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If you want an uncomplicated note-taking app, Simplenote is not the only noteworthy (excuse the pun) option available to you.

Keeping your ideas and projects organized would be tough if you didn’t have a sturdy note-taking app to turn to. While biggies like Evernote and Microsoft OneNote are among the most popular tools for taking notes, their complex feature set may not be to everyone’s liking.

If you have been looking for a simpler note-taking app yourself, chances are that you have come across many recommendations for the multi-platform app Simplenote Simplenote for Android is a Free, Fast and Fantastic Notepad Simplenote for Android is a Free, Fast and Fantastic Notepad Good apps like to show off their many features. Great apps get out of the way and let you do what you came to do. Read More . That app definitely does its job well, but before you sign up for it, do explore a few other interesting options like the three listed below.

The following apps have quite a few things in common. For starters, all of them are open source What Is Open Source Software? [MakeUseOf Explains] What Is Open Source Software? [MakeUseOf Explains] "Open source" is a term that’s thrown around a lot these days. You may know that certain things are open source, like Linux and Android, but do you know what it entails? What is open... Read More . A couple of them support Markdown, the smart way to write digitally Learn The Basics Of Markdown in 10 Minutes With This Video Tutorial Learn The Basics Of Markdown in 10 Minutes With This Video Tutorial If you've heard about markdown but not yet had chance to try it out, this short video should get you up to speed with the language that makes creating content for the web easy. Read More . You don’t have to go through a sign up process to use any of them. Best of all, thanks to their local/remote storage options, you stay in control of your data. You can also choose to sync to third-party services like Dropbox. Now, let’s take a closer look at each of these note-taking tools.

1. Litewrite [Web, Chrome]

This open source app is minimal as they come. It was partially inspired by iA Writer, a popular text editor for Mac and iOS iA Writer for Mac & iOS: The Best Word Processor You've Never Used iA Writer for Mac & iOS: The Best Word Processor You've Never Used Be it a school paper or a blog post, all of us at some point find ourselves in the position of having to dump a bunch of characters into a text file. While cell phone... Read More . When you open the Litewrite website, you’ll be greeted by a default introductory note. Click on the tiny plus (+) icon at the top left and you can start taking notes right away.

All your notes appear as a list tucked away in a discrete sidebar. When you scale down the browser window, the app hides the sidebar options within a clickable list icon. Also, there a handful of shortcuts to create and switch between notes.

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lite-write-ui

Your notes are backed up to your browser and are accessible offline. If you’re brave and geeky enough to deal with terms like open remoteStorage standard, go ahead and click on the widget at the top right. Through this widget, you can sync your notes to various devices using your own storage provider. If you’re a Chrome user, install Litewrite’s Chrome app for easy access.

2. Laverna [Web]

Markdown-based Laverna has a slightly more advanced setup than Litewrite and Springseed (listed below). But that hasn’t made its UI too complex or difficult to navigate. If you have used Evernote, you’ll find Laverna’s approach similar.

With the app’s user-friendly UI to guide you, you should have no trouble creating notebooks and notes. The main screen of the app provides a list of all your notes in a sidebar on the left. When you select a note, its contents appear in the display area on the right, as shown below. In the Normal mode, you can edit the note right from this screen. Access your notebooks, app settings, starred items, and the trash can via the dropdown at the top left.

laverna-main-screen

The image below shows a preview of the note editing process in the Preview mode. Fullscreen is the third mode that you can switch to. With Laverna, it’s possible to insert tags and tasks in your notes. For tags, prefix the tag label with @. For tasks, prefix the item with [ ] or [x] to mark it as incomplete or complete, respectively.

laverna-edit-note

The Settings section comes with options to add remote storage or link to Dropbox, enable/disable encryption, import/export settings, switch between modes, etc. You can navigate the UI using keyboard shortcuts, which are also listed in the settings.

laverna-settings

Laverna is still in beta, so you might come across the odd feature that doesn’t work or doesn’t work as you’d expect it to. For example, I found that I could star a note only from within its content section and not from its sidebar listing.

