5 Best Note-Taking Apps for Students in 2024: Top Picks
Students collect class notes, PDFs, presentations, ideas, research titles and many millions of links across a typical study day. That's enough to make your head explode if you're not using some form of app or system for bringing that all into one location.
Many students have apps like Apple Notes, Google Keep or maybe even notebooks, which are good, but might not be able to provide the large scale function that our curated list of best student focused note-taking apps can help with.
Levelling up your notes app in university or college is probably one of the best investments you can make during your study years, as unlike the calendar and task management app (which become more helpful later in life) the notes app is your second brain of wisdom and knowledge you're bringing together in one location.
Why should students take notes?
As a former student myself, at university one of the key lessons I learnt was that I cannot store everything in my brain. This was paramount from concepts in books I'd read like Getting Things Done by David Allen and the newly formed concept at the time, Second Brain by Tiago Forte.
"Your brain should be a thinking tool, not a storage tool" is how one of the quotes went in the book by David Allen and this quote always stuck with me as an effective way to think about how your brain uses knowledge and information.
So, students think of it this way - the more you store in a notes app, the better - the more your brain can be freed up for thinking through a problem or concept, the more insightful results you'll have in the long-term. This changed the way I thought about notes and can really activate true learning for many people trapped in "your brain needs to store all this".
5 Best Notes Apps for Students in 2024
So, what apps do students use to take notes in university and college? Let's unpack:
- 1. RemNote - Get organized with your notes and then turn them into flashcards
- 2. Supernotes - The perfect way to capture collaborative notes to share with others
- 3. Evernote - A more traditional base to take notes with tasks & calendar too
- 4. Microsoft OneNote - One of the most common notes apps for students & teachers
- 5. GoodNotes 6 - The perfect notes app for visual note-takers & new iPad users
Let's dig into the list we have in a moment, but look at why we chose all of these tools:
How we curated this list of best student notes apps?
We came down to three core criteria when selecting these applications
- Designed - A lot of these notes apps have evolved to become household names for managing your notes as a students. Some are designed, others are highly optimised with features to be the perfect notes app for students.
- Easy to Use - All of these apps take a small level of education to learn and are super approachable and once you get started, it is super easy to get things rolling. There's no notes app on this list that won't take you 45 minutes to adapt to.
Okay, let's get into that list now:
Best In-Class Notes App for Students
- Free Plan: Unlimited Notes, Unlimited Devices
- Best Student Features: PDF Annotation (Pro) & Flashcards (Free)
- Price to Upgrade: $7.50 per month, with education discount
Why is RemNote a good notes app for students?
RemNote is one of the best student notes apps because it is, at the core, designed for students with flashcards, unlimited notes and an app on all your devices. Inside of RemNote, you can create a note and turn it into a flashcard almost instantaneously.
RemNote also packs in powerful PDF annotation (Pro feature) and connection to notes meaning any presentation or PDF that your lecturer sends you can connect to a note which makes for an easy experience, but you can also annotate it to add more value. You get 3 PDF note annotations as part of your free plan on RemNote.
Advice: RemNote is best for more serious student note-takers. Great for structured note management - there's a little bit of education to learn it but all-in-all this is the best of our list for all round student note taking management.
Best Collaborative Notes Apps for Students
- Free Plan: Limited to 100 cards, All Devices
- Best Student Features: Notecard Collaboration, Backlinks
- Price to Upgrade: $7.32 per month, if billed annually (50% off for students)
Why Supernotes app is a good student notes app?
Supernotes provides us with a good firm base of your notes, used beyond student note-taking, it has grown on many people thanks to the clean, minimal nature of the app and the focus on notecards instead of constant folder organization. This makes it easier to connect notes up using backlinks and to share notes with other students.
Collaborative notes are one of the gem features in Supernotes for students to take notes and simply share them with other students using Supernotes too. This makes life so much easier when it comes to missing a lecture (intentionally or not) and sharing those notes post it happening.
Advice: Supernotes is a clean, beautiful way to take notes with daily notes too for light journal entries, to-dos for bringing items together and much more note abilities. With the limit of 100 cards, likely chance unless you have lots of friends (note referral gives you 20 extra cards) then you'll be looking to get the premium pricing.
