Productivity Windows

6 Modern Note-Taking Apps to Keep Your Thoughts Organized

Brad Jones 21-02-2015

Ever have a thought slip away and wish you had written it down Better Than a Notepad: The 3 Fastest Ways To Jot Down Notes on Android Whether you need to jot down ideas for your next project or items you want to pick up at the store, it's always good to have something ready for taking notes. Many people carry around... Read More ? Grab one of these modern note-taking apps, and you’ll be able to jot down a promising idea at the drop of a hat.


For some people, there’s no replacement for pen and paper when it comes to taking notes. However, if you’re open to a more high-tech way to record your thoughts, you might get more mileage from one of the many note-taking apps that are available to download for free from the Windows Store.

Whether you’re taking down shopping lists or writing HTML code Not Just For Developers: 7 HTML Tags Any Writer Should Know To be marketable and flexible online, you just have to know how to format a full HTML article, or how to tweak things. Read More , there’s a notepad app out there that will suit your needs perfectly. Here are some of the very best modern apps to help you record your ideas and keep them organized.


Microsoft’s modern version of the flagship note-taking app concentrates on doing simple things well.

With more than a decade of development behind it and a spot as part of the Microsoft Office suite, OneNote is the standard 10 Unique Ways to Use Microsoft OneNote OneNote is one of Microsoft's most underrated apps. It's available on almost every platform and can do many tricks you wouldn't expect from a note keeping app. Read More  that all other note-taking apps are judged by. Like many of the modern versions of Microsoft’s established product line, the OneNote app focusses on streamlining the experience to ensure that it can be used across a broad range of devices — but there’s still plenty of functionality on offer here.

The app makes great use of action wheels to offer a broad selection of tools without cluttering the interface. With a couple of clicks, you can add an item to your to-do list, or insert an image, or gain access to a highlighter to mark up your notes. While the drawing interface is clearly intended for use with touch-based devices, it’s been calibrated well enough such that you can readily use pen tools with a mouse.



Of course, if you’re used to the fully-fledged version of OneNote 5 Ways to Get Productive With Microsoft OneNote Do you feel the need for an offline organization tool that also exists on the web? Surprisingly, Microsoft has come up with the perfect solution - OneNote. Read More that’s part of the Office suite, there are going to be features that you will miss. There aren’t nearly as many options in terms of how your organize your notes, or the tools that you’re given to create the notes themselves. It’s a scaled-down version by design, so don’t go in expecting a similarly all-encompassing version of the software as its bigger brother.

The OneNote app keeps things simple, and does an admirable job of distinguishing between the must-have features of a note-taking app and the tools that can be discarded to help with accessibility. Strong search tools and cross-device access make this a great app for general use.

In case you’re using the free version of OneNote for the desktop, you should know that Microsoft recently removed all restrictions compared to the Office version of OneNote 5 Ways to Get Productive With Microsoft OneNote Do you feel the need for an offline organization tool that also exists on the web? Surprisingly, Microsoft has come up with the perfect solution - OneNote. Read More .


Notepad Classic [No Longer Available]

A Metro-styled version of the long-standing Notepad tool.

While it’s developed by a third party, Notepad Classic does an excellent job of mimicking the Metro stylings of Microsoft’s own modern apps. This minimalist approach to the interface carries over to the rest of the app, making for a very robust tool — even if it’s not much to look at.

When you open up Notepad Classic, all you’re presented with is a large space to write in, and a basic toolbar for functionality, like saving your work and adding a timestamp. There are no frills at all here, and if you’re a believer in distraction-free environments helping to get work done, then you’ll be right at home.



Given that this app purports to be a modernized take on the stalwart Windows Notepad tool, it’s unsurprising that a few small accommodations have been made for users planning to use it for coding. Perhaps most useful is the addition of a constant line and column readout in the top-right of the interface, akin to Notepad’s status bar. It’s a minor detail, but it demonstrates what this app is meant to be — a modern recreation of Notepad, no more and no less.

For those purposes, it works perfectly. However, if you’re looking for a little more from your notepad, there are some serious advantages to be had from some other apps with more of the functionality that you’d expect from a current piece of software.

Code Writer

Refined coding tool with plenty of useful features.

Like Notepad Classic, Code Writer is heavily influenced by Notepad — but rather than simply seeking to replicate the original program, this app dares to make a few improvements of its own. None are particularly earth-shattering, but put together they amount to a very slick package for a coding novice or a more veteran programmer.


As its name suggests, the primary focus of Code Writer is on coding; this is an app firmly in the spirit of the Notepad application, rather than a pen-and-paper notepad. However, it’s perfectly capable as a distraction-free workspace that will let you record your thoughts as simple text on the page, without any embellishments.

