7 Best Note Taking Software Apps for Writers and Authors (2021)
Sometimes when I am out in the city, I see or hear something and I feel I could include it in my next story or article. Something real or random always gives the story some depth. I remember once or twice while trying to write the thoughts; I ended up typing in my phone messaging and saved it as drafts, which I never remembered for the next 5-6 months.
Similar instances happen when I read a book full of information, and this I just wanted to write for referencing later. This is when I realized the importance of a note-taking app.
Note-taking is like one prerequisite of writing. Before writing any novel, script, or even an article, all writers go through either simple or in-depth research. While jotting down ideas from a non-fiction book or an article, note taking is a habit for most writers before starting the actual writing process.
As technology has already slipped into our lives, let us take advantage of it by upgrading to electronic note-taking apps or software. So, here are my best recommendations.
- Microsoft One Note
- Google Keep
- Roam Research
- Apple Notes
Microsoft OneNote was launched in 2003, and now is a part of Windows 10. It can also be used solely for free. Organizing becomes very easy with One Note because after creating the notes, you can search them and sync them on platforms like Windows PCs, Macs, iPads and iPhones, Android devices, and the web.
If most of your work uses Microsoft Office, this is a good choice as it syncs with Microsoft Word, Excel, and Outlook. One Note is easy to use and you can use it collaboratively.
- Organizing: You can create a desired structure of notebooks. Within individual notebooks, you can create section groups that have multiple sections. Again, within each section, you can create individual pages, and within pages, you can create notes.
- Note creation tools: What makes One Note so great is its note creation tools like drawing, checklists, tables, the embedding of contents like spreadsheets, videos, etc.
- Collaboration: You can share your note with multiple other people and work together to make changes on the same draft. It gets easier when it lets you see who makes particular changes.
- Sorting: One Note lacks one of the basic features. You cannot sort your note by the time created.
- Interface: The interface can be a bit messy. Notebooks have notebooks and dividers, and notebooks can be found on the left, dividers go on top, notes can be found on the right. This can be messy for some.
Available on: Tablets, Windows devices, Apple devices, Android devices, Web.
Get the One Note App
Evernote is everything that one could ask for. Evernote is quite an old software yet it is full of features. You can create both simple and complex workflows. Evernote can be helpful in processing handwritten notes. The web clipping feature is one of the best features it offers to its users.
Recently added features include new tables and Siri integration (for iOS).
- File formats: Multiple file formats are available in Evernote. Evernote will even create a Google Drive icon in-line should you paste a Google docs link.
- Photocopying: Evernote can be used as a scanner for taking photos of notes or books like generally done for photocopying.
- Web clipping: The web clipping feature is customized and helpful. You can choose if you want to save the whole article for later use or just the part that matters.
- It doesn’t have Markdown support.
- The free plan has only 60MB of storage.
Available on: Browser, Windows, Mac, Android, iOS.
- Basic Plan: Free
- Premium Plan: $7.99 / Month
- Business Plan: $14.99 / User / Month
Get the Evernote App
3. Google Keep
Google Keep is a simple and lightweight note-taking app. It can be your go-to note-taking app with time. It can be useful while trying to write down your thoughts.
With Google Keep, you can create notes and lists, which will be saved on your Google Drive. It has similar features to Evernote, like image recognition, converting images, etc.
Google comes pre-installed on many devices, which is why many people started using it.
- Accessibility: With the help of your Gmail account, you can access your Google Keep notes from literally anywhere.
- Color codes and labels: For making your customization fun and easy, Google Keep offers different color codes for assigning different colors to different kinds of notes. It also offers features to create labels
- Simple: Perhaps everyone who uses Google Keep will tell you the easy user interface.
- No hierarchy: Almost all note-taking apps have an organization based on hierarchy. Google Keep being one of the major note-taking apps and lacking this feature is a negative point.
Available in: iOS, Android, Browser
Ulysses is one of the most simple and clean note-taking apps that most people prefer, given they are users of Apple products. That’s right, Ulysses is only available on Apple’s computing platform and uses iCloud to save and sync your documents.
With Ulysses, you can embed images in the form of links, wherein double-clicking the link will show the image on the body of the document.
- Full-screen mode: Ulysses provides a full-screen mode so that you can only focus on your writing. For this reason, many use this app for writing their novels even.
- Flexibility: Ulysses provides flexibility to its users, from offering a dark mode to different markup styles and publishing formats.
- WordPress publishing: Ulysses makes publishing to WordPress a whole lot easier. After crafting a blog post, you don’t have to log in to your WordPress dashboard separately.
- Availability: Only supports Mac and iOS.
Available in: Mac and iOS
- Free trial
- For students: $1.83/month up to 6 months
Get the Ulysses App
Bear is an app similar to Evernote and Ulysses, with one exception of supporting Markdown. It has a three-pane interface, like Slack, and you can apply hashtags to your notes. Bear is lightweight, and it lets you insert images directly into notes.
Bear allows you with a lot of formatting tools, like themes, typography, etc. With Bear, you can link notes just using the hashtag.
- Markdown editor: This is probably the best feature provided by Bear. This feature formats your texts as you keep writing and you don’t have to worry about how your text will turn out.
