Software

Five apps for better note taking and organization

Incorporate a feature-rich and proper note taking app to help you better organize your thoughts and words.

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When you need to jot down that quick idea, or need to record more elaborate details to a business plan or tackle an agenda, you might want to consider dropping Notepad out of your workflow to incorporate a feature-rich and proper note taking app which can help you better organize your thoughts and words. To that end, here are five apps for Windows that I believe are a nice fit for recording your musings on the fly.

This article is also available as TechRepublic Screenshot Gallery.

Five Apps

1. Microsoft OneNote

Once again, Microsoft has a stellar offering in this category of software. Not only are you able to organize your notes by pages, you are also able to sync everything between all of your devices connected to your Microsoft account, embed recorded audio and video, draw directly within notes you create, and more. The deep integration with Exchange Server, SharePoint, and other Microsoft Office products grants OneNote a level of integration that you won't see in other note applications.

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2. Evernote

Started back in 2008, Evernote has grown in popularity within the past few years and is probably the premiere freeware (mostly) note taking app, not just for Windows PCs, but also for Macs and several mobile platforms, such as Android and iOS. Like OneNote, you are also able to sync to any computers and devices tied to your account, but you are limited to a paltry 60MB of monthly bandwidth for syncing purposes. If your note taking needs are fairly regular, you might want to consider the premium upgrade for $45 a year, which raises the bandwidth ceiling to 1GB per month.

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3. KeepNote

If you are looking for something more bare-bones, KeepNote might be right for you. The product is quite lightweight and runs nicely even on slower systems. The only thing you would probably miss is the fact that KeepNote lacks any proper sync functionality. The interface is well designed and also quite responsive too. If you have Python coding experience, you can easily build upon this application as desired, since KeepNote is based on the Python language. KeepNote is licensed as open source under the GPL.

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4. WikidPad

For a more power-user or developer approach to crafting notes, WikidPad looks quite interesting. This software offers an easy to use IDE-style editor which can crank out HTML based notes on the fly without having to have extensive knowledge of web design. This alternative approach can come in handy if you want to output notes in a format that can be read in all web browsers. Example pages are provided for convenience. WikidPad is licensed as open source under the GPL.

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5. CintaNotes

And last, but not least, CintaNotes offers an incredibly minimalistic UI that simply tries to get out of your way when you create content. You can sync your notes using the Simplenotes platform, but not without paying a one-time $25 dollar upgrade fee for the pro release. Honestly, if the notes you decide to take are that important to keep around, paying the fee for the added peace of mind is likely worth it in the long run.

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About

An avid technology writer and an IT guru, Matthew is here to help bring the best in software, hardware and the web to the collective consciousness of TechRepublic's readership. In addition to writing for TechRepublic, Matthew currently works as a Cus...

18 comments
Mcharles0799
Mcharles0799

Thanks for all the tips! I was surprised SilverNote didn't make the list (http://www.silver-note.com). Best note taking software out there (at least for windows) in my opinion.

ldieperink
ldieperink

What about Notes +.  I sporadically need to take meeting notes or jot down ideas on the move, but when I do I want something that's easy and this lets me take proper notes, not typed noted and then allows for the notes to be converted to type.  I agree that the list tendered is very light.  Frankly I'd expect more depth from a Tech republic article.

wpshore
wpshore

I've been using askSam for many years and love it [but my notes are strictly text)]. The only problem with it is that it may/may-not be end-of-life (they deny it but their sites down last I checked and they release update/new versions (now) about once a decade.. Still, great program.


Also, for simple alt to NotePad (rich text) there's the free Jarte (at Jarte.com) which is fast and even has a portable version.

AFoshee
AFoshee

NoteTab is my go-to for note taking, HTML authoring, etc.  I like the multi-tab interface, free version, etc.  It may not have an auto-sync feature, but since I want to sync multiple file types I just handle it through DropBox!

Matt Nawrocki
Matt Nawrocki

Hi everyone!

Thanks for the great suggestions! I will end up doing another round of note taking app reviews, since there clearly are some nice gems I missed. :D

rlcohen
rlcohen

Google Keep

Shouldn’t Google Keep have found a place in this roundup?  While it doesn’t measure up to the late, lamented Google Notebook, it works as an entry-level note-taker, with notes being stored on Google Drive.


phillip
phillip

Notecase Pro is a terrific product. I sync to Dropbox and can view/create the NC Pro files on Ubuntu, Fedora, Windows and my Droid. It has a script language to automate things (Lua), has a rich UI, and is actively being maintained. I'm still finding things I can do with it.

www.notecasepro.com

BobaFettismyuncle
BobaFettismyuncle

I use OneNote at work b/c everything is MS.  For personal I use Springpad b/c it has the same functionality across devices.  (Unlike OneNote, which is castrated on iOS devices).   I would go OneNote 100% if they could make the app work with more of core features the desktop app has (i.e being able to insert more than checklists, text notes and pictures--really MS??).

jonmsimon
jonmsimon

I use Essential PIM. It allows me to run it from a flash drive.

bobc47
bobc47

Back in the early 90's i used Tornado to track things at work. It was DOS based, had blazing speed, and was limited only by the amount of disk space you gave it. Being text based it's foot print was very small.

That app allowed me to easily track dozens of projects that were on my plate as an engineer. I've found nothing as good since.

LarryHazen
LarryHazen

I have used Evernote for a few years only on my laptop and loved it... well that all changed Christmas of 2012 when I got a Samsung Tablet and shortly thereafter got a Samsung Galixy 3 Smartphone.  WOW EVERYHING is on all my devices at once!!!   Totally AWESOME as far as I'm concerned.

Now just last week I added OneNote to my phone (no tablet yet).  I agree with a few other comments that OneNote is challenging as there are so many places to put things and name things and Note things..... I am up to the challenge as all my other programs are Microsoft 365 with the cloud (mostly becasue of my work).

So great article and I'm in for the top 2 and hope I can master OneNote sometime soon....

hug.login
hug.login

Acutally I use Notepad++ for notes that have a short life span. For everything else I started to use Evernote and I'm happy with it.

peterlonz
peterlonz

A list that I feel is not chosen to suit the needs of Mr Average.

I have a fair bit of computer experience & currently I am a bit disatisfied with Notepad - but it works & I can open Word if necessary.

One Note I have looked at several times & been utterly put off by its complexity, The others here are much the same. BTW I'd suggest 80% of users have no idea what syncing is & that includes me.

How about a more down to earth approach. Folks who can readily adopt one of your choices are probably already aware of them & use one!

Mark W. Kaelin
Mark W. Kaelin moderator

What application do you use for note taking? Do you recommend it or are you looking for something better?