Laptop and notebook on the Harber London Leather Desk Mat.
Hannah Stryker / How-To Geek

There’s nothing worse than jotting down a note and leaving it behind or losing it in a stack of paper. With note taking software, you can take your notes wherever you go or access them from any computer. Find the one for you with these best note taking apps.

Update, 1/24/23: This guide was originally published in December 2022. We’ve since updated our guide to include a pick for encrypted note-taking, and to make sure all our links are working.

This list of note taking apps is in no particular order because there’s one here for every platform or preference. You’ll find the essential features you need in each application, so instead, we’ll point out the notable features that put the app on our list.

Best Note-Taking App for Mac and iPhone: Apple Notes

Apple Notes

For a free note taker app that comes preinstalled on iPhones, iPads, and Macs, Apple Notes is the way to go. You can sync your notes across devices, so you’re always up to date.

Folders: Create folders and subfolders for each internet account you connect to Notes like iCloud, Gmail, or Exchange. This lets you keep all of your notes organized easily by account, for business or personal projects.

Password-protected notes: For added security, you can lock and password-protect certain notes. You can then keep the note away from prying eyes and only open it using your Notes password, device password, or Touch ID.

Scan and insert documents: For notes pertaining to documents or images, you can insert the item right into Notes. Scan a document, capture a photo, or sketch a drawing from your iPhone or iPad to include it in your note.

Additional features include pinning and sharing notes, a helpful search, bullet, number, and checklists, grouping by date, import and export options, and Quick Notes.

While you won’t find Apple Notes for Android, Windows, or Linux, you can use the app if you have an Apple ID by visiting Notes on iCloud.com.

RELATED: How (and Why) to Switch to Apple Notes

Best Note-Taking App for Windows: OneNote

If you’re looking into note taking apps for Windows, then Microsoft OneNote is a solid choice. Although not limited to Windows, OneNote gives you an easy-to-use interface and robust features.

Notebooks: What’s nice about Microsoft OneNote is that you can use notebooks to organize your notes. This lets you use the application for business, school, or household notes with a simple way to switch between notebooks.

Page templates: For a jumpstart on a new note, you can use premade page templates. You’ll find OneNote templates for class lectures, meeting notes, and to-do lists in addition to blank decorative options. Simply pick a template, customize it to your liking, and let the note taking begin.

Transcription and dictation: If you record a speech, meeting, or lecture, you can upload recordings and then transcribe them in OneNote. Additionally, you can dictate and transcribe directly in the application to hold onto your own audio notes.

Additional features include customizable tags, video recording, drawing tools, translations, password-protection, and integration with Outlook Tasks.

Microsoft OneNote comes with Windows 10 and 11, is included in the Microsoft Office suite, is in the Microsoft Store, and is also available for platforms like Mac, Android, iPhone, and iPad. Use it on any device with the web version.

RELATED: The Beginner's Guide to OneNote in Windows 10

Best Note-Taking App for Android: Google Keep

Google Keep

Google Keep is a handy note-taking tool for those who use Android or who just prefer Google’s productivity apps. There’s a dedicated mobile app, and it’s accessible from the side panel in other Google apps on the web, giving you fast access to your notes whenever you need them.

Time and location reminders: Choose from a quick reminder like later today, tomorrow, or home. Alternately, pick a specific date and time or a place like work or school. You’ll see your reminder pop up when the date and time arrives or when you reach your destination.

Convert to Google Docs: Maybe you have a note with tasks for a project, contacts for a report, or an event itinerary. You can copy the note to Google Docs in just a couple of clicks. Then, head to your Google Doc directly from Keep.

Collaborators: For working on a Google Keep note with others, add collaborators. You can then see the date and time a collaborator edits the note as well as view the changes immediately.

Additional features include a dedicated spot to view all note reminders, customizable labels, note background colors and images, checkboxes, and image upload ability.

You can use Google Keep on its website, from the side panel in apps like Docs, Sheets, and Calendar, or download it on Android, iPhone, or iPad. Also, check out the Google Keep extension for Chrome.

