The 10 Best Note-Taking Apps in 2019

– Hey, what’s going on guys? So it has come to one of those fairly infrequent points in my life where I start to reevaluate
some of the tools that I’m using to get my work done. And this time around my critical eye has fallen on the apps that hold my
thoughts and machinations. I like that word, it’s a
good word, machinations. Anyway, yes, it is time to
talk about note taking apps because after about a full
week of let’s be honest here far more research than I should
have done for this topic. I am now ready to present to you my top 10 note-taking apps in 2019. Now before we dive in I do want to talk a little
bit about my criteria for this list. First, the apps on this list primarily use text as their input method because I can type a lot
faster than I can write and I want to be able
to type and get data out at the speed at which I think. So while we’re gonna talk about apps like Evernote and OneNote which can support drawing to an extent, we’re not gonna focus on apps that primarily use hand writing
as their method of input like Noteshelf 2 for the iPad. Plus a lot of those apps have integrations with Evernote anyway. Secondly, every app I’m
gonna talk about here has some form of cross
platform availability. Not every app on the list is
available on every platform but nothing on this list is
available on only one OS. And finally criteria number three which I find to be the
most important criteria, I don’t think an app
is the note-taking app unless it combines its
note-taking or editor area with its UI for browsing files or notes. I think this is crucial
for note-taking app, because I’m constantly
referencing different notes, searching for things, and I want to have all that
available in one window. So that means apps like Google Docs and Microsoft Word, Dropbox Paper are all not going to make the cut here. Though I do have to admit the
Dropbox Paper in particular has probably the best writing
experience in writing app that I’ve ever tried. Though we do have one app on this list that does come very close
to that level of greatness. So stay tuned for that app. Before we get to that one though, we do have to go to the
other entries on my list. And where better to
start than with Evernote. Yes, Evernote. The granddaddy of
syncing note-taking apps. I’ve been using Evernote for darn near nine years at this point and I have to admit that
it’s a very powerful tool that I basically can’t get
myself to break away from. Its got a pretty capable rich text editor, the ability to share
notebooks with other people. It’s got tags, the
ability to save searches and a ton of different
integrations with other apps. It also features optical
character recognition which means that you can
scan in images with text and it can make that text searchable and you can also annotate
images in the app as well. But for all its strengths,
Evernote frustrates me, and that’s primarily because you cannot create nested
hierarchies of notebooks. You can do notebooks and
you can notebook stacks, but that’s it. Now some people out there, like the writer Michael Hyatt for example, advocate using a tag based structure to gain that hierarchy instead. But that doesn’t really work because on the Evernote mobile apps those tags are not going
to show in their hierarchy, they’re all alphabetical,
so it kind of breaks down. Still, Evernote is incredibly powerful, it’s available on
basically every platform. And because of those reasons
I am continuing to use it at least for certain parts my work flow, even though I have many
other options in 2019. Speaking of other options,
let’s now talk about OneNote. Microsoft OneNote is probably the closest competitor to
Evernote in terms of features as you’re gonna find
similar image support, optical character recognition, the ability to annotate images and honestly the editor area is a lot more flexible and
customizable than Evernote is. Additionally, Microsoft OneNote
is free, like actually free. The only way you’d ever
pay for Microsoft OneNote if you decided to upgrade
your OneDrive storage as that’s the only way
the ever charge you money, they just use OneDrive for their storage. That being said, I personally
just can’t get into OneNote. I know a lot of people out there love it, it’s incredibly powerful
which is why it’s on my list, but it doesn’t work for me because you cannot sort
notes within your notebooks by date modified, date
created or alphabetically. You can only drag them around like they’re actual note
cards or pages in a notebook. And that combined with
limited tagging capabilities and the same number of
organizational levels of hierarchy as you get in Evernote,
you don’t get more, it makes OneNote kind of
a no go for me personally. That brings us over to Bear, which is an absolutely beautiful app that I wish that I could use as a daily driver in my work flow. But Bear is a Mac and iOS exclusive and that’s kind of a bummer because I also use
Windows on a daily basis alongside my Mac and iPhone. That being said, if you are a Mac and
iPhone only kind of person, Bear is definitely worth
your consideration. This is primarily because
unlike Evernote and OneNote, Bear has a beautiful
