Taking notes with a pen and piece of paper seems like ancient history, yet so many people still have a hard time letting go of their analog ways. The satisfaction and ease of writing out your notes make it hard to give up, but great strides have been made to give users that same feeling without having to risk losing your notes when something happens to the paper you took your detailed notes on.
From hardware to software, you should never have to lose any of your notes again, and you will have the added benefit of accessing them from anywhere and the ability to locate the right notes quickly. While there are many options to choose from, we’ve broken down what we think are the best options for you.
Hands down, there are only 3 real contenders in this space. Each has its own pros and cons, and it will be up to you to decide which one has the features you like working with the most. We don’t believe that one app fits all in most situations, so give each of them a try for a period of time before you decide which one you will stick with.
While relatively new to the game compared to the other two, Google Keep certainly has a lot going for it. It is extremely simple, so if a quick repository of your notes is what you are looking for, Keep is a great option. Like most note taking apps, you can save web pages to Keep, handwritten notes, checklists, pictures and more. With Keep though, you can set reminders on certain notes, color code your notes, it’s tied to your Google account, and it’s free. Creating a note is simple and quick, and can be done from your mobile device or the web. You also have the ability to tag your notes to categorize them.
As one of the most popular note-taking applications around, Evernote has a lot of really great features. It would be considered a step up from the simplicity of Google Keep. You also have the ability to keep handwritten notes, checklists, websites, images and more, but you are able to break out your notes into notebooks. This helps keep the notes you create more organized and gives you the ability to quickly find what you are looking for. You can also tag notes, as you can with Keep, for further organization. Evernote adds in the ability to chat with team members, if your company uses the product, to make sure everyone is keeping the lines of communication open. There is a free version, but for more space and robust features, you will need to pay at least $4/month.
Laid out like a real notebook, OneNote can offer you great organization options. If you create a notebook in OneNote, you can then break the notebook into sections, and then create pages inside each section. For example, if you have a project you are working on, you can call your notebook the name of the project. Within the project notebook, you can have a section for “meeting notes”. Inside the meeting notes section, each page can contain notes from an individual meeting. The graphic interface also is similar to an actual notebook you would carry, which makes it really intuitive to use. OneNote is included with all Office365 plans.
Boy was Steve Jobs wrong when he said “Who wants a stylus? You have to get ’em, put ’em away, you lose ’em. Yuck! Nobody wants a stylus. So let’s not use a stylus.” back in 2007 when introducing the iPhone. The stylus is very much alive and well, as evidenced by the fact that now Apple has a Pen to go with its iPad. Using a stylus with a tablet can give users the feeling of taking notes with a pen and paper, yet allows them to keep their notes digitally.
Attempting to put the horrors of the Note7 behind them, Samsung has just released the new phone in their Note line. The S Pen that comes with the Samsung device is smooth and really feels as easy to write with as an ink pen. Although it is not quite as big as a piece of paper, so it may feel a little tight when trying to take really long detailed notes.
Apple iPad Pro
The iPad Pro has an optional stylus, which will run you quite a bit more for the device when you purchase it. If you entrenched in the Apple ecosystem, this may be a great option for you for some serious note taking.
Lenovo Yoga Book
The Yoga Book from Lenovo is a great little 2-in-1 device. There is a large section that acts as a drawing pad when in one mode, and then can turn into a keyboard in another. You can get the best of both worlds with this device with the easy typing for some notes, and the handwritten notes for others. It even comes with a pad of paper that you can use to take analog notes, while the device will store the digital copies.
As you can see, note taking has really reached the next level. It’s time to put down the pen and piece of paper and join the digital note world!