TiPb asks: How do you manage notes on your iPhone?

TiPb asks: How do you take notes on your iPhone?

Last week on our iPhone Live! podcast, Chad and Seth got all nerdy about how they take notes, and manage their workflows, on the iPhone, and we figured it would be great to get even more views on this. So we're asking the TiPb nation!

Do you use the built in iPhone notes app or a special App Store app? If an App Store app, which one? Do you sync your notes with other devices, like your iPad or Windows or Mac PC? If so, how do you sync? The default notes app syncs to Mac Mail. DropBox has become a hugely popular way, but some people like Rene prefer SimpleNote on iOS and Notational Velocity on the desktop. Others, like Chad in the past, have been huge Evernote users, which has its own client on almost every platform. Are universal note apps better, or do you prefer note apps specifically designed for iPhone vs. iPad vs. desktop?

What's your ultimate note taking workflow?

Have something to say about this story? Share your comments below! Need help with something else? Submit your question!

Georgia

Senior Editor at iMore and a practicing therapist specializing in stress and anxiety. She speaks everywhere from conferences to corporations, co-host of Vector, Review, and Isometric podcasts, and should be followed on Twitter @Georgia_Dow.

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TiPb asks: How do you manage notes on your iPhone?

79 Comments

Everything goes into SimpleNote on my iPhone and iPad and syncs with Notational Velocity on my Macs.
I use it for notes, short todos, random ideas, etc.
Yeah, the subscription is an additional cost and when it comes time to renew, I might look at a DropBox alternative...

I used to use Simplenote/Notational Velocity, but don't like how you can't sync tags between the two apps. I switched back to Evernote (after initially not liking the interface), and was pleasently surprised by the updated interface. Now I use evernote.

Evernote is not really tht usable for a visually impaired person, t lrast I don't really have the patience do deal with it. See my post for more info.

Me too. I can't be bothered with all the formatting nonsense of other apps when someone on the phone starts blurting out information I need to take down very quickly. Just tap to open and start typing. If I needed more, I'd use an app like QuickOffice instead of a notes app.

agreed. The native notes app isn't great but its already there and syncs perfectly when used with MobileMe. I hate having redundant apps on my phone and patchwork solutions when something is already staring you in the face.

I use Evernote. Works great, and I can take notes on my work PC laptop, and sync them on my iPhone, iPad, and my home Mac.

I don't have mobile me, but I use the native notes app. If I really want a note in the cloud I just email it to myself or throw it on DropBox and I'm all set. I generally take notes on my iPhone as opposed to my iPad, simply because my iPhone is right in my pocket.

I replaced the native notes app with Evernote. Love how it will sync wirelessly to my PC as well as a web interface so that I can access my notes everywhere else. Love how I can also store images/audio as well.

I have tried a number of note apps and I have settled into Notes Plus (http://notesplusapp.com/). I use it with a stylus which is where I think it really shines (the close-up writing mode is amazing) . If the notes need to be archived and searched then I email it to my Evernote account straight from the app. I email it as a JPG file so Evernote can do it's text recognition magic.

100% agree, the app's functionality is so deep that it is really fits to Guy Kawasaki's DICEE principle.

Evernote FTW because I have to sync between a Mac and PC. Tagging is a huge plus. If it's a text heavy job, then the native Notes app is easier to type on and still use Mobile Me to sync to email it to my Evernote.

Native notes app and also Plaintext which allows you to create documents that are automatically saved to your dropbox folder

Amazing Note and OneNote.
aNote syncs with Google so I have access to then everywhere. I use it for quick notes and ideas, lists and the like. OneNote is more long term storage, for projects and other items.

I currently use PlainText, but will probably switch to Notesy once the dev fixes an issue with non-multitasking devices (as I have a 2nd gen iPod Touch). But, I love having all my notes synced through Dropbox so they are available on all my devices and computers.
I've used Circus Ponies Notebook on my Mac for years (all my undergrad and grad-school notes, for example are in there), and they now have an iOS version. This is tempting as it can contain all kinds of content types, outline, format the text, organize everything, even include to-dos... but, I'm kind of liking the simplicity of using just simple text. Often I'm not wanting the formatting (I often paste into a TextEdit file on OSX to get rid of any formatting, and use Devon Technologies excellent and free WordServices to clean it).
The other nice thing about simple text files is that they are compatible everywhere with everything. There is no complex app to have bugs and limitations. They are super fast, easy to search, etc. It is just more of coming up with a good folder organization to store them and reasonable naming conventions. It really is a tradeoff, but I'm leaning in that direction.

