7 Tips for Taking Better Notes in Google Keep for Android

Joel Lee 15-07-2016

Digital note-taking is all the rage these days. After all, why carry around a Moleskine and clutter yourself when you already have a smartphone in your pocket? Pen and paper may be tactile, but the benefits of digital note-taking can’t be denied A Quick & Dirty Guide to Perfect Digital Note-Taking Learn how to take notes the right way. Here are some of the most effective tips for becoming a digital note-taking pro. Read More .


And after Evernote shot itself in the foot, users have been scrambling for a viable alternative The Best Alternatives to Evernote You Need Today Has Evernote's recent price increase and two-device restriction for the free plan disturbed your note-taking workflow? Then, it's time to take another look at some of the best Evernote alternatives. Read More — and one of the best apps to switch to is Google Keep. Of the many note-taking apps for Android What Is the Best Free Note-Taking App for Android? Want to take notes on your Android phone or tablet? Here are the best free note-taking apps for Android. Read More , it easily sits among the top three.

If you’re new to Google Keep, here are several features and tips that you should start taking advantage of right away to make your note-taking life easier.

1. Quick Notes with a Gesture

These days, there are so many Android launcher apps that support gesture-based actions 4 Gesture-Based Launchers For Android Compared If you've ever wanted a quicker way to access your most frequently used apps, read on. Read More that it shouldn’t be hard to find one that suits you, but Nova Launcher Prime is one of the best What Is the Best Free Android Launcher? Nova launcher, Apex launcher, and dodol launcher are all solid free launchers, but which is the best? We put them to the test. Read More — and it only costs $1, so there’s no reason not to get it.


Using Nova Launcher Prime, you can set up a gesture action that initiates one of Google Keep’s “activities” — in this case, the one called activities.shareReceiverActivity. When initiated, you’ll get a popup window that you can use to jot down a quick note.


If you’re signed into multiple Google accounts on your device, the popup window lets you choose which one you want to use for the note, which can be extremely handy.

2. Color Code Notes by Type

The ability to assign colors to each note might seem insignificant, but no other feature has as much of a productivity payout — assuming you’re willing to create and adhere to a simple color-coding system. It requires some effort, but it’s worth it.


For example, you can start marking all work-related notes as Green, all home-related notes as Yellow, and anything that’s time-critical as Red. This makes it easy to spot and discern what’s important as you scroll through dozens of notes.


But more so than that, Google Keep can filter notes by color so that you only have to browse through, say, Green notes. This makes it much easier to find a particular note that you wrote when none of your search queries are hitting it.

3. Use Time and Place Reminders

Most note-taking apps have some kind of reminder feature that you can use in conjunction with things like due dates, event appointments, weekly tasks, quarterly tax payments, etc. But Google Keep goes one step further: location-based reminders.


It’s simpler than you’d think. When adding a reminder to a note, change the reminder type from Time to Place. Then type in an address, and when prompted with a map, confirm that it’s the location you meant. Now the next time you visit that place, Google Keep will remind you of this note.


This feature comes in handy for shopping lists and the like, but it’s also nifty when you want to talk about something the next time you visit a certain friend, for example. If you love reminders like this, augment your life with these Google Now reminders 8 Amazing, Life-Improving Uses for Google Now Reminders Google Now has built-in reminders, but are you using them to their full extent? Read More .

4. Organize Notes With Labels

Most note-taking apps have a tagging system that you can use, and even though Google Keep hasn’t really innovated in this area, the feature is still useful. You should be using it regularly — except in Google Keep, they’re called labels instead of tags.


There are two ways to add labels to an open note:

  • Open the overflow menu and select Labels. Here you can create new labels and mark which ones you want for this note.
  • Use a hashtag (#) at any point and you’ll get a dropdown menu for picking a label. The hashtag can be anywhere in the note. Just having it in the note will label it as such.

Labels are great because they offer an inter-categorical way to organize your notes. Use color coding for topical categories (e.g. work, home, entertainment) and use labels for specifics (e.g. project).


But most useful is that Google Keep’s widget displays notes according to labels (the only other options are “All Notes” and “Reminders”). So if you want quick-view access to certain notes 4 Google Keep Tips And Tricks For Better Notes, Lists And To-Dos Read More , labels must become your best friend.

