8 Best Note-Taking Apps for Work and Personal (Most Are Free)

It’s hard to remember things if you don’t write them down. This is how the human brain works. Be it a single word, a short list, or larger docs…the scope doesn’t really matter. We need tools to save our ideas for later. What you’ll see in this post is a list of the best note-taking apps the market has to offer.

Some apps are minimalist – just perfect for quick notes and grocery lists. On the other end of the spectrum, there are apps that serve as all-in-one tools for you to organize your work and personal life from one place.

Simplicity or complexity? No worries! We cover everything in this comparison. 😎

Let’s see the apps!

Best note-taking apps for life and work in 2022

Evernote

best note taking apps - Notion

Evernote is one of the most popular all-in-one note-taking apps, so it’s not just your regular grocery list tool. You can use Evernote to take notes in an organized way, from work to personal projects.

You can create tasks, checklists, sync with Google Calendar, and use templates to keep track of various aspects and details. Yes, you can create quick notes as well, but it’s not the kind of app to use only for this purpose.

Even though it has a great number of options and features, Evernote is intuitive and easy to use. You can make it your personal agenda tool, journal, or simply a place to keep all sorts of documents and thoughts for later.

⚙️ Features

  • 50+ note templates
  • Sync across devices
  • Tasks and to-dos
  • Document scanning
  • Internal search
  • Customizable homepage (via widgets)
  • Web clipper extension (to save web pages directly to Evernote by just clicking a button)
  • Integration with Google Drive, Gmail, Google Calendar, Slack, and Microsoft Teams
  • Sharing options

👍 Pros

  • It’s good for more than just notes. You can use it for journaling, team tasks, work projects, tables, drawing, multimedia, planning, etc.
  • It’s easy to use and has an intuitive interface that works just great for individual and team-based projects.
  • It has a big collection of pre-built templates, good for both personal and professional purposes.

👎 Cons

  • It has an old-school look, so if you want something fancier, you will probably find a better alternative on this list.
  • Some of Evernote’s features (such as Google Calendar integration, task assignment, or custom homepage) are available only in the premium version.

💳 Pricing

  • Individuals: $0, $7.99, or $9.99 / mo
  • Teams: $14.99 / user / mo

💻 Platform

  • iOS
  • Android
  • Web
  • Windows
  • Mac
  • Linux (beta)

Apple Notes

As you can guess from its name, Apple Notes works only on Apple devices. It resembles the classic note-taking app in the sense that it has a minimalist functionality, perfect for simple notes.

You can still organize your files in folders, though, add attachments (photos, maps, weblinks, docs), insert tables, stylize text, and sketch with your finger or Apple pencil.

The interface is very friendly, colorful, and modern. It’s also easy to use. Plus, Apple Notes is entirely free.

⚙️ Features

  • Checklists
  • Handwritten notes
  • Document scanning
  • In-app sketches
  • Sync across devices
  • Web links saving
  • Password protection
  • Sharing options

👍 Pros

  • If you own an Apple pencil, you can easily create handwritten notes or drawings, which gives your files a more authentic, personal look.
  • The design is friendly and appealing.
  • Even if it looks like a simple note-taking app, you can organize your things very thoroughly in folders, subfolders, and various categories – you can easily create a huge library of notes with this app.

👎 Cons

  • It works only on Apple devices.

Microsoft OneNote

best note taking apps - Microsoft OneNote

If you’re a fan of Microsoft products and do not like to use too many third-party tools at once, you can be pretty happy with what OneNote has in store for you. It is similar to Evernote when it comes to the interface, but keeps the well-known Microsoft vibe.

You just need to sign in with your Microsoft account – or create one – to instantly have access to the web version of the app. It’s similar to writing in Microsoft Word.

What’s different in OneNote is that you can organize notes in folders, add tags, record audio notes, draw, and insert many kinds of attachments.