hybrid markdown editor. And if you’re not familiar with markdown, it’s a markup language that allows you to format
your text as you type by putting different
symbols around your text. So for example, you can
put two stars around a word to bold that word. Now a lot of markdown editors force you to write in plain text and then you can only
preview your formatted text. But Bear doesn’t do that, it actually format your text as you write which I really really like. Additionally, Bear also has a pretty interesting organizational system that does let you create as many levels of hierarchy as you like and they use tags to achieve this. By typing hash tags in your document and then using slashes to
create additional tags beyond it you can create your own
organizational structure. Now some people don’t like having tags right in the editor window like that but some people might not mind that. And I also have to give a shout
out to their archive feature which lets you archive notes
and take them out of search and your organizational
hierarchy but not delete them. Of course if you are an Apple
exclusive kind of person then we do have to consider
Apple’s own notes program. Mainly because it’s free and unlike Bear, if you happen to not have access to an Apple computer at some point or you’re a part-time Windows guy like me, you can at least access
your notes at Now though Apple Notes doesn’t have the awesome hyper markdown
capabilities of Bear or some other apps we’re gonna talk about, it does have really nice formatting tools. And to my eyes, the default formatting looks better than it does on Evernote. Additionally, yep, you guessed it, you can indeed create your own nested list of hierarchical folders and I love that feature. Moving on to the next item on our list, we are now at Google Keep which is a pretty nice
and simple note-taking app that’s available in the browser and also on pretty much all
of your devices as well. Now when I was testing Google Keep the number one word that kept coming up to
my mind was simplicity, it’s a very simple note-taking app. Very simple but effective
formatting options and you can even change the
background color of your notes to visually distinguish them. The problem for me though is there’s only one level
of tags that you can create, you cannot create a hierarchical level of basically anything, so there’s no hierarchical organization. So I guess if you’re gonna use Google Keep as a note-taking app, you’re gonna want to rely
mostly on their search function. And I guess with it being Google, that search function is
probably pretty good. But that being said, since it lacks true
organizational hierarchy, I don’t see this as a viable alternative to Evernote or OneNote
or anything more complex. But if you want a scratch
pad for taking notes and setting reminders for later, Google Keep could be a good bet. That brings us over to Notion. And I know a lot of you
guys were waiting for me to talk about Notion. It’s definitely the app that I get the most
questions about these days and for good reason, because
notion is stupidly powerful. It’s definitely the most
flexible tool on this list, allowing you to layout
pages however you want, create an infinite hierarchy
organization on the sidebar and even interlink between pages easily. It’s also got a great
hybrid markdown editor that’s very similar to the
one you’re gonna find in Bear, though it does have some quirks that keep me from really loving it, such as the fact that you
cannot precisely select text if it goes outside a single
block of information. But my gripes about the editor aside, Notion can do things
that no other app can do, that’s mainly because the combination of a couple of different features. First, their table feature is
actually a database feature, so every row in a table
actually links to its own page And secondly, they’ve
got a templating feature that allows you to make basically
anything into a template. And I have combined these two
features to build Notion out into an incredibly powerful
video management platform that has made our editing
process so much smoother. So in one area of the app I’ve got a database with all of our videos who’s sponsoring them,
their publish dates, all kinds of good information like that. But if you click into any video you’ll see there’s a very
well laid out template that allows for us to create a B-Roll database, a script and also has some checklists that are automatically populated every single time you do a video. So for very complicated processes like going through the publishing process, we can just go to that
automatically generate a checklist and make sure nothing gets left behind. Now like I said, I get a lot of questions about Notion over on
Twitter and on Instagram. So if you guys want to see a more detailed Notion video on this channel, definitely let me know in
the comments down below. Right now the verdict is out on if it’s a great note-taking app, but it’s definitely a great
organizational app in general and it’s, again, very flexible. All right, let’s talk
about Standard Notes. Now Standard Notes as far as
I can tell, I could be wrong, but I think Standard Notes
