Best Note-Taking Apps for starting your 2022 right

2022 Note-Taking Apps

There are so many note-taking apps out there, it can be hard to find a good/”perfect” note taking application. I have been trying to find the “perfect” note-taking app out for me so I have tried a whole bunch and each time I gave them over a month of usage. Problem is, there is no such thing as a “perfect” anything. Everything has flaws. I’m going to go over all of these flaws today so you can find the note-taking app that’s best for you. I’m going to be going through Evernote, Notion, Apple Notes, Google Keep, Simplenote, and OneNote in this list. Let’s get started!

To preface this: I wanted to make everyone aware that I use an iPhone, iPad and Windows PC. I will not be able to speak on how well these items work on MacOS.

Notion

Notion home screen view.

I wanted to start off with Notion as it is a fantastic note-taking application. You can get very organized and unique with the software and it is something that becomes very useful while I am using it. There are several glaring problems with Notion.

It lags… A LOT.

You go to type something in and if you are using the mobile application, desktop application, or web application, the system can lag. Just as I was trying to take the screenshot for this article, I accidentally clicked to make the page go into dark mode, which I found out just inverts the colors, and as I was taking the page out of dark mode, it wouldn’t change so I kept clicking the button and it was flipping back and forth between light and dark mode, except it was doing it very slowly. You can see the page I was taking a screenshot of wasn’t all that detailed. It is very simple.

I asked about this 3 months ago on the r/Notion Subreddit and was told it could be because of too many relational databases, this page I’m on has none. Another person stated this:

As you can see, this is more than likely the real reason why Notion is slow. This is the biggest reason why in 2022, I’m trying to find a replacement even if that means using 10 different applications to do what Notion can do. There are other issues with it though.

Another issue is that, you cannot use an Apple Pencil (or anything like an Apple Pencil) to “scribble” and write out notes. That feature is not included in Notion. The reason why is because the iOS, Windows PC App, and Android app are all shells displaying the browser version of the app. Meaning if you visit notion.so in your browser and use it there, you get the exact same experience as you do with the app downloaded onto your device, regardless of what device it is. While this can be good in some ways, it causes a lot of issues, one being the lag, and another being the missing of the “scribble” feature.

Notion is not all bad though. It is the one place I have found to easily store jobs I have applied to. Until I started using Notion again the beginning of December, I thought I was applying at least to 30 jobs a week, then when I added all of the jobs I have applied to from November into Notion, I realized I was barely doing 10 a week. I am able to see that in a calendar style, as you can see below. Right now it is only displaying the last week of December but you can see in the top right (under ‘new”) I can change the date that it shows. You can see I also created other “views” so I can view all of my outstanding applications, my denied applications (either they didn’t get back to me or denied me for whatever reason), as well as everything in a calendar view (like the one displayed) or in a list view.

Notion screen with calendar view.

As you can see Notion has some pretty cool features. It is a unique note-taking system and you can see the same data you have in a database in multiple different ways.

You can pay for Personal Pro or if you have a student email address, you can get Personal Pro for free. I used my student email before it was removed from their system (takes a few years after you graduate) and I have Personal Pro free for life. Personal pro is cheaper than Evernote at $5/month but not as cheap as Google Keep or OneNote which are free.

OneNote

OneNote home screen view.

OneNote is a very versatile piece of software. It is something I keep coming back to over and over again. It works with scribbling, it can solve math equations while providing the steps and the ability to scroll infinitely to the right and bottom means that I can make my pages as unique as I’d like. I can write on top of images, tables, and more. Plus, it comes pre-built into Windows PCs for free with no need to purchase an Office365 subscription. There are a few downsides though.

OneNote Web Clipper only works on PC/MacOS not on iOS/iPadOS.

OneNote web clipper screenshot.

I recently found out about the web clipper and tested it out today, it works amazingly well on PC. It takes a screenshot of the page, includes a link to the page and the title of the page as well as any notes I decide to include. In the screenshot I have above, you can see I was taking a “web clip” as an “article” from this “add a new post” link within WordPress. I could have also saved, just a full page screenshot, just a region of the page as a screenshot or saved it as a bookmark which does as I stated earlier, takes a screenshot, includes a link back to where that screenshot came from and includes the title of the page.

It is very versatile but for whatever reason, this is not possible to use on iOS/iPad OS. I can use the share sheet to share to OneNote which works fine, it just doesn’t share a screenshot though it seems like it should as you can see below.

Sharing to OneNote on my iPad Pro.

As you can see under “note” it shows a blank screen and then the URL. Usually a screenshot would appear there but it is not and stopped for no good reason. This is annoying, not the end of the world as I can share a screenshot to OneNote but that leads me to my next problem.

Each time you share something to OneNote, it creates a separate page.

Sometimes I want to add something to a previous note and to do that, I have to share to OneNote, open OneNote, copy/cut the items from the new page it created and then paste them into the existing note. While this isn’t the end of the world, it is certainly very annoying and counter-productive. It ads to the steps I have to do and as someone who gets easily distracted, anything with additional steps could lead to be getting completely off-topic.

