Note-taking has transitioned from paper to digital platforms. Thanks to the convenience of smartphones and tablets, note-taking app has become an indispensable tool. Thus, choosing the right free note-taking app is pivotal for efficient organization and enhanced productivity.
This article aims to guide you through the top 10 free note-taking apps in 2023, aiding you in selecting the perfect tool to optimize your note-taking experience.
10 Best Free Note-Taking Apps
Here's a selection of top-notch free note-taking apps for Android and iOS platforms. We'll provide descriptions of each app, offer insights from users' reviews, and include app ratings and external links for further exploration.
In this article
1. PDFelement: Best Free Digital Notebook PDF Management App
Introducing PDFelement, a top-tier free note-taking app that takes digital note-taking to the next level. Having a solid 4.3/5 and 4.5/5 stars rating in Google Play and App Store, respectively, PDFelement is surely at the top of its game. Not only does PDFelement excel as a PDF editor, but it also offers markup and annotation features. Users can highlight text, draw shapes, and add comments directly.
Whether you're an Android user or an iOS enthusiast, PDFelement has you covered. For Android users, PDFelement is free, offering a seamless way to organize your notes. Meanwhile, iOS users can also enjoy PDFelement with a free plan. Although it does come with a watermark when saving your files. This cross-platform feature makes it an exceptional tool for interactive note-taking.
Step-by-Step Guide: Note-Taking on PDFelement
PDFelement empowers you to transform your notes into dynamic and interactive documents. Whether highlighting crucial points or sketching diagrams, PDFelement has it all. Here are the steps to annotate on PDFelement for iPad & iPhone:
Launch Wondershare PDFelement on your iOS device. On the bottom left corner of the interface, click the + icon.
Next, tap on "Files" to select the PDF file you want to annotate. Once chosen, PDFelement will automatically upload the selected PDF.
Choose the annotation tool you want. You can use the highlight, underline, strikethrough, and the sticky notes feature.
For Highlight Feature:
Look for the Highlight icon among the available annotating tools. Then, choose the specific text you wish to annotate within the PDF. If you're using an iPad, the annotation tools will be located at the top of your screen.
For Strikethrough Feature:
Choose the strikethrough icon, then smoothly slide your finger over the text you wish to mark.
For Comment Feature:
Click the Comment tab and click on it. A range of options will become visible. Simply tap on the Text Comment icon, just as demonstrated in the provided image.
For Sticky Notes Feature:
Click the Sticky Notes button, then navigate to the section of the PDF where you intend to insert a note. Tap on that spot and input your comment into the available space.
Save the modified file in your local storage once you've annotated the PDF using the annotation features.
Mabelline (Review on Google Play): "Great app! Very robust program that is fairly easy to figure out and does everything I need. I feel it's more user-friendly than adobe."
Jenny H. (Review on App Store): "PDFelement is such an amazing app, and I'm so happy that I came across this. I love all of these features, and they are very easy, convenient, and helpful to use."
2. Google Keep: Google-Compatible Free Note-Taking App
Google Keep is the perfect fit if you're seeking a free and uncomplicated way to create simple lists. Available on both Android and iOS, Google Keep makes the note-taking experience simple. It may not offer many features, but it covers all the essentials you'd expect from a personal note-taking app. Google Keep has checklists, voice notes, image integration, and labels for effortless organization.
Furthermore, Google Keep syncs seamlessly across devices, making your notes accessible wherever you are. This enhances the ability to collaborate and share notes with others. Users also appreciate its color-coded organization, making it visually appealing and functional. Here are more of the users' reviews:
Google Keep has garnered a positive reputation among users, reflected in its app ratings on various platforms. Google Keep has received consistently high ratings from the Google Play Store, having 4.3 out of 5 stars. Meanwhile, Google Keep has maintained a favorable 3.5 out of 5 stars rating on the Apple App Store.
Nick Sharma (Review on Google Play Store): "This is probably one of the easiest note-taking apps to use and would be my note-taking of choice if it had just a few minor tweaks."
