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Best note taking apps of 2020

best note taking apps
(Image credit: Robie Online/Shutterstock)

Makers of the best note taking apps realize that one of the easiest ways to jot down notes is right there in your pocket. And while iPhones and Android devices usually come with their own built-in note-taking app, sometimes, it's best to turn to a more full-featured program if you need to take notes during a meeting or lecture, tick off a checklist, brainstorm ideas or remind yourself of upcoming events and tasks.

That's why we've gone through the App Store and Google Play to find the best note taking apps for mobile devices. Install one of these apps on your phone, and you'll never need to scramble to find pen and paper again.

Best note taking apps for Android and iOS

Evernote

best note taking apps evernote

(Image credit: Evernote)

Evernote is one of the first apps that comes to mind when it comes to note taking, and for good reason. It provides a feature-rich note taking service that syncs across multiple devices and platforms, making sure that your notes, photos and other documents are always at your fingertips, whether you're on a smartphone, tablet, laptop, or desktop. 

Tagged notebook organization, support for photos, videos, to-do lists and more make Evernote a versatile note taking solution, though it is more complex then minimalist solutions. 

The free Basic plan has a limit of 60MB of new uploads each month, while paid Premium and Business accounts increase your monthly limits and add other features.

Download Evernote: Android, iOS

OneNote

best note taking apps OneNote

(Image credit: Microsoft)

Microsoft's OneNote is another strong option among the best note taking apps, especially if you're looking for something that integrates closely with Office. 

Users can type or dictate notes and checklists, attach photos or PDFs, send emails or clip web content. Once uploaded, you can sort your content through a notebooks system, with sections, tags and text search to help you easily keep track of your notes. Cloud syncing means that your content is automatically available on all your connected devices. 

OneNote has tons of extras, including collaboration features, Android Wear and TouchID support, though again, some would call that feature bloat for an app about quickly jotting down notes.

Looking to get started with OneNote? Check out this beginner's guide to OneNote for tips and tricks on using Microsoft's note taking app.

Download OneNote: Android, iOS

Google Keep

best note taking apps Google Keep

(Image credit: Google)

Where many note keeping services focus on rich feature sets, Google Keep tries to do the opposite, aiming for a fairly simple cloud-based note taking app that still supports a wide variety of inputs such as text notes, checklists, audio and photos. 

Google Keep displays your notes and to-dos in a card format reminiscent of sticky notes. Each note can be tagged, colored or set with a time or location-based reminder.

Download Google Keep: Android, iOS

Notion

best note taking apps notion

(Image credit: Notion Labs)

Notion aims to be your personal and team productivity hub. The app allows users to create customized private or shared workspaces where they can then add versatile "blocks" that act like text snippets, bookmarks, images, toggle links, files, code snippets, discussion sections, and more. 

As a result, you can bend your workspace to your will, since it's also easy to drag and drop individual blocks of content to where you need them, without disrupting an entire document. Whether you're doing note-taking, spreadsheeting, or building a Kanban board, Notion's powerful building blocks make things a snap to set up. 

The free version of Notion allows you to save and sync up to 1,000 blocks of content, while premium subscription plans remove that content limit and add admin tools, permission settings, and other features, depending on which tier you opt for.

Download Notion: Android, iOS

MyScript Nebo

best note taking apps nebo

(Image credit: MyScript)

MyScript's Nebo is a feature-rich note-taking app built with handwriting and active stylus devices like the Apple Pencil and the Samsung S Pen for the Galaxy Note in mind. 

Using MyScript's Interactive Ink tech, Nebo parses your handwritten notes into text, while allowing you to easily format your notes, add extras like emphasis, underlining, bullet points, mathematical notations, and picture annotation. Users can write equations and calculate or export to LaTeX, export into Microsoft Office documents or text files, and search through your notes to find something you've scribbled down. If you're more about jotting down notes as opposed to typing them down, MyScript Nebo is an incredibly versatile note taking tool. 

Originally an iPad exclusive, the Nebo has since expanded to include a Windows 10 version for Surface Pen, as well as an Android version for devices that use active stylus peripherals.

Download MyScript Nebo: Android, iOS, Windows 10

Dropbox Paper

best note taking apps dropbox paper

(Image credit: Dropbox)

Born from Dropbox's acquisition of HackPad, Dropbox Paper is a note taking app built with collaboration and teamwork in mind. Users can create and edit shared documents and task lists, and then add comments and revisions, videos, links, images or audio, all in a shared workspace that comes with notifications and plays well with Dropbox's cloud storage organization. 

Dropbox Paper provides the option for clean collaborative note taking and media-rich documents and workspaces, without having the clutter of a more robust mobile word processor. It's an interesting option to consider if you need simple note taking for a work group, especially for one that already uses Dropbox.

Download Dropbox Paper: Android, iOS

Joplin

best note taking apps Joplin

(Image credit: Laurent Cozic)

Joplin is an ambitious app that does an OK job at replicating an open source, decentralized version of Evernote. Joplin provides users with a Markdown formatted note-taking interface organized by notebooks and using your cloud storage services as the sync backbone. 

Users can import content from Evernote through .enex files, as well as Markdown content. Sorting and search filters help keep you organized, and there’s even an option for end-to-end encryption of your notes. 

Joplin can sync your notes between devices through Dropbox, OneDrive (One Drive Business not supported), NextCloud or WebDAV.