is the only app on my list that is developed by one single developer. Given that fact, I’ve got to
say that I’m pretty impressed with everything the developer has been able to accomplish with this app. For one it is easily the most
security focused app on list as everything you write
is encrypted by default and only you can access it. Now you’ll immediately notice that the free version of Standard Notes is just a plain text editor. There is a note browsing window but you can’t write markdown,
there’s no rich text editing, it’s just plain text. But upgrade to their extended version and you get a whole bunch of extensions that you can optionally turn on or off. There are several different
editors to choose from, including multiple markdown
editors, a rich text editor and even a code editor. And this is really cool, you can choose which
editor you want to use on a note by note basis. You can create custom
folders with your tags and these are infinitely nestable and you can even define custom searches based on those tags or
even other information and then save those
searches within the app. Standard Notes is not perfect though. For one, the image support
is kind of lacking right now as you have to host your images elsewhere to have them displayed within the app. And you also cannot drag and drop notes between different folders or tags. Still, I’ve got to say
that I am pretty impressed with what the developer
accomplished so far. Now we are on to, me taking a break and playing with this puzzle because, well, there’s a
lot of items on this list. Alright, enough of that,
let’s talk about Slite. Slite is by design a very
team focused note-taking app that could also work pretty
well for a solo note-taker. It’s got an absolutely
fantastic hybrid markdown editor that I found pretty similar
to the one in Dropbox Paper which allows you to format
your text on-the-fly and also embed images and
videos and even tables. I’m also a big fan of their
table of contents view which lets you quickly zoom to different headings within your note. And this is something you’ll find in Google Docs and Dropbox Paper and it’s something we even
built into the articles in the latest version of College Info Geek but it’s very rare to
find in a note-taking app, so props to Slite for including it. Now Slite also allows you to create a nested hierarchy of notes within the app so you can organize things. Though the way they
implement it is kind of weird because one side you’ve got channels and then within the middle part of the app that’s where you can
create these collections which are infinitely nestful. The only problem is that you can only sort by a recency on a channel level. So their sorting options
are a little less powerful than other apps can offer you. Now much like Notions, Slite
is built primarily for teams, so you can collaboratively edit a document with somebody in real time. There’s also this great comment section that puts comments in a nice little window to the side of your
editor, I really like that. Slite is also available on
mobile apps and on the web and basically every platform out there. So at least from a design perspective it seems to be one of
the best note-taking apps that I could actually find when doing the research for this video. My main gripe with it right
now, at least right now is the experience of using it. Because it can be slow at times and I’ve also run to some bugs where a text actually isn’t formatted after I’ve put the
formatting tags around it. That being said, Slite
is a pretty new company and I do have to admit that
when I tested a few months ago it was much slower than it is now, so they’re making big improvements and I’m gonna be keeping an eye on the team’s progress going forward. But that is talk about the future and we are living in the present. And at present, in my
opinion the note-taking app with the best organizational
structure of them all is our ninth app on the list, Ulysses. Now Ulysses is often billed as an app for serious novelists and writers but I think it can also work really well as a note-taking app. And that’s because primarily it has that amazing organizational system that I just alluded to. Not only can you create a nested hierarchy of as many folders as you want, but when you go into a top-level folder you’re able to see the
notes within subfolders along with notes in that
top-level folder as well and I love that. Additionally, you can
define sorting options for every single folder in the app. You can create custom
searches, you can do tags, there’s an archive view,
there’s an inbox view, there’s a favorites view,
there’s recency views. Ulysses basically has it all
and I absolutely love it. The biggest bummer is, just like Bear it’s only on Mac and iOS platforms. So I can’t use it unless I want to just totally give up my Windows
PC as a writing device. So that leads us to this question. What does a guy who uses a Windows computer and a Mac
computer on a daily basis and who really wants a great
writing experience to do? Well in my case, the answer is to use the last app on our list which is Typora. Typora is a desktop writing app that has the best writing
