The 12 Best Note Taking Apps To Use In 2022
Max 9min read
When I was in high school, I was one of those nerds that carried pen and paper around everywhere.
Sometimes it was a small notepad.
Sometimes it was a single sheet of paper folded in my back pocket.
Other times it was a journal in my backpack.
I moved to a note taking app on my smartphone, because of:
Maybe instead of pen and paper or a notebook, you have sticky notes all over your monitor. Those can definitely get lost! Or blow away. And you cant even attach files or save documents to sticky notes!
ALSO: Take a look at these best note taking strategies!
The Ultimate Writing Tools
They are portable, so you can take them anywhere. They replaced desktop computers in that aspect. They are just as powerful but more convenient to use. You simply start a blank document in your preferred word processor and youre ready to start writing.
Since the writing process is closely linked to capturing ideas through notes, it was only natural for us to start using laptops for that purpose. Different note-taking tools emerged, so we get the notebook feeling on a laptop.
Multitasking is quite possible when using a laptop. We can watch an online lecture and take notes. We can write a paper and take notes in another document at the same time. When we use the computer for different activities, its only natural for us to use it for writing down ideas during those activities.
But is the laptop better than plain paper?
Theres quite a discussion around this topic. Its not a definite yes or a definite no. It all comes down to your preferences and the reason why youre taking notes.
Add Notes To A Pdf In Preview
Preview offers users the option of adding notes across PDF documents. This built-in PDF editor can help users make significant changes in their documents. You need to look across the following steps to understand the process of adding notes in PDFs.
Step 1: Open Preview and proceed to open the document that is to be edited.
Step 2: After adding the document, lead to the âToolsâ menu and select âAnnotateâ from the drop-down menu. Lead to click on âNoteâ across the proceeding menu.
Step 3: A note is added across the document. You can use your mouse to change the location of the note. You can simply tap on the added note to extend and observe the content added across it.
PDFelement for Mac and Preview are two different tools that allow users to change their PDF documents. Although Preview is a built-in editor, it lacks the professional approach to editing documents that can be observed across PDFelement. PDFelement ensures that the outlook of the document remains intact and attractive, as it always is.
Talking about the features offered across both platforms, Preview lacks the diversity of tools that is quite common within PDFelement. This is what makes PDFelement highly recommended in the market. Even though users must download the tool across their Mac, PDFelement can surely make your lives easier after it gets into your use.
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Solution #: Take Notes The Classic Way Pencil In Hand
Whenever you can, write your notes by hand. Put your brain to the test. Listen, comprehend, and summarize in your notes. Besides the increased opportunity for higher retention, you wont have the distractions that come with a computer.
Research shows that college students taking notes on a computer only spend 60% of class taking notes. They spend 40% of class time using the internet or other programs unrelated to the class. Plus, electronic devices introduce the opportunity for social media to interrupt your focus.
Unfortunately, I can personally attest to this statistic. I spent lots of time in class on Pinterest. Or working on other homework. Basically I did anything I could find to do besides taking notes during the lecture.
That being said, I am not unreasonable. Being fresh out of college, I know how important it is to use laptops and other technology in school. No one can deny the speed at which you can take notes, compared to writing by hand.
At some point, you will encounter a class in which you truly cant keep up with how fast the teacher is teaching. If you try hand-written notes and end up feeling completely overwhelmed or with short phrases that dont make sense, pull out your laptop and try
In Depth: The Mind Map
The mind map is a great way of taking notes for specific types of subjects. Class subjects like chemestry, history, and philosophy that have interlocking topics or complex, abstract ideas are perfect for this method.. Use the mind map to get a handle on how certain topics relate, or to go in depth with one particular idea.
For instance, if youre attending a lecture about the Fall of the Roman Empire, start with that concept in the center and then draw nodes of all the things that led to Romes fall as your professor lists them. Things like debt, irresponsible emperors, attacks from the surrounding barbarian tribes, and so on.
