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Do you have an awesome memory?

Or just use paper?

Then, you don’t need Google Keep or any other from the massive galaxy of digital note-taking apps 6 Modern Note-Taking Apps to Keep Your Thoughts Organized 6 Modern Note-Taking Apps to Keep Your Thoughts Organized Ever had a thought slip away and wish you had written it down? It won't happen again when you have one of these modern apps at your fingertips. Read More .

This is also not another of those articles where I go to town praising one app over the other. Note-taking tools are as much about our individual needs as they are about the habits we form with each of them. Google Keep may be Google’s answer to Evernote… but it is no Evernote or Microsoft OneNote. Google Keep is better for temporary notes, while Evernote is exceptional for keeping things long-term.

My own workflow includes both Evernote and Google Keep. The former does the heavy-lifting and storage. The latter is for jotting down quick notes. These quick notes don’t need the bloat of features and that’s where Google Keep fits in nicely. Plus, Google Keep is a part of the Google ecosystem and syncs across all the digital devices you can think of – including the Apple Watch. It works offline too.

Even as it follows the golden K.I.S.S (Keep It Simple Stupid) rule, Google Keep has a few tricks and tips 4 Google Keep Tips And Tricks For Better Notes, Lists And To-Dos 4 Google Keep Tips And Tricks For Better Notes, Lists And To-Dos Read More up its menu. Here’s ten creative uses of Google Keep.

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Active Recall with “Flash Cards”

You can use dedicated flashcard software like Anki or SuperMemo. You can also repurpose Google Docs as a flashcard tool How To Make Digital Flashcards With Google Docs Spreadsheets How To Make Digital Flashcards With Google Docs Spreadsheets Read More . And then, you can tap into Google Keep’s Reminder feature to set up periodic hints. The reminder options are customizable – you can pick any date and time for spaced repetitions. Set them up to repeat periodically or stop after a specific number of occurrences.

Google Keep Flashcards

While this system lacks the sophisticated spaced repetition – i.e. increasing the review interval whenever a card is recalled correctly – it is effective as a makeshift prompt for active recall Memorize Anything Using Active Recall Memory Memorize Anything Using Active Recall Memory Your memory sucks, but it's nothing you can't improve. Whether you're trying to learn a language, geography or even basic programming skills, active recall learning lets you commit details to memory. Read More .

Remember: You can go into Google Keep’s Settings and change the reminder defaults for Morning, Afternoon, and Evening.

Google Keep Settings

Turn It into a Visual Bucket List

I am a big fan of Trello as a vision board How to Create a Vision Board and Meet Your Big Goals How to Create a Vision Board and Meet Your Big Goals You can call them as big rocks or big, hairy, audacious goals. Some call it a bucket list. Emptying that bucket calls for action. This is where a visual tool like Trello proves useful. Read More . Google Keep’s grid view is powerful enough to also act like a collage board of your goals. It could be a bucket list for life, or a visual New Year resolutions board. It goes without saying that you should spend some time thinking about what your dreams are and what you want to achieve for the year and for the years beyond — and Google Keep can help.

Drag and drop visually motivating images into the notes or use the camera icon to snap photos with your smartphone. With thoughtful labelling, turn Google Keep into your vision board, brain dump, and to-do list manager.

You can use color codes to show progress or indicate a time frame for the goals. Use checkboxes to break down the goals into as many mini-steps as possible. Here’s a snapshot of my vision board:

Google Keep Vision Board

Focus with an Anti-Distraction List

We live in the age of productivity. We are also living in an age of endless distractions. An oft-quoted study on the cost of interrupted work (PDF) suggests that we need an average of 25 minutes to return to any task after a distraction. While there are many strategies to deal with workplace interruptions, Google Keep can be a simple device to handle the small stuff that calls for our partial attention.

For instance, establish a rule to offload any random thought or question to Google Keep that attacks your mind while working. Form a “Fire-Forget-Delete” mini-habit to shoot off your random musings.

“When is the TV show tomorrow?”

“How much should I budget for the trip?”

“What was the name of the manager in XYZ Inc.?”

Instead of searching for the answers right away, you can come back to them when you take a break. Try the always-in-top Panel View for Keep Chrome extension to send off these quick notes.

I have found the Voice Notes feature on Google Keep to be particularly effective for catching these offhand musings. It also automatically transcribes the audio to text.

Quick Notes

Doodle Your Thoughts

Add drawings to your Keep notes. This only works on Android, but it’s useful if you want to just doodle away, draw directions for someone, share a photo, or annotate on top of an image. Alternatively, go ahead and play a game of Pictionary with your friends.

See how artist and illustrator Josh Pomeroy uses Google Keep in his workflow:

The drawing feature gives you three pen styles (pen, marker, and highlighter) and 28 different colors to choose from. You can also add drawings to existing notes.

