Overview of 10 Best Note-Taking Apps for Students in 2020

26 Feb 2020

Studying process cannot be separated from note-taking. It is a sensible thing to refrain from relying only on memory and have a habit of noting down all important stuff. It is easy to refresh one’s knowledge before the exam if the information provided during classes is meticulously kept in the written form. Nowadays the variety of electronic devices makes the process of note-taking and organizing information much easier and at the same time more complicated due to the immense number of options. We can recommend these apps as the ones that proved their efficiency and usefulness after a week’s test drive.

10 Best Note-Taking Apps for Students

Google Keep

The simple note-taking application that is included in your Google account, thus, can be used across many platforms.

Compatibility: Windows, macOS X, iOS, Android, web browser

Free plan: Available

Paid plan: Not needed, however, if you manage to use all initially given free 15 GB, paid subscriptions range from $2 to $300 per month depending on the storage requested

Pros:

  • It is simple and possesses a minimalistic user-friendly design.
  • Tags help to organize multiple notes and reminders will help you to remember important things.
  • It is totally free and can be used on all your devices.
  • Adds more options while working with other Google services such as Calendar or Gmail.

Cons:

  • The system of tags could have been more developed and customizable.

Apple Notes

Once you create your iCloud account, enjoy this well-organized tool and synchronize the notes on all your Apple devices.

Compatibility: macOS X, iOS, web browser

Free plan: Available

Paid plan: $0.99 per month for 50GB instead of free 5 GB

Pros:

  • Sufficient formatting features.
  • You may add tables, photos, links, and videos.
  • Possibility to create folders and organize them.
  • Not limited to Apple devices only, you may use a web browser to access your notes everywhere.
  • Integration with Siri.

Cons:

  • Formatting features will not be available for third-party synchronized accounts, such as Google one.

Microsoft OneNote

This tool is often treated as an alternative to Apple Notes and is an especially good choice for students due to its convenient way to create long notes and work with Office documents. It may also mimic the paper in the design of notes and allows handwriting to be converted to typed text.

Compatibility: Windows, macOS X, iOS, Android, web browser

Free plan: Available

Paid plan: Storage can be improved by purchasing Office 365 with included 1 TB OneDrive, prices start from $7 per month or $70 per year for a personal account. Basic OneDrive 50 GB storage costs $1.99 per month.

Pros:

  • It can be used completely for free!
  • A lot of features and options to customize and organize your notes.
  • Complex structure with notebooks, pages, and quick notes.
  • Integrated optical character recognition.

Cons:

  • It is more comfortable to use OneNote on one device as this app has limited shareability with cloud-based services.
  • It may work slower than other note-taking tools.

Google Docs

The perfect cloud-based tool that provides multiple opportunities for taking notes, especially lengthy ones, and organizing documents. Enjoy the variety of text editing settings and available formats.

Compatibility: Windows, macOS X, iOS, Android, web browser

Free plan: Available

Paid plan: As it is included in Google account, 15 GB of storage goes for free but you can enhance it tremendously from $2 to $300 per month.

Pros:

  • Allows collaborative work on one document which is useful for a team of students.
  • The menu is easy to understand and it is easy to get used to it.
  • All your documents will be with you on all your devices.

Cons:

  • The system of tags is not very convenient.
  • The browser version has fewer options.

Evernote

A well-known note-taking app that can be used on all major platforms available and offers a lot of features. It is often claimed to be the leader in this field even though the paid plan is rather pricey.

Compatibility: Windows, macOS X, iOS, Android, web browser

Free plan: Available

Paid plan: $7.99 and $14.99 per month for premium and business accounts respectively.

Pros:

  • It is often treated as a database of information that can be easily stored and organized.
  • Variety of supported documents, which is a huge advantage for students who need to deal with multiple types of files.
  • Developed file organization and tags function.

Cons:

  • The rather expensive paid version
  • The very limited free version, for example, there are only 100,000 notes with limited size in the free version. Tags, searches, and storage are also limited. There is only 60MB upload limit per month, which is not sufficient nowadays.

Simplenote

For those who don’t like complicated designs and prefer clean and plain text notes, Simplenote is a great alternative. It is available on all platforms including Linux and offers completely free and light software, back up and synchronization with your other devices, and excellent performance.

