Which Is The Best Note-Taking App Out There? [MakeUseOf Poll]

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Last week we asked you which devices (desktops, laptops, tablets) should be available for children at school. While not many of you chose to answer this poll, the discussion that ensued in the comments was interesting and enlightening, with many different opinions brought to the table. But which answer got the most votes in the poll?

Out of 233 votes, the results were as follows: 11% think laptops are the best option for schools, 13% think it should be tablets, 17% voted for desktop computers, 19% voted for networked clients, and 33% voted for some combination of these options. 6% think schools shouldn’t offer any of these options.

Full results and this week’s poll after the jump.

Don’t forget to check out last week’s best comment by Lisa Santika Onggrid. It was a very hard choice this week, but Lisa managed to pull forward and win 150 points yet again. Keep the awesome comments coming!

This week’s poll question is: Which Is The Best Note-Taking App Out There?

Want to make some extra MakeUseOf reward points? The most useful comment on the poll will be awarded 150 points!

Taking notes used to be a simple task: you get a piece of paper and a pen, write a note, and then carry the crumpled thing in your bag for a month before you throw it away. Things are different today; we now have note-taking apps we can use no matter where we are, and access our notes on all our devices, be it a computer, a tablet, or a phone. There are hundreds of note-taking apps available, but several big ones stand out from the crowd. Do you use one of the best known ones, or do you opt for a small one we’ve probably never heard of? Or maybe you still prefer pen and paper over all apps?

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What makes your favorite app the best? Is there an app that should have been included but wasn’t? Are none of the apps as good as a piece of paper? Discuss it all in the comments.

59 Comments - Write a Comment


Ian McCully

Evernote has to get my vote, but what would make it better is if you could text too it from your phone, thanks.


Garris Rago

Evernote’s got my vote aswell



DevonThink!!! Amazing power, and best of all, it’s Mac-only. ;-)


How is that good???


It’s good because it keeps the Apple fanboys where they belong – locked away in their own teeny tiny world where they can’t break anything ;)

Logan Ingram

I totally have to agree (I use Windows, Android).


Bumferry Hogart

I have no doubt that evernote will win this poll. As a user myself I love the fact that I can have this app on my laptop, phone and tablet. I’m sure there is very little difference between all of the above options but would be interested to see why other choose their respective apps.
Is there one app that is just that little bit better? What makes it the king of note-taking apps above all others?
Even though Evernote has been “hacked(!?)” recently and we have all had to reset our passwords, would other companies be as secure or as quick to act as Evernote did?
Either way, Evernote gets the thumbs up from me has never let me down.


Scott Belcher

It’s Evernote for me. I’ve looked at loads of others, tried Springpad (admittedly some time ago), and really don’t like the look of the others, feature-wise. As others have said, a main attraction for me to Evernote is that it’s available on phone, could and pc. And, yeah, even the recent hack doesn’t make me want to move away from it.


Caitlin Cahill

Evernote gets my vote for it’s offline capabilities and ability to combine photos, audio, and text in one note.

I love Springpad, but it’s not really a note-taking app. It’s more of a bookmarking and clipping app – like a cross between Pinterest, Evernote, and Diigo…all of which I also use.



Wunderlist, thinkery.me



Evernote is great for cross platform note taking and syncing, but I have been using OneNote more on my computer for note taking in class. It integrates really well with Windows and other Office products. For example, if I have a PowerPoint.open, I can take linked notes so that OneNote shows what slide I was on when I typed a line of text. It can also do that with other applications and (I believe) browsers.

Pedro Moreira

Evernote is great and i it was my first note taking app. I stopped using it because of one big and one small reasons: the small one was that it didn’t let me use text formatting in the Android app, that was only possible in the Web app (i don’t know if this changed). The big reason is that 95% of the time i was taking notes on the Web app, which is really convenient, but it was so extremely bugged that i couldn’t format 2 paragraphs in a row without getting awful bugs and the only way to fix them was copying the entire text of the note, deleting the note, and “paste as simple text” in a new note. Not even the “remove formatting” button fixed it. I did spend more time working around the bugs than taking notes. I’m not exagerating here, the use experience was completely horrible.

Then i’ve tried Springpad, which seemed really pretty. I’ve wrote a nice, huge, paragraph for a project’s documentation. And it was huge. I was very happy with it. The next time i opened the note, it was almost all gone! It’s like it stopped saving after the first 3 lines or so, without any kind of warning. And that was the last time i’ve used Springpad.

