Best Second Brain Note-Taking Applications for 2023

Popular Second Brain Note-Taking Apps - Second Brain Optimised

Second brain is a concept is created by Tiago Forte and built to create structure in your note-taking application of choice. But there are many apps that better suit Second Brain as a concept and we've shortlisted the best second brain apps for note-taking.

Second brain was designed so individuals can have a way to store all information somewhere reliable and to reduce the stress of remembering everything or forgetting something. Looking for a full exploration into the Second brain concept?

Having a system specifically made for you to save every note, thought, idea, snippet, or anything you want to keep safe for the future is beneficial for your growth, development, and creating the life you want. Information is everywhere, and you're always going to need it. Your own brain simply cannot store everything without you beginning to feel stressed or overwhelmed. This is when you need a second brain and why Tiago Forte built the system.

Tiago Forte himself used this system for the better part of the last 10 years to help him succeed and improve mental clarity on remembering things daily.

Key Takeaways

  • There's no right note-taking application for Second Brain
  • Exploring the options below will give you better clarity on specialisms each note-taking tool offers to build a Second Brain and whether it is right for you.
  • Second Brain might not be for you, but it serves as a helpful framework to build your note-taking system from, instead of focusing on the tool only.

The Best Note-Taking Apps for Second Brain

Here are some tools you're going to see in more detail below and our biggest recommendations for Second Brain note-taking applications. These are the best of the breed of Second Brain apps tailored for note-taking as Tiago Forte would have wanted it.

  • Notion - A flexible, all-in-one Second Brain with templates to help you.
  • Evernote - A more traditional tools for your Second Brain with years of use.
  • Obsidian - With bi-directional links, you can connect up notes & much more.
  • Reflect Notes - An alternative to Obsidian and a helpful Second Brain system.
  • Milanote - An open canvas way to build boards and your visual Second Brain
  • Mem - A more modern AI approach to Second Brain removing folders

The tools in this list are all great for note-taking but serve different purposes with different features. It all depends on how you want to build your second brain note-taking app. If it helps, we've made a full guide to these Second Brain note-taking apps on YouTube.

We do plan to expand this list of second brain notes apps, with updates to add more tools.

Building a Second Brain in Notion

Notion is a flexible note-taking application that can actually do a whole lot more too. In terms of using it as a second brain app, you can really create the space you want, and follow the CODE and PARA techniques to save your information accordingly.

  • Start using Notion as a Second Brain right away with Notion templates. There are tons of templates available, you can even create and share your own template (or sell it).
  • Use databases to link pages, this is helpful for linking likewise content and staying on track with notes, projects, or other things you want to manage inside your second brain system.
  • Create unlimited notes, pages, documents wikis and more inside Notion, the possibilities to create are almost endless when it comes to text-based blocks in this no-code space.
  • Use images, embed videos, and save links alongside your notes to provide enough context for them to make sense in the future.

Using Evernote as a Second Brain

Evernote provides a more structured platform for note-taking and building a second brain. You can also easily save web clippings inside Evernote and create a structured filing system for your notes using what's readily available, whereas with Notion you will need a template, or create from scratch.

  • Pin important notes you want to use right away, or want to remember each day to your Evernote, this is good for when you want to focus on one topic or subject for a while.
  • Collaborate on notes if you wish, this could be useful for project ideas. Working with your team inside Evernote is easy enough to get started with.
  • Use pre-built templates for starting your second brain app right away with Evernote. Second Brain templates can be found online or try this official second brain template for Evernote.
  • Save audio files instead of written notes if you're in a rush, audio files can be created on the go, and sometimes it is easier to speak than type.

Building a Second Brain with Obsidian

Obsidian is a great choice for building a second brain because of its note-linking features. Any applications that link notes together are perfect for sparking ideas and ensuring you are seeing the right and relevant information when you need it.

  • Obsidian uses networked note taking with allows for a very flexible experience, perfect for testing and playing around with building your perfect second brain app.
  • It automatically creates backlinks so you can see relevant notes alongside new, and older notes.
  • Publish your notes online, this can follow the E in CODE for expressing your notes, this is a great way to further your learning and make the most out of your notes.
  • Use custom themes, plugins and more to create a space that works for you, Obsidian is a great second-brain app because of its customisable abilities.

Building a Second Brain with Reflect Notes

Reflect Notes is a well-used application for PKM (personal knowledge management) making this a good second-brain note-taking application. Like Obsidian, notes are linked together with backlinks, creating a great system for storing and retrieving notes.

  • Reflect Notes connects your notes together using backlinks and AI. Connecting thoughts makes it easier to remember important information you may have forgotten you need in the future.
  • Use the instant capture feature to save snippets from the web or even your Kindle. Instantly saving a quote or something educational is easy, and you are more likely to retain this.
  • Build your network inside of Reflect Notes by easily saving information sent to you, details about contacts and events and more.
  • Use the search tool to instantly bring up older notes by simply typing in some keywords.

Building a Second Brain with Logseq

Best For

Advanced PKM note-takers





Type of Tool

Logseq is a super in-depth application for saving notes, thoughts, ideas and anything you want or will need in the future. This app does take some time to learn and get used to, but once you have wrapped your head around it, Logseq is a second-brain app loved by many note-takers.

  • Create a web of interconnected thoughts using Logseqs block-based system. This means you can connect notes and more notes, and create a web of knowledge.
  • Logseq uses markdown support so you can edit your text with headings, lists and more.
  • Customise your Logseq to work for you, using different themes and plugins.
  • See patterns and connections of notes using the graph view, this can be easier than seeing all text in words, especially for more visual thinkers.

Building a Second Brain with Milanote

Milanote is great for visual thinkers and learners, providing a good choice of second brain app for anyone who would rather save more visual notes and ideas rather than just linked text. Tiago Forte has an example of how to use Milanote to create a second brain system.

  • Milanote provides a flexible and visual workspace with customisable, fun boards.
  • Use templates to get started quickly with building your second brain app.
  • Collaborate on notes to work alongside team members on projects and ideas.
  • Integrate with Dropbox, Google and more to quickly save images, documents, links, and videos to your Milanote second brain.

Building a Second Brain With Mem

Mem uses AI to make the most of your notes, it takes information such as dates, keywords and other aspects to link notes together and create a system that flows and looks great at the same time.

  • Build your own templates for notes inside Mem and create a workspace to save and organise all notes inside your second brain.
  • Use AI abilities inside Mem to identify important information and save notes accordingly.
  • Use tags so you can quickly search and find notes you are thinking about or want to expand on.
  • Share and collaborate on notes especially if working on a project.

Why Tools Are Helpful For Building A Second Brain

All this Second Brain software is helpful but why use the system?

The best, and probably only way to build a successful second brain system is to use a suitable application for storing endless notes, thoughts, ideas and snippets.

Of course, you can stick with traditional ways of keeping notes and ideas in a mountain of notebooks for different categories, but the chances are you will still forget, lose the notebook, or spend too much time trying to find a specific note.

By using an app you can organise your notes using the simple CODE and PARA method. To recap here's what they mean...

  • CODE - Capture, Organise, Distill, Express. This is how you take your notes and use them, starting with capturing important notes, organising them accordingly and ensuring you express and use the knowledge you learn.
  • PARA - Projects, Areas, Resources, Archive. This is the method for organising and managing your notes inside the second brain.

Second Brain apps also come with search abilities, so if you know you previously made a note about something you could search the key term and bring up all notes and things you have saved to do with that topic.

Applications that link notes can also bring up relevant and suggested topics to further extend your learning and note-taking. Search all our note-taking apps on Tool Finder.

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