The 7 Best Note-Taking Apps for Programmers and Coders
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Programming is an activity prone to frustration and difficulty—even when done as a hobby. Creating a web, mobile, or desktop app is a big undertaking, and good note-taking skills are key to staying organized and not succumbing to stress, despair, and burnout.

But most note-taking apps aren’t designed with programmers in mind, and they can be so difficult to use that they drive you to give up on notes entirely. Here are some of the best note-taking tools for programmers and coders.

1. Boostnote

programming notes app boostnote

Platforms: Windows, Mac, Linux

Pricing: Free

Boostnote is a prime example of a note-taking app for coders. It doesn’t have all the features of a modern note-taking app (e.g. it has Markdown formatting and folder-based organization but lacks web clipping or handwritten notes) but does have what all programmers love: snippets!

You can embed code blocks directly within normal notes, and you can create separate snippet-type notes that are specifically for collecting and grouping multiple code blocks in a single note. It also supports checkbox-based lists for task management.

The best part about Boostnote is that it’s free and open source, it’s cross-platform, and your notes will sync across all platforms you use Boostnote on.

If you’re going to use this tool on Linux, also check out our article on the best Linux distros for programmers The 11 Best Linux Distros for Programmers The 11 Best Linux Distros for Programmers Linux offers a thriving environment for coders and developers. Here are the best Linux operating systems for programmers. Read More .

2. MedleyText

programming notes app medleytext

Platforms: Windows, Mac, Linux

Pricing: $5/mo with 45-day free trial

MedleyText is very similar to Boostnote, with fewer features but a tighter focus on the features it does have: rich text formatting options, embedded code blocks within normal notes, and customizable themes and keyboard shortcuts. It’s excellent for highly-productive coders with big projects.

When you embed formatted code directly into notes, the app will automatically highlight the syntax. Or you can manually select which syntax highlighting language to apply to any given block of code. It supports over 40 programming languages as of writing this article.

While MedleyText was once free for local notes, that’s no longer an option. It’s now a premium app with a hefty free trial and worthwhile features like syncing via Dropbox and sharing notes via links.

3. Quiver

programming notes app quiver

Platform: Mac

Pricing: $10 with free trial

Quiver is yet another app like the two above: you can mix and match text (in both Markdown and LaTeX formats) with embedded code inside notes. However, Quiver has a dedicated code editor right inside the app that’s cleaner and more responsive than its competitors.

As for syntax highlighting, this app supports over 120 programming languages. Cloud storage sync is available for Dropbox, Google Drive, iCloud, and more. And because notes are stored as JSON, you can safely use version control to track changes. Shared notebooks even allow for collaboration between teammates on large projects. It even has a web clipper!

If Quiver is so great, why is it listed third? Because it’s only available on Mac. While the Mac operating system can be a wonderful programming environment, Quiver is not an option for programmers who routinely hop between other operating systems.

4. OneNote

programming notes app onenote

Platforms: Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Web

Pricing: Free

OneNote is the best note-taking app, period—but until recently, it lacked syntax highlighting abilities which programmers so desperately need. Fortunately, thanks to a free add-on released by a GitHub user, OneNote can now do syntax highlighting for code.

The add-on is admittedly a bit clunky, but it’s nice to know you can finally use OneNote for storing code notes. Since OneNote is one of the best ways to take notes as a student, this is particularly good news for students in programming and engineering curriculums.

OneNote is also great for collaborative projects due to note sharing. And best of all? It’s completely free and available on nearly every major platform, both desktop and mobile. (Except for Linux, sorry!)

5. CherryTree

programming notes app cherrytree

Platform: Windows

Pricing: Free

CherryTree is unlike most note-taking apps in that it’s more of a personal wiki. However, since pages can be nested under each other in a hierarchy, it’s more than good enough for taking notes. What makes it a wiki? You can insert links to any other page throughout the notebook.

There are other apps like CherryTree, including wikidPad and Zim, but CherryTree supports a special page type specifically for code. Use regular notes for ideas and tasks, use the code notes for snippets. As far as the page hierarchy, both types work the exact same way.

CherryTree is very fast, making it one of the best lightweight note-taking apps 7 Lightweight OneNote and Evernote Alternatives 7 Lightweight OneNote and Evernote Alternatives Though we love them, both Evernote and OneNote can be slow and bloated. If you've been looking for an alternative, here are a few lightweight note-taking apps you should consider. Read More .

6. Sublime Text

programming notes app sublime text

Platforms: Windows, Mac, Linux

Pricing: $80 with unlimited free evaluation version

As a programmer, you likely know about Sublime Text already. True, it’s a text editor and not a note-taking app, but it can certainly be used for taking notes: every note as a text file, and every code snippet in a separate language-appropriate file.

Sublime Text’s native features are excellent for increasing overall productivity 11 Sublime Text Tips for Productivity and a Faster Workflow 11 Sublime Text Tips for Productivity and a Faster Workflow Sublime Text is a versatile text editor and a gold standard for many programmers. Our tips focus on efficient coding, but general users will appreciate the keyboard shortcuts. Read More , and the ability to split into multiple editor panes is indispensable. But for note-taking and organization, it can get even better with a few free plugins.

SideBarEnhancements is a must-install for every Sublime Text user. It adds a number of improvements to the sidebar, mostly in the menu when you right-click files. PlainTasks incorporates a task-style to-do list right inside the editor. And MarkdownEditing is nifty if you want your notes to be taken down in Markdown.