3. Springseed [Linux]

Springseed’s UI is pleasing and easy to find your way around. Your notebooks are listed in the first column on the left, notes occupy the second column, and the note contents are displayed in the last one. Creating, editing, and deleting notes is straightforward, and is guided by helpful universal icons that we’re all accustomed to. Springseed comes with Markdown support.

springseed-ui

Notes are stored locally, and there’s not much in the way of app settings. Syncing your notes with your Dropbox account is the only additional tweak that’s possible in Springseed. The only-what-you-need approach is a great way to make note-taking quick and efficient, and Springseed seems to have adopted it effortlessly.

springseed-note

Note-taking at Its Effective Best

Note-taking apps like Evernote Springpad vs Catch vs Evernote vs OneNote - Which Is Best On Android? Springpad vs Catch vs Evernote vs OneNote - Which Is Best On Android? At one time, people actually had to carry around notebooks if they wanted to take notes - remember the once-big fad of Moleskine notebooks? Nowadays, smartphones have made most pocket objects obsolete. Why carry around... Read More are great. But if you need only the most basic features to work with, all the bells and whistles of feature-rich apps can be distracting. In that case, it’s best to opt for unobtrusive apps like Simplenote or its offline alternatives listed here.

Which note-taking app do you prefer, and why? Let us know in the comments.

Image credits: The featured image is a derivative of ? jules via Compfight cc

  1. Leo
    September 18, 2014 at 10:27 pm

    I recommend TiddlyWiki: "a versatile note-taking web application you can download for free, store wherever you like, customise however you wish, and use to take / organise / share your notes in ways that word processors and other note-taking tools cannot. TiddlyWiki is designed to be non-linear, structuring content with stories, tags, hyperlinks, and other features, so that you can organise and retrieve your notes in ways that conform to your personal thought patterns, rather than feel chained to one preset organisational structure.

    You can use TiddlyWiki as a single file that you view and edit through any web browser, whether you are online or offline. Or you can use it as a powerful Node.js application that stores each of your notes as a separate file."

    • Akshata
      September 19, 2014 at 5:42 am

      That certainly looks like a sturdy option, Leo. Thanks for pointing it out.

    • Akshata
      September 19, 2014 at 5:48 am

      That certainly looks like a sturdy option, Leo. Thanks for pointing it out.

  2. William Conley
    August 11, 2014 at 8:49 pm

    Not really an app, but I use WorkPerfect Lightning.

    • Akshata
      August 12, 2014 at 3:18 am

      I think that's a desktop app from Corel. Thanks for the tip, William.

  3. Jeremy G
    July 15, 2014 at 5:31 am

    I've tried a bunch of apps over the years but only recently have found one simple enough for my needs: Fast Writer (Android)
    A basic text editor, it comes with sharing and encryption (I've never needed the latter) should I need to add my notes to Dropbox or Evernote.

  4. em
    July 14, 2014 at 12:56 pm

    i started using laverna after reading this article an i like almost more than evernote. the markdown support is a big plus along with offline capabilities.

    • Akshata
      July 14, 2014 at 4:59 pm

      That's great to hear, em.

  5. Anya D
    July 11, 2014 at 7:45 am

    I prefer Google Keep, it's simple, it works on multiple platforms and devices, it syncs and save automatically and it is available offline. It is also easy to share notes in a multitude of ways, includes to do lists, reminders (either time or location based) supports attaching images.

    • Akshata
      July 11, 2014 at 1:59 pm

      Thanks for the overview of Google Keep, Anya. Offline availability is definitely a big plus.

  6. Vnay T
    July 11, 2014 at 6:52 am

    You didn't include #Evernote. How could you?

    • Akshata
      July 11, 2014 at 1:58 pm

      I have to assume you didn't read the article, Vnay. I was going for minimal note-taking alternatives along the lines of Simplenote, and Evernote doesn't seem to fit into that category.

  7. later
    July 10, 2014 at 10:13 pm

    May I suggest focus writer and monkey.

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