experience I’ve ever had next to Dropbox Paper. It’s got that hybrid
markdown writing system that automatically formats
your writing as you type, it’s much faster than Slite. And unlike Bear, again it’s on Windows along with Mac and even Linux. It’s also full of features
for serious writers like a focus mode that dims the text that you’re not currently working on. A table of contents mode for zooming between your outline headings just like in Slite, and
themes, lots and lots of themes which you can customize
with CSS if you want. However there are some caveats. Like I said, Typora is
a desktop writing app. There is no mobile app right
now which is kind of a bummer. The other thing is that Typora
almost didn’t make my list because unlike everything
else that I’ve talked about, it doesn’t actually store
or sync your notes itself, it’s purely a markdown editor. The reason still fits my
definition of a note-taking app is because of its file browser. Once you’ve opened up a folder in the app you can easily drill down
into all the subfolders and open up as many documents as you want. But again the biggest downside here is the lack of a good mobile app. Now I don’t really care
too much about this since I’m really only using
Typora for serious writing, for like finishing
articles or video scripts. But if you really need to
access your Typora documents, remember they are just markdown files within your folder
system on your computer. So if you’re using
Dropbox or Google Drive, then you can get a markdown editor for your iPhone or Android that can access those cloud
platforms such as iA Writer. So now it’s time to come to a verdict. Which app on this list wins? Honestly, it is pretty hard to come to a definitive conclusion on this because everyone has
different features they want, different needs, different
devices they use, different budgets. So instead of just recommending one app I’m gonna name some winners
in a few different categories and then it’s up to you to choose. For the actual writing experience, again, the win goes to Typora. Slite is also pretty good, but I’m waiting for it to
get a little less buggy and a little more snappy. So I’m gonna be keeping my eye on that and using Typora in the meantime. For note organization,
the win goes to Ulysses. Again with infinite nestable folders and tags and custom searches, really nothing else out there
beats it, at least in my eyes. For overall capability and
my general recommendation, I still have to give the win to Evernote. Yeah, it doesn’t have markdown support which I really really want
along those nestable folders, but otherwise it’s got
a ton of capabilities. Though I do have to say
that Notion in particular is really nipping at the heels of Evernote in the capability department. And if you care more about those database and templating features, then you might actually
think it’s more capable. Now I do want to make one last note here. With all these devices and
apps and capabilities we have, it can be really easy to
overcomplicate things. Because if you’re anything like me, having all these capabilities makes it very tempting
to try and do too much. And that’s why I am once again listening to Greg McKeown’s excellent book Essentialism: The
Disciplined Pursuit of Less. This was one of my
favorite books from 2017 and it’s one that, at least
for me is worth returning to because it has great
advice for figuring out how to narrow down your focuses in life. And honestly this is one of the areas where I tend to struggle the most. Now if you also want to get more focused with your priorities, you wanna start digging into essentialism, then you are in luck, because you can start listening to it for free today on Audible. All you need to do is go
over to or text Thomas to 500-500 on your phone and you can download that audiobook or any audiobook of your choosing for free and you’re also gonna get a free 30-day trial of
their service as well. And once you start that trial you are quickly going to find out that Audible is the best place to get audiobooks on the entire internet. They have an unmatched
selection of audiobook titles across tons of different genres, including biographies and
psychology and sci-fi. And once you download an audiobook it is yours to keep forever regardless of whether or not you cancel, you’re always gonna be
able to listen to it across all of your devices. So if you want to gain the
ability to learn new things wherever you are, whatever you’re doing, whether it’s going on a long bike ride or cooking or doing chores, then once again go over
to or text Thomas to 500-500 on your phone to get that free audiobook download and a free 30-day trial of their service. Big thanks as always to Audible
for sponsoring this video and being a supporter of the channel. And as always guys, thank
you so much for watching. Hopefully you got a lot of
value out of this video. Hopefully you’ve got something
that you can go try out now. And if you enjoyed this video, definitely hit that like button. And subscribe right there as well to get new videos when they
come out every single week. You can also click right there
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see you in the next one.

