You need a good note app. Actually…forget we said that. There are plenty of good note-taking apps out there. What you need is a great note-taking app.
Many of us may use our note-taking apps to remember that obscure piece of information that we fear might slip our mind later, but these apps can do so much more. The best note-taking apps are digital canvases that support complex graphs as well as grocery lists. Some even let you unleash your inner artist.
The wide range of incredible note apps available today will often leave you wondering why you ever just used a digital yellow pad. You might even say that many of them are quite…noteworthy (sorry).
The point is that with the number of great note apps that are out there, there’s no reason to settle for a good one. The next time you find yourself jotting down where you parked, consider doing it on one of these 20 best note-taking apps.
Notability (Best Overall Note App)
Notability prides itself on its ability to streamline a variety of daily tasks. The entire app is designed to account for the most effective way to complete common note-taking tasks.
That may sound like a line, but it really works that well. The beauty of Notability isn’t its usability but rather how the app takes its many, many features and makes them all very usable. It’s handwriting options are good enough to work with the stubbiest of fingers and you never feel like you’re struggling against some bad design decisions when you’re exploring Notability’s many features. It’s about as good as it gets.
Considering how many good note-taking apps there are out there – and there are a lot – the best apps must do something special in order to distinguish themselves. For GoodNotes, that something is its organization options and searchability.
Goodnotes isn’t the only note-taking app that allows you to search your notes and organize everything, but it’s one of the best in that respect. It certainly doesn’t hurt that the app’s UI is a brilliant piece of design that looks simple from the outset and is capable of expanding as you explore the app’s rich design options.
You caught us; PDF Expert is not a traditional note-taking app. It is actually a PDF modifier that lags behind some of the best note-taking apps in terms of its versatility and usability.
It’s also an essential app for anyone who has ever tried to modify or work with a PDF. If that includes you, then you know PDF documents can be frustrating to work with. PDF Expert removes much of the frustration from that task by making it easier than ever to add signatures to PDF documents, modify them in various ways, and implement/alter PDF images.
While most note-taking apps scale well when you try to use them on the iPad, there are a few apps that just work better with larger screens.
MyScript Nebo is one of those apps. This note-taking app has been recommended by Apple many times for those who like to take notes with their Apple Pencil, and we find no reason to disagree with them in regards to that recommendation. MyScript Nebo allows iPad and Pencil users to create rich notes full of images and various fonts. The app even features rich diagram creation options that are perfect for professional presentations.
Ok, ok…you caught us yet again. iFontMaker is yet another app that isn’t strictly a note-taking app. Instead, it allows you to create custom fonts that can be used in note apps as well as other programs.
Honestly, though, that makes it good enough to recommend to a fair number of people. iFontMaker is first and foremost fun to use. However, it’s also an app that’s functionality is somewhat underrated. How many times have you stared at an app’s font options and felt that something is missing? For publically shared notes, this font maker is a blessing.
For quite some time now, Evernote has served as something of a gold standard for note apps. It helped raise the bar for what note-taking apps are capable of and has been downloaded countless times.
Spoiler: it’s still one of the best note apps out there. Evernote is one of those note-taking apps that makes you feel like you’re working with a particularly advanced notepad. Along with the usual array of graphs, images, and charts, Evernote also offers fantastic scanning options. The only problem with Evernote is that its best version is hidden behind a questionable paywall.
LiquidText PDF Reader is a different kind of note-taking app. Rather than ask you to take your own notes like our primitive ancestors did, LiquidText lets you simply transfer and adapt the information that exists in other forms and turn them into notes.
LiquidText allows you to import information from web pages, documents, and other sources. From there, you can assemble a collage of information and enjoy features that allow you to connect the dots between pages as well as review the original source of any imported information. It’s a stunningly brilliant app that borders on a necessity for some.
Noteshelf 2 is the “sequel” to the popular note-taking app, Noteshelf. Like most sequels, that means that Noteshelf is bigger, brighter, and better than the original.
In the case of Noteshelf 2, those improvements mean that this app builds upon the already fantastic design and style elements that made the original such a success. Noteshelf 2 isn’t just a pretty face, though. It’s a truly versatile app that is capable of managing a complex series of notes while allowing users to easily share them and modify their work with a variety of visual enhancements. Noteshelf 2 is a great source for good-looking apps that are easy to make.
The battle to become the best note app has turned into a kind of digital arms race. App makers are tripping over themselves in an effort to incorporate as many advanced features as they can.
Simplenote is a bit different. Rather than throw a series of complicated features at you, Simplenote wants to be your best friend when it comes to the act of just jotting down information. That’s not to say it doesn’t pack some more robust features, but the main reason you use Simplenote is that you want a simple way to jot down some quick thoughts.
We’re not sure why, but some Apple users seem particularly opposed to using Google-designed apps. While there’s something to be said for a bit of brand loyalty, the fact remains that Google regularly produces some of the best apps in any particular class.