Best Note-Taking App for Features: Evernote

Evernote has been at the top of many note takers lists for years. The company continues to add new features and enhance existing ones to make Evernote reliable, full-featured, and solid note taking software.

Meeting notes templates: For a quick and easy way to capture meeting notes, use an Evernote template. You can start with a blank template or connect to Google Calendar to add the event details automatically.

Shortcuts: Similar to the Favorites feature you see in apps, Evernote gives you Shortcuts. Mark stars on notes you need often and then access them fast from the Shortcuts panel.

Work chat: If you collaborate on notes, you can hold a Work Chat directly in Evernote. Share any note or notebook, open the chat panel, and discuss what you need without leaving Evernote.

Additional features include date and time reminders, multiple notebooks, sharing via many methods, inserting items from Google Drive, creating and adding tags, and more.

Use Evernote on its website, Windows, Mac, Android, iPhone, and iPad as well as with browser extensions and app integrations. A Linux version at the time of writing is in beta and available through the early access program. Evernote is free for up to two devices and offers paid plans for more devices and features.

Best Encrypted Note Taking App: Standard Notes

Standard Notes desktop app interface.

The notes we take down often contain sensitive information, making security critical. Standard Notes put safety and privacy at the forefront, which is why we believe it’s the best encrypted note-taking app available.

End-to-end encryption: Everything you write in Standard Notes is conveniently cloud-synced, but also end-to-end encrypted (E2EE). That means your data is secured before it leaves your device, and no one except you can read your notes—not even the Standard Notes team.

Two-factor authentication: Despite it being a relatively small project, Standard Notes is able to provide all-important two-factor authentication (2FA) even for free accounts. That’s critical if you’re worried about hackers stealing your password.

Secure backups: In case you’re worried about a cloud sync failure, Standard Notes makes it easy to back up your notes on-device, in either encrypted or plaintext form. It can also email you daily encrypted copies of your notes so you’ve always got a recent backup.

Those are just security features for the free version. A paid subscription (starting at $90/year, with student discounts and economic assistance available) brings numerous enhancements and additional features, including Markdown support, checklists, spreadsheets, and more.

Get the Standard Notes app free for Windows, Mac, iPhone, iPad, Android, and Linux, or use the web app on any device.

Best Minimalist Note-Taking App: Simplenote

If bells and whistles aren’t what you need in a note taking app, Simplenote might just be the ideal option for you. For a completely minimalistic note taker, you can just type and go.

Markdown support: If you’re accustomed to writing in markdown, Simplenote lets you capture and preview notes with it. Just enable the Markdown option for a note, type it using headings, bold, italics, or lists, and then preview the note when you finish.

Checklists: For project tasks, items to purchase, or contacts to invite, use the checklist option in Simplenote. Type each list item, hitting Enter or Return after each, and you’ll have a nice and neat checklist.

Import and export: Whether you’re switching from another note taker app or want to save a backup of your notes, you can use both import and export options in Simplenote.

Additional features include sharing with other Simplenote users, a customizable display for line length, view, sorting, and theme, create and add tags, and a helpful search feature.

Simplenote is available for free on Android, iPhone and iPad, Windows, Mac, and Linux as well as the web.


With these terrific note taking apps, there’s hopefully at least one on the list that’s perfect for you. For more productivity tools, look at our picks for the best to-do list apps.

Profile Photo for Sandy Writtenhouse Sandy Writtenhouse
With her B.S. in Information Technology, Sandy worked for many years in the IT industry as a Project Manager, Department Manager, and PMO Lead. She learned how technology can enrich both professional and personal lives by using the right tools. And, she has shared those suggestions and how-tos on many websites over time. With thousands of articles under her belt, Sandy strives to help others use technology to their advantage.
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Profile Photo for Jordan Gloor Jordan Gloor
Jordan Gloor is Technical Editor at How-To Geek. He's been tinkering with computers and other technology since childhood when his rural Arkansas home got dial-up internet. Jordan combines his skills in written communication with his penchant for tech to help create our informative how-to guides.
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