It's hard to nail down the best note-taker, since they're all so different, but since our goal is to find a fast, light, text-driven note syncer, we've fallen in love with the easy to use, Simplenote-syncing ResophNotes for Windows.
Platform: Windows Price: Free Download Page
- A simple interface with a single omnibar for creating new notes and searching existing ones
- A ton of different keyboard shortcuts that allow for mouse-less navigation
- Instant saving of everything, so you never lose any unsaved work
- Syncs with Simplenote, but can also save notes as .txt files for syncing with Dropbox and other file-syncing services
- Link to other notes in your database
- Tag notes for easy organisation
- Import text files and .csv files
- Restore deleted notes and permanently delete old ones
- Both installable and portable versions available
ResophNotes is a clone of Notational Velocity on the Mac, our favourite syncing note-taker on the Mac. As such, it excels in the same way: it contains only the features you need . RosephNotes looks pretty bare, but its minimalism is its biggest advantage. You can search for or create notes from one omnibar, type your notes, and save them instantly to the cloud via Simplenote or Dropbox. You can control the entire program from the keyboard, which is great, and you can tag all your notes for better organisation. In addition, you can tweak it to your liking from its settings, like how you sort lists, where your note list is in the window, how you manage the window, the font of your notes, and more. It's just you and your plain text notes, synced everywhere — none of the bloat or complications that come with other note-taking apps.
Resophnotes has a few downsides, but most of them seem pretty nitpicky considering how well the app is put together. You can't bold or italicise text, which is kind of annoying (though you can put in both web and in-note links). Word count would also be nice, as would maybe integration with Simplenote's revision history. All in all, though, its simplicity is what makes it great, and if you need more features than ResophNotes offers, you probably need a different application like Evernote.
As far as simple note apps go, GumNotes is another great Simplenote-syncing, plain text note taking app. It's a bit more of a "sticky notes" type program rather than a notes database, which can be good or bad depending on how you want to use your notes. GumNotes' killer feature is that it can pin notes to different applications or documents, so when you open up a document, your note opens up with it. It's a bit more geared toward people who's notes apply to other projects rather than just general reference notes.
Evernote is the most obvious competitor, its main draw being a huge host of organisational and capture features. You can scan handwritten notes into Evernote and index them, create checkable checklists, clip from web pages, and more. If you just want plain text notes, Evernote is definitely overkill, but if you're organising a whole host of things, it's pretty powerful. Similarly, Microsoft's OneNote is a very powerful note organisation program for more intense note taking.
If you aren't using Simplenote, you might want to check out KeepNote, which syncs rich text files via Dropbox, as well as Nocs, which is a very plain text editor that syncs with Google Docs. Our obsession with Simplenote is no secret, though, hence why we've stuck with ResophNotes for the best note syncing app. Of course, there's no reason you couldn't just use Dropbox and your text editor of choice, too.
Lifehacker's App Directory is a new and growing directory of recommendations for the best applications and tools in a number of given categories. This week, we're focusing on syncing note-takers.