Sublime Text is pretty costly, but the free evaluation period never ends. As long as you can deal with an occasional pop-up that reminds you to purchase the full version, you can use Sublime Text for free indefinitely.

7. TickTick

programming notes app ticktick

Platforms: Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Web

Pricing: Free, Premium version for $28/year

TickTick is a to-do list app that’s pretty similar to other apps of its kind, but it has one subtle feature that makes it good for taking notes: every list item has a “description” field that’s basically an entire notepad.

As a programmer, you can use TickTick to track all of your tasks as individual list items and store whatever notes you need for each task. There’s no syntax highlighting or rich text formatting though, so it’s better for managing ideas than storing code snippets.

Plus, you get all the benefits of a full-blown to-do list app: folder organization, subtasks, recurring tasks, reminders, priorities, etc. TickTick has a free plan with a limited number of lists, and a paid plan for $28 per year.

If you’re checking out this note-taking tool list to help the programmer in your life, TickTick is actually one of many great gifts for programmers.

Tips for Becoming a Better Programmer

If all else fails, you can always stick notes right within your code as comments. It isn’t really the best approach because it can get messy (tips for writing cleaner and better code), but it’s an option for low-level notes pertinent to certain snippets. To learn to write better code, keep these professional sample code websites Top 10 Professional Sample Code Websites for Programmers Top 10 Professional Sample Code Websites for Programmers Looking to learn and create applications with example code snippets? Here are the best free code sample websites to start with. Read More handy.

Either way, keep going and keep improving. And if you ever feel stuck, here are ways to overcome programmer’s block 5 Ways to Beat Programmer's Block Right Now 5 Ways to Beat Programmer's Block Right Now Every programmer encounters an array of negative emotions over the course of their journey, and if left unchecked, these emotions can have a profound impact on progress -- even causing some to give up entirely. Read More .

Explore more about: Microsoft OneNote, Note-Taking Apps, Programming.

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  1. Stephen Inoue
    December 17, 2018 at 3:55 am

    What, no love for Evernote? I use it everyday. New CEO and no new funding may mean their days are numbered, but file format is XML so don’t let that stop you.

  2. Isaac
    June 7, 2018 at 10:57 pm

    OneNote still cannot do syntax highlighting. That link goes to a buggy github repo with 6 contributors and a list of long-open issues. It can also crash your entire Office suite on win7.

    For me, all it too was one missing parenthesis in my coding notes to crash the program - and OneNote. Repair and reinstall don't help. But getting rid of it makes OneNote usable again.

    You should make clear that Microsoft OneNote doesn't offer any syntax highlighting functionality - and those using that open-source repo are doing to at their own risk.

  3. Sir Huddleston Fuddleston
    November 11, 2017 at 12:55 am

    Lol. If you combined all these tools, and gave them a decade to improve, together they wouldn't come close to org-mode.

  4. Antonio
    October 4, 2017 at 1:35 pm

    I'm using Simplenote. It is something similar to Boostnote and available for Windows, Linux, and Android. However, the greatest feature here is a sync across all devices, so, after adding a new note I can immediately edit it using my smartphone. Lovely experience.

  5. Qoyyuum
    September 20, 2017 at 8:04 am

    I've been using Typora.io instead. Not just for note-taking and using its Markdown (a must-have when I take down notes) but the fancy way of drawing graphs and charts with mermaid and flowchart command in Typora.

  6. Scott Brewster
    September 13, 2017 at 5:52 pm

    I've been a paying customer of TickTick for years now. It is the best app I own. I also use SimpleNote on my phone, tablets, and PCs because of firewalls that prevent me from using Evernote and OneNote.

  7. Cvjcvj
    September 8, 2017 at 8:09 pm

    Leo Editor

  8. Arun Kr. Khattri
    September 8, 2017 at 7:30 pm

    Nothing can beat Emacs org-mode...
    Markdown, equations, source code, to do list...
    It handles all in an elegant way.

  9. Bo Grimes
    September 8, 2017 at 4:29 pm

    Cherrytree is available on Linux. Has been for a long time. Native not Wine.

  10. Gijs
    September 8, 2017 at 8:10 am

    Notion.so seems more an option that included all of the above. Notes, tasks, code snippets.

  11. Gergely Polonkai
    September 8, 2017 at 4:47 am

    Zim (personal Wiki) and Emacs’ Org mode are also great.

  12. John
    September 7, 2017 at 10:45 pm

    Restructured Text (with and without Sphinx) is my go to tool for taking notes. Table of contents, logical separations via folders and files, and outputs to multiple formats (with Sphinx and/or pandoc). So if I need to generate a PDF, I got that. Epub? Done. Html? Got that too. Restructured text may be a bit to get used to, but the benefits outweigh the learning investment. Best of all, I don't have to rely on someone else's editor, which is always painfully lacking some feature of some sort. I can use my own editor, which means less context switching, which means more productivity.

  13. Montie
    September 7, 2017 at 9:12 pm

    I ended up just using Atom with a few packages. Boostnote was close to what I was looking for, but I ended up going another route due to the way the notes are saved (not .md files and not names I pick).

  14. Graham Wheeler
    September 7, 2017 at 8:41 pm

    There's also MWeb which is similat to Quiver. More features but worse synching.

  15. Rui
    September 7, 2017 at 5:11 pm

    We just launched Cacher (www.cacher.io), which is a cloud-based code snippet organizer. It features labels, teams and desktop clients for Mac, Windows and Linux. If you're away from your machine, you can access the web app at: app.cacher.io.