Download Joplin: Android, iOS

Standard Note

best note taking apps standard notes

(Image credit: Progenius)

Standard Notes doesn’t have as many fancy features as other best note-taking apps because that’s not the main point of this mobile offering. Rather, Standard Notes focuses on security and encryption, with notes encrypted end-to-end with AES 256 encryption between your synced devices. Standard Notes also offers offline access, unlimited device syncing, and passcode and fingerprint lock support in addition to a basic tagging system. 

That said, the actual note editing in Standard Notes is fairly bare bones, unless you spring for the Standard Notes Extended subscription ($9.99/month). That package offers Markdown, code and spreadsheet support, themes, expanded backups and cloud storage support.

Download Standard Notes: Android, iOS

Notebook

best note taking apps notebook

(Image credit: Zoho)

Zoho's Notebook app is a multipurpose note taking app that works great for jotting down notes, checklists, to-do lists, and and more detailed journal entries. 

Your entries in Notebook can be simple text, or they can include images, checklists, and recorded audio. A variety of gesture commands and batch operations make it easy to sort and group notes together and organize them into notebooks. Multi-device syncing makes sure that your notes are on every device you own.

Download Notebook: Android, iOS

SimpleNote

best note taking apps simplenote

(Image credit: Automattic)

For something more feature-light and text-oriented than a lot of the best note taking apps, try out SimpleNote, a cross-platform offering from Automattic. 

SimpleNote focuses on saving, formatting and sharing text notes, without any of the excess fluff of things like extra media file support or fancy editing. What you get is a clean text input system with some basic formatting, a tag-based organization, a simple collaboration and a history feature. The clean simplicity is the upside, making SimpleNote easy to use, with cross platform syncing being a great plus.

Download SimpleNote: Android, iOS

Best note taking apps for iOS

Bear

best note taking apps bear

(Image credit: Shiny Frog)

Bear is a flexible writing and note-taking app that works great for jotting down quick notes, doodles, poetry and prose or even snippets of code. A Focus mode lets you get right down to business, and a markup editor supports 20 different programming languages. 

Inline image and photo support combined with Apple Pencil and hand sketching makes adding scribbles, doodles, and illustrations a simple task. Bear also includes cross-note links, and tag support for easy searching, completing a package of what many people consider one of the best note taking apps on the iPad. 

A pro subscription — $1.49 per month or $14.99 annually — includes note syncing, export options for multiple file types and extra editing tools. 

Download Bear: iOS

Notes

best note taking apps Notes for iOS

(Image credit: Apple)

Apple's own Notes aims more for a middle ground than some other best note taking apps, with a clean and simple that can take formatted text, dictation, drawings (with Apple Pencil support on the iPad) images, web snippets and file attachments. Users can organize notes and attachments in a folder system and search for text

One of the most compelling reasons to use Notes — other than the fact that it's already there on your iPhone or iPad — is that all of your notes are synced across your iCloud devices. You can also password-protect your notes (or unlock them with TouchID).

Download Notes: iOS

Noteshelf

best note taking apps noteshelf

(Image credit: Fluid Touch)

Noteshelf is another feature-rich note taking app that's about more than just tapping out text. The $9.99 app supports virtual keyboards, handwriting through a variety of active stylus brands, and includes an expressive ink engine and a variety of tools for things like highlighting, diagrams, photos and annotations, and recorded audio. 

Users can sort their notes into virtual notebooks, write down their notes in a variety of paper formats, mark up and print their notes, or export them to Evernote, social media, and various cloud storage services. 

That said, Noteshelf does come at a premium price, so if you don't need all the advanced features, you might want to check the other options listed here.

Download Noteshelf: iOS

Penultimate

best note taking apps penultimate

(Image credit: Evernote)

Of course, if you actually do like the physical feel of jotting down handwritten notes, consider Evernote's Penultimate. A note taking and scribbling app with handwriting in mind, Penultimate features an expressive inking engine, a smart Drift feature that automatically moves the page to accommodate your writing. 

In addition, Penultimate processes your notes, allowing you to search through them for snippets of text, and the app also integrates nicely with Evernote.

Download Penultimate: iOS

Notability

best note taking apps Notability

(Image credit: Ginger Labs)

Notability is a feature-rich note taking app that takes maximum advantage of the interface features introduced since iOS 9. The $9.99 app's got you covered on all the note taking basics such as text, formatting, photos and sketching, while also including PDF and photo annotations and audio recordings all of which can be organized into folders. 

Support for multitasking on new iPads makes it a great research companion, and 3D Touch can speed up note creation, opening and preview. About the only recurring criticism is that Notability doesn't have handwriting search built in.

Download Notability: iOS

Best note-taking apps for Android

Squid

best note taking apps squid

(Image credit: Steadfast Innovation)

Formerly known as Papyrus, Squid joins the ranks of the best note taking apps thanks to its focus on handwritten notes, drawings and diagrams. 

Squid's vector-based rendering system means you can zoom in and out of your notes and drawings without quality loss, with support for using a passive stylus or active pen. Users can import images into their notes, and export the notes themselves as PDF, PNG or JPG files, and notes can be organized into notebooks so you can keep track of them. 

A premium subscription unlocks nice extras like more paper styles, PDF import and annotation, and bulk export of notes to cloud services.

Download Squid: Android