100 thoughts on “The 10 Best Note-Taking Apps in 2019”

  1. If you enjoyed this one, check out my picks for the 8 best habit-tracking apps as well:

  2. Video Notes
    3.Bear(only IOS and MacOS)
    4.Google Keep
    6.Standard Notes
    8.Ulysses( only IOS and MacOS)
    9.Typora(only Desktop no app)

  3. I like using Evernote so far for structured note-taking, but regarding the flexibility and smoothness when using stylus, OneNote is a lot better than Evernote… I use both anyway…. and they are sufficient for me … sometimes I use Keep for very quick notes….

  4. The free version of Ticktick is way better then Microsoft OneNote. You can't even make folders in OneNote. The 9 list limitation in the free version of Ticktick doesn't really matter because you can make many sub-lists that behave the same as lists. Ticktick is amazing.

  5. In Onenote, there is actually quite a lot of Hierarchy, Right clicking the section lets you create infinitely many subsections, and the same with pages and subpages.

  6. No offense, but this was over my head, because all I want is a calendar/notes app that I can set reminders, so-so Birthday, fertilized my roses today, etc.. Thats about it. Thanks

  7. Interesting list, I’m surprised emacs Org-Mode didn’t make this list. Notion seems to be the closest to Org’s capabilities but the tables and databasing seem primitive compared to Org-tables.

    Not to mention the incredible habit-tracking functions, and item by item custom properties. And Org-Export is amazing for publishing… anything. Blogs, articles, slides, papers, scientific research. There is a static site generator built in. The calendar and agenda have an endless feature set. Maybe next years list will have it?

  8. Can you make another list for note taking apps for writing? I have a Inspiron and I prefer writing on it with my stylus because I find notes easier to learn with. But I prefer using apps rather than notebooks since it's cheaper and I like to be able to pull up my notes wherever I am.

  9. Hey I tried Notion, it's pretty good. Couldn't find the kind of note app I wanted for a while. Even thought about making my own app. I wanted something that can be a base for all my knowledge and organisational things. Something that has flexibility to construct custom layouts. Also cross platform and works offline. Desktop for work and home, iPad on the train offline.

  10. you keep on repeating the hierarchy problem and this is why I must say there actually is a way to do this in Evernote you can make a note which only contains other note links – in the notes linked to these note links you can repeat this and that's how you get your hierarchy, that said, Evernote does lack in many other aspects…

  11. Anyone consider Scrivener? It's similar to Ulysses and is made for both Windows and Mac. No markdown support, but has unique features like corkboard view, pane splitting, and more.

  12. I don’t understand what you mean organizational hierarchy. Can someone explain? I’m used to just writing things down.

  13. Hierarchical structures for notes don’t make sense in 2019. Hierarchy used to be useful when you had no search field or ability to tag documents or cross reference them. Dislike.

  14. Checked out prices for new Laptops, Ipads, tablets…. Nah Im gonna stick to keep on taking notes the oldschool way: Paper and Pen!

  15. Am I the only one who finds OneNote slow and heavy on Mac? I use my iOS notes app for almost anything now because it doesn't take ages to open and then feel like it's using up all my computer's energy while it is. Evernote is a pretty light software too, but I can't use it because it interferes with a different software I have to use often.

    Does anybody know if any of these other apps are quick and "light" that don't feel like they're using up all of Mac's resources?

  16. OneNote's syncing is dangerous, it messes up part of your notes and sometime it doesn't even sync. Switched out of OneNote on the same day I started using it.

