The Best Note-Taking Apps for 2024 (2024)

Jot down your thoughts, save images of things you need to remember, and keep it all at your fingertips on all your devices with one of the top-rated note-taking apps we've tested.

ByJill Duffy

Jill Duffy

Columnist and Deputy Managing Editor, Software

My Experience

I've been contributing to PCMag since 2011 and am currently the deputy managing editor for the software team. My column, Get Organized, has been running on PCMag since 2012. It gives advice on how to manage all the devices, apps, digital photos, email, and other technology that can make you feel like you're going to have a panic attack.

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&Justin Pot

UpdatedJanuary 19, 2024

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  • RELATED:
  • Best AI Note-Taking Tools
  • Best Productivity Apps
  • Best Collaboration Software

Our Top 9 Picks

The Best Note-Taking Apps for 2024 (3)

Microsoft OneNote

Best Overall

Jump ToDetails

Visit Site at Microsoft Store See It

The Best Note-Taking Apps for 2024 (4)

Joplin

Best Free and Open-Source Option

Jump ToDetails

Visit Site at Joplin See It

The Best Note-Taking Apps for 2024 (5)

Obsidian

Best for Power Users

Jump ToDetails

$0.00 at Obsidian See It

The Best Note-Taking Apps for 2024 (6)

UpNote

Best Value

Jump ToDetails

Starts at $0.99 Per Month at UpNote See It

The Best Note-Taking Apps for 2024 (7)

Bear

Best Alternative to Apple Notes

Jump ToDetails

$0.00 at Apple.com See It

The Best Note-Taking Apps for 2024 (8)

Evernote

Best for Existing Evernote Users

Jump ToDetails

$0.00 at Evernote See It

The Best Note-Taking Apps for 2024 (9)

Simplenote

Best for Text Notes Only

Jump ToDetails

$0.00 at Automattic See It

The Best Note-Taking Apps for 2024 (10)

Google Keep

Best for Speed

Jump ToDetails

Visit Site at Google Keep See It

The Best Note-Taking Apps for 2024 (11)

Notion

Best for Teams in the Tech Industry

Jump ToDetails

$0.00 at Notion See It

Everyone needs to write things down. A note-taking application makes it easy to take notes anytime, on any device, and then sync them across all your other devices. The real trick, though, is for those notes to be useful.

The best note-taking applications give you several options for organizing your notes. That could be folders or notebooks, but it can also be tagging and competent search. When done well, a note-taking app lets you jot down your thoughts anytime and easily reference them later.

Having a good note-taking app is like having your own personal internet where you can look up anything you might ever need to know about your work or personal life, no matter where you are. What movies and books did my friends recommend? How did the client describe what they needed in that meeting last month? Where's a copy of my eyeglasses prescription? Note-taking apps help you be more organized and more productive—even with things you wouldn't expect.

With that in mind, these are the best note-taking apps we've tested for a variety of different needs.

Our Experts Have Tested 46 Products in the Productivity Category in the Past Year

Since 1982, PCMag has tested and rated thousands of products to help you make better buying decisions.See how we test.

Table of Contents

Deeper Dive: Our Top Tested Picks

The Best Note-Taking Apps for 2024 (12)

Microsoft OneNote

Best Overall

4.5 Outstanding

Why We Picked It

OneNote stands out because of its generous free version, and even for free, it is the best note-taking app we've tested. It has every feature you could want in a note-taking app, from organizational structure to cross-platform syncing to voice notes and optical character recognition (OCR). It also comes with the best web clipping tool we've seen. OneNote is the first application most people should consider when looking for a note-taking app, earning it our Editors' Choice award.

Who It's For

Just about anyone. Note-taking is intensely personal, and no application will work for everyone, but Microsoft OneNote comes close. It's easy to use, doesn't skimp on features, and is usable on every major operating system.

