Most people reading this blog carry around a computer every day, whether its a laptop, tablet, or smartphone. Yet many of us still reach for paper and pen when it’s time to take notes.
For many of us, it’s because pen and paper are what we’re familiar with, and we know how they work. There’s a bunch of note-taking apps out there, and they don’t all work the same, or even similarly in many cases.
I recently decided that I was going to try to take notes in a digital format whenever possible and went on an adventure to see which of the most popular apps fit my needs. I had a pretty good idea of what I wanted when I started, and I’ve spent a few days trying to find an app that was just the right fit for me.
I put together a few apps I found and a list of the features that I directly compared between them below, and hopefully it helps someone in the same position that I’m in decide which works best for them:
|OneNote 2016||Evernote||Bear||Turtl||Apple Notes|
|Publisher||Microsoft||Evernote||Shiny Frog||Lyon Bros||Apple|
|Platforms||Windows, Mac, iPad, iPhone, Android, Web||Windows, Mac, iPad, iPhone, Web||Mac, iPad, iPhone||Windows, Mac, Linux, Android||Mac, iPad, iPhone|
|Cloud Sync||Yes, via OneDrive||Yes, via Evernote||Yes, via CloudKit (Subscription only)||Yes||Yes, via iCloud/CloudKit|
|Self-hosted sync option||No||No||No||Yes||No|
|Offline access||Yes||Paid plans only||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Local storage option||No||Yes||No||No||Yes|
|Organization||Notebooks, Sections, Pages||Notebooks, Notes||Notes, Hashtags||Boards, Notes||Folders, Notes|
|File attachments within notes||Yes||Yes||Images and photos only||Yes||No|
|OCR within attachments||Partial||Yes||N/A||No||No|
|Encryption||Yes, per section||Yes, selected portions of notes||No||Yes||Yes, per note|
|Encrypts media within notes||Yes||No||N/A||Yes||Yes|
|Sharing||Yes||Paid plans only||No||Yes||No|
|Drawing/Write anywhere||Yes||Mobile apps only||No||No||No|
|Markdown support||No||Partial, as typing shortcuts||Yes||Yes||No|
|Language syntax highlighting||No||No||Yes||No||No|
|Note history||No||With paid plan only||No||No||No|
|Import options||Print to OneNote, Import from Evernote||zip file||Apple Notes, Evernote, DayOne, Vesper, Ulysses||None||ENEX|
|Export options||OneNote, Word, PDF, XPS, mht||ENEX, HTML||HTML, PDF, DOCX, MD, JPG||None|
There are a lot more options out there than just these. In fact, there’s a whole Wikipedia page here.