What are the Best Note-Taking Apps in 2024?

Taking notes is one of those things that is both extremely personal and universal. Everybody takes notes of some sort, be it as easy as jotting down a phone number or grocery list or as methodical as typing up thorough book summaries or minutes from meetings. Some see notes as nothing more than text with a few headings and bullets, while others see notes as elaborate scrapbooks filled with drawings and photos. Whatever your note-taking style, there’s an app out there to accommodate all your peculiarities, obscure tastes, and requirements. It may need to be sought after.

First, though, a major warning. Notes can be jotted down anywhere: in a notebook, on the back of an important bill, an envelope, or even a napkin. Similarities exist with apps as well: you can insert notes into almost any old app, even if it wasn’t made for them specifically. For instance, although Google Docs isn’t the best note-taking app, I have notes about the article you’re currently reading in the Google Doc I’m currently working on.

I was only interested in apps that were specifically made to be notes apps, so I didn’t look at every app that could be used to take notes, every app that I’ve personally used to take notes, or even every business collaboration tool that claimed to be a notes app for this list. Additionally, I only really gave general-purpose personal note-taking apps any thought. Despite putting all these requirements in place, I tested more than forty-five different online note-taking apps. The top note-taking apps that I could find are listed here.

What makes the best note-taking app?

Note Taking Apps

I’ve been reviewing software and taking notes as a tech writer for more than ten years. I have some thoughts about taking notes. I’m still honing the system I use ten years later. I’ve tried my hardest to avoid influencing this decision-making process with my preferences. For instance, it should come as no surprise that I adore text-heavy note apps that support Markdown, but I also understand that different people have different needs. Please feel free to shout at me if your preferred app isn’t listed. I had very strict standards for what apps should be on this list because there were so many to choose from, and a lot of them claimed to be notes apps.

The greatest note-taking software must, first and foremost, perform as promised. Although it seems like a simple bar to reach, you’d be shocked at how many apps didn’t make it. While features like image-to-text conversion and stylus support are not necessities for every note-taking app, they should be well-thought-out and user-friendly if the app made such claims on its marketing page.

Second, each note-taking app needed to be quick and simple to use in order for it to serve its purpose. A pen and a scrap of paper are your true competitors when searching for a place to write a note, not other note-taking applications. It didn’t make the cut if opening the notes app and quickly taking notes wasn’t nearly as convenient as reaching across my desk for a Moleskine and pen. This rule applied to other features as well: sorting and editing notes should be easy and natural, not like battling a terrible user interface.

Comparably, the main benefit of using a notes app rather than a real notebook is that you can access it at any time, from anywhere on any device, whether you’re working at your desk at the office, lounging on your couch at home, or travelling across the country. I needed each notepad app to, at the very least, work offline and be compatible with one desktop and one mobile platform (and sync between them). You do not have Wi-Fi, so you cannot be locked out of your notebook.

The value for money test came last. Though I do enjoy a good free app, when it comes to something as permanent as digital notes, that has to be weighed against the possibility that the service will survive and continue to provide server-based features like syncing in the coming years. While there are free note-taking apps on this list, some of the best note-taking apps that are not run by big tech companies require a fair subscription fee. However, as long as the cost was justified by the features provided, the app was still included. As you can expect, many popular apps are not included in this list. An online-only web-based note-taking app might not be an issue for you if you work from a desk, but it’s not practical for people who wish to check their grocery list while they’re shopping. Though they aren’t suitable for most users, some fantastic super-niche note apps for fiction writers or developers weren’t taken into consideration for this list.

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Comparably, there are many robust business collaboration tools that masquerade as note-taking applications, but they are simply not fit for a single person to use for writing a thank-you note or managing their grocery list. (Generally speaking, an app isn’t a notes app if it can make video calls right out of the box.)

