The best apps for note-taking and note organisation

The best apps for note taking and note organisation

App Cafe Details

Apps reviewed:

  • Evernote
  • OneNote

What are the benefits of using such apps?

Ever feel like you’re struggling to remember everything? Or struggle to find something of importance that you need? You’re not the only one – and that’s why it’s so important to use a note taking app. Write something down and you’re certain to remember it. Save something in a safe place and you’re certain to be able to easily retrieve it exactly when it’s needed.

Notes aren’t just for fun – they’re often about serious things that need your attention. You might have an important idea you want to record or simply take notes and actions during a meeting.

There are plenty of ways to take notes. You could carry a notebook and pen around with you, or scribble thoughts on a napkin at lunch.

Or, better yet, you could use a notebook app as a way to store your thoughts. As long as you can access the internet, such notes can then easily be recalled afterwards, exactly when and where you need them.

Digital note-taking apps help you keep track of all your notes, organise them, and make sure you don’t lose them. Plus, they make everything searchable, shareable, and editable with friends, family and colleagues.

Problems these apps can help address:

  • Providing a place to save and store all your ideas and thoughts, or in fact a wide variety of other content such as webpages, attachments, images, audio and more.
  • Making content immediately accessible and easily retrievable.
  • If you want to be able to access and use notes on any internet-enabled device in any location.
  • If you want to be able to make notes using a tablet during a meeting, then finish them at your work PC.
  • If you find it hard to retrieve notes or keep losing things.
  • If you want to prioritise notes.
  • You want to clip content from the web and add your own notes.

Guides, tutorials, tips, hints and reviews

Below is a quick run-down of the features and benefits of the apps that were explored during the App Cafe.

Please see related links further below to in-depth explanations of app features, screenshots, videos, reviews, pros and cons and more.


Evernote logoWhat is Evernote?

Evernote is a cross-platform, app designed for note taking, organising, and archiving.

The app allows users to create a “note” which can be a piece of formatted text, a full webpage or webpage excerpt, a photograph, a voice memo, a handwritten “ink” note, or can contain file attachments.

Notes can be tagged, annotated, edited, given comments, searched, shared and exported.

Notes can be sorted into a notebook and notebooks can be grouped together into a stack.

Examples of content to save in Evernote:

Evernote Pros

  • A wide variety of content can be saved within Evernote – as described above in ‘What is Evernote?’. Such content can be saved to Evernote in a variety of ways – either directly within the app, via the website, or via a phone widget or browser extension.
  • All content can be accessed easily from any device with internet access, via the app or via any web browser. As such, use it like an external brain whereby it stores everything you need to be able to recall at any point.
  • Evernote has a sophisticated organisation system – notes can be saved within notebooks (think of them as categories). Notebooks in turn can be further grouped together in stacks. You can also tag individual notes for easy reference of which notes can have multiple tags. This allows content to be found quickly and easily. You can also create shortcuts to frequently accessed content, and filter results in searches to better refine results.
  • You can even find text that’s embedded within images or attachments within your notes, thanks to OCR or optical character recognition.
  • By default, all Evernote content stays online; you never have to sync local copies between devices. Content can be downloaded should you need to be able to access content offline.
  • A wide variety of Evernote’s advanced tools are available even to free users, making the free version good enough for many people. 

Evernote Cons

  • It’s not corporately supported by the University as there’s no institutional licence. So if you use it, you do so in a personal capacity – which is fine unless things go wrong (unlikely though!).
  • You can’t merge notes together in the web version – only within the desktop app version, which seems odd. The ability to merge notes together is invaluable.
  • The desktop app can freeze easily when performing a search.
  • It doesn’t link with Office or Google Docs as well as OneNote or Google Keep.

What do you think about when best to use Evernote, plus pros and cons? Please comment on this post below.



OneNoteWhat is OneNote?

Similar to Evernote, Microsoft OneNote is a note taking software program that gives you anywhere/anytime access to notes via your computer or mobile device. 

Notebooks can be broken down into sections, such as for individual projects, brainstorming, record keeping and so on.

Inside those sections, you can create pages, and sub pages as well.

You can move pages of notes or portions of notes around as you see fit.

OneNote Pros

  • It’s a corporately supported app. Meaning you can use your University email account to login and it’s free for you.
  • OneNote’s appearance and controls resemble a trimmed down version of Word, so it’s easy to pick up quickly.
  • Works well in conjunction with other programs in the Office Suite. For example you can insert entire files into a notebook like an Excel spreadsheet or even a Word document. Or, if you have an email in Outlook and you want to send to OneNote, there is a convenient button that does it quickly and easily.
  • Features include flagging notes so that they become readily accessible, and sharing notes allowing collaboration with others via a variety of online and offline options. There’s also the ability to incorporate handwriting, audio and video clips, and there’s a screen clipping feature for grabbing existing content.
  • Having all your notes organised and in one place means you’ll never waste time trying to find what you’re looking for. Built-in search functionality will easily find that web address you jotted down months ago, and it’ll do it with lightning speed. You can even find text that’s embedded in the images in your notes, thanks to OCR or optical character recognition.
  • More structure to notes. OneNote has up to 5 levels and Evernote has up to 3 levels. Each level is an order of magnitude higher in organisational structure.

OneNote Cons

  • No free option. To use OneNote legally, you must buy it.
  • Not as mobile as EverNote. It is not as good at syncing over multiple computers as Evernote.

What do you think about when best to use OneNote, plus pros and cons? Please comment on this post below.



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About Jim

Staff trainer and e-learning developer working for the University of Northampton, UK. All views my own, aside from those shamelessly taken from others.

One thought on “The best apps for note-taking and note organisation

  1. When signing into OneNote (which also signs you into OneDrive) using your UoN email address, you have the option to sign in to (or to create your account) using either:

    1. a Microsoft Account (sometimes called a Business account), OR
    2. to sign with a work or school account.

    Please always sign in using the work or school account method. This will take you to a login screen, whereby you can use your UoN username and password to log in.

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