5 Best and Free Note-Taking Apps for Windows 10

Best Note-Taking Apps for Windows 10
Best Note-Taking Apps for Windows 10

From those paper-based notebooks to note-taking apps, note-taking has been in use for a long time. Today, there are enormous tools out there, but only a few always get to the top. So, here is an article covering those few best and free note-taking apps for Windows 10/11.

Completely free

Zoho Notebook

Zoho Notebook Overview

Pros: Desktop app | Rich text editing | Synchronisation | Integrations | Web clipper
Cons: None

The first app, which is probably the best note-taking app for Windows, is Zoho Notebooks. With several features and rich editing options, it is an all-in-one app. It offers below rich text editing tools:

  • Bold, italicise, underline, and strikethrough text
  • Add background colour to text
  • Text alignment
  • Text indent
  • Unordered and ordered lists
  • Checklists
  • Hyperlinks
  • Add photos
  • Add separators
  • Tables
  • Quotes
  • Add code blocks

The app is available on most of the platforms and syncs data with your account. Some other noticeable features of Zoho Notes are:

  • Spell check (Zia spell check assistant)
  • Reminders
  • Change the note background colour
  • Collaborate
  • Share note
  • Save a note in ZNote, ZIP, and PDF formats
  • See notes’ history
  • Password protect notes
  • Print notes
  • Merge notes
  • Add tags
  • Search for text in notes
  • Drawing notes
  • Audio notes
  • Integrations (Slack, Google Workspace, Zoho Mail etc.)

Furthermore, it comes with a web clipper that screenshot the whole page, a part of the page, or the focused area. You can also save the content part of the page. Here is a video to see the web clipper in action.

All the mentioned features are without any price tag or any commitments. Zoho Notebook can be installed from the Windows Store or their website.

Keep Notes

Google Keep Desktop Overview

Pros: Synchronisation | Multiple note types | Web clipper
Cons: Browser-based | No rich text | No note-type mixes

Google Keep is a simple browser-based app from Google. It can be accessed by going to keep.google.com in your browser. What makes Keep one of the best apps for Windows is its user interface. You find the search bar on the top with a text field to add a new note. The tool supports the below note types on Windows:

  1. Text
  2. Image
  3. Checklist
  4. Drawing

Other options include adding people to collaborate on a note, pinning notes to the top, converting notes to Google Docs files, and adding labels to separate notes. Furthermore, it suggests the grocery items while adding items to your shopping list (example).

One of the downsides of Keep is that to install the app, you either need Google Chrome or Microsoft Edge because the company has not provided a native desktop app. Another drawback is that it does not support some note types in a single note. For example, adding a checklist in a text note will convert all the existing text to checklists.

Google Keep also comes as an extension for most Chromium-based browsers that allows saving a page’s link to your Keep account.

OneNote

OneNote Overview Video

Pros: Desktop app | Web clipper | Draw on text | Rich text editing | Immersive reader
Cons: Can be overwhelming

A native app from Microsoft, OneNote has somehow managed its position. Being a part of the Office apps, it adapts the Office apps’ styles. The tool, especially on desktop, comes with some great features:

  • Notebooks
  • Section within notebooks
  • Pages within sections
  • Password protection on sections
  • Collaboration tools
  • Hand drawing above text and images
  • Sharing with others
  • Translate text
  • Immersive reader (A tool for simplifying the note text for easy reading. It also supports the speech-to-text feature)

These are the pillars of OneNote, but along with those, you get rich text editing options. Some of those are:

HeadingsChecklistsOrdered lists
Unordered listsFontsFont colour
Highlight textBold textFont size change
Italicise textUnderline textInsert tables
Attach filesAttach picturesEmbed online videos
LinksAdd audioAdd meeting details
Add symbolsAdd equationsAttach PDF
Change page colourSubscriptSuperscript
StrikethroughText indentAttach other files
OneNote supported note option

One problem with OneNote is that you don’t find all the above features on its mobile app. The app does come with rich text editing tools, but not most of the options mentioned above.

The web clipper is also a part of OneNote. You get an advanced web clipper that allows you to clip the whole page, just a region and the article only. Although you get some more options, let’s move on to the next app now.

Also read: Google Keep vs. OneNote (2021)

Freemium

Evernote

Evernote Desktop App Overview

Pros: Desktop app | Rich text editing | Integrations | Templates | Web clipper
Cons: Internet is required

The first in the freemium section is Evernote. Evernote, like OneNote, offers so many options to get you started with note-taking. For starters, it offers templates to create notes according to your project needs quickly. Let’s see some of its options:

  • Notebooks
  • Sharing tools
  • Export notes as HTML, PDF, or ENEX format
  • Stretch notes
  • Add task notes

In terms of rich text editing, you get plenty of options:

  • Headings
  • Fonts
  • Font size
  • Text colour
  • Bold, italicise, underline, and highlight text
  • Ordered and unordered lists
  • Add checklists and hyperlinks
  • Indent and strikethrough text
  • Add superscripts and subscripts
  • Insert images, videos, and documents
  • Insert tables, dividers, audio, code, and tasks in notes

Other than that, it supports integrations to help you get the most from your notes. Some of the integrations are:

  • Gmail
  • Outlook
  • Google Drive
  • Slack
  • Microsoft Teams

Lastly, you get a web clipper with options to snapshot the page, copy the readable content, and bookmark the page to your Evernote notes. The free version of Evernote allows creating unlimited notes with 60MB of monthly upload limit. The downsides of the free plan are:

  1. You can only use the app on two devices at the same time.
  2. An internet connection is required.

More like this: Trello vs. Evernote (2021)

Notion

Notion Desktop Overview

Pros: Desktop app | Rich text editing | Integrations | Discount for students | Integrations | Templates
Cons: A bit complex

Notion is a freemium note-taking tool that takes a different approach. The app uses blocks to create the most complex notes. If you need something with more than just note-taking capabilities, Notion is the tool you should try.

The desktop app comes with an easy-to-follow interface with all the notes on the left and the opened note on the right. You also find some templates on the left. Some of the noteworthy (ironic) features of Notion are:

  1. Sharing with others
  2. Export notes to PDF and HTML files
  3. Import notes
  4. Password protect notes
  5. Create workspaces
  6. Rich text editing

Now, let’s talk about the blocks that make Notion one of the best note-taking apps for Windows 10:

HeadingsTo-do listsOrdered lists
Unordered listsToggle listQuote
DividerDate or reminderInline table
Full page tableInline tableFull page list
Inline listFull page calendarInline calendar
Inline galleryEmbed audioEmbed images
Embed videosCode blockembed Google Drive files
Embed tweetsGitHub GistEmbed Google Maps
Math equationsAdd breadcrumbsEmbed other content
Notion blocks

Other than that, you can:

  1. Change text colour
  2. Mention other pages
  3. Comment on each block
  4. Mention users in comments
  5. Link databases
  6. Upload files
  7. Add table of contents

What makes this tool more complex is adding blocks under blocks. For instance, if you add a calendar, the block will allow you to create pages under each day. Notion also provides a web clipper for Chrome, Firefox, and Microsoft Edge, and you can save web pages’ links to your workspace using the clipper.

More like this: OneNote vs. Notion (2021)

Wrap up

Note-taking is a good habit, but when you have all the required features, the habit becomes great and fun. Those five tools were selected because of their features, popularity, and their brand’s trust. Anyway, I hope you chose one of those to be your tool. Let me know your views in the comments so others can easily decide.

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