You can use Delicious to organize your student life, Evernote to help you reduce your paper clutter and more! Evernote, in particular, can definitely be considered a giant when it comes to the many platforms it has apps for and how versatile it is.
Jarnal is also a great note-taking application that can run in Windows, Mac and Linux and deserves a mention, without a doubt, for its extensive features.
Jarnal is an open-source note-taking and sketching application that you can run without installing it (as the program is bundled in a zipped file), but there are also installable versions for Windows and Mac on the official wiki and SourceForge page. Debian users will also be able to download a .deb package, while users from other Linux distros can make use of the ZIP file.
Comparing It To Windows Journal
Windows Journal, which comes bundled in certain editions of Windows XP, Vista, and 7, is actually a very neat and handy application for taking notes on your tablet PC, whether they are handwritten or typed notes. There were certain drawbacks to Windows Journal though, namely, the lack of additional importable files (you could only insert pictures), and the inability to export to PDF or something other than the .jnt Journal file type and .tiff image format. The .jnt file makes it pretty hard to view on say, a library computer, or even share them with classmates, because you’re pretty much out of luck unless you can run Windows Journal Viewer.
I used Windows Journal for a while, enjoying how I was able to insert and remove space for new notes, which I could select and move around to my liking. What bugged me a tad bit was the fact that I had to batch convert PDF slides for my classes to image files before I could insert them in Journal. I eventually found that PDF X-Change Viewer provided annotation features that SumatraPDF didn’t have. Still, with the free edition of the X-Change Viewer, you can’t add PDF slides, which comes in handy when you annotate the heck out of the slides and run out of space.
This is where Jarnal shines. Since it’s for note-taking and sketching, you can add more space, annotate and export the whole thing to PDF. You first unzip the file, run jarnal.cm and head to File > Open Background (New On Background also works but it’s to open another instance of Jarnal) to choose your PDF file (or Word document) as your background.
Editing The PDF File: Annotating & Merging With Other PDF Files
After you’ve imported your PDF file as your background to annotate on, you can use the text tool to insert typed notes, or the pen tool to draw freehand shapes. You can also basically create new PDF slides by inserting pages (and making diagram copies of whatever’s being illustrated by the professor on the board on these new slides which you will export later to PDF) and merging with other PDF files by inserting additional backgrounds.
Other cool things you can do include inserting links, arrows (Ctrl + D), rectangles, etc. smoothing out your hand-drawn diagrams (by checking Smooth Strokes under Tools), and customizing what actions the middle or right mouse buttons perform (e.g. act as eraser, show context menu, etc).
When you’re ready to save your annotated document, complete with your hand-drawn diagrams and notes, head to File > Export to PDF. You can also save the current page as an image or save it as a Jarnal file (.jaj).
Though it doesn’t have lots of keyboard shortcuts, overall, Jarnal makes it easy for students who prefer to digitize notes (and save trees!) without having different programs to juggle while taking notes. In fact, I remember one of my classmates from a few years back who took notes on her laptop would type her notes in Word and painstakingly copy the diagrams from the white board in MS Paint. I imagine keeping these separate document and image files would make it harder to consolidate the study material so Jarnal is definitely a nice program worth trying for students.
Do you know of any other student-friendly applications or do you currently have a unique and genius note-taking method you’d like to share? Enlighten us in the comments!