Developers April 5, 2020

What note-taking app you are using?

Horizon Technologies @horizontech

This is like the vim vs emacs of the current generation:
Notion vs Evernote; Onenote vs Google Keep; etc.

I have tried different note-taking apps in the last 3 years. I understand there is no one silver bullet for this. I am curious to hear your thoughts about what worked and what didn't.

BTW, I am currently using

  1. open-source
  2. You can use your own storage (Dropbox, etc)
  3. Supports markdown
  1. 16

    +1 for Notion. It gets pretty close to a silver bullet for me.

    1. 2

      Only recently switched to Notion but loving it so much!
      Came from a mix of todoist, onenote, notes and text files.

      This just does everything you need!

    2. 1

      same, notion rocks for note taking

  2. 11


    1. 5

      MY MAN.

  3. 5

    Mac Notes

  4. 5

    Notion all day everyday! I use it for journaling, documentation for my company, and what I really like is the note clipper. I save pretty much everything I see into one table on notion and then filter the relevant links from there.

  5. 3

    I use Bear:

    Am probably one of the rare individuals paying for a note app 😂

    1. 1

      Me too. It’s an aesthetic appealing app.

    2. 1

      I like Bear too. I’d actually prefer to pay a small amount that gives me confidence in the longevity of the product and not worry about how else it is funding (selling data etc). Bear seems to have this right at well under $2 a month. It’s quick and easy and Just Works but has powerful organisation features if you need them. I like the idea of Notion but in practice it’s got too much overhead for quick notes.

      1. 1

        Notion is a great product, but I think it's trying to be too many things to too many people.

  6. 3

    I use an outliner. Currently, which is a slightly more featured incarnation of the first one I used:

    Because note-taking has a time horizon measured in years or decades, stability of the product is a concern. People love but you have to wonder how much the interface and features will change for this VC-funded company. Will what you love now (and at the current price) still be there in five years?

    With an outliner:

    1. You can easily export your notes (since it's just an indented list of lines of plain text) and move on to another product. Maybe even host your own, as I imagine there's an open-source one out there.

    2. The product is so simple that the UI and UX you love today won't change much if at all over the years. The only concerns are the company going out of business or the price changing, at which point you export your notes and move on to the next.

    1. 1

      This comment was deleted 4 months ago.

  7. 3

    I'm a developer, and after going through a series of apps (Yojimbo, Evernote, SimpleNote, Bear, Ulysses), I now manage all my notes in Markdown files, some in git and some synced via iCloud Drive. This has downsides, in particular it's only ok on mobile and lacks integrations. But I find the upside is more important: You can build your own features with shell scripts (that can then be integrated into your editing environment), and you can use your notes in many different applications. E.g., you can use a file manager like the Finder to organize your notes, and you can use tools like grep and diff to search and compare them. You can edit them with multiple text editors, for somethings vim is better for others I like iA Writer.

    Over time I’ve built a ton of my own features into the system, for example I've built my own documentation system. It's essentially like have my own man pages for GUI and CLI apps I use, that just document the features I commonly use.

    An example documentation directory

    How you can lookup documents

    My own code snippet system

    Looking up a snippet

    My own project management system

    (All of the above can be integrated into any scriptable text editor, e.g., I can use all of these feature from vim, i.e., fuzzy search and open a note, or the same with VS Code (I’m working on building up VS Code over time as a non-modal editor to complement vim). I.e., these scriptable text editors become a custom note taking environment built to my requirements. Since most things are written in bash, it’s easy to use any text editor on top. All you need to do is call the shell scripts from the editor and a light layer of text-editor specific GUI details on top.)

    All of this stuff emerged organically over time based on my needs and the growing complexity of managing more and more information and more complicated tasks. The problem all single app solutions run into is they just don't scale and grow with you.

    To solve the mobile issue, my process is very simple: I use OmniFocus which allows me to instantly save a URL, text note, or anything else to my inbox, and then I just process (categorize and save) the new notes each morning before I start working. If I really need a note on my phone, Spotlight works surprisingly well for looking up a note by name in iCloud Drive (just turn off Spotlight for every app you don't want to search), and I can use Working Copy for notes in git, finally if I have to, I can ssh to a remote server with Blink Shell and use shell tools from iOS (for any note that's in git, those are also on the server).

    The specifics of my system aren’t important, what I like is having a system that grows with me, and that I can customize to my needs.

  8. 3

    Slightly less ideal for note-taking but great for organizing your thoughts (IMO) is Workflowy.

    1. 1

      looked at their site and there is not a lot of information :(

      1. 2

        Yeah, you're right. It's free, though, so it's easy enough to give it a quick try.