Compatibility: Windows, Linux, macOS X, iOS, Android, web browser

Free plan: Available

Paid plan: N/A

Pros:

  • It is free. Just free.
  • Markdown support.
  • Synchronization and collaboration are available.
  • Back up of previous versions of notes.

Cons:

  • Its main function is to work with texts, a variety of supported document formats is not offered. So, no scanned documents, videos, and images.

Notion

This is not a usual note-taking app as it includes tasks, projects, databases, and knowledge bases along with notes and documents. Even its paid plan is called a Team plan which refers to its main focus on teamwork and collaboration.

Compatibility: Windows, macOS X, iOS, Android, web browser

Free plan: Available

Paid plan: If you won’t be limited by 1000 blocks in the free plan, buy a Personal account for $4 per month, Team plan from $8 per each member per month, or try Enterprise version that includes all features and unlimited opportunities.

Pros:

  • A simple and easy design that is definitely user-friendly.
  • An excellent choice not only for students but for work as well due to included notes, tasks, and databases.
  • Strong hierarchical organization of files.
  • Markdown support.

Cons:

  • The free version is very limited, the paid subscription is necessary for proper work.
  • Block system that Notion uses may create troubles for formatting.

Standard Notes

Free-of-charge notes app that focuses on security and encrypts all your notes. It is rather simple yet powerful and is also available for Linux users.

Compatibility: Windows, Linux, macOS X, iOS, Android, web browser

Free plan: Available

Paid plan: $9.99 per month or $49.99 for a 1-year subscription or $149 for a 5-year plan.

Pros:

  • Focus on security and encryption, though it is unlikely to be relevant for students.
  • Upgrading to the paid version is not needed unless you want note version history, powerful extensions and editors such as Markdown support, and automated backups to cloud services (Dropbox, OneDrive, and Google Drive).
  • Available on all platforms.

Cons:

  • Limited support for images as they cannot be hosted in-app.
  • Rich text is not available in the free version.

Zoho Notebook

This alternative to all note-taking apps introduces a very distinct and beautiful design solution. It offers multiple covers for notebooks and designs for note cards.

Compatibility: Windows, Linux, macOS X, iOS, Android, web browser

Free plan: Available

Paid plan: N/A

Pros:

  • Extremely appealing design. Those who want to avoid boring note-taking will definitely enjoy it. The most powerful customization is available among all other alternative note-taking apps.
  • Variety of supported documents and options to enrich notes as well as customize them. Smart Notes may provide additional information to saved data and enrich your knowledge.
  • Use of gestures.
  • Notebooks are synced across all your devices.

Cons:

  • Sharing is not available.
  • Absent handwriting recognition.

Dropbox Paper

Dropbox service introduced a new collaborative note-taking app that will be interesting for students who often work in teams. Using this app will make the process of working and managing tasks easier.

Compatibility: Windows, macOS X, iOS, Android, web browser

Free plan: Available

Paid plan: N/A

Pros:

  • A variety of documents to be added and options to enrich the working process.
  • Integration with Dropbox cloud service.
  • Options to plan meetings, set tasks, and leave annotations in the document.
  • Sharing control and possibility to monitor team members’ activity.

Cons:

  • It is a beta-version yet, thus, more features may be introduced.

Find A Note-Taking Tool That Meets Your Requirements

It is absolutely okay if the leading note-taking service will not meet your expectations. The first thing you must pay attention to while choosing the app to help in your studies is your major priorities. Remember, there is no perfect app that can suit anybody’s demands. Somebody wants a strict hierarchy of folders and use the service to store a lot of documents. Other people just want an electronic substitute for a paper notebook. In order to find the method that suits you the best, it would be sensible to try a few options.

According to scientific researches, note-taking is beneficial not only for recording information and aiding reflection but also for problem resolution and decision making processes. Note-taking allows students to improve their cognitive and intellectual abilities. It is also important to remember that there are different methods of note-taking, such as the Cornell Notes system which presupposes questions and reflection over recorded notes or mind-mapping systems that will be very useful during brainstorming sessions on meetings. Different circumstances require different approaches. Thus, it is better to spend some time giving every option a try and eventually choose the one that works best specifically for you.