Are you starting to feel like typing your notes just takes too long? Today's note-capturing apps make it easy for us to grab those great ideas, whether we're scribbling on an envelope, chatting with a friend, or whistling while we walk. Here are several popular apps you can use when you need to hear yourself think.
Note: This list is also available as a photo gallery.
1: AudioNoteAudioNote (Figure A) offers a free trial for Mac, PC, iOS, and Android users. If you fall in love with the app and just can't help yourself, you can purchase the upgrade version for $19.95. Actually, you may need to make that call fairly soon if you record a number of notes, because AudioNote limits you to five minutes per note in the trial version.
AudioNote is a simple app that saves voice and text in its own format.
The tools are simple and straightforward: You click or tap Record to get started, speak into your microphone, and click Pause to finish the recording. The last step involves clicking File and choosing Save, then specifying a folder for the audio note. You can also use the simple pen and highlight tools to add drawings, handwritten notes, and highlighting to your text notes or click one of the papers at the top to change the look of the screen. The Export tool (on the File menu) lets you save the audio note as a .WAV file so you can access it outside AudioNote.
2: OneNoteOneNote (Figure B) is part of the Office 2010 suite, so if you're currently using that version of Office, you likely already have what you need to record audio notes. To create an audio note in OneNote, fire up the app and start a new note (or display the page on which you want to add the audio clip). Click the Insert tab and click Record Audio in the Recording group. The recording begins, although -- and this is one of my dings for OneNote -- it's really a ho-hum display, and for the first few seconds I wasn't sure anything was happening. (Most apps show a visual of your audio or let you know in some dramatic way, like a big red button, that recording is going on.) When you've finished your audio note, click Pause or Stop. You can leave the clip on the note page or right-click it and save it out as a WMA file so that you can use it with other applications if you like.
OneNote is part of your Office 2010 suite and even though the audio feature isn't the most exciting in the world, you can record audio notes easily.
3: EvernoteEvernote (Figure C) is a popular note-taking application, used by more than 10 million people worldwide. Evernote offers two versions -- a free version and a premium version -- and you can capture audio notes using either one.
Evernote is a mega-popular note-taking app that includes an audio feature you can use to add and tag clips easily.
My favorite thing about Evernote is that it's available for just about any computer or device you use: Mac, PC, iOS, Windows Phone, Android, Blackberry, and iPad. Your notebooks are synchronized easily so that you can access your latest notes no matter where you are or what you're using.
To record an audio note in Evernote, simply open your notebook, click New Note, and choose New Audio Note. You can enter a note title, tag it if you like, and then click Record to begin recording your note. After you finish recording, click Save. You can listen to the audio note by clicking the Play button to the left of the audio clip object in your note.
4: Voice2NoteVoice2Note (Figure D) is a unique audio note utility. You can use it as an add-on to Evernote or you can call Voice2Note directly to leave your audio note by phone. Voice2Note transcribes your note, using both a digital transcription service and quality control checks by real human beings. It then sends the text of the note to the Evernote notebook you linked to your account.
You can use Voice2Note as an Evernote voice-to-text add-on or as an audio recorder in its own right.
Begin by logging in to the Voice2Note site. (You'll need to create an account if you don't yet have one.) Voice2Note gives you a call-in number you can use to dictate your note from any phone. After you record your note, you can tag it by simply saying "tag with" and adding the name of the tag you want to apply.
5: Audio Notes RecorderThis interesting little Windows recorder is a hoot to try. You can download a 42-day trial version and install it in just under a minute. Audio Notes Recorder (Figure E) is designed to resemble a real hold-in-your-hand cassette recorder. (Yes, I know, flashback to the 80s.) But the tool actually has a number of interesting features.
Audio Notes Recorder is a funky voice recorder with some up-to-date features.
The sound quality is good, and you can choose to record in one of three modes: Spy, Normal, or voice-operated recording. The app also has a transcription mode that lets you import and export in a variety of common formats.
To customize the app, click Settings in the upper-right corner to display a menu of options for tailoring things to your liking. If you think you'll be doing a lot of audio note taking, this tool might be worth a closer look (although your officemates are likely to make fun of you if they see it open on your desktop).
Other audio note apps?
What are your favorite audio note-taking apps? Share your recommendations with fellow TechRepublic members.
Katherine Murray is a technology writer and the author of more than 60 books on a variety of topics, ranging from small business technology to green computing to blogging to Microsoft Office 2010. Her most recent books include Microsoft Office 2010 Plain & Simple (Microsoft Press, 2010), Microsoft Word 2010 Plain & Simple (Microsoft Press, 2010), and Microsoft Word 2010 Inside Out (Microsoft Press, 2010).