Then i’ve tried Google Drive (which is not an option on this poll). It works so amazingly well that it became my note taking app of choice. Well, the Android app doesn’t provide the same functionality of the web app, but everything just works so well that i didn’t really care. And it does something that other apps don’t, which is real-time collaboration without any kind of setup. I mean, just share the document with someone, give him permissions to edit, and he can write on it at the same time as you, in real time. You can write, for example, on the middle of the document while he is writing on the bottom, you can see him typing in real time. I think you can add as many people as you want to write on it at the same time. For me, that functionality means taking notes twice as fast on my university classes. The only 2 things that i miss from Drive is the lack of graphic-drawing (we can draw them by hand, which is time-consuming and not very accurate) and the lack of “text boxes”, that lets us write anywhere. With those 2 extra features, it would be just perfect.

Now i’ve tried OneNote, it’s also amazing because you can write literally anywhere, like, everything is wrote on text-boxes.
It also supports including stuff from any Office product and other formats, like pdf. So you can add a Power Point presentation in the middle of a note, or Excel sheets and graphics. You can also use the SkyDrive’s web app, which works very well as far as i tested it. But it lacks the real-time collaboration from Drive, so i’m sticking to Drive for now.
If Microsoft implements the real-time collaboration thing, i will totally start using this.


I think you can collaborate in OneNote. I haven’t tried it, but I think if you share the note, the other person can edit it in real time.

Pedro Moreira

I spent like 1 hour trying. I’ve even searched on google and it seems that the only way to collaborate is sharing the file over the network.
If it’s possible, then it’s extremely unintuitive.


Bob Lucore

An application that is really great for simply making notes (not for clipping etc.) is Workflowy. You can put your entire life in one big outline. Great for not taking, to do lists, brainstorming, outlining. You can add hash tags for sorting. It is really simple yet versatile. https://workflowy.com/


Alex Downs

For me Evernote’s been a bit of a golden standard. While i do own OneNote, and think it is very well organized. For the price of Free or 100 some odd dollars (note: use Office 2010 Home and Student Edition) I think Evernote does all the same things, minus some minor features. Perfect example, I did my entire Technology Applications class using Evernote over using OneNote. I personally like both interfaces, desktop and moblie, though I personally think Evernote’s Android app is a little more polished. I can not speak for iOS though.


Rajaa Chowdhury

Microsoft OneNote is probably the best note taking desktop application while Evernote holds the roost in the mobile platform. However, with recent development of MS OneNote availability on the popular mobile platforms, I must say that Microsoft has transgressed that divide and distance. If you want a simple note taking application, which syncs beautifully your notes on various platforms, MS Onenote is the way to go. I can vouch with my first-hand experience of using and syncing my notes via MS Onenote within Cloud, MS Windows 7 64 bit and my Android smartphone.


Junil Maharjan

I have been using evernote for some time now and it is a very easy to use tool. mostly i use it to get notes from websites which it makes too easy.


Duane Adam

First of all there is not best in anything. Best depends on someone’s opinion. It might be best for me but not for you. Now… into the topic.
For me, a combo of free apps. Evernote (note taking, clipping), Wunderlist (Reminder/To-do list), Skitch (screenshot and annotations) and Pocket (although Evernote Clipper does almost the same as this app but I prefer to separate my stuffs).

Yaara Lancet

Thanks Duane!

A poll in its definition is based on opinions, not on facts. I’m asking readers to vote and tell me what their opinion is. Of course there is no absolute best, if there were, we wouldn’t need to have a poll. :)


Suleiman Orotta

It would be Evernote and this is why:

Evernote supports all of these :

iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch
Windows Phone
WebOS (via App Catalog)

For Computers:

Mac OS X
Windows Desktop
Windows 8 (Touch)

The other taking notes apps target Apple iOS and Android only.

I hope this was useful to all.





ColorNote! It has everything needed, who needs fancy features? I just want to make a note/shopping list for God’s sake :P

Lisa Santika Onggrid

Haha, yes. I think so too, though I need one for my computer. It’s why I choose notetaking app which saves in plain text. As long as it’s searchable and lightning fast it’s okay.


Vampie C.

I’ve been using evernote for 3 years, gone pro after 6 months.

It’s easy in that way that it is available on (allmost) all platforms.

But I use it only to store notes I need for more than a couple of hours.

If I need to note an address I need to visit in the evening, I still use a small simple notepad like app on my phone. (http://www.gnotes.me/)

I’ve tried all the rest as well, but they all lack something (rich text, images, …) or they are too specific.

Evernote is simple in that way: It just stores data, indexes it, makes it all searchable.



Actually none of them is the super app out there. I actually use 3 apps to cover my needs in general, as follows:

Simplenote: I use the ResophNotes desktop client. Here I keep a running list of thoughts, ideas, and any random thing I *need* (ahem) to store for future reference. The flat n’ simple text-only system works great for the major part. The app is lightweight and super fast, which is why I use it. I also like the fact that there’s basically an app for every platform – if I change from Win to Linux or Mac in the future, I’ll simply keep using this, which is great. The lack of a decent mobile app is a negative point here. There are so many simplenote apps but neither of them is the go-to app. An good official app would be nice. Hence I mostly use the dekstop app with SimpleNote, which is definitely a limitatinon.