Google Keep most certainly lives up to that billing. The great thing about Google Keep is the way that it allows you to easily utilize several different designs that are perfect for a variety of notes. What’s even better is that the app cleverly organizes these notes in ways that ensure you’re never hunting a particular design.
It’s easy to forget that part of the reason Microsoft is one of the largest tech companies in the world is because they found ways to turn complicated technological concepts into easily accessible programs.
To be honest, Microsoft OneNote isn’t the greatest example of that legacy. What it is, though, is a slightly visually appealing app that makes up for some bland design elements with a variety of features that those who prefer a professional style of note app will surely admire. For those who are creating notes they want to share with others, OneNote is a tremendous app.
For many people, note apps are a way to quickly organize personal information. Dates, parking spots, grocery lists…that kind of thing. However, there are times when the notes you take are designed to be shared with other people. For those times, you need Paper.
Well…technically that’s not true considering that Paper isn’t the only note sharing app, but it is the only note sharing app that is supported by Dropbox. That means that it’s designed from the ground up as an app that’s output can easily be shared with others. It does feature some fun design elements, but its Paper’s easy sharing features that make it special.
Bear is quickly and quietly becoming one of the most popular and beloved note apps out there. If you’re wondering why that is, then the answer is simple. Bear is just a really good note app.
Being a really good note app might not sound like enough, but using Bear really helps you understand why some apps are better than others. Bear’s best feature is its brilliant interface that combines the simplicity of basic note apps with the features found in more professional programs. The elegant way this app combines those seemingly opposite design styles makes it truly special.
There are quite a few note apps out there that allow you to create some pretty visually impressive notes, but there are few note apps that we would consider to be artistic. Notebook by Zoho is such an app.
Whether or not you care about creating truly stunning looking notes may be irrelevant once you see the notes that Notebook is capable of creating. That’s the joy of using this app. You’re going to be taking notes anyway, so it makes little sense not to make sure those notes aren’t as visually pleasing as possible.
Paper is defined as a note app in this instance largely by virtue of a technicality. What we mean is that it can take notes, but that’s not the real reason you use Paper by FiftyThree.
The reason you use Paper is that you want a virtual sketchpad that takes advantage of the medium. In other words, you want to doodle and design while being able to use those doodles and designs for more productive purposes. This app is a minor miracle for artistic types who need to do more than jot down their thoughts in simple words.
Long before we got to enjoy the luxury of using note apps, people loved to jot down their thoughts in journals and diaries. To be honest, there are few note-taking apps out there that replicate the experience of keeping a journal.
Diaro is one of the best of those precious few apps. Diaro conveniently divides your notes into daily records. Yes, you can use it to keep track of what dairy products you need, but this is the app you use when you want to log the notes from your vacation or keep a modern diary.
The Apple Pen is quickly becoming that accessory that everyone likes to poke fun at but secretly wants. It’s a fantastic tool for iPad owners who want to really feel like they’re getting the most out of their device’s screen real estate.
Penultimate is an app for those same users. It’s specifically designed to take advantage of the pen’s incredible versatility and allow for users to return to the lost art of handwritten notes in absolute style. This is the kind of app that we’d dream of when we thought of using tablets to replace notebooks, and it’s must-have Apple Pen companion.
The line between document apps and note apps is a pretty thin one. For the most part, though, the best note apps are designed to primarily be used as a way to quickly jot down small pieces of information. Anything more complicated than that usually counts as a document app.
1Writer skews more towards a document app, but it’s the perfect document app for those who have to take notes that are a little more complicated than a street address. Perfect for programmers and professionals, 1Writer is as easy to use as a note app but ensures your notes are professionally presented.
In its fifth version, Drafts has arguably perfected what the original version of the app set out to do. That is to say that Drafts is an app that is primarily designed as the best possible digital version of a blank sheet.
What that means is that Drafts is a great note app for those who just want to write down whatever information they may need to write down and then worry about what they are supposed to do with it. Draft’s sharing and editing features are top-end, but they never get in the way of just writing.
Hey, we admit that this is a pretty boring suggestion. After all, Apple Notes ships with just about every Apple device and is pretty much the simplest note app that exists for iOS. However, that doesn’t mean that it’s a bad app.
Actually, it’s about as far from a bad app as apps can get. Apple has packed their notes app with a variety of features that are designed to allow Apple users to take advantage of the various abilities of iOS. There are apps that do more than Apple Notes, but there are few note apps out there that are as accessible and enjoyable.
Not a Note App, But an Excellent Companion App
While many people use notes to quickly jot down information, some notes are much more sensitive. That’s especially true of work notes shared between multiple people.
For those notes, you might need Saferoom. Saferoom allows you to encrypt and secure notes from supported apps. It’s a practical and easy way to protect your notes, and it makes it easier to rely on them for a variety of information.
Is there a note app that you think is just better than the rest? Be sure to let us know about it in the comments below.