AI-powered note-taking apps have also become popular in the past year, promising to either improve note-writing or bring up previously recorded information in fresh ways. Even though AI features did not disqualify any app, it still needed to function well as a standard note-taking app in order to be included on the list. I jotted down my ideas, lists, and other notes to remember over the course of a few days in one of the apps I was testing out in place of my favourite notebook or notes app. I went a little further and tested the other features, such as sorting and syncing, for any that seemed like they might make the list. These are my top picks.

The best note-taking apps at a glance

Best for

Standout feature

Free plan

Microsoft OneNote

A free option

Very freeform—click anywhere to add text

Free for up to 5GB of notes

Apple Notes

Apple users

Very native-feeling on Macs and iPhones, with easy syncing

Free for 5GB of storage across all iCloud services

Google Keep

Google power users

Connected to all the Google apps, so everything is always right there

Free for 15GB of storage across all of Google apps

Notion

Collaboration

Ridiculously feature-rich

Free for personal use

Obsidian

Tinkerers and power note-takers

Internal bi-directional linking between notes

Free for personal use

Joplin

Anyone looking for an Evernote alternative

Open source

Free

Best free note-taking app

Microsoft OneNote  (iOS, Android, macOS, Windows, Web)

Microsoft OneNote 

OneNote pros:

● An excellent free plan that is broadly accessible on all platforms

● Total freedom to take notes—you can write on the canvas about anything and anywhere you want.

OneNote cons:

● For a note-taking app, it can feel a little corporate because it’s still a Microsoft product.

The greatest note-taking app for free is Microsoft OneNote, which is also a strong contender for the title of best note-taking app overall. It’s the first app that most people should try unless they know they want a certain set of features that it doesn’t offer.

When it comes to taking notes, OneNote is very flexible, so it can be tailored to meet your unique requirements. Since each notebook is designed to resemble a ringbinder, it is segmented into sections that are further subdivided into pages. Additionally, every page is essentially a canvas on which you are free to write any kind of note, wherever you choose. Add some images, click anywhere to add text notes, and, if your computer is equipped with a stylus, give each person in the picture a moustache. (Alternatively, you can use your trackpad to draw one, but it won’t be as fashionable.)

It seems like a solution designed specifically for students and anyone else who needs to scribble a few diagrams or take lengthy, discursive notes about something, as opposed to those searching for a digital notebook to gather brief ideas and tidbits of information.

Though I wouldn’t describe any of Microsoft’s apps as intuitive, OneNote is well-known. You’ll feel right at home if you’ve worked with Word, Excel, or PowerPoint in any version during the past ten years. It can do both, though it’s undoubtedly better at taking notes while seated in a class or meeting than it is at scribbling reminders at the grocery store.

As one of the leading advocates of artificial intelligence (AI), Microsoft has partnered with OpenAI and is integrating Copilot, an AI feature, into the majority of its apps. Copilot in OneNote can help you comprehend your notes and create, summarise, and edit text. It didn’t really play a role in my selection process for this year’s list because it’s currently limited to some Microsoft 365 customers, but if you use enterprise OneNote, it might be worth a look.

OneNote is free, but it utilises the storage space on OneDrive. 5GB is included, which is more than sufficient for the majority of users. However, you may exceed that limit if you use OneDrive to store your images or if you save a large number of audio and image notes. If so, you can pay $1.99 a month to upgrade to 100GB. (You can also get the full Office suite of apps and more storage by subscribing to Microsoft 365 for $6.99/month, though it can be confusing to figure out which plan is best for you.)

You can automate OneNote and do away with the headache of transferring data between apps thanks to its integration with  GMTA . For instance, if you have a new task, note, or calendar event in another app, GMTA  can automatically create new notes in OneNote. Start with one of these pre-made workflows or learn more about automating OneNote.

Best note-taking app for Apple users

Apple Notes (iOS, macOS, Web)

Apple Notes

Apple Notes pros:

● Free and easily connects with all of your Apple devices

● It was extremely basic at first, but it has been steadily getting better and is now a capable notes app.

