9 of the best note-taking apps for Windows (with examples)
By Indeed Editorial Team
Published 11 April 2022
The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.
There are countless note-taking apps for Windows that make it easier to take notes, set reminders and structure your daily routines. Note-taking apps allow you to quickly write down thoughts, take minutes for a meeting or take notes during important presentations. They're indispensable tools that can help you in your everyday life, whether you're an engineer working on a project, a student in a lecture or a secretary noting down important points on a call. In this article, we list the best note-taking apps for Windows and outline some of their key features.
9 of the best note-taking apps for Windows
Determining the best note-taking apps for Windows largely depends on how you intend to use them. Most note-taking apps feature a lot of functionality options that might be perfectly suited to your needs or may be unnecessary, so it's important to consider your needs before investing in a note-taking app. The list below can give you a good idea of which note-taking apps are suitable for your needs by highlighting features that you might find beneficial:
Notion is a feature-heavy, database-driven note-taking app for Windows that offers a large amount of customisation for notes. It features a template engine to duplicate templates for notes and media embedding tools for comprehensive note-taking. You can add dynamic tables in Notion that act as databases that are editable and collatable. The hybrid editor lets you write in Markdown, use keyboard shortcuts and utilise user interface (UI) elements to format text.
Notion does have some drawbacks. There's a lot of functionality around formatting because it uses a block system, which can make it difficult to use as a word processor. There's also a lack of any offline support, so it requires an Internet connection to work.
Evernote is a well-known note-taking app that's cross-platform. It's an excellent choice for word processing and can even process handwritten notes or articles pulled from the Internet. It accepts multiple file-formats, including PDF's and PowerPoint slides. Evernote has a scanner function if you use a mobile device that allows you to take photographs of pages or articles. This serves an alternative to using a photocopier.
Evernote does have a few downsides, such as a lack of any organisational structure. Although you can use notes and tags, there are very few ways to actually categorise or structure your notes. It also doesn't support Markdown language. Additionally, Evernote's free plan is quite limited, which means that obtaining the full functionality of the app requires you to pay a monthly fee.
OneNote is a note-taking app developed by Microsoft that's completely free to use. You can use unlimited devices for taking notes, so if you're in a meeting you can use your smartphone to jot down a few important points. Or, if you're in the office, you can take notes directly from your PC. Most note-taking apps charge a fee for this type of functionality, but OneNote is completely free. It's also somewhat innovative in design by allowing for freeform text boxes to go anywhere on the screen.
For all of the functionality found in OneNote, there's a lack of organisation. There are no note sorting features, so you wouldn't be able to organise notes by date or size. Some users find the interface generally difficult to work with, especially because the lack of tagging means that it can take a significant amount of time to recover an old note. OneNote uses digital notebooks and dividers to separate notes, but this can still result in organisational errors.
4. Standard Notes
Standard Notes is a robust note-taking app for Mac, Linus, Windows, Android and iOS that makes searching through notes simple. It's a secure app that encrypts all information so that only you can access it. The free version is relatively well-equipped with features including a plain text editor. For access to Markdown editing, rich text or code editing, you require a paid subscription. One of the most useful features is custom tagging, which is nestable and lets you use custom searches to find the notes you need.
As with most options, there are a couple of notable downsides to using Standard Notes. There's a limited form of image support, so you can't host any image files from within the app. You also can't use any drag-and-drop functionalities, which can slow down the pace of your work.
Slite is a note-taking app for Windows that puts Markdown editing at the fore of its functionality. Its basic version is free to use and allows for unlimited private notes and 50 shared notes per month. The Markdown editor formats text instantly and you can even embed media into your notes. There's also a table of contents view that lets you quickly find the notes you're looking for.
Slite uses channels and collections to categorise notes, which can be limiting. For example, you can nest collections as often as you'd like, but you can only sort by recency using channels. The user interface can be hard to work with, which may make it frustrating to navigate through the app. The interface can also sometimes take a long time to load up pages and notes.
Typora is an excellent note-taking app if you're looking for customisable notes. It's a paid app that offers a 14-day free trial so you can test it out for yourself to see if it has what you need. The hybrid Markdown editor allows you to format text as you type it. There's also a focus mode that dims text that doesn't relate to what you're currently working on. In terms of customisation, Typora offers a huge range of different themes that are editable using Cascading Style Sheets (CSS).
One of the biggest drawbacks of using Typora is that there's no in-app storage, meaning it acts solely as a Markdown editor. Instead, you can transfer files over to your own computer, which is less useful in some cases. It also lacks any form of mobile functionality, which means you can only use it on your Windows desktop.
7. Microsoft 365
Microsoft 365 is another system that allows for note-taking. The latest iteration of Microsoft 365 is cloud-based, which means that you can use it with any device that has Internet access. Using Microsoft 365 for notes opens up a lot of powerful functionality from popular apps like Word. This avoids importing notes to a word processor. It also includes document synchronisation between devices with notes attached.
The main downside to using Microsoft 365 is that if you don't already have this software suite, it can be an expensive option. This is especially true if you only plan to use it for not-taking purposes. It offers a wide range of other features and functionalities that make it worth its price, but for note-taking alone it may be more cost-effective and budget friendly to choose another option.
Simplenote is an intuitive application with a simple design, which is generally helpful for note-taking apps. It uses a clean, easy to understand interface that makes it easy to take notes and find old notes. It has a reasonable set of features such as automatic synchronisation and a web application if you can't download the app directly. You can tag and search within Simplenote easily to find the notes you need. It also has backups so if you lose a note, you can get it back.
The main disadvantage to this simple style is that it lacks advanced features. There's no way to use Markdown language, you can't embed media and there's minimal security. As this app is completely free to use, some users still prefer this option despite its lack of advanced features.
9. Dropbox Paper
Dropbox Paper is a cloud-based note-taking app for iOS, Windows and Android that pushes collaboration in note-taking. With Dropbox Paper, it's easy to share notes, ideas and media across teams for projects or other tasks. It can also integrate into other popular applications to help with collaboration and teamwork. This option also allows you to organise notes using mobile folders.
Dropbox Paper is ideal for teams that already use Dropbox. It's unlikely that you'd be able to get all of the functionality from Dropbox Paper without a Dropbox subscription. If your team is unfamiliar with this option or doesn't wish to invest in a Dropbox subscription, other options may be more suitable.
Please note that none of the companies mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.
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