⚙️ Features

  • Organize content across notebooks, sections, and pages
  • “Important” and “to do” tags
  • Drawings and annotations using a stylus or your finger
  • Audio notes recording and vocal dictation
  • Multimedia insertion: online videos and files
  • Web clipper to save content from across the web
  • Sharing options with other people

👍 Pros

  • It’s nice that you can record audio notes; it’s good when you’re on the run.
  • Another cool thing is that you can use your voice to dictate a text note. You just speak, and the app will write down what you say.
  • It has an immersive reader interface that takes you to a distraction-free window. It can also read the text out loud to you and highlight various grammar settings.

👎 Cons

  • It’s not your typical app for quick notes if that’s what you’re looking for. It’s more like a library where you want to keep documents, meeting/planning notes, ideas, etc.
  • The interface is not very friendly, and it might not be the most intuitive at first glance.

Google Keep

Google Keep is the definition of a simple note-taking app. With it, you can create quick notes, where you can just type, draw, or add images and checklists.

Aside from that, you can set reminders for your notes to get notifications in time. Google Keep is as simple as a note-taking app can get.

When it comes to design, you can either choose the dark or light mode and add background options – color or image. You can pin various notes and also invite people to edit the notes that you want to share.

⚙️ Features

  • Checkboxes
  • Drawing and images
  • Background colors and images
  • Reminders
  • Tags/labels
  • Direct copy to Google Docs
  • Sharing options

👍 Pros

  • If you need an app to quickly add notes when you are busy, this is it. Just open it, and you can write things down in seconds. No complicated options, settings, or folders that take precious time to set up.
  • Despite its simplicity, you can still add backgrounds, reminders, checklists, collaborators, and draw inside a note – all effortlessly.

👎 Cons

  • If you need a tool to keep all sorts of important documents, summaries, tables, multimedia, or integrations, Google Keep will be too minimalist for you.
  • If you’re the kind of person who wants to keep things strictly organized, Google Keep doesn’t come with folders or a well-defined structure. You can only categorize notes via tags.

Bear

best note taking apps - Bear

Bear is an Apple-dedicated app that uses the Markdown language. If you are particularly interested in the aesthetics of your notes and have a fancy writing editor at hand, you will probably enjoy Bear a lot.

With Bear, you can format your text to look appealing right from the app (via its built-in formatting language).

This app is particularly popular with content creators and authors. It’s also a great tool if you happen to use Markdown for projects and need a good place to store your work.

⚙️ Features

  • Focus mode
  • Smart data recognition (links, addresses, emails, colors, emojis, etc.)
  • Advanced markup options
  • Themes and typography (dark mode included)
  • Voice notes
  • Note encryption (password or face/touch ID)
  • Export to PDF, Word, HTML, JPG, and more
  • To-dos and tasks
  • Multi-device sync
  • Sharing options

👍 Pros

  • It’s a cool app for developers because it supports over 150 programming languages.
  • Aside from notes and to-dos, Bear gives you the full experience of an actual writing editor.
  • You can record voice notes, which is cool if you’re in a hurry.

👎 Cons

  • The Markdown editor is definitely not for everybody, especially if you want the regular writing experience of a normal editor.
  • In the free version, you can’t do much more than just creating notes, adding tags and attachments, and exporting to a few available formats.

💳 Pricing

  • Free
  • Pro: $1.49 / mo or $14.99 / year

Notion

best note taking apps - Notion

Notion is one of the best note-taking apps for companies or people working in teams. It’s an app built primarily for professional use.

The number of templates and features, plus the amount of custom work that needs to be done to customize the app – all that can make Notion difficult to grasp for those who just want to jot things down from time to time.

You can still use it for yourself if you find the right templates for your needs. You will enjoy Notion’s design very much because it’s gorgeous and modern.

⚙️ Features

  • 250+ templates for professional and personal purposes
  • Great for teams and projects
  • Drag-and-drop system
  • Custom workflows and fields
  • Custom templates
  • Multi-device sync
  • Search and filters
  • Web clipper
  • Sharing options for team collaboration

👍 Pros

  • It has the widest variety of templates, so you can note down everything you can think of in a cool, organized way. It basically has a dedicated template for everything. You can even build your own templates.
  • It’s probably the most feature-rich app for large teams and projects.
  • It has a beautiful design.