5. Dictate Your Notes On-the-Go

If you’re a lazy note-taker like I am, then you may want to consider dictating your notes — speaking them out loud — instead of typing them by hand. Once you get the hang of it, it’s truly the fastest way to take notes Too Lazy to Take Notes? Try These Faster Notetaking Tips Instead There are several shortcuts you can take to capture everything from lectures to meeting minutes to to-do lists. Let's explore some of those shortcuts today with these tips for faster note-taking. Read More .


Google Keep has a voice memo feature, which you can access in two ways:

  • The microphone icon in the notes list.
  • The microphone icon in the widget.

Once activated, you can just speak and Google will convert what you say into text. It’ll create a new note with the text content and an audio recording of what you said. Feel free to keep either or both.

Google Keep also integrates nicely with Google Now, allowing you to add items to list notes just by activating it using an OK Google command Why Every Android User Needs to Be Using "OK Google" The "OK Google" command is extremely useful, but lots of Android users aren't even taking advantage of it. Here's to make the best of it! Read More :

  • “OK Google, add [new item description] to my [note name] list”

So if you have a list note called Shopping and you suddenly have a craving for strawberries, you can just say “OK Google, add strawberries to my shopping list” and it will be done.

6. Write Notes by Hand, Scan Afterwards

As useful as digital note-taking can be, sometimes it’s just easier to use pen and paper, particularly when you’re sitting in on a lecture and don’t have an external keyboard for faster typing How to Connect a USB Keyboard to Your Android Phone Ever wanted to use a real keyboard on your Android device? It's actually pretty easy to set up! Here's a step-by-step guide. Read More .

The good news is that Google Keep has a feature that can scan handwritten text and convert it into digital text.


  • Use your device’s camera to capture an image of text.
  • Add the image to a note, then tap on the image.
  • Open the overflow menu and select Grab image text.

Give it a minute or so and the text will show up in the note.

7. Share Access to Notes and Lists

At first, Google Keep probably doesn’t seem like an advanced enough note-taking solution to warrant sharing and collaboration on notes, but there are a handful of situations where this feature really shines and proves itself useful.


To grant someone else access to a note:

  • Open the note you want to share.
  • Open the overflow menu and select Collaborators.
  • Enter the email addresses of collaborators.

Done! Now those people will also be able to edit the note as if it were their own.

This is fantastic for list notes, such as groceries, where the entire family can add the things they need. And if you’re already out shopping, a collaborator can just add items and it will sync in near real-time, so you never miss anything.

With a bit of ingenuity and imagination, you can use simple features like this in amazing and creative ways 10 Creative Ways to Use Google Keep Every Day Google Keep is a simple note-taking app. But its simplicity hides its usefulness. Here are ten tips and ideas to use Google Keep for the little everyday things in life. Read More .

How Do You Use Google Keep?

Compared to Evernote and OneNote, Google Keep can feel primitive and even elementary, and there’s a degree to which that’s true. Google Keep doesn’t aim to be a complex all-in-one note-taking solution for massive long-term writings.

But that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth using. Indeed, Google Keep is like Post-It Notes on steroids, and when used correctly can enhance your life in ways that Evernote and OneNote can’t.

So now it’s your turn: what kinds of tips and tricks do you use in Google Keep to stay organized and make your life easier? Which features do you love the most? Let us know in the comments below!

Related topics: Google Keep, Note-Taking Apps.

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  1. Squalle
    May 5, 2017 at 4:25 am

    I'm a little late to this party, but oh well.

    I mainly use Keep for quick notes. I use the Chrome app and the Android app on my phone. I see no reason to go into any big note taking app for something that is a few words and will be deleted in a week or so. So I don't have a ton of notes in it.

    One of the greatest points for me, is the reminders. I use Keep as a daily reminder to take my meds. When the reminder fires, it is in my notification area until I remove it, so if I can't take my pills at the right time, I know that as long as the notification is there, that I still need to take my meds. Oh, I should probably mention that I forget quite a bit.

  2. PakkyT
    April 28, 2017 at 7:40 pm

    One of the biggest fundamental flaws in Keep in the lack of an UNDO on the mobile version. For example if you highlighted a large chunk of text in order to COPY that text but accidentally slip your finger resulting in the text being deleted or replaced with something else, all that text simply disappears with no way to recover it. Meant to put a dash in between the first 3 and last 4 digits in a phone number but accidentally hit the backspace instead and you don't remember what the one digit was you deleted? Too bad. What other modern applications that allow entering and editing of text does not have an UNDO function? My guess is virtually none.

