Services & Software

The best mobile apps for taking notes

While our smartphones and tablets come with apps that let you jot things down, there are much better apps available that help you organize your notes and be more productive.

Whether you're a student taking notes for class this fall or your workday requires that you take notes in meetings, a handy app that makes it easy to jot things down and organize them can be incredibly useful. Even better, with the right note-taking app, you can access your notes on any device so the notes you took on your tablet are easily accessible on your desktop at work and even your smartphone.

There have been plenty of great note-taking apps in the App Store from the beginning, but as time went on, old favorites of mine have been updated to make them even more useful. I've also come across new ones that are perfect for either the classroom or meetings.

Screenshot by Jason Parker/CNET


Free, iOS and Android

Evernote is just one part of an excellent, access-from-anywhere note-taking system. In addition to Evernote on your smartphone, you can create and get to your notes from a variety of devices (including apps for both desktops and tablets) and any Web browser on any computer. A free Evernote account links all your notes together.

Evernote is a mature and popular app, with an impressively streamlined interface that shares similarities across its multiple platforms and gives you many different ways to create notes and collections of notes called notebooks. Your notes can be text, images, and Web clippings and it has neat features for capturing documents and business cards using your smartphone camera.

Evernote is free, but you have the option to get the premium subscription for $5 per month that offers better search tools and offline notes on mobile. There's also a business subscription for $10 per month per user so your whole team at work can collaborate on shared projects.

Screenshot by Jason Parker/CNET

Google Keep

Free, Android only

Google Keep is another great note taker for Android devices that lets you write notes, add photos, and record audio, among other things.

You can color-code your notes making it perfect for finding all your notes from a particular class. But even just browsing notes is intuitive, because each note is represented as a thumbnail, giving you a good idea of what's inside.

Once signed in with your Google account, you can access your notes from anywhere. Though there isn't an iOS version of Google Keep, you can log in and access your notes using Safari at

Screenshot by Jason Parker/CNET

Awesome Note

$1.99, iOS only

Awesome Note lets you manage messages, memos, and ideas in several unique ways. An intuitive interface lets you use themes to help categorize information the way you want and get to the information you need quickly.

Awesome Note includes a few demo categories (shown as folder tabs) that you can use to see how your notes and info will be laid out. You can create new folders by selecting your preferred color, and adding a title. Opening a folder displays your notes for that category laid out as thumbnails so you can quickly find the specific note you want. You can also configure the program to display to-dos as a running list or as a separated list with completed items on top.

Awesome Note has been around since 2011, but it has received numerous upgrades and a complete interface redesign since then.

Screenshot by Jason Parker/CNET


$2.99, iOS only

Notability has tons of useful features that are easily accessed through the app's intuitive interface. Perfect for students or really anyone who needs to gather and organize information, Notability lets you use your onscreen keyboard (or a compatible Bluetooth keyboard) to keep track of information by grouping your notes into categories by subject.

Along with notes you can add images and other media, and Notability even offers an area to draw your own diagrams, make charts, and crop your images to make them fit to your particular project. Unlimited undo and redo is also available, so there's plenty of room to experiment.

Notability was formerly only for iPad, but it now works on your iPhone as well, with a reworked interface that works well on the smaller screen.