PROS

  • Free version includes all features
  • Excellent organizational tools
  • Free-form placement of text, drawings, and attachments
  • Excellent web clipper

SPECS

NameValue
Free Storage5GB
Storage for Price Listed1TB
Max File Upload100MB
Web Clipper
Web App
Mac App
Windows App
Android App
iOS App
OCR
Sketching Supported
Email Forwarding
Scanning
PDF Annotation
Geolocation
Audio Note-Taking
Collaboration Tools

GET IT NOW

Visit Site Microsoft Store

Learn More

Microsoft OneNote Review

The Best Note-Taking Apps for 2024 (13)

Joplin

Best Free and Open-Source Option

4.5 Outstanding

Why We Picked It

Joplin is as close to a perfect note-taking app as you can get if you're looking for something relatively simple. It's completely free and stores your notes locally on your computer if you choose—though you can pay to use Joplin's cloud storage if you prefer. Notes you take in Joplin are yours in the same way that notes you take in a paper notebook are. This approach, until recently, had a downside: a lack of collaboration tools. That's changed, as Joplin now has notebook sharing for those willing to pay, all without diminishing the free version.

Who It's For

Joplin is for anyone who wants a straightforward app for taking notes and wants complete control and ownership over their data. Joplin can't match OneNote for features, granted, but OneNote doesn't let you use the app on Mac, Android, or iPhone without syncing to OneDrive. Joplin stores all notes in a folder structure on your computer. You can sync files with a paid account or with any cloud syncing service you like.

PROS

  • Free and open source
  • Apps for all major platforms
  • Web clipper offered
  • Excellent interface and importer tools

CONS

  • Lacks some advanced features (handwriting recognition, mobile scanning, OCR, sketching)

SPECS

NameValue
Free StorageBring Your Own
Storage for Price ListedBring Your Own
Max File UploadNone
Web Clipper
Web App
Mac App
Windows App
Android App
iOS App
OCR
Sketching Supported
Email Forwarding
Scanning
PDF Annotation
Geolocation
Audio Note-Taking
Collaboration Tools

GET IT NOW

Visit Site Joplin

Learn More

Joplin Review

The Best Note-Taking Apps for 2024 (14)

Obsidian

Best for Power Users

4.0 Excellent

Why We Picked It

Obsidian is the most flexible note-taking app out there. Because it has hundreds of user-built plug-ins and themes, along with extensive customization options, you can make Obsidian look and act exactly the way you want. It also stores files locally with an optional subscription to enable syncing.

Who It's For

With rich customization options, plug-ins galore, and the ability to connect notes in a network-like structure, Obsidian is a note-taking app best suited for power users. If you need a note-taking system to work precisely how you want and don't mind taking the time to get it there, Obsidian is the application you should check out first.

PROS

  • Free for personal use
  • All notes stored locally as text documents
  • Multiple ways to organize notes
  • Completely customizable
  • Extensive plug-in and theme ecosystem

CONS

  • Difficult to get started
  • No collaboration
  • Paid sync service is expensive

SPECS

NameValue
Free StorageBring Your Own
Storage for Price Listed
Max File Upload
Web Clipper
Web App
Mac App
Windows App
Android App
iOS App
OCR
Sketching Supported
Email Forwarding
Scanning
PDF Annotation
Geolocation
Audio Note-Taking
Collaboration Tools

GET IT NOW

$0.00 Obsidian

Learn More

Obsidian Review

The Best Note-Taking Apps for 2024 (15)

UpNote

Best Value

4.0 Excellent

Why We Picked It

Built by a two-person team, UpNote feels every bit as polished as the best note-taking apps made by huge corporations—all without the need for an ongoing subscription. This app has some downsides, mostly around the size of files you can upload and a few missing features, but UpNote is an otherwise worthy note-taking app.

Who It's For

UpNote is best for anyone looking for good value. It isn't the most feature-filled note-taking application on the market, but it's extremely usable for a low price. If you want to take notes without breaking the bank or missing out on much, it's an excellent app that's well worth looking into.

