Best cross-platform note taking apps

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Ryan
Gijsbert van der Heijden
Stuart Kearney
Omega9
Endi Sukaj
Laura Kyle
Jonathan
Andris Pelcbergs
Mariano Alvarez
Jon Richter
543 contributors
Up to date as of
After considering 51 cross-platform note taking apps, the Slant community recommends Google Keep for everyday casual use, Simplenote for distraction-free note taking and Evernote for a feature packed pick. These recommendations are the result of thousands of contributions from the Slant community.
94
Slant Score

Best for casual use

Google Keep

Google Keep strikes a balance between a focus on simple note-taking and supplemental features for when the need arises. Its integration with other common Google apps makes it very convenient for mobile use.

Available on Google
Available on Google
Price
Free
Supported desktop platforms
Web client only
Supported mobile platforms
Android, iOS
Available free storage
15 GB (Google Drive)
Sync
Yes
Versatility
Cross-platform availability
Sync, storage and security

Has all the essential features

You can write quick notes, make lists, set reminders, take photos and record audio. Google Keep syncs your notes to your Google account, which you can access with almost any device that can connect to the web. The interface, which draws inspiration from sticky notes, can be customized with colors and labels.

Geared for smartphone users

Features such as speech-to-text transcription and location-based reminders take advantage of common smartphone features to add functionality to the app. Google Keep can also transcribe text in images to editable text. It also integrates seamlessly with Google apps such as Calendar and Now by automatically adding relevant reminders.

No native, offline desktop app

There is no standalone program for desktops; you need to install a browser extension for Google Chrome to have offline functionality. This also makes the app very unsuitable for substantial note-taking (hundreds of words or more) since its mobile-oriented interface is not conducive for such content.

Other things to note

The app lacks comprehensive organization options and text formatting. Free storage is tied to your Google Drive’s 15 GB storage capacity.

91
Slant Score

Best distraction-free app

Simplenote

Simplenote is designed with a sole focus for plain text notes. Its no-frills approach to note taking offers a great option to those who don’t want unnecessary features when they just want to write down their thoughts.

Available on Automattic
Available on Automattic
Price
Free
Supported desktop platforms
Windows, Mac, Linux, Web client
Supported mobile platforms
Android, iOS, Kindle
Available free storage
Unlimited
Sync
Yes
Versatility
Cross-platform availability
Sync, storage and security

Light, but not empty

Underneath its barebones interface are some pretty useful features: Markdown support, cloud syncing, collaborative editing and the ability to organize notes with groups and tags. It also features a backup feature so you can go back to any previous version of your notes.

Widest cross-platform compatibility

Simplenote is natively compatible with Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS, Android and Kindle. It’s also available as a web app, so you don’t have to install it each time.

Lacks versatility

Simplenote lacks key features such as time-based reminders, advanced search or speech-to-text. Some users may find the lack of multimedia support limiting, and may find themselves looking for a second app when they actually do need it.

Other things to note

Markdown support is not available for the Mac version. Simplenote offers unlimited storage for free users (but again, you’re only uploading plain text.)

89
Slant Score

Best for versatility

Evernote

Boasting the largest array of features in any note-taking app, as of yet, no other note taking app could directly compete with Evernote in terms of functionality. Note that some of its features are only available for premium users.

Available on Evernote
Available on Evernote
Price
Free; $35.99/year (Plus); $69.99/year (Premium)
Supported desktop platforms
Windows, Mac, Web client
Supported mobile platforms
Android, iOS, Blackberry, Windows Phone
Available free storage
60MB per month (Evernote Basic)
Sync
Yes
Versatility
Cross-platform availability
Sync, storage and security

A feature-packed, multi purpose app

Evernote doesn’t skimp on features. With it, you can create notes with text, photos, audio, web clippings or other file attachments, change fonts and layouts, convert to PDF, annotate files, turn notes into presentations, encrypt files and upload to web and much more.

Has expandable functionality

Browser extensions like the web clipper makes using web content for notes easier. Evernote has a library of third-party apps which can integrate seamlessly with it or extend its functionality beyond the base app.

Bloated, buggy, too complex

Having too many features makes the app more susceptible to bugs and cumbersome for older devices. All the extra bloat will also feel like overkill if all you want is an app just for jotting down notes.

Other things to note

Evernote’s OCR can read printed and handwritten text which can then be picked up through the search function. Free users will be pestered with pop-ups until they shell out for the paid versions.

What others are saying

Here are some of the best reviews from around the web on cross-platform note taking apps.

