The best note-taking apps make it simple and easy to make and use notes on the go, whether for inspiration, ideas, business insights, or even reminders.
Note-taking apps have become increasingly common, not least with the wide availability of mobile devices, especially business smartphones. This means mobile apps for taking notes now allow you to write wherever you are, and there are a large range of apps available.
However, while there are basic software apps for taking notes, sometimes bundled for free software with mobile devices, these can be quite limited to simply allowing typed-in text to be used. These days much more feature-packed note-taking apps are now available.
These more advanced apps can work in multiple forms, from trying to replicate the word processing experience, to imitating blank notepads in digital form and so allow for handwriting and sketching.
Additionally, some note apps also include the ability to add images, audio, even video, to your notes, and even share these directly with colleagues and working teams.
We’ve compared these note-taking apps across many points. We looked at the ease of use, the interface simplicity, aesthetic, and additional features like team collaboration, cloud-based accessibility, and integration with third-party apps. We also evaluated the pricing plan and the platforms the apps were available on.
It doesn't matter if you're an engineer on a call, a secretary taking minutes, or simply inspired by an idea while commuting - the ability to take notes on a mobile device can be a real benefit. Here then are the best note-taking apps currently available.
The best note-taking apps of 2023 in full:
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No list of best note-taking apps is complete without Evernote, which is one of the oldest and most fully-featured. Evernote lets you create both simple and complex workflows using a combination of notebooks, notes and tags to keep everything organized.
One of its best features for gathering research is the Web Clipper extension (supported in Chrome, Firefox and Safari), which lets you save entire webpages - including text, images and PDFs - with a single click. Notes can be accessed on laptops, mobile devices and the web, so you're rarely left with a situation where you can't retrieve what you've saved. Other features include the ability to set reminders, present notes PowerPoint-style, and merge them together.
Recent additions include new tables and a Siri integration for those using the iOS edition.
While there's a free plan with some limited features, there are also two paid plans, the Evernote Premium plan for individual users, and the Evernote Business plan for business.
The Evernote Premium plan allows for integrations with Slack, Outlook, Google Drive, Microsoft Teams, and Salesforce, as well as provides an AI for content suggestions such as similar content in other notes you've made, as well as content info from media sites.
The Evernote Business plan includes the above but also comes with collaborative options and team administrative features.
Read our full Evernote review (opens in new tab).
Ulysses has been around for a while now, and it's one of the most polished note-taking apps on Apple's computing platform. (One that's perfectly equipped for long-form writing, too.) Notes are written and stored in the app's proprietary Markdown style, which allows for inventive (and colorful) use of headings.
Added to that, images can be embedded in the form of links within documents; rather than displaying them in the body text, you can double click the links to preview image thumbnails. Ulysses also positions images in a sidebar that can also display a word count, mini notes and other information at a glance.
Ulysses uses iCloud to save and sync your documents, and these can be exported to a number of other formats, including PDF. Word .doc, ebooks, and HTML. All these extra features come a price tag, with monthly or annual subscriptions available.
Read our full Ulysses review (opens in new tab).
Simplenote’s selling point is its clear, simple user interface, making it easy to keep track of notes. It is available for iOS, Android, Mac, Windows and Linux, with data synced automatically. There is also a web app if a client can’t be downloaded.
Tagging and search tools ensure users can find what they are looking for and notes can be shared or published to others working in the same team or on a project. Simplenote backs up previous versions of documents so it’s always possible to revert to an earlier one.
Simplenote does not have many advanced features, but is an ideal candidate for simple note taking. It offers decent syncing and collaboration, but best of all, it’s free. If you want extreme simplicity and a bare-bones app, then this will be apt for you.
Read our full Simplenote review (opens in new tab).
A relative newcomer to the note-taking app scene, Bear lies somewhere in-between Evernote and Ulysses, allowing you to create notes and sync them across various Apple devices using iCloud.
Using a Slack-like three-pane interface, you can arrange notes by applying hashtags, which allows a subfolder style system. Bear uses rich Markdown for editing, so you can insert links into documents without having to display the full URLs in a similar manner to Ulysses. However, Bear, which is pretty easy on the eye, and one of the few polished Markdown apps that allow you to insert images directly into notes, which could make it a far more valuable app overall if images are a big part of your workflow.
Latest features include Tag autocomplete, light and dark themes, annotation of PDFs, encryption and app lock.
Most of Bear’s features are free to use on any iOS device, but there is a paid-for pro-version with additional themes, export options, which are available with a small monthly or annual subscription.
Read our full Bear review (opens in new tab).
Dropbox Paper launched in August 2016 and works across the cloud platform’s mobile suite for Windows, iOS, and Android. What separates Paper apart is its focus on collaboration, allowing teams to share their ideas, images, and videos for projects.
The app offers integrations with productivity apps such as Google Calendar and Slack as well as some more surprising tools like Spotify.
Recent additions include new organization tools such as the ability to create mobile folders on the go as well as improved delete and archive features. Dropbox also redesigned the Paper homepage which brings users Paper docs and Dropbox files together.
Its enterprise features make it an ideal note taking app for businesses, but it goes without saying that you will get the most out of it only if you are already a Dropbox customer.
Read our full Dropbox Paper review (opens in new tab).
Google Keep is the simplest note-taking app on our list, both visually and how it operates. Think of Keep as your place for storing digital post-it notes, with each note dotted around the interface as if they were laid on a table in front of you.
Notes can be given labels, pinned to the top, given a color, paired with reminders and collaborated on in real time. Additionally it also offers speech-to-text functionality so you can dictate notes on the go rather than have to write. There's also the ability to set up check boxes for lists to work through.
