5 Simple Note-taking Apps for Jotting Things Down Quickly

No matter who you are, where you’re at, or what you do, these simple note apps will help you capture ideas and take notes way faster.
Matthew Ritchie
Advice
November 4, 2022
9 minute read

“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”

Those words—written in 1977—are found in Apple’s first-ever marketing brochure.

For Steve Jobs, elegant solutions shouldn’t be complicated. But, despite Steve’s sage-like wisdom, most note-taking apps are just that—complicated. 

Not everyone needs a second brain. Sometimes you just want to remember what was said in a meeting, written on a whiteboard, or sent over Slack.

And that’s where these easy-to-use note apps come in. 

Not all of them are fancy. Some probably came preinstalled on your phone. But what they lack in features, they make up for in functionality. Plain and simple. 

So how did we come up with this list?

Aside from one obvious, fairly biased suggestion, the apps we chose had to be practical—allowing you to quickly capture, organize, and find your notes when needed. 

The best note-taking apps help you to take notes on the go, so mobile was a must, too. 

But, above all else, they had to be simple yet powerful enough to facilitate searching for, sharing, or resurfacing information—otherwise, you’d be fine using a paper notebook.

So, with that said, look below for our full list of note-taking alternatives for jotting things down quickly. 

We think the top choice is obvious. But realistically, any of these apps could help you capture ideas, insights, or inspiration when it strikes. 

Nook (Available on iOS, macOS, Android, and Google Chrome extension)

On the surface, Nook looks like a straightforward note-taking app, allowing users to capture notes anytime. 

But appearances can be deceiving. In reality, Nook is more like a personal knowledge base for professionals, syncing with Gmail, Calendar, and Slack, so users can easily capture notes from conversations, record meeting notes, and gain insights from previous correspondences and contacts, all in one place.

Unlike other note-taking apps, it uses a unique tagging system that suggests topic titles and themes based on the content of notes, so it’s easy to form associations between all your pages of notes, helping users stay organized.

Calendar events and previous notes coalesce on the home screen, showing users a timeline of past events and recent notes, making it easy to reference information with a quick scroll. And meetings can be joined directly from the top of the carousel (or menu bar on desktop), and sends push notifications as a reminder ahead of time, so you don’t need to open your calendar to join a meeting.

In addition to a Slack integration that lets users push any messages they want to reference later on directly into their notes, Nook also provides a Chrome extension that lets you save things you find on the web by adding them to specific notes. 

Price: Free to users as part of a private beta. Sign up to get early access.

Apple Notes (Available on iOS, macOS, and Web)

If you have an iPhone, you’ve probably used this before.

This basic note-taking app, also commonly known as Notes or iCloud Notes, has been a go-to for impromptu checklists and random thoughts for many people over the years.

Ever since iOS 9, this simple note-taking app has undergone a significant overhaul and now provides users with more common note-taking features such as text formatting, the ability to create sketches, and save web links, images, and other attachments. Users can also add hashtags to organize notes and share them with @mentions. 

But, despite being an Apple product, the Cult of Mac seems mostly ambivalent towards Apple Notes. Users complain about the apps overall sluggishness, poor organization, and, perhaps most surprising, simplicity. (It currently holds a 3.4 out of 5 stars in the App Store.)

Being able to scan documents, capture handwritten notes, and sync across devices is undoubtedly cool. But sadly, these features seem underused (if users even know they exist).

These days, it seems Apple Notes is used more for posting long-winded updates, apologies, or resignations on Twitter than actual note-taking.

Price: Free for 5GB of storage across all services and devices. Users can purchase an additional 50GB of data at $0.99/month via iCloud+.

Google Keep (Available on Android, iOS, and Web)

Perhaps the most straightforward and minimalistic note app on our list, Google Keep, is often viewed as more of a place to store digital post-it notes than a full-fledged note-taking tool.

But Google Keep actually offers an array of features that make note-taking more convenient. Users can use speech-to-text to dictate voice notes directly into Google Keep, and it actually works pretty well—look at this.

And, unlike other apps on this list, users can use titles, labels, colors, and pins to create aesthetically pleasing, minimalist notes.

Unsurprisingly, the true power of Google Notes, especially when compared to Apple Notes and other alternatives, is how it works within the Google Workspace ecosystem: Users can set reminders that appear in Google Calendar; notes can be converted into a document in Google Docs; but that’s about it, really

Google Keep is clearly a step up from Stickies. But as a note-taking tool, it falls short. As reviewers have previously mentioned, for a company whose name is ubiquitous with “search,” Google Keep’s advanced search capabilities are lacking, and the app itself has more potential than what’s currently provided.

Price: Free for 15GB of storage across services and apps. Users can purchase an additional 100GB of storage at $1.99/month.

Evernote (Available on Windows and macOS, iOS, or Android)

The OG dumping ground for notes of all kinds, Evernote gained a cult following in the first-half of this century before a string of privacy and security concerns torpedoed its popularity.

In that time, Evernote has evolved from a simple note-taking app to a more advanced tool, providing much of the same features—such as audio and image capture, PDFs, and other attachments—as its successors listed above. It can also scan handwritten notes and add them to the app (although your handwriting has to be somewhat legible).

Similar to Nook, users can add Slack messages to their notes and use Evernote’s web clipper to save web pages and articles. It also provides an organizational framework that, once set up, auto-suggests tags that may be applicable (but this requires the users to make a few first).

Maddeningly, much of these features, as well as unlimited sync, tasks, and offline mode, are only available as part of a premium plan. And the 60MB monthly upload limit isn’t exactly a generous amount.

That said, as the well-known inspiration behind many modern-day note-taking apps, Evernote certainly deserves some credit. But, as a longtime user recently said in an App Store review: “Buyer beware; this is not the Evernote of 5 or so years ago.”

