The 12 Best Online Note Taking Tools Around Today

Spike Team
By Spike Team, August 12, 2020, 14 min read
online notes free

There are plenty of options to choose from when it comes to taking a note online. Whether it’s an all bells and whistles productivity suite or the simplest of memo apps, there’s a wealth of different ways to get your thoughts down and develop your big ideas when online. However, not all online notes apps were created equal, and choosing the right app for your needs can be a challenge.

 

We’re here to help you out! Whether you need a quick and simple notepad and editor for personal use, or you’re collaborating on a big project and you need the ultimate note-taking app, you’ll find what you’re looking for right here. Read on to discover the best online note-taking tools around today and start turning those ideas into reality!

 

 

Spike Collaborative Notes

Apple Notes alternatives - Spike screenshot

 

Hmmm…where should we start? Well, with Spike Notes of course. Notes is the best online note-taking tool around—and here’s why. Spike Notes delivers advanced note-taking features that are collaborative by nature. You can quickly and safely share text, images, files, videos, and any other ideas together in a single Note, both with Spike users in the app and non-spike users with a link.

 

And the best part? It’s all directly integrated with your Inbox, so you can focus on getting your work done without constantly switching apps! All your thoughts, ideas, and plans are on the same screen, and you can discuss everything with team members without ever opening another app or switching to a web browser. Finally, it’s also available on all your favorite devices, so you can take Spike Notes wherever you go.

 

Spike Pricing

Personal – Free

Solo – $12 per account/month, billed annually

Team – $8 per account/month, billed annually

Business – $7 per account/month, billed annually 

 

Spike’s Pros

  • Create and edit collaborative Notes directly within your Inbox
  • Use text, images, videos, tables, emojis,
  • Comment and discuss your Notes and their individual elements with inline chat
  • Available on all your devices (iOS, Android, MacOS, Windows, Web Browser)

 

Spike’s Cons

  • No free draw on notes
  • No voice notes (but you can drag an audio file into the note!)

 

VERDICT — The best collaborative note-taking app around!  

 

Create collaborative notes and edit docs without leaving your Inbox

Primapad

Primapad online notes taker

 

One of the simplest and easiest to use online memo pads on our list, Primapad does the basics very well. Simply name your notepad, make your notes, and then use the provided URL to access the note from any web browser—anywhere, any time. Everything is saved automatically in the cloud and its pure simplicity means it’s a great free online note-taking option.

 

However, while it’s good for text notes, it misses advanced functionality such as the option to add images, tables, and other rich media; plus, organizing and sharing notes is only done through the URL, meaning there’s no centralized hub for reference.

 

Primapad Pricing

Primapad is free to use, without any upgrades or premium packages. 

 

Primapad’s Pros

  • Simple to use in your web browser
  • Easily shareable, although limited functionality
  • It’s free! 

 

Primapad’s Cons

  • Misses advanced functionality
  • No good organization 
  • No real collaboration 

 

VERDICT — Good for text-only notes through a web browser

 

 

ClickUp Notepad

cliclup free online note

 

For a more advanced approach to online note-taking, ClickUp Notepad does the job admirably. It features a wealth of features including to-do lists, spreadsheets, events and reminders, goal tracking, time tracking, and project management tools. It puts some seriously powerful online noting-taking tools at your fingertips.

 

However, while the standard version is free, it’s only with the paid version that you get guest and permission functionality and unlimited integrations. Additionally, while it integrates with apps such as Slack and Zoom, there’s no instant chat or comments option built-in.

 

ClickUp Pricing

Free Forever – Free 

Unlimited – $5 per account/month, billed annually

Business – $9 per account/month, billed annually

Business Plus – $19 per account/month, billed annually

Enterprise – Custom Pricing 

 

ClickUp’s Pros

  • Advanced note taking with tables, images, and to-do lists
  • Part of a more comprehensive productivity platform

 

ClickUp’s Cons

  • Free version is limited
  • Very steep learning curve
  • To make the most of ClickUp, you need to move your entire workflow there

 

VERDICT — Great for complex notes but only works through a web browser

 

 

  

Speechnotes

Speechnotes onlie note taking

 

If you’re looking for a free online notes app to give your fingers a rest, then Speechnotes is worth a try. A free notepad app with speech2text functionality, the simple and intuitive layout makes for easy recording of your thoughts and ideas, and the included text idea gives you the opportunity to clean them up and expand.   

 

You can print, save, and send your notes and listen back to them for proofreading or other tasks. You can even insert simple emoticons! However, there’s no support for advanced note-taking and the send function only works if you have a pre-existing email client set up on your computer.

 

Speechnotes Pricing

Basic – Speechnotes normal product is free to use

Premium – $9 per year (single user)

 

Speechnotes’ Pros

  • Ideal for taking down audio notes through your microphone
  • It’s free

 

Speechnotes’ Cons

  • Clunky user interface
  • Limited sharing features
  • No advanced note-taking elements

 

VERDICT — Ideal for speech2text but otherwise pretty basic

 

 

  

SimpleNote

simplenote online notes taker

 

SimpleNote does exactly what it says on the tin, giving you an intuitive text note-taking app on ALL devices—even Linux machines! Notes are connected through the cloud to ensure they are updated on all devices, and you can stay organized by adding searchable tags. Sharing is also simple, and you can work on to-do lists, post comments, or publish notes online.

