What is the best app to take notes? The one that fits your tasks, your work, and your lifestyle. We have options for office workers, students, writers, and those who just need to jot something down on the fly. Choose the one you need.
Please note: The article lists the app prices in the Mac App Store or on the developer's website. In Setapp, you get all the described apps and 240+ others for $9.99 per month.
What makes it special? It's a minimalist app to manage day-to-day notes tied to the calendar.
Who is it for? Anyone who plans their day by the hour.
NotePlan helps you quickly create a plan for a day or week on your own or using a template. All actions are simplified: text is formatted using keyboard shortcuts, and adding a task to the calendar is as simple as dragging and dropping.
Apart from daily planning, there are folders for long-term projects. For example, in the "Gym" folder, you can track your exercise progress, menu, and so on.
- Availability of templates with goals for the day, OKRs, affirmations, etc.
- Various lists.
- No image embedding.
Price: from $9.99/month
What makes it special? Attractive notes and documents that are easy to create and organize.
Who is it for? Anyone who wants to make beautiful follow-ups, instructions, etc., and share them with others.
Craft is about beautiful and functional notes based on templates or created by yourself. The templates are diverse: for self-improvement (e.g., gratitude journal), HR and people team (e.g., onboarding process), meetings (meeting notes), and more.
In notes, you can easily create drop-down text, various types of lists, calendar events, and links to other documents.
- Ability to share notes with other people for collaborative editing or commenting.
- Ability to export to PDF, Word, etc.
- No hashtags or filters.
Price: from $6/month
What makes it special? It's always at your fingertips, yet discreet.
Who is it for? Anyone who needs to take notes frequently and on the go and doesn't need a fancy design.
SideNotes is the best way to take notes on Mac if you just need a quick scribble. Once installed, you'll see a neat strip on the right side of your desktop. Clicking it opens the app. There, you can create notes and organize them into folders, and… that's pretty much it. Sure, you can create to-do lists, format text, and add images to your notes, but that's about it.
- No built-in calendar, but you can add a note to Reminders.
- Ability to view the contents of a note as code.
- No compact view for notes. They are displayed full length, even if they take up the entire screen.
What makes it special? It's more than just a good app for notes; it's a writing tool.
Who is it for? Content creators, bloggers, and writers.
Ulysses is a writing space. You can create separate fragments (e.g., chapters) on individual sheets and organize them as you like. Text formatting is simple but sufficient: add headings, quotes, tables, and images. When you export a file as a PDF, the app formats the text properly.
The app tracks how much time you spend writing and calculates how long it takes to read the text to yourself or out loud.
- Built-in proofreader and editing assistant.
- Markup-based text editor – no need to be distracted by formatting.
- No mode for co-editing.
What makes it special? It's probably the simplest note-taking program with a decent feature set.
Who is it for? Anyone who uses a Mac.
This app sits in the Dock by default, so you can just click it, open a new note, and start writing. It has basic text formatting and the ability to add tables and images. Since there are no folders, sorting your notes by hashtags is best.
- The ability to password protect a note.
- Convenient search system (for example, "notes with checklist" or "notes with attachments").
- Inability to password-protect a note with a hashtag.
What makes it special? It is one of the best apps for keeping notes and flashcards for studying.
Who is it for? For students and anyone who needs to memorize information.
Studies are like traditional flashcards but more powerful. A card can contain text, images, or audio. As you study, you can mark the answer as correct or incorrect or flag the note. The flashcards will be sorted into the appropriate folders where you can review the material or work on the marked note. Also, the app will create a study plan based on your need (e.g., "exam") and the deadline.
- The app tracks progress and the number of correct and wrong answers.
- Sync with iCloud.
- There are no ready-made cards with tasks for different subjects. You have to create them yourself or import your friends' Studies flashcards.
What makes it special? The app allows you to take detailed notes from a book, article, or any other text.
Who is it for? For students and those who need in-depth text study.
MarginNote has two modes for processing text. "Document" lets you take quick notes on what you're reading. Study mode gives you access to dozens of tools, including organizing multi-level notes and mind maps, searching for words in the built-in browser, converting notes to flashcards for later review, and more.
- Supports multiple file formats: PDF, EPUB, MOV, MP3, MP4, M4V, M4A, Evernote documents, and web pages.
- Allows you to organize multi-book reading notes in one map.
- Somewhat complicated navigation: getting used to the tools may take time. We recommend you watch video tutorials on how to make notes in MarginNotes.
What makes it special? It records audio and video from the past.
Who is it for? Anyone who frequently attends online or offline meetings.
When the app is running, it records in a loop what it sees on the screen and hears from your Mac's microphone and speakers. This means that at any time, you can save a piece of video or audio that happened 1 to 5 hours ago.
What do notes have to do with it? In addition to the recording, you get a transcript of the audio. So now, you don't have to take notes manually during a meeting or lecture if you have Backtrack on.
- Ability to integrate with a calendar to remind you to record meetings.
- Ability to record in 4K.
- In some countries and states, you need permission from other people to record them on video.
Price: from $10/month
Tip. Take notes while watching real-time webinars and online conferences. With TextSniper, take a screenshot of the fragment you want, and the app will instantly convert the image with text to text.
What makes it special? It allows to transcribe and translate voice notes in 19 languages.
Who is it for? Anyone who uses a Mac and has no time or will to type notes.
Got an idea you need to jot down right away? Or your thoughts are faster than your typing? Just start MurmurType, speak, and get a text note.
- Automatic translation is available: for example, you speak Italian, but the transcript is in English.
- Automatic punctuation – you get a complete text, not just a set of words.
- The app can automatically stop recording after a few seconds of silence. Here, silence means not the absence of voice but the absence of noise. So if there are extraneous noises in the room (e.g., the sound of an air conditioner or a coffee machine), this feature may not work perfectly.
Price: €20 per license and one year of upgrades.
Transcribe your speech
How to choose the best note-taking app for Mac
We have tested each app described above to be safe, secure, and convenient. You can pick up and use one of them. But if you want to look further, pay attention to the following options:
- Compliance with your needs. Each app is good for its own purpose. For example, Craft probably makes the most beautiful notes without requiring any design taste.
- Lightweight. You will probably use your note-taking software often, and it will run in the background. So it's important that it only uses a little RAM and CPU. Otherwise, it can slow down your Mac.
- Easy access. Ideally, you should be able to open a new note in three clicks. If the app's basic features are hidden deeper, you may find it inconvenient to use.
And remember, you don't have to spend hours setting up your note-taking space – it should be a quick and intuitive process.
What is the best note-taking app for students?
What is the Apple version of OneNote?
The built-in note-taking app on Mac is Notes. It has a simple interface and lets you lock notes, tag them, and collaborate on them. However, you can't sync them with your calendar or download them as a file.
Is there a free note-taking app for Mac?
The built-in Mac Notes app is free. The other apps described here have a 7-day free trial within Setapp.
Try every note-taking app for free
The app can make or break your productivity, so rely on your needs and habits when choosing. Use these quick tips to find the best note-taking apps for Mac:
- Want to connect tasks to your calendar → NotePlan
- Looking for a simple interface → SideNotes, Apple Notes
- Want to create beautiful notes and documents → Craft
- Writing is your job → Ulysses
- Need notes for studying → Studies, MarginNotes
- Want to convert audio to text notes → MurmurType, Backtrack
You can try all these apps right now with a single Setapp subscription. Sign up and get access to over 240 different apps. Try it free for 7 days.