I want to start by saying that my thoughts here are as genuine as they come – I don’t run ads and I don’t have any affiliation to any of the product mentions in this post. I am simply someone who likes to try various productivity tools and have thus formed some opinions in that process.
Here is the ranked list of priorities that I considered when evaluating note-taking tools:
- Supports all of my devices (and syncs my notes between them)
- For me – iOS, MacOS, Windows 10, Web
- Call me cheap, but I really don’t want to pay a monthly subscription fee
- Good note searching functionality
- Rich text-editing experience
- The most complex text formatting I need is to be able to write and format a blog post
- Good note organization functionality
- Dark mode
- For taking notes at night, when the lights are off
Let’s cut straight to chase:
Evernote is the best note-taking tool for me.
Evernote met all of my requirements listed above. It may not be the best for all of the items listed above, but I feel it is by far the best tool that supports ALL devices (the main kicker is that their web app experience is excellent).
I have used Evernote for over 5 years now, both professionally (to keep important notes for my day-to-day work) and also for all of my personal projects and random thoughts. I use it whenever creative inspiration strikes me and I suddenly have a great (subjective) idea that I feel must be stored somewhere. I use it when I want to remember something for later, but know 100% that I will forget it in 5 minutes. I use it when learn something new that I will want to reference notes on later. Being able to search through my plethora of notes with ease quickly became a priority for me and Evernote has a very snappy search experience.
Evernote is also free, they do have an Evernote Premium subscription, but I have never personally needed any of the features that come with that subscription. For me, my use cases are pretty straightforward and simple text storage with some formatting is all I really need. I do feel some amount of guilt, since I have used their product for so many years but have yet to pay them a dime, but I suppose me writing this post makes us even (..right?). For their free product, they do have a slightly annoying device limit, however it sounds much worse than it is because I just use the web version for my laptops to get around the device limit.
Here is a link to Evernote: evernote.com
(No that’s not an affiliate link, I literally just typed their website url. But I do understand your skepticism – I, too, am jaded by all the almostbutnotquitefake “reviews” out there)
Some possible alternatives:
- Microsoft OneNote
- Similarly supports basically all devices, but I just really dislike the interface and the note organization structure
- Apple Notes
- Works great if you only use Apple devices
- Has the best note-taking experience, but unfortunately only supports Apple devices
- I use this purely for hand-written notes, which it does really well
- Only Apple device support
There are probably others, but those are the only ones I’ve had the time to really try.