 

However, once again, this functionality is limited to text-only notes, and there’s no support for advanced elements such as images, tables, or other useful formatting tools. Finally, there’s no way to chat about your notes in the app itself, meaning you’ll still need some kind of communications app on top.

 

SimpleNote Pricing

SimpleNote is free to use on any device.

 

SimpleNote’s Pros

  • Cloud storage for notes
  • Commenting and editing functions
  • Works on all devices

 

SimpleNote’s Cons

  • Lack of advanced features 
  • Text-only notes
  • Not integrated chat 

 

VERDICT — Ideal if you’re a Linux user

 

 

  

Google Keep

Google Keep online notes taker

 

Google’s suite of productivity apps are no stranger to these kinds of list, and Google Keep is also pretty popular and recognizable to anyone who uses the company’s other tools. However, its highly visual approach to note-taking means it’s a great online notes app, and dedicated apps for iPhone and Android also mean its travels well.

 

However, while Google has been busy making separate apps of all kinds, they’re just that—separate apps!  If you want to send a note, you’ll need to open Google Mail. If you want to work on a table, you’ll need to use Sheets. And all this app switching slowly eats into your focus and flow-limiting your productivity when all you really wanted to do was take a quick note! Additionally, text markup and editing can be awkward with Keep, meaning that, while it’s great for simple notes and to-do lists, advanced note-taking is more hassle than it’s worth.

 

Google Keep Pricing

Google Keep is a free tool for anyone with a Google account. The only time that you would need to pay is if you used all your notes storage and needed more.  

 

Google Keep’s Pros

  • Familiar to Google users
  • Included with Google Docs Editors suite

 

Google Keep’s Cons

  • Limited functionality for advanced elements
  • Awkward management of many apps ruins flow
  • Markup and commenting are clunky

 

VERDICT — Limited note-taking abilities and requires constant app switching

 

 

  

Evernote — Expensive “Free” Note-taking App

Evernote online notes taker

 

Evernote has been one of the most popular note-taking apps of the last decade, regularly being cited as the archetypal way to write notes online. On a fundamental level, you can easily add graphically pleasing notes, add lists, images, and files, and the user interface has become a standard for other advanced note-taking apps.

 

However, while the free version gives you some advanced note-taking features, such as images, PDFs, and files, it’s not until you pay for the premium version that you get the really useful stuff. Additionally, there are no collaborative features with the free version, nor the Premium package, and you’ll have to sign up for the fully loaded Business package to share your notes within the app itself—which can become pretty expensive.

 

Evernote Pricing

Free – $0

Personal – $5.83 per account/month, billed annually

Professional – $8.33 per account/month, billed annually

Evernote Teams – $14.99 per account/month, billed annually

 

Evernote’s Pros

  • Supports advanced note-taking elements
  • Very popular

 

Evernote’s Cons

  • Free version is very limited, only really useful for personal use
  • Paid versions are expensive
  • Stagnant development

 

VERDICT — Free version is limited and very quickly becomes expensive

 

 

   

Notion

alternative to evernote

 

Notion blends note-taking with project management, mainly through the inclusion of Kanban boards (you’ll know them from Trello). In addition to text, Notion notes allow for images, bookmarks, videos, code, and more as well as the ability to drag and drop information within a note. Notes can then be organized in various ways, such as through the use of tags. 

 

In order to facilitate collaboration, Notion offers the ability to share notes with team members or publicly. This is in addition to collaborative editing and inline notes. However, while Notion does collaborative note-taking well, this is all it does, meaning you’ll have to open up different apps too, for example, message and call team members, meaning constant app switching. 

 

Notion Pricing

Notion offers four packages:

Personal – Free 

Personal Pro – $4 per month, billed annually

Team – $8 per user/month, billed annually

Enterprise – Custom Pricing 

 

Notion’s Pros

 

Notion’s Cons

  • Only useful for notes
  • The free version is limited 
  • Can be time-consuming to set up for a team

 

VERDICT — Good note-taking choice but requires switching for other productivity tools. 

 

 

   

Microsoft OneNote

OneNote screenshot for Apple Notes alternatives

 

The note-taking app from Microsoft, OneNote has been on the market for almost 20 years, making it one of the most vintage note-taking solutions around (only slightly younger than a pen and paper, some say). That said, it is rich in features, such as hand drawing and image text-extraction, and comes with a comprehensive organization system.

 

If you’re using OneNote for note-taking, then you’ll probably have to switch to the other Microsoft apps for other tasks (Teams for Chat and Calls, Onedrive for storage, etc). This means that even if all your tools are in the same ecosystem, each will still require its own standalone app. 