Hack Your Shopping with Shared Lists

This is arguably one of the most potent use of Google Keep. Families can use shared Keep notes for running grocery shopping.

Google Keep Shopping List

Here are three ideas:

  • Pick something up when you are returning from office and tick it off. As the update is synced to all the collaborators in the family, they have one less thing to shop for.
  • Take on the bewildering aisles and mazes of a superstore by splitting up and checking things off on a Keep note. It can be a huge timesaver when you are rushed and the shopping isn’t a joy.
  • It is easy to drag and drop to re-order the checkboxes on a Keep note. Someone can re-order the priority of an item on the collaborative list for immediate attention.

You can also set a location reminder for a place and it will automatically pop the list up as a notification as you walk into the store. Of course, this might not work at every place in the world and location reminders can be a serious battery drain!

Plan Your Meals Every Day

Collaborative Google Keep notes can be followed up with shared meal plans. Google still hasn’t found a way to integrate Google Keep with Google Calendar for meal planning. That would be awesome – but the second workaround is to plan a week’s meals in advance Plan Weekly Meals in Under 1 Hour with 5 Web Tools Plan Weekly Meals in Under 1 Hour with 5 Web Tools There is a way to eat healthy food that doesn't cost much and do so in a way that doesn't require too much effort on your part. That secret is weekly meal plans. Read More with location reminders in place to notify you about any necessary grocery shopping you might have to do. Shared notes also help make meal planning decisions seamless.

Meal Planning with Google Keep

Tell us about your meal planning ideas with Google Keep in the comments. Would you prefer a single note for the week’s plan or a set of individual notes that you can rotate through the month? Here’s what my meal plan looks like for a day.

If you want to get serious about your diet, combine the IIFYM Calculator with Excel How to Build Perfect Meals with The IIFYM Calculator and Excel How to Build Perfect Meals with The IIFYM Calculator and Excel You can easily design meals that meet your nutrition intake targets. Achieve your fitness goals by using the free IIFYM Calculator and an Excel spreadsheet for healthy meals every day. Read More .

The Life-Changing 30-Second Note

I really took to Robyn Scott’s post on Medium about the 30-second note and its perspective altering benefits.

Capture Your Thoughts

It’s a habit I am trying to form with the simplicity of Google Keep. I attach a #30-second label to each note. I must say that when I revisit the notes later, it not only gives me a new angle to think about but also help to change my biases.

For those on devices running Android 4.2+, add thoughts quickly without unlocking your device with the lock screen widget. Those on iOS, can add Google Keep to the Today view of the notification center for quick access. Try a 30-second note and tell us in the comments if it helps you make new observations in any way.

Catch All the Wisdom with Book Notes

Amazon Kindle has its book highlights. You can easily export them to any digital notebook. But what about the physical books you read? Use Google Keep and its powerful Transcribe feature.

Click on the Camera icon in Google Keep. Take a photo or import an image from your photo gallery. You can crop the part you want to grab the text from in your camera app or the photo gallery. In the new note, click on the overflow menu (three vertical dots) and choose Transcribe Text. Google’s Optical Character Recognition (OCR) software goes to work and the text from the image appears in the note. Click Done. Your note should now contain the entire text from the book image.

Transcribe Text

Label your notes, or color code them. For specific quotations, I also set reminders in an attempt to remember all the stuff I read through the day.

Grabbing contact details from business cards is also a common use of Google Keep’s OCR.

A Bit of Language Learning

Want to review difficult to pronounce words and see if you are speaking clearly? Tap the microphone and record the word. Check the pronunciations later against any online pronunciation guide 8 Online Audio Pronunciation Guides That Help You Speak Words Correctly 8 Online Audio Pronunciation Guides That Help You Speak Words Correctly Read More . Also, chances are that if you pronounce the word correctly, Google Keep will transcribe it correctly. Try it with words like “debris” or “poignant”.

Check Pronunciation

In the classroom, Google Keep can be a handy tool to correct the way young students speak.

Simple Project Management in 10 Minutes

Project management isn’t only for white collar workers. You can take any GTD tool and use the best project management principles 6 Project Management Tips You Can Use to Organize Your Life 6 Project Management Tips You Can Use to Organize Your Life Project Management is the profession of getting things done. Our tips will help you apply a project manager's perspective, skills, and tools to organize your own life. Read More to organize your life. The full scope of explaining the use of Google Keep will be a bit too much for this article, so I am directing you to short but relevant explanation by Eli the Computer Guy who uses it for shallow tasks. He gets particular benefit from its syncing with a smart watch.

The unofficial Category Tabs for Chrome extension is a huge help for sorting and organizing your stack of notes on Google Keep. Put it to good use with a labelling system when your notes start going haywire.