Also, if I want to share something personal to OneNote, I cannot lock the note. Meaning anything personal is just sitting there for prying eyes to see. I do have my Microsoft Account locked with 2FA but that is not fool-proof. Evernote, Apple Notes, and others have ways to lock notes so that you can keep them away from prying eyes. While that isn’t fool-proof either, it does lower the chance that someone sees and accesses the note that is secured.

Sync issues are common between Microsoft’s servers and my iPad/iPhone or even PC.

The issues with syncing are purely aesthetic, I have found. By that I mean, it says “working offline” or “an error has occurred” but when I access the note from my PC or iPhone it is fully synced or in the process of syncing.

Syncing is also pretty slow between devices.

Where as it is faster with Evernote, Simplenote, Google Keep, and even Notion with all its lag issues is faster. So if you are someone who is impatient, OneNote may not be for you.

Evernote

Evernote Screenshots.

While I haven’t used Evernote since they went to a subscription model, I did use it and I have watched a lot of videos on it. I know it does look better than OneNote but has similar features. You can share to it, you can create to dos, you can create tables and much more. The one feature this has that OneNote does not is the ability to lock notes. Though that doesn’t negate the cons it has…

To start off, if you want unlimited devices associated with Evernote, you have to pay at least $7.99/month. This is different from most of the other options that are free. Evernote really limits what you can do on the free plan. You can only have 2 devices associated with your account, your note size can only be 25mb and you can upload 60mb worth of uploads per month. If you want to do much of anything, you have to pay for the service.

Other than that, Evernote is very cluttered. Your “home” is a list of your notes on the right with recent notes on the center. It is nice having the shortcuts but at the same time, I’d rather get straight into the notes, not have to click around to find my notes.

Evernote home screen.

You can customize what you see on the home screen but it still won’t lead you directly to the notes you want.

Google Keep

Google Keep home screen.

This is a completely free service to use and gives you unlimited storage and notes. You can add labels to notes and create reminders from the notes. I know some people that use Keep religiously. I haven’t used it in over a year because I just see them as sticky notes instead of note pages like the other services. It is nice when you want to take quick notes on something. It does sync insanely quick between devices.

Scribble does not work.

You cannot use an Apple Pencil or anything like it to write out notes in Google Keep. It is like Sticky Notes on Windows PCs.

There really isn’t much to say about it because of how simple the look and functionality of it is. Though it isn’t as simple as Simplenote though.

Simplenote

Simplenotes home screen.

Simplenote is just that, a simple note taking application. You have your notes on the left and you can add tags to each of your notes at the bottom of the page to link notes together and you can use Markdown on the notes. I find Markdown easier to use than WSIWYG editors, especially on mobile, but that doesn’t mean Simplenote is all good.

“Scribble” and features like that are not available on Simplenote.

You can write out words on Simplenote but you cannot scribble hearts, boxes, etc. You are limited on what you can add to your notes in this way.

Simplenotes can only scroll up and down, not left and right.

That makes you very limited in how you write your notes. It has to be text and it can only be written from top to bottom of the page. Whereas with OneNote, things can be anywhere on the page.

Simple notes are nice sometimes but other times, you want to be able to draw/write/and doodle all over the page. You can’t do that with Simplenotes.

Apple Notes

Apple Notes on iPad Pro.

Apple Notes is perfect on iPad/iPhone/MacOS but sucks HORRIBLY on Windows PC/Any Browser. You are extremely limited in the features that you get via the PC. I like how Notes allows for the Apple Pencil and Scribble. I like how well it works in combination with any app on the Apple’s hardware. It has nice colors and the notes work just as they should.

You can only scroll up and down.

This may be a good or bad thing, depending on how you use notes. I don’t like it personally as I find myself running out of room and my notes look crazy.

You cannot write on top of text.

If you write something out with text like this, you cannot write on top of text or point arrows to the right of the text or anything like that. The text blocks and writing blocks are separate and cannot overlap. This may be a good or bad thing.

Windows PC/Browser version is severely gimped.

By that I mean, on Windows PC version is missing a lot of features. You have to use it from the browser as there is no application for it on Windows. You can see below how it looks and all the features you have. If you use PC and an iPhone/iPad you can use Apple Notes but you are severely limited on PC/Browser.

Apple Notes on Browser/Windows PC.

What notes application do I use?

I have tried all of the above ones and settled on using OneNote for my notes and Notion for my Job Applications and Read Later saved links. OneNote is the one that has the best features vs price (free) as well as has the most reliable notes. If I have anything I need to store securely I will either use Apple Notes or a physical piece of paper. Notion is good for Job Application as it has the 3rd party extension for Chromium browsers that saves the link and clips the page content and I store it in a database that shows the date for when I applied and I can keep a record for if they rejected me and in the comments I can say why. It helps me stay organized and know when I am applying and where I am applying so I can contact those places.

The read later database I have is useful because I can just share links from the iOS share sheet to it so I can access it on my PC or iPad later and the way the databases work/look/etc. works best for my needs when it comes to saving links.

What notes application do you use? Do you agree with the points I made?

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