Later, to review, go more in depth and add smaller sub-concepts onto each branch. Things like dates, formulas, supporting facts, and related concepts make for great branches. In the end, it might look something like this:
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Easy: Writing On Slides
Lets be honest, this is note-taking for lazy peopleand theres nothing wrong with that!
Its super effective, and its easy.
If your professor is kind enough to provide you with the slides that theyre using in their lectures, go ahead and download the files and print them out at the computer lab. The slides give you a leg up on the outlining process. The professor already did the work for you! All you have to do is take notes and expand on key concepts already presented in the slides.
It works great, too, because later you can look at the slide and more or less remember what the professor was talking about when they reached that slide. Its like having a step-by-step walkthrough of the lecture, and you hardly had to do a thing to get it!
Cornell Note Taking Method
So now lets talk about taking notes.
If you search online youll find a handful of different note taking methods.
My problem with many of these is that they try to be too neat and tidy.
Having gone to both college and law school, Ive taken a lot of notes. The note taking I did could best be described as fast and furious. Neat, tidy and well organized sound good, but is usually not reality.
Taking notes is more often chaos. Youre writing as fast as you can, jumping back and forth, doing your own shorthand, drawing, and crossing things out.
The good news is, thats ok. It doesnt matter how your notes look or how organized they are.
What is far more important is what you are going to do with the notes afterwards.
Your goal is take notes in a way that allows you to study for your exam in the most effective way.
Ill cover more on this later, but for now, just know that frequent, periodic self-testing is the most effective way to study for your exam.
The best way to do that is using the Cornell Note Taking Method
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Benefits Of Typed Out Notes
Really quickly I just wanted to tell you all the benefits of typed-out notes.
Add Sticky Notes In Pdf
After importing the PDF document, you need to access the “Comment” section from the top of the window. Proceed to select the “Note” icon on the following menu. Click anywhere across the document to add notes to PDF.
You can click anywhere across the PDF document to add the note. A small window immediately opens that allows you to add content across the note and even change the color of the note, as desired.
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Tip : Laptops Must Be Used In Structured Learning Tasks
Learners need to be taught explicitly how to use technology tools in structured, active learning tasks. Structured tasks use technology built into the lesson. For example, have groups use laptops to look up a number of alternative research findings when a new concept – say, climate change – is introduced, then have the groups summarise and compare their findings to the class. Researchers have found:
The use of laptops in structured tasks results in significantly more time spent taking notes and related academic activities, and significantly less time sending personal emails, instant messages and playing games during class.
Teachers need to take into account students attention spans and the perils of multi-tasking. This should result in less lecturing, more collaborative learning tasks, use of discussion groups, problem-based learning and case study discussions.
Research also shows that use of laptops is distracting for others around the laptop user as they tend to look at the screens and their learning suffers as a result. Designate specific areas of the room for laptop use so that non-users are not distracted.
How To Take Notes Efficiently
Taking good notes is an essential skill for your studies, your work, and your life. It can help you to remember details and stay organized, ensuring that youre always up to date on the most important information.
Now that you have the tools, skills, and techniques that you need, you can be sure to take better notes and remember them quickly and easily.
Did you find this post helpful? Let us know in the comments below!
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Searching For A Middle Ground
If youve made it this far, you might be confused.
Since were trying to make the case that digital note-taking is better than pen and paper, it might sound like weve gone out of our way to prove the exact opposite.
Thats not exactly the case. Weve established that there are clear benefits to longhand note-taking and that there are severe drawbacks to note-taking on laptops despite the technological advantage that laptop users gain when it comes to convenience.
Were not saying that you should avoid technology when trying to take notes. Were saying that you need a middle ground an intersection where technology and traditional note-taking methodologies meet.
A digital tablet is an obvious solution to this problem.
Using a handheld device like an iPad Pro and an Apple Pencil allows note-takers to write their notes in a longhand and freeform fashion without giving up all the benefits that come along with bringing technology into the classroom.
Some of the best note-taking apps in the App Store have essential features that leverage technology to reinforce learning:
These apps and others come loaded with handwriting recognition, cloud storage, and more, but the technology works in the background so that you can take notes with ease.