 

Microsoft OneNote Pricing

OneNote is free for anyone with a Microsoft account, including free accounts such as an outlook.com email. There are some extra features for paid Microsoft 365 accounts, which for business include:

 

Microsoft 365 Business Basic – $5 per account/month, billed annually

Microsoft 365 Business Standard – $12.50 per account/month, billed annually

Microsoft 365 Business Premium – $20 per account/month, billed annually

 

Microsoft OneNote’s Pros

  • Powerful features, such as hand-drawn notes
  • Good free version without much need to upgrade
  • Comprehensive organization system

 

Microsoft OneNote’s Cons

  • You have to have another separate account just for your notes if you don’t already have a Microsoft account
  • Only notes which means app-switching for other tasks
  • Can be complicated and clunky 

 

VERDICT — Good option if you’re already in the Microsoft ecosystem 

 

 

   

Roam Research

 

Roam is a note-taking tool aimed at long-form research and is one of the most recent products on our list to hit the market, launching in 2019. What differentiates this note-taking app from others is that notes and ideas are connected in a network, rather than a traditional hierarchical organizational structure

 

The app is only for note-taking, and text notes at that, but its filing structure may suit some users’ workflows. It is also in its early days, so we might see changes, improvements, and additional features in the years to come. 

 

Roam Research Pricing 

There are currently two pricing packages for Roam:

Pro – $13.75 per account/month, billed annually

Believer – $500 for five years 

 

Roam Research’s Pros

  • Available on Windows, Mac, and Linux machines
  • Alternative organization system

 

Roam Research’s Cons

  • Some of the features (such as the graphs) hinder rather than help due to their complexity
  • Only text notes
  • Very expensive for a note-only app compared with other options 

 

VERDICT — An interesting idea, but limited in features and expensive for only notes. 

 

 

   

Bear

Bear notes screenshot for Apple Notes alternatives

 

Bear is a note-taking app available on iPhone, iPad, and Mac, which allows notes to be organized in a relatively traditional filing system as well as linked to one another to create a networked body of work. 

 

It is highly customizable with multiple themes and offers an advanced markup editor for formatted text as you write. It supports inline media apart from text, but lacks any sort of collaborative tools, making it nice for personal notes, but not much use for teams. 

 

Bear Pricing 

Bear offers its basic features for free, but there are two Pro account options:

Monthly – $1.49 per month, for one user

Yearly – $14.99 per year, for one user

 

Bear’s Pros

  • Powerful markup features
  • You can use Face/Touch ID to encrypt private notes
  • Cross-linking between notes to connect ideas

 

Bear’s Cons

  • Only available on Apple devices
  • No collaborative tools
  • Can only sync notes with premium
  • Only notes, meaning you’ll keep switching apps

 

VERDICT — Solid, simple note-taking for Apple users. Not any use for collaboration.

 

 

   

Apple Notes

 

Apple Notes comes as standard with Apple products and is a basic note taking program that allows for short notes to be synced across devices. There are some formatting capabilities, such as headings, tables, and different colored text, but it is primarily a simple text app. 

 

You can share notes with other users for some basic collaboration or lock more sensitive notes with a password (the same password for all notes). The iOS version allows for freehand sketching, which can be viewed but not created on Macs. 

 

Apple Notes Pricing

Apple Notes is free for MacOS or iOS users unless the 5GB data cap is hit on the associated iCloud account, in which case an upgrade is required. 

 

Apple Notes’ Pros

  • It comes with Apple products so no need to get other software
  • Password-protected notes allow for a level of privacy 

 

Apple Notes’ Cons

  • It’s only on Apple products
  • Limited in features 
  • Not well developed collaborative features 

 

VERDICT — Useful for the personal notes of Apple users, otherwise lacking business features 

 

By and large, when it comes to taking simple, personal notes, any of the apps listed above will do the job. However, when it comes to truly collaborative note taking that includes multiple text and visual elements, alongside a seamless workflow integrated directly within your Inbox, then Spike has got everything you need, and more!

 

Test out the Spike Notes today and download the app here. Alternatively for the latest productivity and collaboration news, tips, and tricks, stay tuned to the Spike blog or drop us a message @SpikeNowHQ.

 

Updated 01/29/2022 

FAQs About the Best Online Note Taking Tools

If you’re an Apple user and you don’t require advanced functions or collaborative tools, Apple Notes will work just fine. If you’re looking for a more comprehensive free note taking tool, however, then take the time to check out some alternatives, such as Spike. 

As with many things, the best way to structure notes is the way that works for you. This could be in simple folders, linked together, or as part of a network of ideas. Whatever makes sense to you is the right option, and there are apps out there to match your workflow. 

To answer that question, you need to list out what you need it for. Are you looking to jot down your personal thoughts and ideas? Well then, the local note app on your computer or phone will probably suffice. Are you looking to take your productivity, work, and time management to the next level? It’s time to find an online note app. 

Spike Team
Spike Team The Spike team posts about productivity, time management, and the future of email, messaging and collaboration.

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