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Note Taking: Software



Evernote is a free* note-taking application that can be used via the web or using a client for computer or mobile devices. You can use it to type notes,  capture audio notes, and upload documents to your account; the company allows other software developers to work with it  and as a result has many other software packages that will sync notes and documents with Evernote.

*the basic account is free, but there's a traffic limit. IF you do a lot of syncing of large audio and video files to your Evernote account, you may be encouraged to upgrade to a paid plan.

Microsoft OneNote

As part of the Office suite of tools, OneNote has a native Windows client, but also allows you to work online via a account. If you have an iPad, iPhone, iPod touch, or Android device, there's also a free app that syncs with Microsoft's servers, allowing you access to your OneNote notebooks.


Springpad is similar to Evernote in many respects. There's a web-based client and apps for Apple's iOS-based devices and Android. Notes sync to the cloud, and you can store typed notes, audio and video files, and more. You can also make your notebooks public, if you feel like sharing.

Using a Laptop

Laptop Pros

  • You can easily connect to course materials found in online environments such as Desire2Learn and Blackboard
  • Printed notes are usually easier to read than handwritten notes
  • It is easier to integrate digitally-typed notes (i.e. from lecture and textbook) than to combine handwritten notes
  • Digital text is searchable on a computer
  • Digital notes can be easily sent by email
  • You have fewer pieces of paper to maintain and organize
  • Computer software, such as Microsoft OneNote (Windows) or Notebook Layout, provides a variety of tools for formatting text in lecture notes
  • View in Microsoft Word (Mac) can help to record and organize your notes as well as manage multiple digital resources (e.g., PowerPoint slides, images, pdfs)

Laptop Cons

  • If you have problems concentrating in class, a laptop is a very tempting source of distractions
  • Laptops can be difficult to use in some classrooms, especially those with small flip-up desktops
  • In some problem-based courses, it may be easier to do problems and draw diagrams by hand than on a laptop
  • You have to remember to charge the battery if your classroom has no access to electrical outlets
  • If your computer breaks down (and you have no backup or printouts), you may have lost notes

Note Taking Apps


The app is designed around using a stylus or finger to write or draw on very realistic looking notebooks. You can have as many notebooks as you want. The app also has a great technology to detect your wrist. The app does its best to avoid having your wrist input lines. You can send any notebook off in an email as a PDF document. The app currently has black, dark grey, light grey, blue, green, and red ink. You may also choose between a thin, medium, or thick styled pen. You may also choose between graph paper, lined paper, or plain paper. 

Note Taker HD

Note Taker HD is very similar to Penultimate. The app does one really cool thing. It will actually reduce your handwriting to a more normal size. One of the challenges of using handwriting based input on the iPad is that often it is hard to write small.  This app aims to fix that problem with an automatic resizing of your handwriting. The app fully supports video output for sharing your notes in a presentation. The app also supports AirPrint and sharing into other apps such as Evernote.

Awesome Note

Awesome Note provides a ton of great features. The biggest benefit of using this app is the syncing options. The app can sync with Evernote and Google Docs! The app can also insert images, maps, and drawings all in the same note. The app also includes a to-do list, in app calendar, customized notes (icons, fonts, themes), passcode protection, email notes from within the app, Bluetooth note transfer, and AirPrint support. The app is fast and simple to use. The app is great for organizing. Each note can be saved into different categories. The app also has folders that you can put your notes into. You are able to set due dates, repeating tasks, and prioritize tasks. 


Notability aims to become the best note taking app for iOS. The app features synced audio like in AudioNote. The app also features multiple fonts, colors, styles, and sizes. The notes can include photos, figures, and webpages. The text will automatically wrap around these objects. The goal of the app is to be a time saving app. The app also features uploading a PDF form of your note to Dropbox. The app also includes fast app switching and AirPrint support.