Best college note taking software for mac

Learn 30 tips for Evernote to make the most of your notes. Microsoft OneNote is a full featured note taking app that can do more than just about any other, save for Evernote. The two square up rather equally, though they couldn't be more different in their look and feel.

While Evernote looks squarely like standard business software, Microsoft OneNote mimics paper. When you create a new note, you can click anywhere on the page and add content to that spot, just as if you were working with paper, rather than be tied to the linear movement of the cursor. You can choose a background for your notes that looks like textured or lined paper or use templates for meeting notes and more.

OneNote also mimics the classic binder, with notebooks, sections, and tabs for organizing your notes. With OneNote, you can type text, drag and drop images and file attachments into notes, use a digital highlighter, create checklists, record audio, draw sketches, and so forth. And because each note is meant to appear like a piece of paper, you can move elements around the page, placing an audio memo next to a block of text, for example.


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As much as OneNote fondly embraces some elements of paper, it's also technologically savvy. Scan and upload images of handwriting, such as a picture of a whiteboard with notes, and Microsoft's OCR will make all the writing searchable. For every note you can open a record of its version history, too. And an ink-to-text feature lets you write by hand and have your text converted to type. OneNote also integrates with other apps, such as mobile scanning app OfficeLens and the paperless system NeatConnect.

You can create more OneNote integrations using Zapier. OneNote is free to use, with no feature limitations in the free version. Syncing occurs via Microsoft OneDrive, and non-paying members are capped at 5GB though you can earn additional space through some promotions and purchases. Microsoft OneNote is perhaps the best free note taking app you can find. It's easy to learn to use, too, although you can rely on Zapier's tutorial for OneNote if you need some pointers.

An honorable mention goes to Google Keep , another very capable and free note taking app. If you think in images rather than words, your note taking app should still give you tools to express yourself. Milanote caters directly to designers and other visual thinkers but it's not for sketching. It's more of a pasteboard or pinboard, presenting you with a canvas on which you can paste images, arrows, text blocks, checklists, and other elements.

Milanote has a drawer on the right side of the page that holds page elements you intend to use but haven't placed yet. I like that you can see and consider all the pieces you need to add without having to put them on the board before you're ready. Milanote also has a web clipper tool, so you can easily snap images online and add them to your visual notes. There are no mobile apps or desktop apps at this time, just a web app and a mobile-optimized site. Milanote could use a few more markup tools, such as a highlighter or a marker for drawing freeform lines, as it's light on options. It's important to note that Milanote isn't strong as a general note taking app.

It's not good for making text notes or audio memos. It's really only for pasteboard work.

What Makes a Great Note Taking App?

It does support collaboration and sharing, however. Milanote handles syncing, storage, and backup rather than handing off those responsibilities to a third party. Free Milanote members have some tight limitations on what they can upload: Free members also can't search their boards and content. Pro members get unlimited storage unlimited notes, images, links, and files , plus a search bar for all their content.

Milanote Pro costs much more than other options, including Evernote Premium, however. Paper by FiftyThree is a drawing and note taking app for iPad and iPhone. You can use it to create all kinds of notes with your fingertips or a stylus, whether a sketch, annotated image, or handwritten text. Beautifully designed with a minimalist bent, Paper incorporates animations that make it inviting and fun to use.

It has some tools for organizing your notes, too, such as the ability to group them into notebooks and share them. The Paper app also lets you choose different pen types and colors. Paper cleans up your drawing as you go, so even if you're not particularly artistic, it's still a joy to use. Draw simple loops, for example, and Paper knows to turn them into neat circles. Choose the pen tool, and your writing will magically look like calligraphy. If you prefer to type on a keyboard, you can do that as well, writing text notes, checklists, and so forth. Paper also gives you a few special tools for creating business diagrams.

You'll have the best experience with Paper if you use it with a stylus. It's made to look like a graphite pencil. The tip lets you create pressure-sensitive drawings, while the reverse side acts as an eraser. The app used to backup your notes for you, but the company no longer does as of March , so be sure you have adequate space in an iCloud account before committing to Paper.