👎 Cons

  • The number of settings, templates, and the manual customization might be overwhelming if you need it for simple notes and tasks. If you want something minimalist, you will probably not be willing to spend much time personalizing Notion.

💳 Pricing

  • Free
  • Personal Pro: $4 / mo
  • Team: $8 / user / mo
  • Enterprise: custom

Obsidian

Obsidian is a Markdown note-taking app, similar to Bear, but with more focus on creating connections between your notes. While Bear is available only for Apple devices, Obsidian works on Windows and Android, too.

This kind of app addresses either developers or professionals who want to keep all their things in one place and connect multiple files together (like knowledge bases). If you need an app for groceries or random ideas to remember later, you will not need an advanced app like Obsidian.

With Obsidian, you don’t just take notes. You can open any plain text files, do advanced interlinking between your notes, write custom code, create knowledge bases, store various data, use backlinks/outgoing links, and more.

⚙️ Features

  • Note encryption
  • Compatibility with backup tools like Dropbox, Cryptomator, and any plain text software
  • Works offline
  • Lots of integrations, community plugins, and themes
  • Graph view
  • Page preview on hover
  • Site navigation and table of contents
  • Internal search
  • Multi-device sync
  • Custom CSS

👍 Pros

  • Awesome tool for people working with lots of files that need to be connected and interlinked together.
  • Great tool for developers and writers/authors – you can write custom code and store big loads of content.
  • It has a huge community behind and lots of supportive tools: 500+ plugins, 100+ themes, and other integrations. This gives you control on how you organize, customize, and benefit from the app to the fullest.

👎 Cons

  • It’s probably the most difficult note-taking app to grasp on this list.
  • You won’t need this kind of app for day to day activities. Obsidian is the app that you use for advanced works and projects that require next-level organization.

💳 Pricing

  • Personal: $0
  • Catalyst: $25+ (one-time payment)
  • Commercial: $50 / user / year

💻 Platforms

  • Windows
  • Mac
  • iPhone
  • Android
  • Linux

ColorNote

best note taking apps - ColorNote

ColorNote is a fun app for people in a hurry. It uses colors to organize notes and has an intuitive design, which makes it easy to use for everybody.

With this app, you can quickly write simple notes, create checklists, set reminders, and add notes to a built-in calendar.

If you need an app mostly for quick notes, ColorNote ticks all the essentials to make this list of the best note-taking apps. The notes even borrow the design of the classic sticky note.

The app works with widgets, with which you can customize the main screen of the app.

⚙️ Features

  • Notes and checklists
  • Multi-device sync
  • Color-coding note groups
  • Custom homescreen with sticky widgets
  • Reminders and calendars
  • Note encryption via master password
  • Internal search
  • Sharing options
  • Auto links (call phone numbers from notes directly, search for words on the web, send emails, etc.)

👍 Pros

  • If you add a phone number, email address, or map location to a note, you can automatically call the number, send an email, and see the location on Google Maps, respectively, with just a tap.
  • It lets you organize your notes by colors. You can associate each category of notes with a color.

👎 Cons

  • It works only on Android devices.

Conclusion on the best note-taking apps

That sums up our list of the best note-taking apps on the web. We tried to cover tools to meet all sorts of needs – from available devices to features, minimalism versus complexity, design, and purpose.

Our final brief advice is to:

  • Choose Apple Notes, Google Keep, or ColorNote if you need a classic note-taking app that you can use on the run for quick, simple notes and checklists.
  • Go with Evernote or OneNote if you want a note-taking app that can handle complex note formats like docs, templates, tasks, voice, etc. They also allow you to organize your files better.
  • Pick Notion if you’re looking for an advanced note-taking and project organization tool for your team.
  • Try Bear or Obsidian if you are into Markdown, have loads of content to save, and want to largely personalize the structure/format of your files.

Which note-taking app do you find to be the most exciting? Did we miss any interesting apps? Feel free to let us know via the comments section below.

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