Questions to consider when choosing the best note-taking app: Requirements and features

So you want to find the best note-taking app. This post is part of the series on questions to consider when identifying the best note-taking app that will work for you or your team.

Today, we focus on app requirements and features.

What requirements do I need?

This is an important question to consider. If I prefer taking notes on outliner apps, like Workflowy or Dynalist, and hold an outliner function as a top requirement, there is no point in trying out an app that does not have this feature available.

Second, do I need mobile access? Does it have a web app? Is it available for IOS, Android, macOS, Windows, iPad? Evernote, for example, is available on all of these platforms.

What features does the note-taking tool provide?

Here, you want to consider many different things. Think about what you do when you are writing or creating a document. You may consider the following questions to help with this:

  • Can I create tables? Can I add images, video, embeds? Can I add LaTex equations and math formulas?
  • Do I need a tool with a web clipper?
  • Do I need a tool that provides [[backlinks]], or will a simple link to a note suffice?
  • Are keyboard shortcuts available, or can they be programmed?

You may or may not need a tool where one or more of these things are possible, but it is best to know what you are willing to compromise. If you are looking for a quick way to compare features, I’ve found very helpful.

Will I still use pen and paper, or am I going paperless?

Taking notes with a pen, using post-it notes, an iPad Mini and apple pencil are things I still do throughout the day. Depending on the note, these are sometimes later scanned and archived in Evernote or expanded in Obsidian. Evernote has easy search with OCR (Optical character recognition or reader), making many of my handwritten notes retrievable.

Stay tuned for more posts on note-taking, writing, and general productivity.

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