  9. 3

    I use my gmail inbox with with different labels for notes, then I sent from my phone quick notes to my inbox with an app I've build. 😊

  10. 3

    I use Slite for team documentation (free plan suffices for us) and Notion for personal notes.

    I found Slite here as we did not want to pay $100 a month for our 12 member team.

    1. 2

      Thanks a lot, Suvansh. We are also completely remote from 3 different time zones. Will check it out.

    2. 2

      I'm also a big fan of Slite - way better than Notion for personal notes (aka no restriction)

  11. 2

    Notion works really well for me

    1. 2


      I did try but felt its not for me. (Probably that was two years ago, when their search and mobile app performance was horrible)

      Currently, using and loving it.

      1. 1

        It was not much improved since then I guess, their startup time is really slow.
        But I never needed search in notion because it lets you organize stuff with the use of tables (DB). So When I need something it is just there and I can easily find it.

        But I agree that your needs and experience might vary really well.

  12. 2

    Been using iOS/Mac notes app for many years, just started using Notion.

  13. 2

    Funny, I have recently been thinking about this a lot.

    I've been using Boost Note for a few years with a script to commit changes to a git repository and push to a VPS every night. It's been fine, but development has stalled while they rewrite the thing with what looks weirdly looks and sounds like the same technologies and the existing versions have been slowing my system more than similar Electron apps that do more.

    So, I ended up writing something that started out as a lightweight viewer (using Proton Native, for the developers reading) so that I could target my use of the heavier program, but has become something that I wouldn't recommend for anybody else (it doesn't have search, replace, or the ability to create a category), but handles most of what I need it for, even if the state of Proton Native means that a lot of the features are slightly awkward to use.

    ...And that's why it's important to use open source software. Had I used OneNote like my then-boss recommended, migrating away would have probably been a nightmare. Instead, I have a stopgap and enough experience that I could probably convert to another system without much trouble.

    (This isn't all my notes, though, unfortunately. I have an older repository of text files that I just edit with vi, like I have been since the '90s. That should probably all go somewhere...)

  14. 2

    Depends on the situation:

    • Pen and paper for my weekly TODO and current punch list (2 pads, 1 pen)
    • Google Keep for cross platform note taking (mobile in particular) this mostly includes ideas I want to jot down and my "life tracking" for the day
    • Vim for TODO files inside of projects
    • Bitwarden for any notes that need a level of security about them.
    1. 1

      should try Bitwarden. Have been using lastpass for two years.

      1. 1

        i tried it a year or so back and wasn't too impressed in comparison to lastpass.... fast forward, tried it recently, felt a ton better and i've since cancelled my LP subscription mid-cycle.

  15. 2

    Bear notes!

  16. 2

    Surprised there's no mention of Roam or RemNote.

  17. 2

    Onenote and hating it :-) Tried SimpleNote but it has no word cout and you can't have multiple windows. Also tried IAWriter but the library/folder metaphors were nonsensical. Basically, there's nothing out the I like!

    1. 1

      Well, hopefully you discover something in this thread.

  18. 2

    I use Notion and Todoist. Like many others in this thread, Notion is pretty much perfect for my workflow. (I even use a set of Notion pages for’s support system!)

  19. 2

    I use my own called Memo,
    It's very simple and plain and you can sync your data with your github account.

    Check it out:

  20. 2

    I was using notes app from GNOME before, but nowadays mostly just text files that I edit with gedit. I also use Trello.

    I think I can get away with simple notes because I always try to migrate my notes to code/docs for a project at hand.

  21. 2

    Notion. I tried many. Notion stole my heart.

  22. 2

    Notion. All day long.

  23. 2

    I use a physical notepad. The physical connection with the paper and the requirement to reword notes helps with recall (in my opinion and experience)

  24. 2

    Notion all the way!

  25. 1

    super shameful plug: I created, a free, minimalist, anonymous note taking app with Chrome and Firefox extensions that allow you to take notes on the fly from any page.

    1. 1

      Really simple and clean. Thanks @Manu66

  26. 1

    I prefer Notion and/or physical notepad for freeform notes. With that said...

    @nilkanthjp and I are building out something with just a slightly more structure with Herald. Herald helps teams take a data-driven approach to user feedback. We think it's the best tool for teams to collect, tag, share, and analyze user feedback to make data-driven decisions.. While we say teams, we do have a few solo founders using us too to organize all their user feedback in one place.

    1. 1

      Hi Jay, thanks. I will check it out.

