Mobility

Google Keep's auto-created topics makes productivity even more efficient

If you're a Google Keep power user, you'll be happy to find out that the almighty Alphabet has added a feature to Keep that will help make you take even more efficient notes.

Image: Jack Wallen

I use Google Keep daily — almost hourly. I use it to tag ideas, keep lists, remember bits of information, and so much more. Without this handy app, I'm certain my daily productivity would crash and burn. So every time Google announces a new feature to Keep, I cross my fingers, hoping the improvement will nudge the app even further.

Recently, Google released such an update, one that will help make your life with Keep even more productive. That update includes auto-created topics.

That's right. Keep will now attempt to tag your notes with topics, even if you fail to do so. Why is this important? If you're a Keep power user (as I consider myself), then you understand the importance of labels. My personal Google Keep app is jammed with notes, so much so that to find what I'm looking for, I have to rely on labels. Generally speaking, I do a pretty good job of tagging items as I add them. However, there are times when I do miss the occasional tag. And for those that don't get tagged with a label, this new feature will be a serious boon to efficiency and productivity.

With this feature happening in the background, without your input, the question then becomes how you know what labels are beings used? If you know a topic, it's very easy to search for it. Just hit the search bar and type in your label. All of your tagged items will appear for you to make use of. But if you don't know what Keep has used for a label, you won't be able to search for it.

Fear not. Google Keep has found a way to make this easy.

Old versus new

The new version of Keep is drastically different than the old. To illustrate the difference, I've opened up the search functionality on both the old version and the new version (Figures A and B).

Figure A

Figure A

The older version of Google Keep.

Image: Jack Wallen

Figure B

Figure B

The latest iteration of Keep.

Image: Jack Wallen


What you see above is the web version of Google Keep. To reveal the new search functionality, all you have to do is click on the Search bar. This will reveal the Types, Labels, Things, and People sections (Figure C). Click on the MORE button to expand each section (to reveal what you see in figure B (above).

Figure C

Figure C

The initial search reveal.

Image: Jack Wallen


The new auto-created topics are to be found under Things. Scroll down and click MORE to expand this section. Here you will find the various topics Keep has created by default (Figure D).

Figure D

Figure D

Your new auto-generated topics are here.

Image: Jack Wallen

Click on a topic under Things and you should find notes that Keep has automagically tagged. What's interesting about this is that Keep will tag a note with a topic based on note title, body, and URL (if applicable). Say, for instance, you create a note about the Clementine audio player. Most likely, Keep will tag that as both Food and Music.

It was a good call on Google's part to not interfere with Labels and create an entirely new section for this feature. Had they mixed these auto-generated topics in with labels, Keep could have easily devolved into an inefficient soup of notes.

What you cannot do

The one thing you cannot do with this new feature, is create your own topics under Things. This, of course, makes perfect sense. Google doesn't want users messing with the underlying sauce of auto-created topics and breaking the system.

Although you can easily add a label to a note, you cannot manually add a note to a topic. This process is all handled "under the hood".

How do you get this new feature?

If you're using Google Keep on your mobile device, and seeing an outdated version, all you need to go is go to either the Google Play Store or iTunes, search for Google Keep, and tap the button for updating the app. If you're using the web version, the newest iteration of Google Keep should appear automatically upon login.

Keep keeps getting better

My hope, for the auto-generated topics, is that they will learn from our notes and begin created new "things" as we go. This would greatly improve an already outstanding new feature.

I've been using Google Keep for quite some time now. It became my default note taking app, even when everyone was telling me that Evernote was the way to go. I'm happy I stuck with the Google take on notes, because the app keeps getting better with each new release.

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About Jack Wallen

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website jackwallen.com.

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