3. Microsoft OneNote: Most Robust Free Note-Taking App
Microsoft OneNote remains a powerhouse in the world of note-taking apps, available on both Android and iOS platforms. In fact, with an impressive 500 million+ downloads, Microsoft OneNote ranks among the most popular Android apps with a 4.7 out of 5 stars rating. The app offers extensive formatting options, including text, images, and digital ink.
Microsoft OneNote caters to both personal and professional note-taking needs. Its versatility, collaboration features, and integration with other Microsoft tools make it a go-to app for those seeking a comprehensive note-taking solution.
Jennifer Halla (Review on Google Play Store): "I love the concept and functionality of OneNote; I wish that we could add sub-sections in between Sections and pages."
Vanessagh (Review on App Store): "OneNote has helped me keep up with my college homework and notes. It allows me to do different things, such as use the drawing tools to take handwritten notes and type whenever it’s most convenient for me."
4. Dropbox Paper: Collaborative Free Note-Taking App
While Microsoft OneNote remains a powerful contender, Dropbox Paper offers a balanced mix of usability, collaboration, and performance that sets it apart. It allows users to collaborate in real time, making it an excellent choice for group projects and brainstorming sessions. The app supports multimedia integration, including images, videos, and advanced formatting options.
Dropbox Paper is available on Android and iOS platforms and is free to use with a Dropbox account. In fact, its seamless integration with Dropbox ensures secure storage and easy sharing. This app is the ideal solution for teams with features like direct collaboration and a focus on real-time teamwork. Here are some user reviews:
Dropbox Paper has garnered user feedback through app ratings on both the Google Play and Apple App Store. Dropbox Paper has a rating of around 4.5 out of 5 stars in Google Play while a 4.1 out of 5 stars in the App Store.
Caroline Cuif (Review on Google Play Store): "I like to use the app on my laptop but it is very limited when used from your phone. You cannot create tables, and the functionalities remain very basic."
Shiras24 (Review on App Store): "I absolutely love this as a writing app! The interface is incredibly easy to use, and the way it appears on the screen is nice for blocking out other distractions."
5. Evernote: Most Organized Free Note-Taking App
Evernote remains a popular choice due to its robust feature set. It enables users to create notes in various formats, including text, audio, and images. Further, its customizable organization makes it suitable for managing extensive note collections.
Whether you're working on tasks or for personal use, Evernote offers assistance in keeping everything in order. Evernote is available on both Android and iOS platforms. It has garnered a solid user rating of 4.6 out of 5 stars and 4.4 out of 5 stars on the Google Play Store and App Store, respectively. The free version provides basic features, while advanced capabilities come with paid plans. Here are some of the user's insights about Evernote.
Nao (Review on Google Play Store): "This was my first main note app some years back, but I had to shift because of the device syncing limitations. However, I still love how fluid it is now that I came back, mostly for organizing chores and personal stuff."
6. Simplenote: Best Note-Taking App for Minimalist
Staying true to its name, Simplenote offers a minimalist note-taking experience. It's perfect for those focusing solely on capturing their thoughts without distractions. The app allows users to create plain text notes that sync across devices. While lacking advanced formatting options, Simplenote excels in quick note creation and synchronization.
If you're tired of feature-heavy applications and value speed and efficiency, this app is a breath of fresh air. Simplenote is available on both Android and iOS platforms. It's a free app that prioritizes minimalist note-taking functionality. Here are some of the user's reviews:
Ray Bellen (Review on Google Play Store): "So far, it's one of the best options for alternative popular note-taking app, basic & simple. The only downside for me, a red flag as well, was the forced account registration."
Jetmir Mjeku (Review on App Store): "After checking this app on all of my devices (iPod, iPad, Nexus 5X, and Windows 10 PC), I am more than happy with its quality. It has a simple and beautiful design. The accessibility is pragmatic and easy."