Quip isn't a typical note taking app. Rather, it's more like a word processing and spreadsheet application with collaboration, though once you get rolling with Quip, you'll likely find it's the place you want to store more general notes, too. This online app lets you work with others on notes, documents, and spreadsheets while discussing the work in the same place. Quip shines brightest when you used it to collaborate with others. In many ways, it's similar to Google Docs, in the sense that you can see your collaborators' remarks, questions, and suggested changes in real time.

Quip is thorough in how it saves, documents, and displays every single suggested edit, question, and comment in your notes. It provides complete visibility into how the collaboration process works. You can connect your Quip account to other tools, such as Dropbox and Google Drive, and you create other Quip integrations by using Zapier.

How I take Notes (College)

With Quip, you and your teammates can create folders and subfolders to organize your notes. You can create private folders for notes that you don't want to share with others as well. The search function is reliable, but not especially fast, given Quip accounts often have a lot of data beyond plain text in them. Quip takes the matter of storage and syncing into its own hands, so you don't have to bring your own.

With a paid plan you get unlimited storage, too. While I wouldn't necessarily recommend Quip as the right note taking app for an individual, it's wonderful for business teams. If you're in the market for a distraction-free app for taking notes, Simplenote is the first one you should consider.

True to its name, Simplenote gives you a clutter-free space for creating and editing notes. It's a no-frills experience. You get little more than an unlimited number of blank white pages for making plain text notes. There's no rich text formatting, no image uploads, and no file attachments.

Don't expect to draw or record audio memos either.

The Best Note-Taking Apps

Simplenote is a pure minimalist in the note taking app category. Seeing as you can save nothing but typed text, the search functionality is fast. Syncing and storage comes included. You get a version history for all your notes and the ability to restore any prior version. You also get tags for sorting and organizing your notes, plus options for sharing and collaborating with others. Simplenote can run in any browser, and there are apps for all the major platforms as well. It's completely free with no upsells or subscription plans.

If you want a truly distraction-free environment and don't need many features beyond the ability to make plain text notes, then you can't do better than Simplenote for your note-taking needs. Squid also known as Squidnotes and formerly called Papyrus is a note taking app that supports handwriting and sketching for Android tablets and some Chromebooks.

The app was designed to have low latency, meaning as soon as your stylus or finger drags across the screen, the mark in the app should show up immediately, with little to no delay. In the app, your options for paper include blank white pages, lined pages, staff paper for music, and gridded graph paper in a variety of styles.

You can write or draw freeform, as well as import images and PDFs to annotate them. Squid supports digital signatures, too, so you can import a document that you need to sign, scribble your name on it, export it as a PDF, and send it to the recipient. Squid includes other tools for capturing, organizing, and editing notes. While the app is free to download, Squid sells a Premium subscription that unlocks all the paper backgrounds, tools, and a few capabilities you might actually need. Some of the features restricted to Premium are a highlighter; a few shape tools; the ability to import PDFs for markup; and the option to backup, restore, and bulk export options using Box or Dropbox.

Squid is one of the best apps for Android and Chromebook that supports handwriting, image and PDF markup, and other ways to take notes. Zoho Notebook is one of the best free note taking apps you can find. It has a healthy array of features and is available on all major platforms although as of this writing, the Windows version isn't freely downloadable; and you have to request a copy from Zoho. When you first create an account, the app encourages you to create a few notebooks, which appear on screen as notebooks with different images for their covers.

You can name them however you like. As you create notes, whether by typing them, uploading images, or clipping them from web pages, you can add rich text formatting. It offers the most reliable sync, PDF annotation, and support for a wide range of document types. You can sync between two devices for free Mac and iPhone, for example or pay a few bucks a month to sync to unlimited devices. It features many more formatting options that Evernote, but the design concept is a little different. Essentially, OneNote is a different graphical interface for Word, designed to expose more organizational features.

Reviewed: 5 Best Note-Taking Apps | The Manual

If you already have an Office subscription, give it a try: Bear is designed to make note-taking beautiful. It relies on plain text MarkDown formatting, applying roughly the same range of formatting options that Evernote allows. Notes are organized into collections based on hashtags, so there are no notebooks to be created and organized. Depending on how you feel about those apps, that might be a turnoff, or it might be appealing. If you want to keep your note taking really simple, then Simplenote will be perfect for you.

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However, it lacks a lot of the secondary features that make Evernote and OneNote so powerful. Multi-platform sync is great for folks with a ton of devices. Its perfect use case is during a phone call.