Taking notes may not the most interesting people do at work, but it’s high on the list of essential tasks that employees do each day. As a result, it makes sense that they have an efficient way of doing it. What should you look for in a note-taking app, and which apps offer the best array of features?
Essential Features of Note-Taking Apps
Apps come with a wide array of features, but they’re not all essential. Whichever app you opt for, be sure to pick one that offers these features.
- Integration: The note-taking app you choose should integrate well with your current operating system and other programs the organisation uses.
- Flexibility: A flexible app should work well on a range of operating systems, including mobile systems.
- Organisation: One of the most important features of a note-taking app is the array of options you have for organising and editing notes. Once you’ve entered notes, can you search and alter them?
- Input methods: Go for an app that has multiple input methods. At a minimum you should be able to input notes using a keyboard or keypad and via voice dictation.
- Accessibility and sharing: The app you choose should make it easy for people to access their notes, and to share notes with each other.
What are the Top Apps?
A bare-bones app will serve most purposes well enough, but there’s no reason to stick with a bare-bones option when there are plenty of excellent free apps available.
To pick the best app for your organisation, narrow your options down to a shortlist of contenders that have all the essential features. Then pick the one that offers additional features your organisation finds the most useful.
This app is a lightweight, bare-bones choice for organisations that use the Apple platform, but it only works on macOS and iOS devices. While it lacks the sophistication of OneNote and Evernote it does have some useful features. Users can organise content with tags, and add some kinds of multimedia content. Bear is fine if you don’t need much out of your note-taking app, but it’s missing out on useful features like optical character recognition. It comes with a USD$14.99 (around £12) per user per year price tag. The sub is essential, as the free version doesn’t allow for syncing across devices.
Dropbox Paper is best suited to organisations that are already using Dropbox. This free app works on Windows, Android, and iOS, and offers a limited number of integrations, including Slack and Google Calendar. The standout feature of Dropbox Paper is that it focuses on collaboration, with features that allow teams within your organisation to share text, images, and even video clips.
A very basic app with a simple streamlined interface. It’s a no-frills option that’s also easy to use. The defining feature of this app is that it’s usable on a wider range of operating systems than most other products: Windows, macOS, Android, iOS, on browsers, Kindle devices, and Linus. It’s completely free on all platforms, and there’s no limit to the number of devices each user can access their account on. The main drawbacks are the lack of extra features like the ability to add content from the web, or to add multimedia content.
The basic version of Evernote is free to use, and has a good range of features. However, the free version only allows users to access their account on a maximum of two devices, and severely limits the amount of data each user can upload. For these reasons alone, the free version isn’t suitable for business purposes.
- Works with Windows and macOS, and both Android and iOS mobile devices.
- Organise content with tags and other options.
- Save whole web pages, including text and images, with one click.
- Multiple input methods, including optical character recognition. Users can take a picture using their mobile device, and the app can translate the image into typed text.
- With Evernote Business, users can create and share notes in real time.
- Evernote Business integrates with Slack, Outlook, Google Drive, Microsoft Teams, and Salesforce.
Evernote does have an excellent range of features, but for business purposes, it’s not necessarily the best option. One reason is that the business subscription comes at a cost of USD$19.49 (around £15) per user, per month. Another issue is that it doesn’t integrate with Microsoft Office, a major negative if your organisation uses Office 365.
What Evernote lacks, OneNote makes up for. And, since OneNote is a Microsoft product it fully integrates with Microsoft 365. The full range of OneNote features are also completely free to use, even for business purposes. The only difference between the paid and free version is how much cloud storage space each user can access.
- Works with Windows and macOS, and Android and iOS mobile devices.
- Sync and access accounts across multiple devices, and on web browsers.
- Fully integrated with Office 365 and other Microsoft products.
- Multiple input methods, including optical character recognition.
- Record and embed video clips into notes.
- Embed Excel spreadsheets and other Office files.
- Add text boxes, images, and tables, and put them anywhere on a note page.
A Great Note-Taking App can do Wonders for Productivity
It’s definitely a good idea to encourage employees to use a note-taking app. But to get the most out of a note-taking app, all employees should use the same one. If your organisation uses Office 2019 or 365, OneNote’s integration and full range of features—and the unbeatable price point—make it a stand-out.