7. Notebook by Zoho: Best Dynamic Free Note-Taking App
For those seeking more than a basic note-taking app, Notebook by Zoho is the perfect solution. Notebook by Zoho offers a comprehensive note-taking solution with multimedia capabilities. Users can create text notes, checklists, sketches, and audio notes within the app.
It transforms your device into a dynamic notebook, accommodating various types of content. It is a versatile choice that combines minimalism and robust functionality. Further, Notebook by Zoho is free to use and offers advanced features on Android and iOS platforms.
Andrei (Review on Google Play Store): "I like it. It's a really great app for what it's designed for. You can place notes in different notebooks and create groups inside those said notebooks."
Blue Doodlez (Review on App Store): "I’ve downloaded a bunch of journaling apps, and absolutely love this one for notes too. I love the interface and the organization of it."
8. ColorNote: Best Free Sticky Note-Taking App
If simplicity and convenience are your top priorities, ColorNote is the note-taking app for you. It embodies the essence of quick note-taking, just like real-life sticky notes. Its widgets and checklist support make it a reliable companion for those who need to stay organized without unnecessary extras.
Further, ColorNote is a user-friendly program designed for basic project management and to rapidly capture ideas. However, this won't be a good note-taking program if you want cross-platform capabilities. Just remember that it's only for our note-takers on Android. In fact, with its 4.9/5-star rating and millions of reviews on the Google Play Store, it's a popular choice on the Android platform. Here are some of the users' reviews:
Jani Saksa (Review on Google Play Store): "This has been my primary & favorite note-taking app for what feels like close to a decade - if not more. And because of the online syncing, even when I've had no backups and have lost my device, I've had my notes follow me."
Gavin S. (Review on Google Play Store): "As a very simple note app, you would presume there to be only essential features - and there are. This app is very easy to learn to use and navigate after a few days of usage."
9. Squid: Best Free Note-Taking App for Handwriting
Squid offers a distinctive approach to note-taking by focusing on handwriting. This vector-based notes app allows you to write notes using an active pen, stylus, or finger. With its creative features, support for PDFs, and unique capabilities, it's a must-try app for handwritten note enthusiasts.
Squid is available exclusively on Android devices with 4.4 out of 5-star ratings on the Google Play Store. The app offers free basic features with in-app purchases available for additional functionalities. Here are some of the users' insights about the Squid app:
Hope Reinders (Review on Google Play Store): "I wanted to transition from paper to electronics note-taking for my degree, and Squid has made that possible. I enjoy it because I can bring in papers/PowerPoints and annotate them."
Daniel Dentith (Review on Google Play Store): "What a fantastic Application, 5 stars from me as I use this for my business daily; we are now a paperless business using 1 app."
10. BlackNote: Best Dark-Themed Free Note-Taking App
BlackNote offers a minimalist interface for straightforward note-taking on Android. With an intuitive dark-themed design, it's perfect for those who prefer a break from the standard white backgrounds. It's a great option for users seeking a minimalist note-taking experience with a touch of style. However, BlackNote is available only on Android devices. The app offers free basic features with the option to remove ads through in-app purchases.
BlackNote gained 4.6 out of 5 stars on Google Play Store. Here are some of the user's insights:
Owen Rosco (Review on Google Play Store): "Well it was quite good. All in all, it was a good note app. It has some easy backup and restore settings."
Ishana Jabin (Review on Google Play Store): "This app provides a seamless experience for ardent writers. Although there is the occasional ad, it is, in my opinion, one of the best writing apps I've come across on the internet."
The right note-taking app can significantly impact productivity, organization, and collaboration. The apps listed above cater to various preferences, from simplicity to multimedia-rich capabilities. This ensures that individuals can find the perfect tool for their needs. Whether you prioritize collaborative features, annotation capabilities, or minimalistic design, exploring these top free note-taking apps will enhance efficiency. Embrace the digital transformation of note-taking apps. Choose the best free note-taking app that will take your experience to the next level.