Notes or iCloud Notes, Apple Notes is easily the best note-taking app that is available for free to all Apple device users. It offers basic formatting options such as bold, italics, and font adjustments. One unique feature of Apple Notes is the ability to edit notes from any device with a browser through an iCloud account, eliminating the need for a separate file-sharing service. You’ll find this extremely useful if you’re deep into Apple’s ecosystem, also integrating with Siri. Additionally, Apple Notes allows for the creation of nested folders for organised note-taking and allows users to insert images, text, scanned documents, draw or handwrite and format as needed. However, a drawback of Apple Notes is the lack of Markdown support, a popular formatting language for notes and text.
Platforms: Android, iOS, macOS, Windows, Linux
Price: Free (for personal and educational use)
Known as the best note-taking app for Windows, Obsidian is a note-taking app based on Markdown and a local file/folder structure, making it simple and accessible to all users. The app is highly customisable, allowing users with technical skills to create their own plugins and turn features on and off to suit their needs. Obsidian also offers powerful organisational features, including links between pages and a graph view of note connections. The app is cross-platform and can be used offline without an internet connection or account. However, limited image support and the need to pay for note syncing across devices are drawbacks. Additionally, those who prefer highly visual notes may not find Obsidian suitable for their needs.
Platforms: Android, iOS, Mac, Windows, Web
Price: $7.99 / month
Evernote is a cross-platform note-taking app that is suitable for processing hand-written notes and clipping articles from the web. The app can hold multiple file formats, including PDFs and PowerPoints, and offers a scanner for mobile and a web clipper for browsers. However, it has limited organisation options and lacks Markdown support. The price can also be prohibitive, especially for students, as the free plan has limited storage space and requires a paid Premium plan for additional features. Despite this, students can receive a 50% discount on Premium for a year. Using Evernote when preparing for an exam like TOEFL can reduce your stress dramatically.
4. Roam Research
Platforms: Mac, Linux, Windows, Web
Price: $15/month (after a 31-day free trial)
Roam Research is a note-taking tool that uses linking between notes instead of folders and tags. It has strong support for Markdown and encourages daily journaling. Following a bi-directional approach, this note-taking app is not your everyday notes app and lets you switch back and forth through your ideas in a smooth and fluid manner. Easy to use and featuring a Graph Overview to visualise the connection between notes, Roam Research is here to make your note-taking process better than ever. However, Roam is only accessible in the browser and requires an internet connection. There is also a learning curve, and the tool is expensive at $15/month.
Platforms: iOS, Mac
Price: Free for most features. Upgrade to Pro for $1.49/month
Bear blends word-processing and note-taking to create an irresistable combo, allowing users to enjoy the best of both worlds. A note-taking tool with powerful Markdown capabilities and a great writing experience, Bear’s organisational system is simple, using tags and nested hierarchy, and it has an archive feature to save notes. Perfect for those working with creativity, Bear never lets you forget any ideas or inspiration that you stumble upon. The app has a clean look and a premium version with additional themes. The only downside is its lack of support for Windows and limited organisation.
6. Standard Notes
Platforms: Android, iOS, Linux, Mac, Windows, Web
Price: Free for basic features. Upgrade to Core Plan for $29/year
If a secure and private note-taking app is what you’re looking for, Standard Notes is the way to go! A note-taking app that prioritises security and has powerful search features, it encrypts all notes by default, and the free version includes most features. One of the best study apps available, Standard Notes’ free version surpasses other apps’ premium versions when it comes to features you have access to. The paid version will raise your standards for note-taking apps to a whole new level, providing users with two-factor authentication, powerful extensions, themes, and editors, as well as encrypted attachments for Google Drive and Dropbox. Even Standard Notes cannot access your notes. The app supports all major devices, including Linux. The only downside is limited image support and the inability to drag and drop notes between folders and tags.
Platforms: Linux, Mac, Windows
Price: $14.99 (one-time purchase)
Typora is a highly customisable hybrid Markdown editor that works on all major operating systems and offers users a seamless reading and writing experience. It has features like Focus Mode, Table of Contents, and multiple themes. You can also organise your files using the file tree panel and import files in PDF format to optimize search. The downside is that it lacks in-app storage and has no mobile app, but it can be complemented with a Markdown editor mobile app. Paired with a language-learning app, Typora can be your best buddy for learning a foreign language.
8. Microsoft OneNote
Platforms: iOS, Android, macOS, Windows, Web
The best note-taking app available for free from this list, OneNote is a free cross-platform note-taking app with all the features of Evernote. It is available on unlimited devices and offers a freeform text box and drawing capability. Microsoft OneNote also allows users to pick from a wide array of templates suited for every purpose imaginable, including E-book and University-focused templates. These allow students to organize and manage their semester’s work with ease. The Draw option gets rid of all barriers and lets you freely takes notes without any restrictions. However, it lacks note-sorting options and has a messy interface with limited tagging capabilities.
9. Google Keep
Platforms: Android, iOS, Web, Chrome
Price: Free for 15GB of storage across all Google apps
If you primarily use Google applications for your work, you will worship Google Keep which tops this list for being the best note-taking app for Google users. Google Keep is a free, cross-platform note-taking app with a simple interface that works well with other Google tools. If its easy-to-use features aren’t enough, this note-taking app also features notes management, reminders, task tagging, collaboration tools and handwriting recognition. Users can also categorize their notes by adding upto 50 tags and highlight them using colours, enabling them to study effectively. Google Keep also provides users with an option to set time-bound reminders to make sure you never miss out on anything meaningful again. However, it lacks hierarchical organisation, with only one level of tags available.
Platforms: Android, iOS, macOS, Windows, Web
If you’re looking for the best note-taking app for collaboration, look no further! Notion is a powerful, database-driven note-taking app that offers flexible pages with a template engine, powerful tables that function like databases, nested hierarchical organisation, and a hybrid editor that allows for Markdown and UI formatting. Notion also allows users to drag an entire webpage to their workspace. Giving users the option to create functionalities within the application using blocks that act like tags, there is no limit to what you can use Notion for. This is definitely a must-have app for all students. However, it lacks offline support, currently requiring an internet connection to use. The free plan has a 5 MB file upload limit.
In conclusion, taking notes has never been more exciting or easier! With a plethora of options to choose from, you're sure to find the perfect note-taking app that suits your quirky personality and meets all your jotting needs. These note-taking apps will help you survive your first year in college. Whether you're a fan of stickies, fancy a more database-driven approach, or just want a plain and simple interface, there's an app for that. So go ahead, pick one (or more!) to include in your student starter pack and start scribbling your next big idea or simply jot down your grocery list. Happy note-taking!