Google Keep works with Google Drive and you can combine both for solo or small team projects. Everything stays within the eco-system of a single ubiquitous tool. As an example, you can copy a note with an outline to Google Docs and expand it there.

For more robust projects, I would recommend the use of Trello.

Tell Us Your Dead Simple Ideas for Google Keep

Note-taking A Quick & Dirty Guide to Perfect Digital Note-Taking A Quick & Dirty Guide to Perfect Digital Note-Taking Learn how to take notes the right way. Here are some of the most effective tips for becoming a digital note-taking pro. Read More is all about having a common place for your mind dumps. Each of us does it differently. But we can learn from the best practices of each other. Yes, Google Keep doesn’t have a public API for integrating it with other apps yet. But you can save and send stuff from it anywhere on any device. This opens up a variety of uses.

That’s what the comment section is all about.

Do you love Google Keep? How do you use Google Keep? What are the little things you use it for every day?

  1. Steve
    August 4, 2016 at 4:49 pm

    Evernote now limits Basic usage to 2 devices. Any more and you will have to pay $70 per year. Unless you need this for business, I'd pass.

  2. Raffi
    July 30, 2016 at 7:00 pm

    I don't seem to have the Transcribe Text command (on my smartphone or tablet). Is it something that is only available on the computer version?

    • Saikat Basu
      August 1, 2016 at 8:38 am

      No..it is available in both. Just click the microphone icon on Google Keep and start speaking. The audio automatically gets converted to text.

  3. chinglin
    July 9, 2016 at 9:25 am

    I do really want it can integrate with pdf file reading especially

    I once want it can take notes on google play books ( but it can't have the text flow, can't take note there )

    I'd more like it can take note directly from google drive pdf viewer to the google keep

  4. Dan O'Brien
    April 20, 2016 at 7:49 pm

    I like the "Doodle Your Thoughts" section. Josh shows how he, for some reason, exports all of his Keep sketches into Mischief and there groups them all into one file. In my case I need to keep the sketches and other graphics separate but that's where I get into trouble with Keep. I need to group several sketches under a single note using the text region as the explanation area.

    Unfortunately Keep likes to rearrange my sketches and I can't figure out how or what the new sort is based upon. So why can't I simply use drag to reorder my sketch collection within a single note... the same way we drag to rearrange the notes themselves? Is there ANY way to reorder a set of graphics attached to a single note?

    • Saikat Basu
      April 22, 2016 at 3:13 pm

      Ah, I get what you mean. But the solution eludes me. I don't think there is one to this particular problem.

  5. Andrea
    February 5, 2016 at 11:52 pm

    My husband and I use lists for groceries, meals kids like, general shopping ( with serial/ part numbers) and use the reminders for repeat maintenance.

    Recently started using keep for cute things kids say. After putting my kids baby books "somewhere safe" I find it's a lot more reliable. The great thing is if you share with others I've noticed they are adding to it. Adding photos, voice recordings or drawings also putting it up there with evernote.

    • Saikat Basu
      February 6, 2016 at 11:59 am

      Google Keep as a digital scrapbook. That looks like a "keepsake" (pun intended) :)

  6. Patrick
    January 27, 2016 at 3:26 am

    I love using keep for re-usable lists. Let me explain, I am a single father of two young kids and every couple of weekends I take them to the cottage. Generally, we need the same stuff every weekend such as swimsuits, t-shirts and sunscreen in the summer and skates, helmets and snow pants in the winter. I use Google keep to maintain a list of everything I ever brought. When I am ready to plan a weekend I can unchecked my whole list and check off what I don't intend to bring. Now I have a list of what I need for the weekend without thinking of what I need. If I want to add to the list I just type it in. Also I don't check off items as I pack for the weekend. I check them off when I am packing to go home. It helps me prevent leaving items at the cottage

    • Saikat Basu
      January 27, 2016 at 12:04 pm

      Re-usable lists. That's always a good idea. Thanks for the tip Patrick. This looks like a timesaver.

  7. Joe Lavery
    January 25, 2016 at 7:07 pm

    I jot down the names of people I've met.
    Reviewing the notes days / weeks later helps with name recall when I see the person again.

    • Saikat Basu
      January 27, 2016 at 12:06 pm

      Yes, I add the location (and the context) where I met them. I have a problem with names too. Later when I have time, I add the note description to the Notes field in Google Contacts.

    • Squalle
      February 1, 2016 at 7:10 am

      In business, this is HUGE! People really appreciate it when you remember them. It conveys to them that you were listening. Especially when you have trouble remembering names.

      If you set up a reminder and have it pop up every morning for, say, a couple of weeks, you'd be surprised how much you'll remember. Even just looking at it to swipe the reminder away every day.

      Great use!

    • Saikat Basu
      February 1, 2016 at 7:19 am

      When you consider that there are apps for this simple thing, then one appreciates the simplicity of Google Keep all the more!

