Simple Note Taking Apps

gift_ideasSimple is often best. At least, I think so when it comes to making notes. Note taking programs are amongst my most frequently-used apps on my desktop, laptop, and tablet computers as well as on my cell phone. I typically use them several times a day. Best of all, when I create a note on any of my devices, it automatically gets copied to all the other devices. As a result, I always have my notes with me all the time. (I never leave home without the cell phone.)

I use two such apps frequently:

  • When I am sitting in the audience at a genealogy conference, taking notes while listening to an expert talk about a topic I am interested in.
  • When I discover something new about an ancestor in an old record of some sort, in a book, or even in someone else’s claims in a web site. I want to record the information now so that I can verify it later before entering the information into my favorite genealogy program. The note taking apps serve as “temporary storage.”
  • Measuring the windows at home for new curtains.
  • Creating a shopping list during the week before visiting the grocery store.
  • Remembering which inkjet cartridge my printer requires for my next visit to an office supply store.
  • Airline reservations.
  • And a lot more…

Of the two products I use, neither one has much security beyond simple user names and passwords. There is no encryption involved; all data is copied from one device to another as plain text. I wouldn’t hesitate to use either of these products for non-security purposes, such as the measurements of windows at home for new curtains or my stuffed mushrooms recipe. However, I would not use either of these products for storing any sensitive information, such as credit card numbers, bank account info, my winning lottery ticket number, or anything else that I wish to keep private. You never know who has tapped into your Internet connection.

My favorite note taking app is SimpleNote. It lives up to its name. SimpleNote is available FREE OF CHARGE for iOS (iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch), Android, Macintosh, Windows, and Linux. You can also access it any time online by simply opening a web browser and going to The web version also works well on a Chromebook. Your notes stay updated across all your devices whenever an Internet connection is available. No buttons to press. It just works.


With SimpleNote, you can find notes quickly with instant searching and simple tags. You can also share notes and lists quickly and easily.

You can learn more about SimpleNote

My second favorite simple note taking app is Google Keep. It is also available FREE OF CHARGE. You will need a Google user name and password to use it.


Google Keep has excellent reminders. For example, you can set a location-based reminder to pull up your grocery list as you arrive at the store. Need to finish a to-do item? Set a time-based reminder to make sure you never miss a thing.

You also can share your shopping list with your spouse or other family members on Keep and watch as items get checked off the list in real time by family members. There is no need for text messages back and forth. Google Keep helps everyone in the family get things done together, faster.

Google Keep is a bit fancier looking than SimpleNote. Notes are entered in colors, looking a bit like the multi-colored sticky notes you can purchase at office supply stores. You can quickly filter and search for notes by color and other attributes, such as lists with images or audio notes with reminders, or you can just see shared notes.

You also can paste photos and audio notes into Google Keep. As a result of all this, Google Keep strikes me as having more features than SimpleNote. For this very reason it is a bit more complicated to use, something that you will notice when standing in a crowd and trying to enter a note or trying to retrieve an older note quickly.

Google Keep is available for iOS (iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch), Android, Macintosh, and Windows, and it, too, can be accessed at any time online by simply opening a web browser. The web version also works well on a Chromebook. This is another app where your notes stay updated across all your devices. No buttons to press. It just works.

There is no Linux version of Google Keep, but at least one user has found a way to install the Android version on a Ubuntu Linux system. See for details.

You can learn more about Google Keep at

Neither of these products is designed to compete against the high-powered (and complex) note-taking products such as Evernote or OneNote. Then again, the name of one is SIMPLEnote and the other one is almost as simple to use as well. That’s the beauty of these two apps: simplicity. If you need a more sophisticated app, you need to look for a more complex product.

I use both SimpleNote and Evernote most every day. I use SimpleNote for the quick and easy and mostly short-term notes to be saved for a few days, maybe a couple of weeks. An example is the grocery shopping list. Evernote works better when I need to store thousands of notes for years and years and especially when notes contain images, audio files, video files, PDF files, and more.

Take a look at these apps. If you start using one or the other, you will never again ask yourself, “Where did I put that note?”

One Comment

Even simpler, I use for my PC, MAC and iPhone. And they’re all sharing the same info. And free. Jim O.


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