  27. 1

    If you need contacts-based note taking (aka a personal CRM), then try out Contacts Journal on iOS and Mac. I make this app, so let me know if you have any feedback or questions!

  28. 1

    I probably sound like a Luddite but I used Apple Notes. Still the best notes app i've used. I used to use Evernote but churned away after their continued investment in abusing their users and not listening to feedback.

    Now, it's Notes for everything. you can even share Notes too!

  29. 1

    I use Typora. It's a free markdown-based editor that works well on Mac, Windows, and Linux. I use Dropbox in order to sync my markdown notes.

    What I love about it is that it doesn't have the annoying two-screen view that most markdown editors have; instead, once you type some markdown formatting, it automatically converts it into wysiwyg. It's an amazing feature and is something that no other markdown editor that I've found has.

  30. 1

    Thanks, everyone for sharing your tools.

    Turned out to be such a great thread, with a lot of useful information.

  31. 1

    Bear App

  32. 1

    Not exactly a note-taking app but I use Wunderlist. It's easy to break things into groups and I jot things done. It's been easy to integrate with my phone, laptop, and ipad

  33. 1

    Notebook for daily tasks. Sometimes I need satisfaction of checking the physic to-do list.
    Apple note for quick notes which will not have long-lasting value.
    Notion for documantation.

  34. 1

    I got so fed up with existing note taking apps that I've started to build my own and documenting the entire journey. So I'm dogfooding that right now.

    It's basically Apple Notes with Markdown support and a heavy focus on keyboard-based use. Because I hate when an app interrupts me from getting back to work after I typed out some quick thoughts.

    Hopefully I can get a release out soon.

    1. 1

      Looking forward to it.

      1. 1

        If you're still looking forward to it you can now get it at :)

  35. 1

    Probably not popular opinion, but I just use my code editor(VSCode). I set it up so that every time I open new tab(new file with cmd+N) it will be markdown file. That's it, if I need to write something I just open new file and start writing. I will save it later to respective folder, and it will go to my github repo. I tried using Notion and other tools like that, but my main issue (and that's my personality problem), I will be so distracted on setting it up, spending hours researching how to do it properly, what are the best practices in actually keeping journal/notes etc, that I will be so tired of the tool, I won't write there anything

    1. 1

      Same. I have used just VScode for a year. Tried Notion and felt it’s too much for me.

      A small suggestion give it a try with Joplin. It’s open source, supports md and you can do your own storage.

    2. 1

      I've been working on GitJournal - a mobile first markdown notes app with Git Integration.

      My notes workflow is identical to yours. But I was missing some way of accessing my notes on my mobile so I built GitJournal.

      1. 1

        looks interesting, although i don't really use my phone much for note taking (I own old iphone 6 🙂) so it was never a problem for me.

        Does the app provide possibility to edit or only read?

        1. 1

          Both read and write.

  36. 1

    Still using Evernote's free plan. Enough for my needs. And love it too. Haven't tried Notion but been hearing many good things about it.

  37. 1

    I use for pretty much anything.

    For quick (like really quick and disposable notes) - I use

    Quite honestly, I don't know why Bear has not yet developed such a solution...

  38. 1

    I actually start out just using apple notes a ton when I need to jot down any notes. Then, when I get the time, I'll transfer over to Notion and organize my notes accordingly

  39. 1

    Simplenote for note-taking, and Notion for everything else.

  40. 1
  41. 1

    I use my own. :)

    Soon it will have a zen mode, where you can gather all your daily todos into one page from different notes and dark mode.

    And there will be a lot of other features in the future, like E2E encryption, markdown support, no cloud sync or use your own cloud, etc.

  42. 1

    I use Notion for everything.

  43. 1

    I use several, with different apps for different contexts:

    • Notion: Personal wiki, documentation for my side projects
    • Minute: Personal journal (also my side project)
    • Google Docs / Confluence: Work notes & documentation
    • TextEdit: Whenever I need to quickly jot something down

    I've recently been experimenting with Roam Research. It hasn't stuck yet, but the graph-like structure is cool and I think there will be use cases for future projects.

  44. 1

    I use (and created) GitJournal on the mobile and typora / vscode on the desktop.

    Since it's based on Git, you never lose any changes, and you have full control of your data.

    1. 1

      Sounds good. I am planning to use gitwatch with Joplin.

    1. 2

      Do you use all three at the same time?

      1. 2

        I use Typora and Bear for quick notes. Typora for work (no cloud sync) and Bear for home. I use Notion for Indie Hacker stuff 👍

    2. 1

      This comment was deleted 4 months ago.

  45. 1

    This comment was deleted 4 months ago.