How they compare

When picking the best cross-platform note taking app for you, the Slant community thinks you should consider the following criteria: Versatility, Cross-platform availability, and Sync, storage and security.
Versatility
Since these apps sync across devices for your convenience, you naturally would want to use only one app to keep your notes in one place. A good note taking app should be prepared for any situation, so you never end up missing a moment or forgetting vital information.
Evernote
    • Evernote offers a comprehensive package that covers everything from note-taking, organizing, processing and even final exporting and presenting. However, only paying users can take full advantage of all features.
    • Too many features also make the learning curve steeper, limiting usefulness for new and casual users. Also, not all of its features are available for free users.
Google Keep
    • You can write quick notes, make lists, set reminders, take photos and record audio. The interface, which draws inspiration from sticky notes, can be customized with colors and labels.
    • In addition to standard note-taking, Keep takes advantage of smartphone features like GPS, alarms and speech recognition to enhance convenience. For example, you can set it to remind you of your shopping list when it detects you are near a grocery instead of using a time-based reminder.
    • Due to its focus on casual use for mobile platforms, it is not well suited for substantial note taking, such as when taking down lecture notes, drafting articles or planning trips.
Simplenote
    • While obviously lacking multimedia features, Simplenote makes up for it by focusing on features that matter to plain text notes such as Markdown support, cloud syncing, collaborative editing and the ability to organize notes with groups and tags
    • Not only does it lack multimedia support, it even lacks basic reminder functions. Without alarms or notifications, your only option for reminders is to make a note of all the things you need to not forget, and actualy remember to open Simplenote to look at it.
Versatility Specs
Google Keep
Simplenote
Evernote
Organizing method
The used method(s) of organizing data in the database for the comfort of the user.
Tags, Colors
Tags
Tags, Notebooks, Stacks
Google Keep
Tags, Colors
Simplenote
Tags
Evernote
Tags, Notebooks, Stacks
Search
The ability to search for keywords within stored notes.
Yes
Yes
Yes
Google Keep
Yes
Simplenote
Yes
Evernote
Yes
Text
Support for text-based notes.
Yes
Yes
Yes
Google Keep
Yes
Simplenote
Yes
Evernote
Yes
Photos and Images
Support for camera operation or image attachments.
Yes
No
Yes
Google Keep
Yes
Simplenote
No
Evernote
Yes
Audio Recording
Supoort for using the microphone to take audio notes and recordings.
Yes
No
Yes
Google Keep
Yes
Simplenote
No
Evernote
Yes
File attachments
Support for non-media file attachments.
No
No
Yes
Google Keep
No
Simplenote
No
Evernote
Yes
Presentations
Support for conversion of previously made notes into presentation-ready slideshows.
No
No
Yes
Google Keep
No
Simplenote
No
Evernote
Yes
Speech-to-text
Conversion of speech to text in the program.
Yes
No
Yes
Google Keep
Yes
Simplenote
No
Evernote
Yes
Optical Character Recognition
Conversion of text in images to text in the program.
Yes
No
Yes
Google Keep
Yes
Simplenote
No
Evernote
Yes
Stylus support
The ability to read and process input using a stylus or digitzer pen.
Yes; Drawing only
No
Yes; Penultimate support
Google Keep
Yes; Drawing only
Simplenote
No
Evernote
Yes; Penultimate support
Cross-platform availability
Note taking apps should be readily accessible in any platform to extend usefulness. Not only should a desktop, mobile and web client be available, features should also be available universally on any platform. Technical and customer support should also treat all versions equally, to avoid alienating users.
Simplenote
    • Simplenote has a native app for the most number of platforms, on top of an easily accessible web app. With a diverse option for supported splatforms, you can be assured that you can still use Simplenotes even if you suddenly switch platforms.
    Evernote
      • Evernote is available for Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, Windows Mobile, Blackberry and as a web app.
      • There is no native Linux support, although third party alternatives and clones are available.
    Google Keep
        • Though available for Android and iOS, desktops would have to rely on the web app for online use or the Chrome browser extension for offline.
      Cross-platform availability Specs
      Google Keep
      Simplenote
      Evernote
      Supported desktop platforms
      The platforms and operating systems the app officially supports on desktop.
      Web client only
      Windows, Mac, Linux, Web client
      Windows, Mac, Web client
      Google Keep
      Web client only
      Simplenote
      Windows, Mac, Linux, Web client
      Evernote
      Windows, Mac, Web client
      Supported mobile platforms
      The platforms and operating systems the app officially supports on mobile.
      Android, iOS
      Android, iOS, Kindle
      Android, iOS, Blackberry, Windows Phone