- Archiving: When you archive a note in Bear, it will take out the note from the platform without actually deleting it. Sometimes it is quite helpful when you don’t want to see the note anymore but can’t let it go.
- Design: Bear has a simple minimalistic user interface and people find it easy to write and read the notes.
- Availability: Same with Ulysses, if you are a Windows user, it’s not for you.
Available in: Mac and iOS
- $1.49 monthly, with a one-week free trial
- $14.99 annually, with a one-month free trial
Get the Bear App
Roam Research is perhaps one of the most innovative note-taking apps out there. Considered to be exceptional to the other apps, Roam Research doesn’t take away all of the useful features of other note-taking apps. But what it does take away is all the pointless features and replace them with additional benefits.
Note linking is one of the unique features provided by Roam Research.
- Writing Experience: Roam Research is supported by Markdown, which makes writing easier.
- Note linking: This is one of the features where you don’t realize its usefulness unless you start using it. Linking notes is easy and simple, and you will get into the habit very soon.
- Visualization: Unlike most hierarchical views offered by many note-taking apps, Roam Research uses a graph-based visual to show the connection of your notes.
Available in: Web browser only
- 31 days of free trial
- Professional- $15/month, $165/year
- Believer- $500/5 years
Get the Roam Research App
7. Apple notes
Since Apple Notes comes pre-installed on many iOS devices, many iOS users are likely to have used it. Apple Notes is one of those note-taking apps that is simple, for which people tend to prefer it. Apple Notes can be considered as a convenient note-taking app.
Apple Note integrates with Siri. And it makes organizing notes easier by providing as many folders as required.
- Formatting tools: No, you won’t get special formatting tools with Apple Notes. But, it has the simple old bold, italics, and different font styles.
- Cross-platform editing: This is possible while using Apple Notes in the browser. You need to log in to your iCloud account and edit the existing files.
- Shared notes: This feature allows more than one user to use, view, and update notes. This way, no matter who is updating everyone can see the updated contents.
- Doesn’t allow attaching files except with the share extension.
- Useful for spontaneous note taking only.
Available in: iOS, OSX
Notion is rather new and already set to compete with apps like Bear and Evernote. This app offers organizing based on tables, kanban boards, and calendar views. Notion initially started as a costly service, but then launched affordable plans recently.
Notion lets you add icons and background images. The collaboration feature in Notion is a bit similar to that of Google Docs. When multiple people are logged in, you can see their profiles.
- Hybrid Editor: Notion features a Markdown editor for formatting your text. You can also use normal keyboard shortcuts and UI elements for formatting.
- Flexibility: Notion is so much more than just a note-taking app. It can be anything. You can use it as a management tool, a database tool, a collaboration tool.
- Tables: Notion did many things right with the table feature. Someone who uses them will know the importance, but for some, it might be bloated. Tables in Notion can be explained as a blend of Google Docs and Google sheets.
- Slow: Notion can be pretty slow depending on your network connection. There have been reports of occasional bugs also.
- The windows app is still not good enough as the mobile app.
- Free for personal use upto 5 people
- Personal Pro: $4/month
- Team: $8/month
Get the Notion App
ConnectedText is a very different approach to note-taking apps. It has all the powerful tools that will take care of all of your simple to important stuff, and store it in one accessible place.
Anyone who has written for Wikipedia pages will understand the similarities, because ConnectedText is based on wikipedia principles.
- Flexibility: You can connect anything to whatever you want. Links to a web, another note, another URL, etc.
- Classification: ConnectedText’s classification system is interesting. A page features category, attribute, and property command, all of which are embedded in a markup language.
- Visuals: The editing mode is not at all visually appealing and quite a boring one.
- Not easy: ConnectedText is not your simple note-taking app. It does take care of all your high-performance work but it can be equally complicated to use.
Available in: Windows 10, Windows 8, Windows 7, Vista, XP, 2000, Server 2003, Server 2008
- Free trial 30 days
- A single license costs $39.95
Quip is one of the apps where you can share your documents and collaborate with your team. With an intuitive interface, this app can be your friend while doing daily office work. Among many collaborative tools, it includes spreadsheets, images, tasks, etc.
- Formatting: Quip features great formatting tools. One of them is code block formatting which is most loved. With Quip, you can get multi-language formatting, indenting, etc.
- Easy to use: Quip doesn’t take all your time while you are trying to understand how it works. With Quip, you can watch real-time updates and your updates are saved instantaneously.
- Missing collaborative feature: Since Quip’s collaboration is one of its biggest features, it should also have an option to see the history of changes made.
- Supported system: quip doesn’t have a desktop application for Linux. It would have been better if it were inclusive of all the systems.
Available in: iOS, Windows, Android.
- Free trial
- Quip Starter – $10/user/month
- Quip Plus – $25/user/month
- Salesforce Anywhere Advanced – $75/user/month
11. Simple Note
This is another free note taking app in which you can create to-do lists, jot down ideas and more.
- Markdown Support
- Extremely user friendly
- Edit history tracking while sharing it with collaborators.
- You can sync between different machines like tablets and mobiles.
- There are no pre-built templates for taking notes.
- No option to set reminders
Get Simple Note
As we have come to conclude the article, it is important to mention that any of the apps above will get your job done, considering it is only note-taking. However, choosing the right one will be based on your personal preference and requirement.