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take notes while watching videoSome ideas are so simple that you are left wondering why anyone didn’t think of it before; especially Google which has YouTube under its large umbrella. The idea I am talking about here relates to take notes while watching video. Anyone who has done an online educational course with video lectures, or let’s say, has taken the help of a video tutorial will vouch for the value of note taking while watching a video.

Strangely, there doesn’t seem to be a seamless solution in sight. Note taking apps are dime a dozen, but try to make one work while watching a video and you will burn out your Alt-Tab shortcut keys. One workable solution is using a desktop sticky application Stickies - The Best Way to Keep Sticky Notes On Your Windows PC Stickies - The Best Way to Keep Sticky Notes On Your Windows PC The other day, I realized something that both shocked and delighted me. In the entire span of MakeUseOf’s existence, its authors seem to have missed one application which I deem absolutely essential to my day-to-day... Read More alongside a video and have it on top of the video window. Or use the vastly underrated Microsoft OneNote 10 Awesome OneNote Tips You Should Be Using All The Time [Windows] 10 Awesome OneNote Tips You Should Be Using All The Time [Windows] I am going to ruffle a few feathers here by saying that Microsoft OneNote is just as good as Evernote. Evernote is probably more barebones and easier to handle, while OneNote is the digital equivalent... Read More . But it is not a smart solution. That tag belongs to

A Note Taking App with a Difference

take notes while watching video

VideoNotes is geared to be a free educational tool for online learners who do a lot of their learning on sites like YouTube, Coursera, Udacity, Khan Academy, and EdX. I am sure, more will be added soon. The French educational startup UniShared created the platform with an idea driven by collaborative knowledge sharing. Let’s put VideoNotes to the test and learn what makes it a pretty good addition to your study kit.

VideoNotes piggybacks on Google Drive like an integrated Google Drive app Making the Most of Google Drive With Integrated Apps Making the Most of Google Drive With Integrated Apps Google Drive can be used to sync files between your computers, but that’s just one of its many features. Google wants Google Drive to be your new cloud hard drive, accessible from any device. To... Read More . Every note that you create is saved with its associated video URL to your Google Drive account. You can log into VideoNotes with your Google account. As you can see in the screenshot below, the interface is divided into left and right areas for the video and the notes respectively. If you want a bit of handholding through the minimal features, click on the name logo on the top to start the brief interactive tour.

take notes while watching video

Copy-pasting the video URL loads the video and you are ready to begin your lesson. VideoNotes gives you more help for finding out the URL for any Coursera video. The screenshot below shows that the video is loaded and ready to be played.

taking notes while watching films

As the video starts playing, you can shift your attention to the notes editor on the right and start capturing important points for your learning and recall. You can start by naming your note so that you can refer back to it later when a bunch of them have piled up in Google Drive.

taking notes while watching films

VideoNotes is simply not about putting down lines of notes while the video plays on the side. Each note that you capture on the notes editor is automatically synchronized with video. So, you can click on a specific note and the video will jump to that precise point on the timeline. This is the “smart solution” to note taking I was talking about earlier.

The Note Taking Shortcuts

VideoNotes gives you a few shortcuts that give you hands on control over your note taking:

  • You can play-and-pause the video playback with the CTRL+Spacebar key. Alternatively, use the video player controls.
  • You can toggle the sync (on or off) with CTRL+ALT+s. Alternatively; you can use the On-Off switch.

All notes are automatically saved to Google Drive and you can access them from the File Menu. You can also access them directly from Google Drive.

take notes while watching video

Collaboration with Google Drive

If you have a group studying around a common video, Google Drive’s collaborative feature can be exploited to the hilt. The notes do not have to be linear. Everyone can chip in to add discussion points on a video tutorial. Teachers can create their own video tutorials or use an existing one and explain it with points in the notes editor. Collaboration with students opens up lessons to deeper understanding and recall.

A Few Quirks

It’s a good beginning as a note taking platform for learning videos. But VideoNotes isn’t perfect. The notes editor is barebones right now. Text formatting features would go a long way in making the notes richer. Real-time chats could help to make learning more discussion oriented. There are workarounds that make YouTube a more social experience Tired Of Watching Videos Alone? Here Are The Best 3 Ways To Watch YouTube With Friends. Tired Of Watching Videos Alone? Here Are The Best 3 Ways To Watch YouTube With Friends. Are you someone who like to sit alone and watch all these online videos. Having some friends along to share your thoughts and reactions with is so much more fun. There are many ways to... Read More . Hyperlinking a note to an external resource is a feature I would love to see get implemented. Also, right now there is no way to share your notes with others from within VideoNotes. You have to log into your integrated Google Drive account and share from there which is a bit irksome.

But a new application can be forgiven its wrinkles especially when it does the simple thing well (and is free). Here the simplest thing is the benefits of taking notes and saving them with the relevant points on a video. If you use video tutorials for learning, then VideoNotes is a must try. But tell me…how do you take notes while watching video? And how does your method compare with VideoNotes?

  1. nka
    October 4, 2016 at 7:02 am

    We used to use this tool all the time but now it appears broken. The video never plays

    • Saikat Basu
      October 6, 2016 at 4:31 am

      Yeah. They haven't repaired / updated it. It was a handy tool.

  2. Shuo Wu
    August 18, 2016 at 5:29 am

    Since videonotes cannot really work well, I create an alternative chrome extension for online video note taking (TurboNote, can be found in chrome web store as TurboNote beta). Better support, seamlessly injected into video page, support share and export to Evernote.

    • Saikat Basu
      August 21, 2016 at 7:02 am

      Thanks Shuo. Will try it out!

  3. Charles
    July 7, 2016 at 1:48 pm

    Doesn't seem to work with Udemy.

    • Saikat Basu
      July 7, 2016 at 5:14 pm only works with YouTube, Coursera, Udacity, Khan Academy, and EdX.

  4. matt
    February 8, 2016 at 8:42 pm

    I have tried to use this several times. It worked great once and it will never play the video now.

    • Saikat Basu
      February 10, 2016 at 6:56 am

      Oh! The URL seems to have changed somehow. Try this:

      It is working on my end.

  5. Scott M
    April 24, 2013 at 10:04 am

    Not a lot to say except I love the simplicity and usefulness of this app.I like apps that just do the job right without bells and whistles added on to give the impression of it being the very last word in application.

    • Saikat Basu
      April 24, 2013 at 3:25 pm

      Spot on Scott. It does one job and it does it well.

  6. Bakari Chavanu
    April 23, 2013 at 10:30 pm

    Awesome tool, Saikat. I've taken notes of videos in the past, but have always wanted a way to make them annotations and books of the video. This tool makes that possible.

    • Saikat Basu
      April 24, 2013 at 3:25 pm

      Thanks Bakari. I really was surprised that no one really thought of developing a similar app before, especially YouTube which has so many educational channels.

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