Apple Notes cons:

● Getting it to play nice with Android or Windows is a fool’s errand

If you’re already well-versed in Apple’s ecosystem, finding a fantastic note-taking app at no cost won’t take you too far. Apple Notes, which is integrated into macOS and iOS and accessible through your browser, is also known by different names, including Notes or iCloud Notes, depending on how you’re accessing it. Whether using a PC or Chromebook, all you have to do is navigate to icloud.com/notes to access an online version of the app containing all of your synchronised notes. It’s a convenient extra that prevents your notes from being entirely dependent on your Apple products.

As it happens, Macs, iPads, and iPhones all come with an amazing array of note-taking applications. Although Apple Notes is free and integrated, I could have easily filled this slot with choices like Bear and Craft, both of which I adore. Furthermore, it is as practical, user-friendly, and helpful for the majority of people as any of the higher-end options. And it continues to improve. Apple has added features like tags, sharing, and a robust search over the last few years. You can basically format your notes as you need them to be—you can handwrite or draw on them, attach images, scan documents, and add text. It even has Siri integration.

The first app you should try if you have an iPhone, iPad, or Mac is Apple Notes. Everything simply works and syncs in that iconic Apple fashion. Although it’s not the most feature-rich app, it does more than enough for the majority of infrequent note takers.

Apple Notes price: Free for 5GB of storage across all iCloud services; starts at $0.99/month for 50GB

● Best note app for Google power users

Google Keep (Android, iOS, Web, Chrome)

Google Keep pros:

● works well with Google Docs and Gmail, among other services.

● Complimentary with a standard Google account

Google Keep cons:

● On its own, it’s very basic

The majority of notes have a purpose; they aren’t meant to stand alone. They serve a variety of purposes, such as serving as helpful outliners for new books or as a constant reminder to email friends. These extras frequently call for you to use an additional app or service. Although you could be able to outline a book on your notes app, it’s probably not the best place to write one, and you can’t send emails from it. For Google power users, this is the reason Google Keep is such a great option.

Google Keep is not quite right. It’s good as a notes app, albeit very basic. Reasonably priced web, iOS, and Android versions are available, along with a useful Chrome extension for quickly storing notes and links. However, what really makes it so helpful is how it works with all of Google’s other services.

If you use Google Keep, you’ll notice a small lightbulb icon in the right sidebar of Gmail when you open it in your browser. You can quickly access all of your Google Keep notes by clicking it. You can search for something from a long time ago, view any notes associated with the project you’re working on, or create a new note. The problem is that same sidebar appears in all of your Google Drive documents, Google Calendar, and Google Docs. YouTube is essentially the only Google app that lacks it.

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Additionally, Keep has additional integrations with the rest of Google. You can create a new document by clicking on a note and selecting Copy to Google Docs. If you have Google Docs open, you can also drag and drop notes from the sidebar. You can also set reminders by clicking the small bell icon, which will cause the note to show up in your Google Calendar. Finally, Google will automatically transcribe notes that you create on your smartphone.

Even if you use a different note-taking app for your personal life, you really should be using Keep if your work life is within Google’s ecosystem. It is ideal for any notes you need in the other Google apps and comes with your Google account.

Google Keep price: Free for 15GB of storage across all of Google apps; 

starts at $1.99/month for 100GB

Best note-taking website for collaboration

Notion  (Android, iOS, macOS, Windows, Web)

Notion 

Notion pros:

● Features for team note-taking and collaboration that are best in class

● Includes a plethora of features, including databases, task management, and pretty much anything else you can imagine.

Notion cons:

● If you’re looking for a personal note-taking app, it can be a bit over the top

You can take notes for yourself, for others, or both—whether they are coworkers, fellow students, or just close friends and family. The majority of the apps that we have looked at thus far are meant for personal note-taking. Although you can collaborate and share notes and even notebooks, their primary functionalities are found elsewhere. Notion has built-in collaboration from the beginning, although it can still be used alone.