Overall, though, Google Keep is more minimal than other writing apps, which either works for or against it depending on your viewpoint. If you want to break away from your operating system's notes app, but don't want all of the features that come with other apps on our list, Google Keep is an, ahem, keeper.
Read our full Google Keep review.
Something of a left-field choice, Atom is primarily an app used for coding, but its sheer range of customization options means that you can customize it into a useful text editor too. Because it's based on common web standards, you can hack its CSS stylesheet to create just about any visual theme you can think of. Want to make it look and feel like Word 2016 with a Smooth Typing Animation-style effect? No problem.
Want to write in Markdown with a solarized color scheme? Then download the Markdown Writer extension and choose from one of the hundreds of community-generated themes.
Atom is far from perfect as a text editor due to its lack of one or two standard features - such as an automatic grammar changer - that have been standard in other note-taking apps for years. But it's certainly one of the most interesting and capable when in the right hands.
A special note about Atom is that it's a cross platform editor, which means it's compatible with Windows, iOS, and even Linux. Collaborative editing means multiple people can edit the same files using different operating systems.
Read our full Atom review (opens in new tab).
OneNote is an app that can help you keep and organize your notes with ease. It has a user-friendly interface and there’s a free version anyone can use.
There’s a free version of the OneNote app that anyone can use. But, this version provides only 5GB of storage and lacks specific features, such as stickers and the math assistant. There's also a free version for verified educational users that provides 1TB of storage.
You need a paid Microsoft 365 account to access additional storage and unlock all the features of the OneNote app.
You can access OneNote through the web-based interface or download the app on your device. You should pick the latter option if you want to make the best of the note-taking tool, as the web-based version lacks some features available on the native app.
OneNote is an excellent note-taking app. It has ample features that let you keep notes, organize them, and access them from any device. We liked its support for real-time collaboration and the extensive third-party integration.
The app has its drawbacks, such as limited text formatting and the small amount of storage (5GB) assigned to free users.
Read our full OneNote review (opens in new tab).
Joplin app is free to use. But, you’ll have to pay for the Joplin Cloud service to enable note syncing and sharing, customer support, and to access the app through a web-based interface. You can choose one out of three plans; Basic, Pro, and Teams.
You can take advantage of the 14-day free trial period to test the Joplin Cloud service before making your final decision. We advise every user to do this because the platform doesn’t offer refunds to customers.
The core feature of Joplin is the digital notebook, which is akin to a hard copy notebook, but with virtual unlimited features. You can create a new notebook at any time and type content into it.
If you want a free, user-friendly app to help you keep notes effectively, then go for Joplin. The comprehensive feature set it offers for free is valuable, and the additional paid features make it more worthwhile.
The main drawback we observed with the app is its limited customer support.
Read our full Joplin review (opens in new tab).
Quip is an excellent note-taking tool in addition to having many other uses. The app has a collaborative bent, making it best to use within corporate settings.
The Quip app has one of the best interfaces we’ve encountered in a note-taking tool. The interface is minimal and uncluttered, making the app enjoyable. We also liked the step-by-step tutorials the app provided to help guide us through it.
Unlike most note-taking apps, Quip is a strictly paid tool. There’s no free version, and the paid plans are pretty costly. If your company already has a Salesforce CRM (opens in new tab)(opens in new tab) subscription, you can create a free Quip account for personal use, but sharing files within your company has limits unless they pay for a separate workplace subscription.
We enjoyed using Quip all around. The app has a tidy interface that makes it easy to navigate. We also liked its comprehensive feature set, as it lets you format the content of your notes extensively and share them with other users alongside having an intuitive tool for creating spreadsheets.
The main drawback with the Quip app is its relatively high price.
Read our full Quip review (opens in new tab).
Obsidian offers sophisticated features for a note-taking app. It also has a stellar user interface that makes using it enjoyable.
The app makes it easy to create notes and access them at any time. It has some noteworthy features that make it aesthetically pleasing. For example, you can use Graph View, which resembles an interactive map.
The only concern we have in this criterion is that there’s no web-based version of the app. Many rival note-taking apps offer web-based interfaces that make them easier to access, but not Obsidian.
The Obsidian app makes note-taking delightful, including for free users. It has a comprehensive feature set that you’ll likely enjoy and a pretty tidy interface that’s easy to navigate. However, we observed a few drawbacks, including limited (email-only) customer support and having no web version.
Read our full Obsidian review (opens in new tab).
What is a note-taking app?
A note-taking app is a lightweight tool that allows you to digitally record information on your device instead of writing it on paper. The best note-taking apps make it simple and easy to organize essential information and store it for quick access.
How to choose the best note-taking apps for you?
When deciding which of the note-taking apps to use, consider how demanding your needs are. Do you only need to make simple notes, or do you need to be able to add different types of media, including video? Do you also need a wide range of features or to connect your notes with other apps? Free and simple apps will deliver a simple experience, but for more complex feature needs you should probably look to an app with a paid for subscription.
Best note-taking apps: How did we choose?
There are now a plethora of note-taking tools available to users - whether they need to keep track of important work tasks or simply need to jot down their shopping list. With smartphones now ubiquitous, individuals expect to have access to a note-taking app that is suitable for their needs.
With that in mind, we’ve assessed several apps for ease of use, features, aesthetics, team collaboration, cloud functionality, and a number of other factors. We also looked at how simple the app setup was, the interface simplicity, cross-platform support, and overall performance.