Code Writer

However, there are plenty of little touches intended to make writing in computer code as easy as possible. More than twenty templates are available to users, for languages including Python, Java and Ruby 7 Useful Tricks for Mastering a New Programming Language It's okay to be overwhelmed when you are learning to code. You'll probably forget things as quickly as you learn them. These tips can help you to better retain all that new information. Read More . From there, a range of advanced editing tools tailored to individual languages are available to help save a little time and effort on the user’s part.

These added features won’t get in your way if you don’t care to use them, but will likely prove very handy for most users. It’s clear that Code Writer has been built on a lot of experience using software for this sort of purpose — if you write a lot of code, it’s well worth checking out.


Minimalist distraction-free environment to help you get your words down on the page.

For a truly distraction-free note-taking app, there are few options with less clutter than Poe. Aside from a background featuring the raven that the app uses as its logo, all that’s there is your words on the page — but there are plenty of tools hidden just out of sight to make sure that you’re as productive as you can be.

The word count tool is supplemented with a couple of neat tweaks that will spur you on to accomplish your writing goals. You can set a word count goal, then have Poe keep you updated with your progress towards it with percentage figures, leaving you in no doubt of whether you’re on track or not.


Alternatively, there’s the option to set a timer, if you find that you work best under a different kind of pressure How to Create the Last Perfect Time Management System You'll Ever Use Productivity is a constant search for more organization with less work. A way to accomplish everything you dream to accomplish, without losing out on sleep. Can this automated time management system do it all? Read More . These tools can be accessed within a few seconds, but once they’re set you can forget all about them. They’ll tick away in the background, but your interface won’t be cluttered with anything that might prevent you from getting the words on the page.

This sort of writing experience won’t work for everybody — it could certainly be said that Poe’s understated interface is a little too plain. However, for the right user, this spartan app could be a real difference-maker in terms of helping you to reach your personal word count goals.

Sticky Notes 8

Post-it inspired app that sacrifices functionality for ease of use.

Different types of notes are best expressed in different ways — and, for some things, nothing beats a post-it note Post-It To Your Screen - 6 Sticky Note Apps For Windows Post-its on your desktop or Start Screen can be extremely helpful for remembering small but important amounts of information. Stop cluttering up your desk and go digital with these fantastic sticky note apps. Read More . Sticky Notes 8 lets you jot down ideas just as you would in real-life, choosing from a selection of different colors and arranging your thoughts as you see fit.

It’s not a system that lends itself to in-depth note-taking as well as some of its competitors, but if this method of organization appeals to you, this app will serve your purposes well. It’s simple to the point of being fool-proof, and it’s difficult to imagine anyone struggling to get to grips with its straightforward, intuitive interface.


However, that simplicity comes at the cost of features — this is about as bare-bones as it gets. You can add text and an image to a note and sync it between your devices, but that’s about it. It’s also worth noting that the free version of the app is ad-supported, albeit in the non-invasive form of a single note that displays sponsored messages alongside your work.

Sticky Notes 8 does exactly what it sets out to accomplish, and does it very well. You’ll know the program like the back of your hand within moments of running it for the first time — the only drawback being that you might wish there was a bit more functionality on offer.

Evernote Touch

Cross-platform note-taking service that makes keeping track of notes across multiple devices a breeze.

This note-taking and organization service is one of the most popular options currently available, largely thanks to its brilliant cross-device compatibility. Whether you’re working on your laptop, an Android tablet or an iPhone, you’ll have access to all your content stored on Evernote Get Content Into Evernote Faster With These iOS Apps If Evernote is your digital file drawer of choice, you should know that are a range of handy iOS apps designed to add content to your cloud notebooks without having to launch the app itself. Read More .

Many apps have similar functionality, but Evernote stands out from the crowd. There are no ties to any one manufacturer or type of device, making it feel much more like a web service that you happen to access through device-specific apps than one piece of software you’re shackled to. Everything works just as you would expect it to — and for something as simple as note-taking, that’s a huge plus.


Evernote also excels in keeping your notes arranged neatly. You can split things into different notebooks, or just tag individual posts so that you can track individual thoughts by topic at a later date. It’s trivially easy to take an audio note on your phone when out and about, then find it and elaborate upon it when you’re sat at your desktop later on.

If there’s one criticism to be made, it’s that the Windows app isn’t quite as slick as the equivalent software Evernote offers on other platforms — but that’s a very minor issue. For the most part, the Evernote system works so well 20 Evernote Search Features You Should Be Using It's one thing to use Evernote, but it's entirely another thing to master Evernote. If you’re new to Evernote, I don’t want to come across like it’s something complicated – it’s not, in fact, it’s... Read More , you’ll soon wonder how you managed to keep track of anything without having Evernote across all your devices.