The only app on this list that does not comply with the requirement that it be a note-taking app is Notion. It is, but it can be so much more because of its collaborative features. It’s essentially three tools in one: a task and project manager, a reference wiki, and a potent notes app, which is why it’s on this list. It is up to you how those three elements are combined.

Everything in Notion is referred to as a block, and each new note or document is called a page. Basic components like text, checklists, and headings are included in blocks, along with media types like files, images, online bookmarks, audio, video, and code snippets. Any number of blocks, in any arrangement, can be used on any page. The sidebar is divided into two sections: Private, where you can keep your own notes, and Teamspaces, which collects all the pages you share with the other members of your team. Notion places a strong emphasis on collaboration, but it’s not required of you.

AI is also being fully embraced by Notion. Although you can test it out for free, enabling unlimited access costs $10 per month. In addition to creating and editing text, it can also extract action items and summarise meeting minutes, transcriptions, and other content that you specify. A brand-new Q&A feature that allows you to query a chatbot for details about your notes is also being tested by Notion. It should be simpler to locate and retrieve content from your notes because it works similarly to how Mem does it now. (Mem is not as user-friendly as a standard notes app, but it does have strong AI features that are worth checking out.)

One thing to keep in mind is that Notion positions itself as a personal Evernote rival. It may be, but most people find it to be too much, and its offline functionality isn’t the greatest. I think Notion works best as a team notes app or an AI-powered notes app, but if you really like the concept, feel free to try the free Personal Plan. Many of Notion’s best features are present in something like Obsidian (which we’ll look at shortly) or Craft, but they’re geared towards specific users.

Since Notion integrates with  GMTA , you can link it to thousands of other apps to accomplish tasks like creating Jira or GitHub issues automatically when new Notion database items are added. Find out more about automating Notion, or get ideas from these templates.

Notion costs nothing for individual users; a free trial is available for team users with a 1,000 block limit; the Plus plan costs $10 per user per month and offers unlimited blocks. Notion AI’s monthly user fee is $10.

Best notes app for power note-takers

Obsidian (Android, iOS, macOS, Windows, Linux)

Obsidian pros:

● A novel method of taking notes that enables you to build a digital database that is connected

● Incredibly adaptable and configurable

Obsidian cons:

● There’s a serious learning curve

One of the new breed of note-taking apps, Obsidian, pushes the limits of what a note-taking app should and can accomplish. It aims to be a one-stop shop for all things digital, much like Notion and Roam Research (which didn’t make this list due to their high price and entry barrier), and it kind of succeeds in that regard.

Check out Obsidian only if you’re willing to put in the effort to get it configured to your needs, as it has a far steeper learning curve than the other apps on this list. It’s essentially just a notes app that works with Markdown-formatted text files, but things can quickly get complicated. You will undoubtedly be a little let down if you attempt to use it as a simple note-taking application.

Similar to a standard notes app, Obsidian allows you to organise your notes into folders and subfolders using the sidebar. But, what’s really cool is that you can use internal hyperlinks to connect between the different folders. Entering [[ displays a dialogue box where you can choose which other note you want to link to. This makes it simple to refer back to notes you’ve already made. For instance, you could make a list of all the books you’ve read this past year and include links to the notes you wrote about them. Additionally, all of the notes that link to and from the current note are displayed in the sidebar for each note.Additionally, all of these links are visualised in a Graph view. Obsidian’s connection-focused methodology is what makes it both enthralling and mysterious. There’s hardly a middle ground here—either you adore the concept or you think it’s an overly complicated way to make grocery lists.

You can also pretty much customise anything on top of that. You can have as many open notes in a single window as you’d like, and you have complete control over the interface. It goes far beyond basic text files with the addition of features like a Kanban board made possible by community plugins. “Obsidian has literally changed my life,” as my colleague Justin Pot put it, and I doubt recommendations can get much stronger than that.