      Google Keep
      Android, iOS
      Simplenote
      Android, iOS, Kindle
      Evernote
      Android, iOS, Blackberry, Windows Phone
      Sync, storage and security
      To be truly cross-platform, the app should sync unobtrusively and reliably with their servers. The service should also provide sufficient storage for all their files and keep users’ data secured from threats.
      Google Keep
        • Google Drive’s ample 15 GB free storage is shared by all Google apps in one account, including Keep. Google Drive’s data are stored in secure data servers and have never suffered a direct data breach.
        • Google Keep itself doesn’t provide any method for user encryption, however.
      Simplenote
        • Simplenote syncs notes across all devices and provides unlimited storage for plain text notes.
        • The developers advise against storing sensitive data with Simplenote, since they store notes unencrypted to allow for searching.
      Evernote
        • Desktop versions allow you to encrypt only certain texts in a document, but not entire docs. In 2013, a high-profile breach of Evernote’s servers forced millions of users to change passwords and cast doubt on their security.
        • The free version is abysmal: you only have an upload allowance of 60 MB per month, a 2 MB file size limit and can only sync to two devices. The premium version offers more but can get quite expensive considering the alternatives.
      Sync, storage and security Specs
      Google Keep
      Simplenote
      Evernote
      Available free storage
      The size of storage available without paying for more.
      15 GB (Google Drive)
      Unlimited
      60MB per month (Evernote Basic)
      Google Keep
      15 GB (Google Drive)
      Simplenote
      Unlimited
      Evernote
      60MB per month (Evernote Basic)
      Sync
      The possibility of syncing your data across platforms.
      Yes
      Yes
      Yes
      Google Keep
      Yes
      Simplenote
      Yes
      Evernote
      Yes
      Saving and export formats
      The formats you can save and export your data in.
      Proprietary; can export to Google Docs then to doc, pdf, rtf etc.
      Export to .zip (web app only)
      Evernote XML (enex); HTML
      Google Keep
      Proprietary; can export to Google Docs then to doc, pdf, rtf etc.
      Simplenote
      Export to .zip (web app only)
      Evernote
      Evernote XML (enex); HTML
      Collaborative editing
      Multi-user support, the possibility of using the same database for many users.
      Yes
      Yes
      Yes
      Google Keep
      Yes
      Simplenote
      Yes
      Evernote
      Yes
      Other Specs
      Specs
      Google Keep
      Simplenote
      Evernote
      Price
      Free
      Free
      Free; $35.99/year (Plus); $69.99/year (Premium)
      Google Keep
      Free
      Simplenote
      Free
      Evernote
      Free; $35.99/year (Plus); $69.99/year (Premium)
      94
      Slant Score
      94
      Slant Score
      Best for casual use
      Google Keep
      Available on Google
      91
      Slant Score
      91
      Slant Score
      Best distraction-free app
      Simplenote
      Available on Automattic
      89
      Slant Score
      89
      Slant Score
      Best for versatility
      Evernote
      Available on Evernote
      Other products we considered
      Check some of the 51 other products our community recommends.
      Community Discussion
      Have a question about picking the the best cross-platform note taking app? Ask ap500, Gijsbert van der Heijden and the 541 other Slant community enthusiasts that contributed to this guide.
      Is there a chance that Google Keep will be discontinued much like Google Notebook, Reader and other services?

      While even The Guardian was at first skeptical of Google Keep's longevity--having declared that Keep would only last until March 2017 (based on average Google service lifespan)---the developers have been putting out updates to the app quite frequently. Plus, with at least 100,000,000 installs on the Android version alone, it's doubtful they will suddenly pull the plug on a very popular service,

      Ryan's avatar
      Ryan
      What features are not included in Evernote's basic plan?

      According to Evernote's website, the features you miss out on include offline notebook access, email forwarding, PDF and documents text search, PDF annotation, one-click presentations and notes history. Free users can also only upload a maximum of 60 MB of notes per month with a max file size of 25 MB.

      Stuart's avatar
      Stuart
      Does Simplenote encrypt notes in storage?

      While Simplente does offer a strict Privacy Policy (much like Gmail and Facebook), all notes are not encrypted while in storage. This is because the software needs to search your notes from the web in order to find your search terms. They do however, always encrypt notes while "in transit" across a network, when your personal information is most vulnerable. This means hackers can't simply intercept your traffic to read your data.

      AubreyG's avatar
      AubreyG
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