  8. Hildy J
    January 25, 2016 at 5:22 pm

    One thing I find useful is using Keep to pass data between my devices. I also use Keep for shared shopping lists and miscellaneous data. But there is one major and one minor problem that keep me from using it more.

    First, Keep desperately needs the ability to just display titles. Cards take up far too much space on a phone and even on a PC. If I'm going to have to rely on tags and search I might as well be using Evernote or OneNote.

    Second, sorting would be useful, both for cards and within lists. A creation and/or a reminder date/time sort would allow me to focus on new or old items; an alphabetic sort of titles and/or tags would allow me to add priority numbers.

    • Saikat Basu
      January 27, 2016 at 12:10 pm

      The list view and color coded cards could be a partial solution. Though, I agree with you. A better sorting option rather than depending on the filters would be definitely welcome.

    • Jeramy Phillips
      January 27, 2016 at 2:03 pm

      I agree on both points, List View and ordering.

    • Ander
      July 1, 2016 at 8:57 am

      Hildy J> First, Keep desperately needs the ability to just display titles...

      Oh, I so, so agree!!

      I understand how some people may like to see their notes as, you know, little stickies. That's great.

      But for the rest of us, Keep undermines its own usefulness by making us scroll through so much text, all the time.

      Google, pul-eeeze give us the option to see a list of note titles ONLY! Thank you!

  9. Ryan McCallum
    January 25, 2016 at 4:01 pm

    I love using a Google Keep checklist as a shopping list. Picked it up? Check it off. Need to pick up some stuff but not sure what you should grab this week? Look at your checked off items for a reminder! Have it automatically pop up when you go to the store!

  10. Jeramy Phillips
    January 25, 2016 at 2:47 pm

    I use Google Keep quite a bit, and have even got my wife to use it. Being able to share a note or list is pretty powerful stuff.

    I am a fairly handy guy and generally do most of my own maintenance & repairs. I have started keeping a note for each item I work on, writing down things like model number, serial number, what I do (and when) along with corresponding replacement part numbers. I will also attach photos of the item as I am taking them apart for reference later.

    With the newish feature of being able to annotate images or add drawings on Android, I will take a photo of something that I am measuring, then sketch the measurements on the image.

    Google Keep is rightfully a lightweight Evernote, but I never really clicked with using Evernote.

    • Kristopher Hesson
      January 25, 2016 at 4:42 pm

      I love the idea of keeping model/serial numbers, etc. in google keep. I haven't thought of using it that way but I plan on stealing your idea, Jeramy Phillips! Great thinking!

    • Jeramy Phillips
      January 25, 2016 at 4:46 pm

      I also take a photo of the Model / Serial number label / tag for future reference and attach that to the note. Sometimes I do that until I have a chance to transcribe the information into the note.

    • Saikat Basu
      January 27, 2016 at 12:08 pm

      "Sketch the measurements on the image"

      That's one way of using annotations for sure.

    • Kelsey Tidwell
      August 14, 2016 at 11:50 am

      I use Keep this way myself, and it's saved me a lot of re-lookup of information on my lawn mower and appliances around the house. I also have each vehicle I own in there with respective VIN numbers, insurance policy numbers, anything relevant to owning and operating and repairing. When my daughter got married and moved out a couple years ago, my son-in-law was a little overwhelmed by the wealth of information I "bequeathed" to him (Whew! One big chunk of notespace cleared there!) about her car that I had stored in Keep.

      The washing machine started acting up a couple years ago. In went links to various repair videos on YouTube, parts sales listings links on Amazon, E-Bay, et al, and any tips and tricks I happened to trip over on the way. End result: saved almost $1000 by not having to purchase a new washer (bittersweet for my lovely wife), a forgotten massive amount on the parts versus buying them from Sears, and probably a couple hundred smacks in labor bills by doing the (plug and play) work myself.

      To the life-notetaking newbie this may likewise sound overwhelming, this massive data-gathering effort, but relax...it can start with one item (maybe the VIN number), and trust me, it will grow on its own until you realize like I did that you never could have done it without Keep. :) I've now got useful data on things around my home as esoteric as specific horticultural routines for each type of tree in my yard. August brings a hord of Catalpa Sphinx Moth caterpillars to my Catalpa trees (we colloqually call them Catawba trees and Catawba worms here in the South), so I like to know a little in advance to prepare to harvest them for my son-in-law for fishing. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catalpa

      You get my drift. This process is good for any "entity" that you possess which requires any sort of maintenance or repair whatsoever, and before you know it you'll have a custom-made encyclopedia of lifehacks relevant to YOUR life. Sorry Mrs. Marilynn Humphries, who sold my parents a set of World Book encyclopedias in 1977. They were interesting and informative for the time, but concise and relevant is the new real.

      I love Keep...never gonna' let it go.

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