PROS

  • Competitively priced
  • Beautiful interface
  • Rich text formatting with Markdown support
  • Cross-platform

CONS

  • File uploads limited to 20MB
  • No sketching
  • No collaboration

SPECS

NameValue
Free Storage50 Notes
Storage for Price ListedUnlimited
Max File Upload20MB
Web Clipper
Web App
Mac App
Windows App
Android App
iOS App
OCR
Sketching Supported
Email Forwarding
Scanning
PDF Annotation
Geolocation
Audio Note-Taking
Collaboration Tools

GET IT NOW

Starts at $0.99 Per Month UpNote

Learn More

UpNote Review

The Best Note-Taking Apps for 2024 (16)

Bear

Best Alternative to Apple Notes

3.5 Good

Why We Picked It

Bear is a beautifully designed note-taking app for Mac, iPhone, and iPad. It falls somewhere between a power tool and a simple one. The application comes across as a very simple note-taking app, but it has a few advanced features, such as OCR (so you can search for text in images) and a web clipper (so you can save the content of web pages to the app), that make it a viable alternative to the likes of Apple Notes and even OneNote for some.

Who It's For

Bear is a note-taking app that's appropriate for Apple users whose needs fall between basic and advanced. It syncs using iCloud—and there are no other options. There's no version of Bear for Windows, Android, and Linux, which limits its appeal, though a web version is in the works, according to the company that makes the app.

PROS

  • Streamlined and attractive
  • OCR for images and PDFs
  • Easy import and export of notes

CONS

  • Only for Apple devices
  • Syncing requires payment and depends on iCloud

SPECS

NameValue
Free StorageBring Your Own
Storage for Price ListedBring Your Own
Max File UploadNone
Web Clipper
Web App
Mac App
Windows App
Android App
iOS App
OCR
Sketching Supported
Email Forwarding
Scanning
PDF Annotation
Geolocation
Audio Note-Taking
Collaboration Tools

GET IT NOW

$0.00 Apple.com

Learn More

Bear Review

The Best Note-Taking Apps for 2024 (17)

Evernote

Best for Existing Evernote Users

3.5 Good

Why We Picked It

Evernote once dominated the note-taking space. That's not true anymore, but it's still a powerful note-taking application. Evernote offers features like built-in OCR, voice notes, and AI-enabled plain language search. The problem is a limited free version and extremely expensive paid plans.

Who It's For

The only people we think should use Evernote are those who already use it. There's no compelling reason to create an Evernote account if you don't have one already. An extremely limited free version and the astronomical pricing of the paid version make it impossible to recommend to new users. But if you have a decade's worth of notes living inside Evernote and rely on its unique features, quitting might not be your best option.

PROS

  • Effortless note-taking and syncing
  • Powerful search
  • OCR for images
  • AI-enabled plain language search
  • Excellent and customizable organization options

CONS

  • Expensive
  • Free version isn't worth using
  • Unclear documentation
  • Unreliable AI features

SPECS

NameValue
Free Storage60MB/Month
Storage for Price Listed10GB/Month
Max File Upload200MB
Web Clipper
Web App
Mac App
Windows App
Android App
iOS App
OCR
Sketching Supported
Email Forwarding
Scanning
PDF Annotation
Geolocation
Audio Note-Taking
Collaboration Tools

GET IT NOW

$0.00 Evernote

Learn More

Evernote Review

The Best Note-Taking Apps for 2024 (18)

Simplenote

Best for Text Notes Only

3.5 Good

Why We Picked It

A lot of note-taking apps pile on features. Not Simplenote. This application is the embodiment of the "do one thing well" mantra. With Simplenote, you write text notes, sync them to other devices, and that's basically it. Simplenote is completely free, includes syncing, and has apps for every major platform.

Who It's For

SimpleNote is for anyone who doesn't need to attach files to their notes or use other advanced features. Because it's free, it's easy to recommend to anyone who needs a very simple tool for writing and storing text notes.

PROS

  • Completely free
  • Supports collaboration and public notes
  • Available on every platform

CONS

  • No images or attachments
  • Only one tool for organizing notes (tags)
  • No advanced features
  • Weak privacy policy

SPECS

NameValue
Free StorageUnlimited
Storage for Price ListedUnlimited
Max File UploadN/A
Web Clipper
Web App
Mac App
Windows App
Android App
iOS App
OCR
Sketching Supported
Email Forwarding
Scanning
PDF Annotation
Geolocation
Audio Note-Taking
Collaboration Tools

GET IT NOW

$0.00 Automattic

Learn More

Simplenote Review

The Best Note-Taking Apps for 2024 (19)

Google Keep

Best for Speed

3.0 Average

Why We Picked It

Picture Google Keep as a fridge covered in sticky notes. This note-taking app is for writing down ideas quickly and keeping them haphazardly assembled. There's nothing wrong with sticky notes, and Keep offers more than a few interesting tricks, though it has a subpar web clipper and lacks some basic features like offline desktop access and desktop apps.

