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 reevaluatesome 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 mythoughts and machinations. I like that word, it's agood word, machinations. Anyway, yes, it is time totalk about note taking apps because after about a fullweek of let's be honest here far more research than I shouldhave 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 littlebit about my criteria for this list. First, the apps on this list primarily use text as their input method because I can type a lotfaster than I can write and I want to be ableto 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 writingas 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'mgonna talk about here has some form of crossplatform availability. Not every app on the list isavailable on every platform but nothing on this list isavailable on only one OS. And finally criteria number three which I find to be themost important criteria, I don't think an appis the note-taking app unless it combines itsnote-taking or editor area with its UI for browsing files or notes. I think this is crucialfor note-taking app, because I'm constantlyreferencing different notes, searching for things, and I want to have all thatavailable 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 theDropbox Paper in particular has probably the best writingexperience in writing app that I've ever tried. Though we do have one app on this list that does come very closeto that level of greatness. So stay tuned for that app. Before we get to that one though, we do have to go to theother entries on my list. And where better tostart than with Evernote. Yes, Evernote. The granddaddy ofsyncing note-taking apps. I've been using Evernote for darn near nine years at this point and I have to admit thatit's a very powerful tool that I basically can't getmyself to break away from. Its got a pretty capable rich text editor, the ability to sharenotebooks with other people. It's got tags, theability to save searches and a ton of differentintegrations with other apps. It also features opticalcharacter recognition which means that you canscan in images with text and it can make that text searchable and you can also annotateimages in the app as well.But for all its strengths,Evernote frustrates me, and that's primarily because you cannot create nestedhierarchies of notebooks. You can do notebooks andyou 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 goingto show in their hierarchy, they're all alphabetical,so it kind of breaks down. Still, Evernote is incredibly powerful, it's available onbasically every platform. And because of those reasonsI am continuing to use it at least for certain parts my work flow, even though I have manyother options in 2019. Speaking of other options,let's now talk about OneNote. Microsoft OneNote is probably the closest competitor toEvernote in terms of features as you're gonna findsimilar image support, optical character recognition, the ability to annotate images and honestly the editor area is a lot more flexible andcustomizable than Evernote is.Additionally, Microsoft OneNoteis free, like actually free. The only way you'd everpay for Microsoft OneNote if you decided to upgradeyour OneDrive storage as that's the only waythe ever charge you money, they just use OneDrive for their storage. That being said, I personallyjust can't get into OneNote. I know a lot of people out there love it, it's incredibly powerfulwhich is why it's on my list, but it doesn't work for me because you cannot sortnotes within your notebooks by date modified, datecreated or alphabetically. You can only drag them around like they're actual notecards or pages in a notebook.And that combined withlimited tagging capabilities and the same number oforganizational levels of hierarchy as you get in Evernote,you don't get more, it makes OneNote kind ofa 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 useWindows on a daily basis alongside my Mac and iPhone.That being said, if you are a Mac andiPhone only kind of person, Bear is definitely worthyour consideration. This is primarily becauseunlike Evernote and OneNote, Bear has a beautifulhybrid markdown editor. And if you're not familiar with markdown, it's a markup language that allows you to formatyour text as you type by putting differentsymbols around your text. So for example, you canput 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 onlypreview 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 tocreate additional tags beyond it you can create your ownorganizational 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 shoutout to their archive feature which lets you archive notesand take them out of search and your organizationalhierarchy but not delete them.Of course if you are an Appleexclusive kind of person then we do have to considerApple'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 accessyour notes at Now though Apple Notes doesn't have the awesome hyper markdowncapabilities 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 niceand simple note-taking app that's available in the browser and also on pretty much allof your devices as well. Now when I was testing Google Keep the number one word that kept coming up tomy mind was simplicity, it's a very simple note-taking app. Very simple but effectiveformatting options and you can even change thebackground color of your notes to visually distinguish them.The problem for me though is there's only one levelof 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 relymostly on their search function. And I guess with it being Google, that search function isprobably pretty good. But that being said, since it lacks trueorganizational hierarchy, I don't see this as a viable alternative to Evernote or OneNoteor anything more complex. But if you want a scratchpad 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 youguys were waiting for me to talk about Notion. It's definitely the app that I get the mostquestions about these days and for good reason, becausenotion is stupidly powerful. It's definitely the mostflexible tool on this list, allowing you to layoutpages however you want, create an infinite hierarchyorganization on the sidebar and even interlink between pages easily.It's also got a greathybrid markdown editor that's very similar to theone you're gonna find in Bear, though it does have some quirks that keep me from really loving it, such as the fact that youcannot precisely select text if it goes outside a singleblock of information. But my gripes about the editor aside, Notion can do thingsthat no other app can do, that's mainly because the combination of a couple of different features.First, their table feature isactually a database feature, so every row in a tableactually links to its own page And secondly, they'vegot a templating feature that allows you to make basicallyanything into a template. And I have combined these twofeatures to build Notion out into an incredibly powerfulvideo management platform that has made our editingprocess 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 verywell 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 thatautomatically generate a checklist and make sure nothing