Best All Round Notes Hub
- Free Plan: Unlimited Notes, 25MB size limit, Unlimited Devices
- Best Student Features: PDF Uploads, Search & Clipper
- Price to Upgrade: $14.99 per month, 40% off with Unidays for Evernote Professional
Why Evernote is still one of the best notes apps for students?
Powerful search, powerful PDF management & powerful extended abilities to with tasks and calendar management. This is more of a notes app for students but beyond so think of Evernote has more of a notes app for life allowing you to store work project notes in, or maybe even meeting notes and lightweight tasks too.
Evernote used to be the hottest app for student note-taking purely due to the ability to add attachments to notes, but one of the features that still appears to student note-takers is the ability to capture into notebooks with the Evernote Web Clipper. It still reigns as a brilliant notes app clipper for allowing you to capture links or snippets from pieces you're researching making the hunt for links and references 3x as easy.
Advice: Evernote is much more extensive if you go over the limitations and the more power features like tasks, search, offline and large uploads are locked under premium. So whilst the free plan is good, it will only take you so far (yes, that is a line from Oppenheimer).
4. Microsoft OneNote
The Best Free Notes App on the Market
- Free Plan: With Microsoft account
- Best Student Features: Sketching, Tabs & Co-Pilot
- Price to Upgrade: Microsoft 365 is an upgrade
Why OneNote is one of the best free notes apps for students?
If budget is your concern, look no further than Microsoft OneNote. It offers the best free notes app for students, hands-down. The notes experience allows you to take notes in a tab format allowing you to have almost a ring-binder feel to your notes app along with solid apps for iPad and Microsoft Surface meaning you can make notes and sketches all in one.
Microsoft OneNote is one that I always recommend when it comes to managing your notes with Microsoft account. If your school, university or college offers a Microsoft for Education plan that is tied into your email, it is highly likely you. have OneNote with free access and storage, so we'd recommend taking advantage of that.
Advice: Microsoft OneNote is practical and offers a good free experience. It isn't for everyone. Some people don't like their notes being in the Microsoft ecosystem, but for many it'll hit the nail on the head for an upgraded, more focused Microsoft Word-like notes application that meets the bill.
5. GoodNotes 6
Best iPad Notes App for Students
- Free Plan: 3 Notebooks, 20m Audio Limit
- Best Student Features: New AI, Audio Capture & Notebook Customisation
- Price to Upgrade: $9.99 per year for most unlimited features or $29.99 one-off
Why GoodNotes 6 is one of the best notes apps for students?
GoodNotes 6 has had a big face lift in the last year and much more focused on AI note-taking meaning better hand-writing support, typed notes and beyond. GoodNotes works wonders for taking sketch notes but also using it to record lectures or audio files for coming back to important notes you've made.
GoodNotes offers good levels of customisation for notebooks including stickers, templates and even a big store for that (locked under premium) but this level of customisation appeals to many of those students wanting that BuJo style notes app with sketch abilities.
Advice: If you don't have an iPad, there's no point looking at GoodNotes, but if you do, this is going to be one of the best investments for the lower cost of $9.99 for a year.
We're set to do a deeper dive into iPad notes apps for students. Stay tuned!
So what's the best notes apps for students?
This is a tough one because it depends on your needs, so let's determine based on the needs we have above us and pick the best notes app for your study endeavours.
Best for iPad: GoodNotes 6
The functions and AI focus of GoodNotes 6 makes it a great companion for iPad users. There are lots of iPad notes apps out there that take advantage of Apple Pencil out there, and GoodNotes is only one of the many.
Best for Budget Focus: OneNote
Want to save a buck? Well in this case Microsoft OneNote might be your best option. It works wonders for managing your digital filing cabinet and with sketch make notes more interactive if you do have an iPad or tablet device.
Best for All Round Use: Evernote
This is perfect for all round user, pre-and-post university or college. So we'd recommend Evernote for making the most of your notes.
Best for Focused PhD students: RemNote
If you want to commit to a notes app, upgrade and be with it longer than 3 years, RemNote is the best app on the market for students and the premium features offer superb features ideal for hunkering down with your notes and optimising.
That's our recommendations, but it is worth exploring the range of notes apps we have all over Tool Finder, they'll help you pick from more of a range of tools.
Looking for to-do list apps as a student, we have you covered!
Best Productivity Listicles
Find Productivity Tools with More Lists
Choose from hundreds of productivity toolsView All