Who It's For

Google Keep is for people who need a place to quickly write down an idea that they are likely to reference within a few days, and who plan to delete or hide those old notes soon after. This app doesn't have tools for organizing information in a way that makes it long-lasting.

PROS

  • Completely free
  • Integrates with other Google apps
  • Can extract text from images

CONS

  • No desktop apps
  • No offline access on desktop
  • Web clipper only grabs URL

SPECS

NameValue
Free Storage15 GB
Storage for Price Listed15 GB
Max File Upload10 MB, 25 MP
Web Clipper
Web App
Mac App
Windows App
Android App
iOS App
OCR
Sketching Supported
Email Forwarding
Scanning
PDF Annotation
Geolocation
Audio Note-Taking
Collaboration Tools

GET IT NOW

Visit Site Google Keep

Learn More

Google Keep Review

The Best Note-Taking Apps for 2024 (20)

Notion

Best for Teams in the Tech Industry

3.0 Average

Why We Picked It

Notion's roots are as a note-taking app, but it's designed to support team collaboration—especially if your team works in software development, because the app, its templates, and its help tools are loaded with Silicon Valley jargon. In any event, you can use Notion to not only manage just notes and information, but to also create databases from them.

Who It's For

If everything about Notion described so far sounds complicated, that's because for the majority of people, it is. However, if you need a collaborative tool to turn notes and thoughts into sharable information and database sets to use to run your software company, then Notion might be right for you and your team.

PROS

  • Endlessly customizable
  • Strong for collaboration
  • Can build custom databases
  • Great tools for importing from Evernote (and other apps)

CONS

  • Overly complex for most people
  • No offline access
  • Sluggish
  • Mediocre web clipper
  • Full of Silicon Valley jargon
  • Missing many features

SPECS

NameValue
Free StorageUnlimited
Storage for Price ListedUnlimited
Max File UploadNone
Web Clipper
Web App
Mac App
Windows App
Android App
iOS App
OCR
Sketching Supported
Email Forwarding
Scanning
PDF Annotation
Geolocation
Audio Note-Taking
Collaboration Tools

GET IT NOW

$0.00 Notion

Learn More

Notion Review

Buying Guide: The Best Note-Taking Apps for 2024

How Much Should You Pay for a Note-Taking App?

Pricing for note-taking apps is all over the place. The very best note-taking app overall, OneNote, is free. The cheapest paid app we reviewed, UpNote, costs less than a dollar per month or $29.99 for a lifetime subscription, though it lacks advanced features. The most expensive app we reviewed is Evernote, which starts at $14.99 per person per month and isn't part of any broader bundle. We don't recommend paying that much.

Most apps are somewhere in the middle. For example, even though OneNote is free, customers who pay for Microsoft 365 get extra storage space through OneDrive. Microsoft 365 can be a pretty good deal, as the Personal plan costs just $6.99 per month, and it's especially valuable if you already need other Microsoft applications. You shouldn't need to pay much more than that unless you're hoping to use AI features—those might cost extra. Even Microsoft, which allows individuals to use its AI tool, Copilot, for free on Windows PCs, charges businesses extra.

What Is the Best Free Note-Taking App?

Joplin is the best free note-taking app you can find. This open-source application is a free download with access to all features. The only catch is that notes are stored on your device, not the cloud, though privacy enthusiasts see that as an upside, and you might, too. If you want to sync, you can pay Joplin, but you don't have to: There's built-in support for syncing with Dropbox, OneDrive, and NextCloud, among others. Joplin offers a great web clipper, apps for all major platforms, and excellent tools for importing notes from other applications, including Evernote.

Which Note-Taking Apps Are Best for Teams?

Teams need to be able to share and comment on notes. Microsoft OneNote is best for this use case. It has excellent collaboration features that tie nicely into Microsoft Teams, one of the best business messaging apps. You can share entire notebooks and track who said what.