gets left behind. Now like I said, I get a lot of questions about Notion over onTwitter and on Instagram. So if you guys want to see a more detailed Notion video on this channel, definitely let me know inthe comments down below. Right now the verdict is out on if it's a great note-taking app, but it's definitely a greatorganizational app in general and it's, again, very flexible.All right, let's talkabout Standard Notes. Now Standard Notes as far asI can tell, I could be wrong, but I think Standard Notesis the only app on my list that is developed by one single developer. Given that fact, I've got tosay that I'm pretty impressed with everything the developer has been able to accomplish with this app. For one it is easily the mostsecurity focused app on list as everything you writeis 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 differenteditors to choose from, including multiple markdowneditors, a rich text editor and even a code editor. And this is really cool, you can choose whicheditor you want to use on a note by note basis. You can create customfolders with your tags and these are infinitely nestable and you can even define custom searches based on those tags oreven other information and then save thosesearches within the app.Standard Notes is not perfect though. For one, the image supportis 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 saythat I am pretty impressed with what the developeraccomplished so far. Now we are on to, me taking a break and playing with this puzzle because, well, there's alot of items on this list. Alright, enough of that,let's talk about Slite. Slite is by design a veryteam focused note-taking app that could also work prettywell for a solo note-taker.It's got an absolutelyfantastic hybrid markdown editor that I found pretty similarto the one in Dropbox Paper which allows you to formatyour text on-the-fly and also embed images andvideos and even tables. I'm also a big fan of theirtable 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 evenbuilt into the articles in the latest version of College Info Geek but it's very rare tofind 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 theyimplement 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 cancreate 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 optionsare a little less powerful than other apps can offer you. Now much like Notions, Sliteis 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 youreditor, I really like that. Slite is also available onmobile apps and on the web and basically every platform out there. So at least from a design perspective it seems to be one ofthe best note-taking apps that I could actually find when doing the research for this video.My main gripe with it rightnow, 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 theformatting tags around it. That being said, Sliteis a pretty new company and I do have to admit thatwhen 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 myopinion the note-taking app with the best organizationalstructure 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 thenotes within subfolders along with notes in thattop-level folder as well and I love that. Additionally, you candefine sorting options for every single folder in the app. You can create customsearches, 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 alland 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 WindowsPC as a writing device.So that leads us to this question. What does a guy who uses a Windows computer and a Maccomputer on a daily basis and who really wants a greatwriting 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 writingexperience I've ever had next to Dropbox Paper. It's got that hybridmarkdown writing system that automatically formatsyour 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 featuresfor 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, andthemes, lots and lots of themes which you can customizewith CSS if you want. However there are some caveats. Like I said, Typora isa desktop writing app. There is no mobile app rightnow which is kind of a bummer. The other thing is that Typoraalmost didn't make my list because unlike everythingelse that I've talked about, it doesn't actually storeor sync your notes itself, it's purely a markdown editor. The reason still fits mydefinition 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 downinto 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 caretoo much about this since I'm really only usingTypora for serious writing, for like finishingarticles or video scripts.But if you really need toaccess your Typora documents, remember they are just markdown files within your foldersystem on your computer. So if you're usingDropbox or Google Drive, then you can get a markdown editor for your iPhone or Android that can access those cloudplatforms 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 hasdifferent features they want, different needs, differentdevices they use, different budgets. So instead of just recommending one app I'm gonna name some winnersin 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 toget 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 therebeats it, at least in my eyes. For overall capability andmy general recommendation, I still have to give the win to Evernote. Yeah, it doesn't have markdown support which I really really wantalong those nestable folders, but otherwise it's gota ton of capabilities. Though I do have to saythat 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 actuallythink it's more capable. Now I do want to make one last note here. With all these devices andapps and capabilities we have, it can be really easy toovercomplicate things. Because if you're anything like me, having all these capabilities makes it very temptingto try and do too much. And that's why I am once again listening to Greg McKeown's excellent book Essentialism: TheDisciplined Pursuit of Less. This was one of myfavorite books from 2017 and it's one that, at leastfor me is worth returning to because it has greatadvice 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 goover 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 oftheir 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 unmatchedselection of audiobook titles across tons of different genres, including biographies andpsychology 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 beable to listen to it across all of your devices. So if you want to gain theability 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 overto 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 Audiblefor sponsoring this video and being a supporter of the channel.And as always guys, thankyou so much for watching. Hopefully you got a lot ofvalue out of this video. Hopefully you've got somethingthat 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 theycome out every single week. You can also click right thereto get a free copy of my book on how to earn better grades. Follow me on Instagram @tomfrankly or click right over here or smash your face into your phone screen to get one more video on this channel.Thanks for watching and I'llsee you in the next one..

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