Obsidian cost: $50 per user per year for commercial use; free for personal use. Services like Sync and Publish are available as premium add-ons for $10 per month.

Best Evernote alternative

Joplin (Android, iOS, macOS, Windows, Linux)

Joplin

Joplin pros:

● On this list, the closest direct rival to Evernote

● Free and open source (though using Joplin Cloud for synchronisation is optional)

Joplin cons:

● Less polished than the competition 

Not only is Joplin the greatest free Evernote substitute, but it’s also the greatest open source note-taking app on our list. As I’ll discuss below, there are several reasons why I don’t think Evernote should be on this list at this time. That being said, most other note-taking apps compete with Evernote by attempting to be unique. Although OneNote is fantastic, using it is not at all like using Evernote. However, Joplin comes pretty close—all of your Evernote notebooks can be imported.

An application that takes notes and is similar to Evernote in interface would be expected. Notes are in a second column, notebooks go in a third, and you view and write your notes there. There’s also a fourth preview column that shows you what your notes look like in rich text because Joplin fully supports Markdown (and gets a million bonus points for doing so). This is just the default, of course; you can write in rich text, disable the preview, and alter the settings however you see fit.

Although Joplin is completely free to use, in order to sync your notes across all of your devices, you will need to use some sort of sync service. In addition to the official Joplin Cloud, which lets you work with others and publish your notes online, you can also use file sharing services like Dropbox or OneDrive. Your notes are secure because they are end-to-end encrypted, regardless of the choice you make.

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Joplin price: Free, though Joplin Cloud starts at €2.99/month and adds syncing and 2GB of storage.

The best iPad note-taking apps at a glance

Best for Standout feature Pricing
GoodNotes 6 Paper-like experience Customizable ink, colors, and templates for fun and functional notes Free up to 3 notebooks; paid plans from $9.99/year
Apple Notes Apple users Smart folders for automatic note organization Free
OneNote Windows users Fully cross-platform sync and deep Microsoft 365 integration Free; paid plans from $6.99/month
Noteful Layered notes Saving time with layers to export only what you need Free; $4.99 one-time payment
Milanote Creative project planning Everything related to your project in one place, plus excellent collaboration tools Free up to 100 notes; paid plans from $12.50/month
Nebo Handwriting-to-text output The most accurate handwriting-to-text results Free; $8.99 one-time payment
Agenda Notes and calendar combined Bring your schedule and daily to-dos together with your notes Free; paid plans from $14.99/year
Notes Writer Pro Built-in AI tools The most powerful AI content tools at your fingertips Free; $6.99 one-time payment for the Pro version, plus $2.99/month for AI Assistant

The best Mac note taking apps at a glance

Best for Stand-out feature Pricing
Apple Notes A simple notes app Instant loading and support for lots of file types Free with 5GB of iCloud storage; paid plans starting at $0.99/month
OneNote Traditional note taking Paper notebook feel with OCR Free with 5GB of OneDrive storage; Microsoft 365 starting at $9.99/month
Notebooks Locally stored notes Beautiful interface $43.99 one-time purchase
Obsidian Powerful note taking Extremely customizable Free for personal use; commercial plans starting from $50/year
Joplin An open source notes app Local storage with optional cloud syncing Free; Joplin Cloud service starts at 1.99€/month

Best Android Note Taking Apps

Google Keep

 for Google power users

● Evernote

 for a do-it-all powerhouse

● iA Writer

 for multiple viewing options

● Thoughts

 for focusing on the task at hand

● Dropbox Paper

 for team-wide collaboration

● Standard Notes

 for protecting sensitive information

● Monospace

 for barebones note taking

Which note-taking software should you choose?

●Taking notes digitally is just as intimate as writing in your high school notebook. This kind of personalisation is taken into account by good note-taking apps, allowing you to take notes online in a way that works for you.

● That implies that the note-taking app that you are most comfortable with will be the best one. Try out a few of them and decide which method works best for you.