Price: Free for basic functionality and syncing between two devices. $8.99 per month for a personal plan. $10.99 per month for a professional plan.

OneNote (Available on Windows and macOS, iOS, and Android)

One of the few simple note-taking apps on this list that’s used primarily for jotting down more than a quick thought or to-do list, OneNote has become somewhat ubiquitous in professional and educational settings (in part due to Microsoft 365 being heavily marketed towards educators, students, and businesses of all sizes). 

As far as cross-platform note-taking apps are concerned, OneNote makes it easy to jot down notes, upload images, and even scribble right on the screen with your finger or a stylus—handy for people who don’t want to be constrained by standard text and page layouts. 

Its organizational system—comprised of notebooks, sections, and pages, sort of like a three-ring binder—is known for being a tad chaotic, with tags only being used to highlight can’t miss notes and to-dos.

Similar to Nook and Evernote, you can also use OneNote to clip any links you want to remember or reference from the web.

Unlike other personal and collaborative note-taking apps on this list, OneNote does provide users with a web-based interface. But like other software in the Microsoft 365 suite, there’s a limited range of features available to users.

Price: Free for 5GB (via OneDrive). Users can purchase an additional 100GB for $1.99 per month. 

The Final Word

Some would argue that note-taking is a pretty personal process, and it’s impossible to find a one-size-fits-all solution to meet all of your needs.

But that’s what’s great about a simple note-taking app. 

Whether you’re a meticulous note-taker or just need to jot things down quickly, these note-taking apps are simple-yet-sophisticated, helping you capture, organize, and find what you’re looking for when you need it.

Give them a try. And if you’re looking for a note-taking app that does even more, get early access to Nook.

Whether you’re a sales superstar, in-demand consultant, busy recruiter, or someone who simply needs to schedule a lot of meetings, one thing’s for sure—you’ve probably booked a lot of them over the past two years.

Hybrid work has forced the majority of our meetings online, and while we appreciate being able to wear sweatpants during normal work hours, the time-consuming ballet that is sharing your availability, finding a time to meet, and adding it to your calendar isn’t quite as enjoyable. 

Speaking with everyone from solopreneurs to seasoned professionals, it seems like a lot of people find meeting scheduling software either costly, impersonal, or just plain boring. And Calendly and other alternatives don’t always cut it.

We hear you. 

Everyone is different, and so is how they work. Making good first impressions is important, and you shouldn’t have to pay a premium for them or basic customizations and integrations with your meeting booking system.

Nook Calendar’s meeting proposal feature is already used by tons of high-performing teams for selecting and proposing meeting times outside of their organization. 

Now, we’re making things even easier by letting you build personal pages with shareable calendar-booking links, right in Nook Calendar. Add them to your LinkedIn profile, email signature, website, or messages when finding a time to meet.

We think it’s the best meeting scheduling software out there, and we’re excited for you to give it a try, so let’s get started.

Here’s How to Set Up a Personal Booking Page in Nook Calendar

First off, if you’re new to Nook Calendar—hello! (If you’re already a Nook user, you can skip ahead.)

You’re going to start by syncing your calendar—either from Google Calendar or Microsoft Outlook—and entering your work email address.

Once you approve any necessary permissions, you’ll set up your People Bar. Search for any connections and add the people you interact with the most when scheduling meetings.

From there, you can add any additional calendars you want to see (add your personal one, if you like, to further prevent any overlaps when scheduling meetings), integrate with Zoom (so you can launch calls straight from your calendar), and choose your preferred display setting—select Match OS, Light Mode, or Dark Mode.

Launch Nook Calendar, and you’re ready to set up your online meeting scheduler.

Now, the fun begins

You’re going to start by claiming your unique URL for sharing your meeting availability page. 

Your first name appears by default, but really, it can be anything. We recommend using your full name (e.g., /john-smith).

(You can always change your URL in the future, as long as it’s still available.)

From there, you want to complete your profile. 

Your profile pic is automatically pulled in from your Microsoft or GCal account.

But you can add your name, job title, welcome message, and links to social media profiles or professional website, so guests know a bit more about you when booking a meeting. 

Then, you can start setting your weekly availability.

Nook Calendar defaults to traditional time blocks—9–12 a.m. and 1–5 p.m. These are the hours someone can book a meeting from your personal page. Adjust them based on your availability. 

Your timezone is automatically set to your local time, but you can change it if you primarily work with people in a different timezone and it’s better to visualize that when setting your availability.

Choose which calendar you want to accept meetings in—it can only be booked in one, but Nook Calendar will automatically reference your availability in other calendars you’ve synced to prevent double-bookings when someone schedules a meeting.

Now, it’s time to set up some paramaters. 

You can set up your preferred meeting duration in either 15, 30, 45-minute or one-hour increments (or a custom time).

You can also add buffer time to give yourself a break between meetings, or set a lead time of up to 24 hours, so no one can book any last-minute meetings.

And you’re all set! You can preview what the page will look like, then share it with contacts or add it to your LinkedIn profile (we suggest adding it as a secondary URL), email signature, and anywhere else you do business.

Once someone books time in your calendar, you’ll receive an email and get a notification in the Pulse.

If you ever need to make any changes, you can access your personal meeting page in the bottom of the Magic Panel and make any adjustments—either to your weekly availability or personal information.

You can also remove your availability by simply creating events in Nook Calendar and marking them as Busy to block off time and prevent any bookings.

Nook Calendar’s new personal pages for sharing meeting availability are available on Web, iOS, and Android. 
If you have any questions or thoughts, we’d love to hear them. Hit us up in our Slack Community or contact us through Support.  
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