Evernote: I use this to clip stuff from the internet for future “in case” reference. Mostly I use it to clip web pages which I reference in my studies to keep as a snapshot and “proof” that it indeed was how I referenced it. I also store parts of pages of random things like recipes, etc. However I rarely use the desktop app coz it’s slow and clunky, and it lacks navigation by keyboard in Windows. The basic and obvious Alt-WhicheverKey to access the menu doesn’t work, which is a definite turn off. I find the lack of official support for Linux to be snobbish too. (I know there’s the NeverNote app which hooks into the Evernote data but I’d still expect a company with such wide adoption to officially support Linux.)

Catch: I basically use this on my mobile and tablet. I came across this when looking for an Evernote replacement. I prefer Catch’s app than Evernote on mobile/tablet. I use it for quick reference of simple things like oft-used recipes, to take a snapshot of where I parked or something I like for supposed future reference. If they only had a desktop app, this could replace Evernote. (Or if Evernote made lighter desktop and mobile apps, they would render Catch useless for me.)

There goes my take on the note-taking apps. For good or bad, we live in a fragmented world!

Lisa Santika Onggrid

I agree. Each app has its own advantage/disadvantage. You do well by combining them to suit your needs.

Yaara Lancet

Thanks for the comment! As a registered user, you’d probably win 150 points for this. :)


Bruce W. Fowler

Keepnote. !!



Zim desktop wiki is absolutely fantastic. I use it for all my notes, projects etc.


Pocholo Peralta

If Cloudshipapp was included, it could be #1



Having used Evernote for 18 months I recently went back to Springpad.

Springpad is so much better for organising content that can be collaborated on, it has a hands on support Community with Springpad employees actively involved and Springpad constantly seek ways to improve and/or implement user feedback as well as have an incredible email system for emailing content to Springpad.

Also I hear rumours there is a new version coming soon that will improve on the already great UI of both web and apps :)

Springpad all the way for me – as I said in my opening sentence – I used the ‘elephant’ for 18 months, but found it lumbering and grey compared to the springiness and vibrancy of Springpad.

If you can Think it – you can Spring it!
Happy Springing :)


Mac Witty

Notational Velocity for quick note taking
(Synchronize natively with Simplenote, or via files in Dropbox with other apps)

Evernote for things i will collect, organize and build to things


Ashwin Ramesh

My vote goes to Evernote.

It helps you remember everything, literally! Evernote’s desktop applications for Mac OS and Windows, it’s mobile apps for iPhone, Windows Phone 7, iPad, Android, Blackberry and even WebOS makes it real easy, not only to take notes, but to share them anywhere and on any device. Saving, tagging notes with a location, creating and organizing notebooks makes it a great tool. It is also real good at letting you capture, scan, and save; snap and clip web pages you browse, and share them! The service’s webapp does it’s job real well too.

Evernote does it ALL for me… to say the least :)



1. Allows PDF importing
2. Can take notes writing or with text.
3. Tons of great features and really easy to use.


Carrie Parker

For the iPad, I prefer Notability. I had already posted but wasn’t logged in.


James Van Damme

Tomboy, on Linux.

Lisa Santika Onggrid

Tomboy is a good software, despite people’s hate to Mono. I particularly like the automatic page linking feature, making it looks like a personal Wiki as well.


Yash Desai

i like pen and paper because you can make notes extremely personalized and not be restricted to the symbols on the keyboard.

Lisa Santika Onggrid

Exactly. I can write faster than I can type. Plus, I hate making Math & Physics notes digitally. Finding the right symbol takes too much time.


Dee Wheat

Definitely pen and paper. OK, quit groaning! If you write it, you are far more likely to remember it. I took full notes monthly during a nine monthly session disability course I was taking. I cut people disks, and they rhapsodized about how wonderful they were….spelling, grammar, content….they were amazing. Unfortunately typing doesn’t trigger the same retention responses that manual note taking does, and I ended up spending more time reading my typed notes than I would have doing them by hand.

Children….all children, even if they are now young adults….must learn how to learn, and the fastest, easiest, and most effective way to do that is to WRITE IT DOWN!

Rodney Willis

This is definitely true. As a teenager, I could memorize very long passages (verbatim) in a night simply by visualizing writing each word letter by letter. While it wasn’t actually writing the words, it was essentially the same to my brain without the hand cramps. It’s slow, but extremely effective.

Lisa Santika Onggrid

I too, prefer to keep my schoolnotes handwritten even if I store my writing ideas digitally. It’s easier to memorize and sticks longer.



Another one for Evernote, it does everything I need it to without hassles.


