Whether you are a small business owner or a corporate executive, taking and synchronizing notes across different platforms and devices is essential. The notes may have been sourced from contacts gathered during a networking event, reminders scribbled on scraps of paper, or a summary of talking points following a seminar.

The overall goal of note taking is to make sure nothing falls through the cracks. Fortunately, there’s a variety of established and emerging note-taking technologies that’ll take you beyond the limits of a paper planner or standard notebook. The following are the ones that have taken the market by storm.

Microsoft OneNote

OneNote is a robust organization and note-taking app that’s free to use. It’s ideal for business managers and entrepreneurs. Since it’s part of the Microsoft Office Suite, chances are you already have it on your device. If you do not, download it for free. The OneNote mobile app is a scaled down version of the full Windows OneNote application. However, it still has the majority of core features.

You can run the OneNote app on any Android, iOS and Windows smartphone or tablet. It is intuitively modeled around a physical notebook. There’s no limit to the number of notebooks you can create. Use the built-in tabs to label the different notebooks. Take notes by drawing with your finger or cursor, using a stylus or conventional typing. Embed online videos, screen clips, audio files, photos and spreadsheets.

You can assign permissions to each notebook. Create private notebooks that only you will see or shared notebooks that can be accessed by members of your team. Anyone with access can edit a shared notebook and the changes reflected immediately. Compatibility with Microsoft Outlook means you can create and assign tasks using employee email addresses. You can also create an Outlook task from within the OneNote app.

Google Keep

The Google Keep app is a convenient tool for organizing your personal and professional life. You won’t find it preinstalled on most devices but it’s free to download. Google Keep’s features are not as extensive as OneNote’s but it does serve the purpose for simple note taking, checklists and organization. As a web app, Google Keep can be used on laptops, desktops, Android and iOS phones and tablets, and wearables such as the Samsung watch.

The user interface is simple and inviting. The main page shows your most recent notes in either a single column or multicolumn view. One peeve of the Google Keep interface is the difficulty in reading longer notes or searching for older items. For checklists and short notes, reading and note-taking is fairly easy to do. If your device has a camera, you can capture and embed images in your notes. The app also extracts editable text from photos and other images.

Label and color-code notes, or share them with colleagues. The people you share the notes with can make changes that are reflected instantly. You can also create a to-do list with appropriate reminders to complete in the future.


Evernote is not really new. Launched in 2008, it is actually one of the oldest note-taking apps still in the market today. Despite a plethora of competitors entering the fray over the last 10 years, it has remained popular. The basic Evernote account is free but can only be used on one device. If you want to use the app on two or more gadgets, you’ll have to pay for it.

As an app that’s been around for a while, it’s perhaps not surprising that it works on nearly all types of devices. This and the ability to sync across multiple platforms and gadgets is at the core of its widespread use. The interface is easy to navigate with many helpful menu options. You can download and install third party add-ons as well. It’s fairly easy to create multiple notebooks and search through or tag them as needed.

There are multiple ways of note-taking in Evernote. Type, use a stylus, sketch tool or finger. The app allows you to save and embed video, audio, photos and documents. For added security, password-protect private notes while sharing and leaving open only notebooks you’d like the rest of your team to read.

If you are running a large team, consider signing up for Evernote Business. It provides additional collaborative features including single workspaces, team projects and feedback mechanisms.

Note-taking apps are not created equal. Finding the right app is about identifying not just the one that has the functionality you require but also one that’s most convenient.

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