You may still be sinking into this semester at school and looking for a few good tools to get stuff done this year. One of the things that you will be doing the most is taking notes (and hopefully, good ones) during classes, group meetings, reading, etc. Rather than look and try out every single note taking app there is, we’ve filtered them down for you so you can make a more informed decision on where you will store all of your stuff this year.
Here are the top 12 note taking apps for getting things done in school.
1. Evernote (Web, OS X, Windows, Android, iOS, Blackberry)
With Evernote being avaailable for iOS, Android, Mac, and Windows, it’s no wonder that it is still considered by many to be the world’s best note taking application and utility.
Where Evernote excels in a school context is its ubiquity as well as cool features like allowing for photos, location, and voice recording (which is great for recording lectures).
2. Google Docs / Drive (Web, Android, iOS)
Without Google Docs, collaboration on papers, spreadsheets, and other files with groups is a difficult (and annoying) thing todo. I remember painfully emailing documents back and forth to fellow students who weren’t on the Google Docs “kick” and losing track of which version was the current version of any document or file.
With Google Docs you can invite all of your partners to a document and collaborate and keep things in sync.
3. Simplenote (Web, iOS, third-party Android)
If you want to take, well, simple notes, then Simplenote is the tool to do it with. You can easily capture your ideas, tasks, and assignments in a plain text form and have it sync with your iPhone or Android (with a third party app, Flick Note).
You can also export your Simplenote database to plain text, CSV, JSON, XML, and even Evernote.
4. Catch (Web, iOS, Android)
Catch is another web based note capturing ideas while on the go. Catch brings a unique a different type of mobile interface to the user and rather than tapping a tiny “plus” button and adding a new note, you can use Catch’s “capture wheel” to create a voice note, date, text note, task, or picture. You can also use hash tags to organize your notes.
5. Fetchnotes (Web, iOS, Android)
Fetchnotes is a newcomer to the online note taking arena but is a great way to take a bunch of quick notes and tag them as well as attach documents and files from a slew of different web apps like Dropbox, Box, Evernote, Instagram, Github, Google Drive, and much more. You can also invite schoolmates to share notes with.
In fact, if you sign up today for Fetchnotes and open a new Box account, you can get 25GB of free storage for your files.
6. Springpad (Web, iOS, Android)
Springpad is another way to store photos, to-dos, notes, links, locations, and more as well as share them with fellow students. The app is available for iOS and Android and can be used on the web. Springpad also gives you some notebook ideas to start with like Team Projects, Quick Notes, To-do lists and more.
7. TopXNotes (OS X)
TopXNotes is a native note taking app for Mac that allows you to create rich text notes as well as have multiple notes opened at the same time. The ability to have multiple notes open in one interface during a class may be beneficial for making an outline and adding to a class summary at the same time.
TopXNotes is available now through Lifehack Deals for half off.
8. OneNote (Windows, web, iPhone)
OneNote is the most integrated and feature rich note taking application on Windows not to mention that it now sports an online interface through Office.com where users can sync all of their OneNote notebooks and an iOS app.
Notebooks can be shared and collaborated on natively or in the cloud. It’s not necessarily the cheapest note taking application, but its integration and usefulness is worth the price if you are on Windows.
9. Circus Ponies Notebook (OS X, iPad)
If you like OneNote but want something on the Mac, then Circus Ponies Notebook is the app you are looking for. One of the coolest features for students is the ability to create detailed indexes of your notes as well as export your notebooks as full-fledged websites. With some free server space from your school and Circus Ponies Notebook, you are going to be everyone’s friend whe you sharing your notes. Oh, and there is an attractive iPad app that syncs with your Mac.
10. FoldingText (OS X)
FoldingText is an cool new way to use Markdown to create “foldable” headings, bulleted lists, clickable links, etc. Instead of the standard “static” nature of a plain text file with Markdown syntax, FoldingText for Mac allows the user to type in Markdown and the syntax is instantly converted to the proper format. You can also make to-do lists and even timers by using a special syntax.
11. Epistle (Android)
If you need to edit plain text and Markdown on an Android and sync it with Dropbox, then Epistle is the app you are looking for. You can create notes, edit them, sync them with Dropbox, preview Markdown, and send the text to any app on Android that will accept text. This is a great app to create a quick outline or to-do list and send it to a classmate or view all of your plain text notes on.
12. Notesy (iOS)
Now, if you want to do plain text on iOS, Notesy is one of the best apps to do it in. There are many others, but in my experience Notesy seems the fastest and easiest to use. Also, Notesy has superior filtering and navigation of your Dropbox synced notes.