When Best To Take Notes
Early morning when you are fresh is a good start. Or do it often at intermittent intervals to enhance the effectiveness of concentration or when ideas arise. Doing it when you feel down or dull can be counter-effective. Take a rest but dont be lazy and slack off. Success rewards hard work. The best way to write or take notes can be just rolling off with momentum after inertia. Words and ideas just keep coming. As you write more of the same topic, some ideas will be better than others. Practice and hard work is a rewarding process.
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Microsoft Surface Pro 7 Laptop
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The first laptop on our list is the Surface Pro 7 by Microsoft. Anyone who is even vaguely familiar with the Surface lineup will know exactly why we have selected it. For those who dont know, its a Windows tablet with a keyboard. Unlike regular tablets, it has a full-fledged processor and other components that you would find in an actual laptop. Many people like to think of it as a laptop in a tablet disguise, which would be an accurate description. If youre looking for a product to provide you with the best experience of both a laptop and a tablet, then you should definitely consider the Surface Pro.
Even in terms of RAM and storage, you are given multiple options. You get 8 GB of RAM with the lower i5 variant while the i7 gets 16 GB. The RAM type is LPDDR4x RAM, so even it is extremely fast and will make your computer feel snappy and responsive. As for storage, you get either 128 GB or 256 GB with the i5 or 256 GB and 512 GB with the i7. The storage form is SSD, so loading times will almost be non-existent. I would recommend getting at least 256 GB unless youre absolutely certain that you wont require more than 128 GB or if you have some form of external storage device.
The Best Of Both Worlds
Prefer writing by hand, but still want to be able to access your notes on your computer and are tired of buying notebooks just so you can throw them away later? Theres a solution for that.
Rocketbooks are a super cool piece of new note-taking technology. The notebook is completely reusable. Simply take your notes, scan them using your phone and the Rocketbook app, and then, depending on which notebook you have, wipe it clean with a damp cloth to re-use it virtually indefinitely.
If youre using the Rocketbook Wave, you can just throw it in the microwave and nuke it up to three times. Voila! Youve got a reusable notebook, and digital notes that you didnt have to take using a tablet and stylus or type out on your laptop.
Want to learn more about the Rocketbook? Check out our full review.
Id never heard of these before researching this article, and let me tell you, they sound like a great option for students looking to lighten their backpack load, theyre good for the environment, and theyll save you some money and space since youre not buying a new notebook every single term.
Need help keeping your notes organized? Check out our guide to staying organized in college.
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Ok Use Your Laptop If You Have To
I realize that my argument for taking notes by hand isnt always valid. There are some classes where its just better, faster, and easier to type your notes.
If and when you do use a laptop to take notes, at least give yourself enough margin on the page to come back and write test questions or add additional notes.
Any of the document apps make it easy to set up a two-column layout using tables.
You can also use find Cornell Note templates. Create your own or find one online.
Now go ahead and type the notes on one side, but leave plenty of room on the other side to type in your test questions later. Everything else is the same.
More Useful Keyboard Shortcuts For Notes
- CMD+Z for undoing a most recent change
- CMD+B for bolding selected text
- Shift+CMD+. to increase selected text size. Shift+CMD+, to decrease it
- CMD+K to insert a link for a selected text
- CMD+F for finding text in the current note
Note: Some commands may only work in some apps. However, these should work in Evernote.
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Typing Is Faster Than Writing By Hand
Imagine yourself writing by hand. You use a single pen and one hand. It takes several movements to write a single letter. On a keyboard, you just touch the right key and the letter appears on the screen. You use ten fingers, and the letters are instantly formed.
Of course, you need some training and practice before you can start typing with the speed of light. The average computer typist types 41 words per minute. People who practice typing can easily go above that average speed.
Why is speed so important? When youre listening to a lecture or you attend a meeting at work, you want to capture information through complete notes. You dont want to leave anything to your imagination. Any gaps can lead to misunderstandings later on.
On the other hand, when youre taking notes as part of a creative process, speed is not that important.