Other applications with built-in collaboration features include Evernote and Notion, though both are quite expensive compared with OneNote.

What Features Should You Look for in a Note-Taking App?

Everyone's needs and workflows for taking notes are a little different, and so are the features you should pay attention to.

The first thing you should look for is organization. Do you prefer using folders, tags, or both? Next, you should look at how formatting works. Some applications use rich text, while others require that you learn to use Markdown, a formatting language that uses special characters to apply formatting, like boldface, italics, and hyperlinks.

Recommended by Our Editors

The Top Tech and Tools You Need for Taking Digital Notes

10 Surprising Things You Should Write Down to Be More Organized

Need Help Staying Organized? 3 Reasons to Write Things Down Twice

Then there are the advanced features. If you have an iPad or other tablet equipped with a stylus, you might want to look for an application that supports drawing and writing by hand. If you work with a lot of paper documents, you're going to want an application that supports the bulk scanning of pages. You'll also want OCR, which makes scanned documents and other images searchable. Some people like taking voice notes.

Finally, it's worth considering AI features. Some applications, such as OneNote, Notion, and Evernote, have started rolling out features to automatically summarize meeting notes or pull in action items. As of this writing, AI features often cost extra, though it's a nascent area, and norms could change quickly.

For more advice, read our stories about note-taking tips that can change your life and the tools you need for taking digital notes.

Compare SpecsThe Best Note-Taking Apps for 2024

Our Picks

Microsoft OneNoteSee ItVisit Site at Microsoft Store JoplinSee ItVisit Site at Joplin ObsidianSee It$0.00 at Obsidian UpNoteSee ItStarts at $0.99 Per Month at UpNote BearSee It$0.00 at Apple.com EvernoteSee It$0.00 at Evernote SimplenoteSee It$0.00 at Automattic Google KeepSee ItVisit Site at Google Keep NotionSee It$0.00 at Notion

Editors'Rating

Editors' Choice

4.5Editor Review

Editors' Choice

4.5Editor Review

4.0Editor Review

4.0Editor Review

3.5Editor Review

3.5Editor Review

3.5Editor Review

3.0Editor Review

3.0Editor Review

Free Storage

5GBBring Your OwnBring Your Own50 NotesBring Your Own60MB/MonthUnlimited15 GBUnlimited

Storage for Price Listed

1TBBring Your Own UnlimitedBring Your Own10GB/MonthUnlimited15 GBUnlimited

Max File Upload

100MBNone 20MBNone200MBN/A10 MB, 25 MPNone

Web Clipper

Web App

Mac App

Windows App

Android App

iOS App

OCR

Sketching Supported

Email Forwarding

Scanning

PDF Annotation

Geolocation

Audio Note-Taking

Collaboration Tools

Where to Buy

Visit Site at Microsoft Store Visit Site at Joplin $0.00 at Obsidian Starts at $0.99 Per Month at UpNote $0.00 at Apple.com $0.00 at Evernote $0.00 at Automattic Visit Site at Google Keep $0.00 at Notion

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About Jill Duffy

Columnist and Deputy Managing Editor, Software

I've been contributing to PCMag since 2011 and am currently the deputy managing editor for the software team. My column, Get Organized, has been running on PCMag since 2012. It gives advice on how to manage all the devices, apps, digital photos, email, and other technology that can make you feel like you're going to have a panic attack.

My latest book is The Everything Guide to Remote Work, which goes into great detail about a subject that I've been covering as a writer and participating in personally since well before the COVID-19 pandemic.

I specialize in apps for productivity and collaboration, including project management software. I also test and analyze online learning services, particularly for learning languages.

Prior to working for PCMag, I was the managing editor of Game Developer magazine. I've also worked at the Association for Computing Machinery, The Examiner newspaper in San Francisco, and The American Institute of Physics. I was once profiled in an article in Vogue India alongside Marie Kondo.

Follow me on Mastodon.

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About Justin Pot

Contributor

The Best Note-Taking Apps for 2024 (51)

Justin Pot believes technology is a tool, not a way of life. He writes tutorials and essays that inform and entertain. He loves beer, technology, nature, and people, not necessarily in that order. Learn more atJustinPot.com.

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