  17. Would you consider updating this? Onenote can now organize by alphabet, creation date, last modified, etc.

  18. Although onenote is free and great it also is the worse to sync across devices and when you resolve the problem within a few days it is the same problem, sometimes everything will be deleted.

  19. I would say Notion is the best. You can make it whatever you want to make it. Plus you can also use it with its bookmarking features.

  20. THANK YOU for this video! It's a big help, as I am new to most all these technologies…..

    I have a LOT of handwritten notes that I need to put into a well laid out, cleanly structured & easily transferred (to PC from ios iPad etc) – preferably via a Dictaphone method, (for speed) and easy post text page lay-out editing…..Can you recommend what my best (preferably simple to use) options are to achieve this? Cheers! 🙂

  21. For anyone who is a college student or just anyone who uses a Samsung Galaxy Tab S4. What note taking apps do you take? I just got mine and I'm trying to use Onenote but I'm not too sure how I feel about it…

  22. You totally forgot about Trello! Trello is the new EverNote. It is extremely easy, simple and intuitive to use, yet it has tremendous depth. The flexibility and possibilities are endless! You can use it to organize your work, GTD, thoughts, ideas, work processes, etc. It syncs seamlessly across all platforms, has an excellent mobile app and collaboration is is quick, simple and easy.
    … and it is free!

  23. If Windows is your target then there is no competition. TreeDBNotes is the only all in one, everything you need(Notes/outliner/Books/Attachment/password/contact/alarm/task) hierarchical note-taking software out there. And I have tested every one of the alternatives out there, primarily because there is no mobile version. But once I used it there is nothing out there that is capable of replacing this as of now.
    You should give it a try as there is a freeware version of it.

  24. Ulysses is subscription, so immediately out for me. Onenote you only pay for storage, its backed by a large company, its cross platform

  25. I really love OneNote. I get your point with the sorting options, but I have to say this: I use my surface pen quite frequently and it feels just awesome to do handwritten notes in that software.

  26. Thomas, you're good looking beautiful (make me jealous), loved your background, the light in your studio OmG! so cool. English is not my first language, so I had to reduce playback speed, also, I had to pause the video to make this comment, took me a while to notice the subliminal jokes, you lost me on "learn many jutsus", I'm laughing so much. Great humor, confidence to talk on camera, brilliant review and the studio is astonishing (can I have a making off video, please? lol ). Mate, 5 Stars.

  27. Thanks for this video, this might be of use to many people. For the more open source focused people, I'd recommend the following apps (all using Markdown):

    Joplin (Windows/Mac/Linux/iOS/Android): App that can sync with your NextCloud instance, or using OneDrive/Dropbox among others. Alternatively, you can choose to keep these available locally only. Encryption is also supported, which is great if you're syncing with OneDrive etc. Evernote files can be imported too, but I haven't used that feature. Unfortunately, nesting notebooks requires a desktop/laptop for some reason, but they are viewable on mobile platforms.

    Zettlr (Windows/Mac/Linux): This one seems to be new, but it is already powerful and I think it deserves recognition. Though this may be more focused on writers (with features like word targets and statistics on how many words you've written), you can also assign custom colors to tags and have it displayed next to your notes. Readability mode shows how readable your text is and warns you for long sentences and the like. It supports exporting to many file formats using Pandoc. Files can be stored in either actual or virtual directories, which are accessible in the sidebar.

    QOwnotes (Windows/Mac/Linux): This note taking app puts emphasis on storing your notes locally, but also supports syncing to ownCloud/NextCloud. It has some neat tagging features and it supports nested folders. It also has scripting support, and you can download scripts using their Script Repository. Like Joplin, it supports importing Evernote files. This one also supports distraction free mode, great for writers and people like me, who are quickly distracted.

    Hopefully this helps someone out. I've been in this rabbit hole myself, instead of writing and note taking I just keep downloading different applications to postpone stuff or something.

  28. Did you know IA writer has a really nice Windows desktop app as well? To bad you didn't mention it, would be perfect for you.

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