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The Best Note-taking Apps for Android and Windows

Need to organize your thoughts? Give these apps a closer look.

Aha! You just had a lightning bolt moment and solved a problem that’s been teasing your brain all day. You don’t want to lose that thought. When you pull out your phone, what’s the most natural app that’ll help you jot down your idea before it slips away?
There’s no such thing as a one-size-fits-all note-taking app: Everyone thinks differently and has different requirements tied to how they work. Do you prefer a bare-bones app that records your ideas in plain text? Or do you think in images or graphs that you can quickly build or insert? Do you have a shortlist of must-have features? Is price an issue? Are your notes for your eyes only, or do you share them in meetings and collaborate on them with coworkers?
Whichever app you choose, you need make sure that it flows with your note-taking style and makes it easy to record your moments of brilliance (or just the to-do items from your morning). Here are three we think are worth a try.

Best note-taking app for Android

If you use a HP Chromebook, an Android phone, or you’re just knee-deep in Google apps at work, Google’s free app is one of the best bets you might not have tried yet.
Key features
  • The Keep widget: Add this always-on widget to the main screen of your Android phone, which allows you to glance at your notes even when you’re not in the app.
  • Text-from-images transcription: Keep leverages Google’s AI powers to conveniently scan images and convert them into text that you can edit or search for later.
  • Note dictation: Now that everyone is using voice assistants, this seems like a natural feature that most note-taking apps should have. If you’re driving, exercising, or in some other situation where your thumbs are otherwise occupied, just dictate your idea and Keep will turn it into a note you can search and edit.
  • Google Docs synergy: Google makes it simple for you to share Keep across documents. You can create a Google Doc out of your note in one touch.
  • Collaboration: You can share notes with others and watch them view and edit in real time, just like you can in other Google files.
How much does Google Keep cost? It’s free.

Best note-taking app for Windows

Microsoft’s OneNote is often compared to the 800-pound heavyweight among note-taking apps: Evernote. While they are similar in many respects, only OneNote integrates into the Office ecosystem. There’s also a price difference: Evernote’s business tier is $12/month per user, whereas OneNote comes with the Office 365 subscription you already have.
Key features
  • A stylus-friendly app: OneNote is particularly well-suited to use with smart pens. You can use your HP Pen to draw, take notes (which can be converted to text later) and edit your old ones.
  • A familiar Office layout: OneNote’s menu bar looks a lot like Microsoft Word. You can insert things like Excel tables or lists from your Outlook email, and you can present your notes to others in a style similar to PowerPoint. You can collaborate with coworkers the way you do in other Office apps, too.
  • Image-to-text transcription: Like Google Keep, OneNote is good at pulling text off of images that you can insert into your notes.
  • Distraction-free options: OneNote has lots of pretty color-coded organizational tags, but if you just want to focus you can choose Reading View instead. Another option, Immersive Reader, will read a note aloud if you need to look away from your screen.
  • Office-exclusive features: When you use OneNote in conjunction with your Office 365 subscription you’ll unlock a handful of bonus features, including a Researcher tool and a Math Assistant. For tech pros, the most useful of the bunch is Replay: It’s an animated instant-replay for your sketches, letting you rewind and replay ink strokes that you made with your stylus as a visual demonstration for others.
How much does Microsoft OneNote cost?
The app is free on its own and also comes bundled with Office 365. Standalone OneNote gets 5GB of space on OneDrive; with Office it gets 1TB.

Best note-taking app for secure notes

Nearly half of all data breaches involve small businesses, according to a recent study. If your notes involve sensitive information, you may want to choose a note-taking app that puts security above everything else.
Key features
  • End-to-end privacy: Standard Notes pairs a streamlined interface with password protected notes that only you can decrypt.
  • An open-source app: The code is public and transparent so you can see how your data’s being handled step by step.
  • No tracking or ads: Don’t like Google Analytics following your notes and targeting ads to you? This app doesn’t have any of that.
  • A premium tier worth investing in: The bare-bones free tier isn’t much more than a text editor. The Extended plan lets you download dozens of add-ons, access 11 different editors, nest folders, and access their “infinite undo” feature (which allows you to look at every previous version of your note back to when it was created).
  • Encrypted syncing: You can also enable sync between the app and your Dropbox, Google Drive or Microsoft OneDrive.
How much does Standard Notes cost? The basic tier is free; the Extended plan is $4.17/month ($49.99 billed annually).
Jot down your thoughts on the HP Elite Dragonfly. Four versatile use modes let you get work done, take notes, share content, and present your ideas easily.
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