Aska Nag

I tnink Evernote.


Carlo Vincente

I think the best apps are old fashioned paper and pen. I´m up and writing in a few seconds, much faster than any other software.


David Taylor

Although I have been getting a lot of value out of MS OneNote lately (after spending a couple of years routinely uninstalling it) there are still some situations where you can’t beat a pen and paper for quick diagrams, notes and comments – the only catch is deciphering my hand writing after 24 hours. I guess that just adds a level of security to my note pad!



JC&MB Quicknote http://www.quicknote.de/


David Yaroshevsky

Notability! It’s one of the best-organized apps out there, and it offers backup to popular services like Google Drive and of course iCloud. Plus, it’s (at least for now) really cheap as far as note-taking apps go!


Bill Laurienti

Coupled with SkyDrive and its trim little Android App, I find I’m using OneNote almost exclusively. I still have a lot of lists stored in Springpad, and photographed print advertisements stored in my Evernote account though.


Alan Wade

Pen and paper still works for me!


Rodney Willis

While Evernote is easy for jotting down a quick note and accessing it from any device, OneNote is my go-to tool for serious notes.

I am using OneNote in the following ways:
1) Writing a book (has enough word-processing capabilities, plus easy to maintain all the meta-data about characters, places, plotlines, etc.)
2) Developing software (with pen-input, can draw screen mockups, annotate them, outline features, keep track of progress, etc.)
3) Meeting Notes (easily search all meetings looking for specific information).

KeyNote NF is another program I have used a lot, but the ability to create an outline can only be found in OneNote. I tend to think in outlines, and use them extensively in organizing my thoughts for many activities. OneNote uses a similar outlining capability that is found in Word, and that is a good thing. No other program that I’ve found has it.

Finally, a good note-taking application must be cross platform. Things that are iOS and Android-only simply don’t cut it for a multi-device person.



Lisa Santika Onggrid

Personally, I think Dee White’s comments are all insightful. Last week’s poll was very interesting as many seems to be able to relate to the topic.
As for this week’s poll, funny that you ask it, Yaara, because this is a topic I’m struggling with for a long time now. As a student and hobbyist writer, I need something to help me tame my notes. I’ve lost many, many notes over the course of the years, some of them I totally regret even till this day.
My schoolnotes are still in paper notebook because it’s easier that way. We don’t use digital notes at school because some teachers would check your notes every now and then to make sure you have all necessary materials (plus making Mathematical formula in notetaking app is usually a nightmare). I mainly use notetaking app for writing projects and half-attempt at journalling.
I’ve tried almost every notetaking app out there. OneNote impressed me for a few months, until I find the ‘save as printout’ functionality broke in x64 (which my laptop uses) and I can’t open my notes elsewhere. Evernote seems nice, but rely too much to the cloud. Notelens almost won me over, but it would only save in My Documents folder. I store quotes and thoughts in Fetchnotes for a while, but I don’t have constant internet connection so it’s not too effective either. Currently my notes are scattered in both Flashnote and Clipcube-haven’t got the time to sort them through. Everything is sub-par because I’m not constantly with my computer. Laptop isn’t good enough either. It’s a hassle to take it out your bag, waiting it to boot just to jot down some notes. At the end, I resort to my phone for quick thoughts and flashes of ideas, or pen-and-paper if the supply is near.My phone isn’t a smartphone, so I just stash them in my message drafts folder.
When I have time at weekend I’ll sort my notes in Flashnote and Clipcube, then type everything in my phone and notebooks. I keep them because they fulfill my criteria of notetaking app: saving in plain text, easily searchable, taggable, portable, and can be opened with a hotkey. Clipcube is essentially a clipboard extender so each will fill different needs. I put them in my Dropbox for easy retrieval. Evernote is overkill IMO.

Lisa Santika Onggrid

Almost forgotten. Informations for long-term storage goes to WikiOnaStick (I’m building my personal encyclopedia). Small, customizable, and works anywhere with a web browser.

Yaara Lancet

You seem to have it covered. :) A great, detailed comment, as usual. Thanks Lisa!



Nice article, really interesting.
Personally, my essential app in business is Beesy. For me is the best note taking app: http://www.beesapps.com/beesy-testimonials-best-note-taking-app/. It’s a great tool for my everyday life at work, help to sort out and don’t forget a thing on my differents projects. Very useful also in meeting with I can import, make annotation and share my files with people. Take note and send minutes at the end of the meeting by mail very quickly and easily.

I discovered this tool on Trunk Evernote, so I think it’s can be interesting.



Peter Carney

These 3 things:

1. Any IOS or high quality Android smartphone or tablet
2. The CamNote app
3. An Infinity Binder

You’re welcome.



really surprised not to see Cherrytree notes on this list, simply excellent app.
find it, use it!

Yaara Lancet


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