Librarians enjoy collecting notes and building a catalog of useful resources. They benefit from a notes app that provides a straightforward structure and allows for easy retrieval of their notes to support their projects and goals.
Recommended app: Evernote or Microsoft OneNote
The student doesn’t have a strong preference for any of these archetypes. Their notes serve a clear purpose that’s often based on a short-term priority (e.g, writing a paper or passing a test), with the goal to “get it done” as simply as possible.
Recommended app: Apple Notes or Google Keep
Choosing a notes app is a bit like looking for a romantic partner. The one person that is perfect in every way doesn’t exist. You have to make compromises. Similarly, there‘s no perfect tool that will fulfill every need you have. Remember that your notetaking app is just one part of the digital ecosystem that is your Second Brain. You can and will work with other apps as part of your system.
For now, don’t worry about what you think you might need from your notes app a year from now. Choose the app you can get started with right now with the least hassle. What’s important is that you start practicing the principles and habits you’ve learned in Building a Second Brain. It’s likely that you’ll switch at some point in the future to another tool as your priorities and needs change.
Yes, trying new technology is exciting and fun. You hear about a new upcoming app and immediately think of switching because you might like the interface more or it promises new features. But we recommend sticking with a notes app for at least a few months until you’ve understood how it works and whether it meets your needs. You can and should allow yourself time to play with new products, but make sure they meet a high bar before switching over.
These are the notes apps that come pre-installed on your operating system (e.g., iOS, Windows, Google).
These apps allow you to store, read, and highlight ebooks. Often, you can then export these highlights to your notes app using a tool like Readwise.
These apps make it easy to keep track of all of your to-dos in one place. They often allow you to organize your to-dos in different ways and add deadlines and reminders.
These apps can record voice memos and transcribe them as text that can then be imported into your notes app.
These apps connect different tools and help notes and information flow between them.
These apps allow you to capture written notes and save other kinds of content (e.g., images, attachments, audio notes, handwritten notes). Typically, you can organize your notes within folders, by linking them together, and/or adding tags.
These apps allow you to save content from around the internet (e.g., online articles, newsletters) for distraction-free consumption on your own time. They often include features to highlight certain passages and import those highlights into your notes app.
These apps are extensions for your web browser that allow you to save content from the web (e.g., bookmarks, complete webpages, screenshots) and save them in your notes app.
These apps help you manage complex projects with multiple collaborators. They often include a dedicated place for taking notes and storing information related to projects.
These apps allow you to read and annotate PDF documents.
Last updated: April 22, 2022
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