Do you know about another note-taking app that we’ve missed? Let us know about it in the comments section below.

Related topics: Microsoft OneNote, Windows 10, Windows 8.

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  1. George
    May 4, 2017 at 1:43 pm

    I'm using Inbox in Wunderlist for any data, and for notes vizualisation

  2. Crystal
    June 21, 2016 at 11:03 pm

    My boss is asking me to research a software program that is comparable to Lotus Agenda. Specifically he wants to be able to cross reference notes and calendar, to put the same note into multiple places specified by a header he creates…..
    If I type “Call Gary about Cole Schotz lease”, it automatically places that same entry in
    1) Tenants view, (Gary is recognized as a tenant)
    2) Lawyers view ,(Cole Schotz is recognized as a lawyer)
    3) Calls view
    4) Calendar under Wednesday
    If you ever used Lotus Agenda back ‘in the day’ he also really liked the simple keyboard strokes to change the to do date.
    Any info you could provide would be greatly appreciated!

    • Patricio Fernández Jerez
      August 28, 2016 at 9:00 pm

      You can use the now nested tags in Evernote.
      You nest:

      . Cole Schotz
      . Ally McBeal
      . Gary
      . Peter Pan

      If you tag the note with 'Gary' tag and 'Cole Schotz' tag, when you view the Lawyers Tag, it will appears the notes tagged with 'Cole Schotz', the notes tagged with 'Ally McBeal' and the notes tagges with 'Lawyers' in general.

      Roger that.
      Hope it helps.
      Good Bye.

  3. Chris
    February 11, 2016 at 2:13 pm
  4. H4K3R
    January 28, 2016 at 5:00 pm

    Atom Editor. Cross platform, configurable and it's much better looking than those metro apps.

  5. Anonymous
    November 3, 2015 at 10:42 pm

    A "Metro styled" version of Notepad... just what I've been yearning for my entire life. We've gotten to a point where technology is so advanced that we can display gigantic blocks of a single color with overly simplistic monotone icons. Yeah!!! (I'll stick with Sublime Text, a truly modern and revolutionary text editor)

  6. FunBustr
    February 21, 2015 at 9:55 pm

    Evernote also does well as a web clipper + are able to tag & put into your Notebooks. Unfortunate about Windows 8 support - it worked well on Win 7. Perhaps synchronization will improve with Win 10. Penultimate is what I use for handwritten notes - auto synch with Evernote.

    • Jim Collins
      December 4, 2015 at 5:30 am

      From where I'm standing it looks like Evernote mostly prioritizes MAC users. Don't get me wrong, it's a nice app, but it takes the developers too long to react to any significant Windows changes. Recently I've switched to CintaNotes. The features are pretty much the same, It's just the program won't work with MAC. Anyway, it's totally fine by me.

  7. Doc
    February 21, 2015 at 7:22 pm

    "Notepad Classic
    "A Metro-styled version of the long-standing Notepad tool"
    Yeah, Metro/Modern apps are really catching on, just like Windows Phone. I'll keep using Notepad++ just the same, thanks.

  8. phertiker
    February 21, 2015 at 6:04 pm

    My experience with the Win 8 version of Evernote was terrible. Wouldn't sync in the background no matter how many times they said it was fixed. Updates were sparse. UI not at all to my liking and not customizable. Massive lack of features compared to the other Evernote clients.

    To be fair, I've always wanted a device that allows for easy pen input, and Evernote never had that as a focus. With Microsoft finally getting their stuff together as far as other platforms goes, I just recently switched to Onenote from years and year as an Evernote user.
    Plenty to miss (love you long time, web clipper), but the cross platform support is much more consistent, and pen support is first class.

    • Emily
      February 21, 2015 at 8:42 pm

      There's a OneNote Web Clipper browser bookmark button too. It sends the clipped pages only to the QuickNotes page of your primary notebook, so you have the extra step of filing the where you want them later. There's no opportunity to comment as you clip. But it's better than not having a clipper.

  9. Hildegerd
    February 21, 2015 at 2:55 pm

    Have you guys tried Centrallo lately? They are soon out with new UI as well, would be nice with an comparison. ;)

    • Mike M
      February 21, 2015 at 5:53 pm

      THanks for the Centrallo tip. Installed it & going to give it a try.

    • Hildegerd
      February 21, 2015 at 8:45 pm

      Cool, I look forward to read what you think.

    • Tina
      March 8, 2015 at 9:09 pm

      Thanks for the recommendation.

      Centrallo isn't available as Windows modern app, but for those looking for a note taking app for iOS or Android, free for up to 100MB storage, it might be an option.

  10. Phids
    February 21, 2015 at 2:17 pm

    Google Keep?