  3. Myles
    April 21, 2017 at 6:00 pm

    "Write notes by hand, scan afterwards" simply does not work in google keep, and it's very frustrating. The example image shows recognition of printed text, which works great. Recognition of handwriting, on the other hand, is horrible. I would have expected google to be good at OCR, but the results are simply unusable, regardless of the neatness of my handwriting. Numerous websites mention how google drive and keep both have OCR functionality, but it doesn't look like anyone actually tried it. If they did, they would have realized how horrible it is. Has anyone actually used this feature with good results? I'm not looking for perfection here.

    • Ashima
      August 20, 2017 at 11:54 pm

      Yes! I was quite impressed by it. In fact I just discovered that functionality so not sure if there's been an update since you tried.

  4. Steven M. Heller
    April 20, 2017 at 4:28 pm

    I really like keep, and use it all the time. However, the one big thing I don't like is there is no way to alphabetize lists.

  5. All Solanki
    February 2, 2017 at 5:18 am

    I have been using keep from last 10 days.... And now cannot live without it ?

    I use keep to do my PM task, create shopping list for my wife and check the items while sharing it with her avoiding extra expenditure.

    I am drafTing my life goals and breaking it into daily task

  6. Anonymous
    July 16, 2016 at 6:37 pm

    I didn't know about the Google Now integration. Just tried it and it made orange juice into 2 items, but it works well enough.

    • Joel Lee
      July 29, 2016 at 7:53 pm

      Haha, I suppose it's not perfect (yet) but like you say, it's good enough. :)

  7. Dave
    July 16, 2016 at 3:36 pm

    The note colors could be improved by having contrasting-color text. The red notes have black text, making it difficult to read. Use more prime colors which Keep would recognize and use contrasting text.

    I do like the checklist option to either keep item crossed off in its original place or move it to bottom of list. Also can archive a list such as a grocery list and bring it back up and have all items unchecked with a couple taps on menu. Reuse same list weekly.

    Use same app on computer to type notes quickly and they sync to mobile app almost immediately.

    Great app. Gets updated frequently. Improve by giving option of higher contrast notes.

    • Joel Lee
      July 29, 2016 at 7:53 pm

      Yeah, I wish the note colors were a bit more subtle. Contrasting text would also help! Thanks for sharing, Dave.

  8. Susan
    July 16, 2016 at 12:13 pm

    I like the tick boxes for my shopping lists. The items stay on the list, at the bottom, for the next time you need to buy them, just "untick" and they're back at the top.

    • Joel Lee
      July 29, 2016 at 7:51 pm

      Yes, that's definitely nifty. :)

  9. Vectrex71
    July 16, 2016 at 10:39 am

    I would love to use Keep but I lost 2x Over 1000 Notes and if you have more than 700 Notes (97% archived) it is sooooooo unbelievable sliw, you can't work anymore with such a sliw product ! Take a look at Googles Help Forum! There are thousands of people with that Problem! KEEP is the slowest product ever !

    • Joel Lee
      July 29, 2016 at 7:51 pm

      Yikes, I'm sorry about that, Vectrex. Not sure if Google Keep is meant to handle thousands of notes. You'd be better off with Evernote or OneNote for that!

  10. seagull
    July 16, 2016 at 5:48 am

    Until they change the color options, color coding isn't a real option for me. Most of them make the notes almost unreadable and aren't really pleasant to look at.

    • Joel Lee
      July 29, 2016 at 7:50 pm

      Yeah, the colored notes aren't the prettiest to look at, which is a shame since Google is usually good about aesthetics. I hope it gets updated soon.

    • Vectrex71
      July 29, 2016 at 7:55 pm

      Just for some little Notes, you don't need a Sorting System with Colors and Labels, Text recognition and so on ! Think about it !

  11. Pravin Kumar
    July 15, 2016 at 6:41 pm

    I make use of all the mentioned features except Dictation and place reminder.

    • Joel Lee
      July 29, 2016 at 7:49 pm

      Nice! You must be proficient with Google Keep then. :)