I normally think of something, write it down using a pen, get my phone out then realise notes existed on my iPhone -_- this still continues to happen I really should use the notes app more.

taking notes on the iphone or ipad, i use PlainText with Dropbox sync... easy text note entry and sync between devices. from my desktop, i use Evernote to clip webpages i want to save for reference or just save an RTF to the PlainText folder in Dropbox.

Evernote for personal notes. Dropbox isn't secure enough for personal items. For work, like taking notes in meetings, I prefer Google Docs or, if it isn't sensitive, I can use one of the Dropbox text apps. In either case, it has to be cloud-based. I have too many platforms/computers for emailing or cable syncing to be practical.

There is a cool app called Codebook with excellent encryption which syncs to Dropbox for keeping stuff very secure. However, the devs need to get their acts together and create an iPad native version and OSX version. It currently is only iPhone (or blown-up on the iPad)... but I think it has great potential for notes that need to be private.

The built-in Notes app is all I need. When any one note is finished, I copy/paste the text from the MobileMe-synced notes in Mail to a Pages doc on my iDisk. Easy and simple.

If I'm taking notes notes I use Evernote, but for task lists I use Awesome Note because I like the checkboxes. aNote also syncs with Evernote.

I use Evernote on my ipod touch 4G because it lets me sync with my computer and my Mytouch 4G.

I just prefer the native notes app. Provides all the functionality I need and looks good doing it. No need to complicate things unnecessarily especially when this one comes built it.

I use the native Notes app, synced to MobileMe. I really wish I could edit notes on the web...kind of ridiculous that functionality doesn't exist.
If I need to share notes, I use Google Docs to store short notes.

Simplenote would let you edit notes on the web. Pretty sure the app is free too, these days.

Count me in the Simplenote / Notational Velocity crowd. I can get to my notes no matter what device I'm on, and I have backups in three places — my Mac, Dropbox, and Simplenote's servers.

Notesy is where it's at for me. I use Apple's Notes app for lists that rarely change (like restaurants I like), but for on-going lists that get updated frequently, Notesy is terrific. It integrates with Dropbox, so there's no need to set up an account on yet another server, and best of all it is super focused. I like apps that do their jobs simply and elegantly, without any unnecessarily distracting bells and whistles. (I guess that's one reason why I've stayed away from Evernote.) I was lucky enough to get Notesy during a free promotion, but I would be glad to pay for it if I had to purchase it now. Plus, it is a universal app that works great on both iPhone and iPad.

I use the native notes app that's synced with google sync then they are synced back to my MBP's mail app

I use Evernote heavily on my iMacs and MB AIR, but although I have Evernote on the iPhone 4, I use Momento most, entering data with one of those small Apple wifi (bluetooth) keyboards, which makes it really easy to use, so I use it :)

Evernote. It was the first app I installed. I have bee using it for years, and really needed the iPhone/iPod Touch app so I could have access to the notes, and infromation I already had before getting an iOS device There are some other great note apps out there, but Evernote works for me.

On my iPhone I use FastEver, I can jot down a note in seconds. Fore more elaborated notes or to-do's I use Evernote on the desktop.

Um people when u take notes on ur iPhone using the native note it automatically syncs to your iPhone/iPad.
I use Notebooks for iPad it also has a Notebooks app for the iPhone not to be confused with the appigo app. It syncs with dropbox, pc, WebDAV, iTunes, sun docs that's why it's the best!!

evernote is awesome i clip web pages, and take notes in business meetings am able to tag everything access on my ipad, iPhone, work pc, or home mac and it categorizes everything using tags and folders. the note app wasnt enough for me even with mobile me.

I started using Day One it syncs with Dropbox and the Mac it's s great app. I'm using it like an idea journal to help come up with story ideas for my blog posts

I used Evernote all of the time BEFORE iPad came about. Now, I do not use iPhone stall for taking notes and useEvernote and Writepad on iPad for note taking.

I used to use Evernote, but I find Springpad (http://springpadit.com) works a lot better for me. It is a lot more versatile. Also allows checklist, tasklist, bookmarks, etc, etc. It is totally free and syncs between the web and my iPhone, iPad, Android, etc

On the phone? Evernote. I have Notify and a couple of others on the phone too but don't use them.

I use Evernote for work related stuff because I can encrypt it if I need to. For personal stuff I use Springpad, mainly because it syncs everywhere, I like how it can do look ups and other stuff and I can see my stuff offline. I have a free Evernote account so I can't see anything when I'm in a plane which is where I spend a good amount of my time. I still have old notes of mine that I sync to my desktop using Outlook and the native notes app though :)

For me it's iNote all the way. It's a wonderful little app, with endless file folders and a setup that reminds of my pre-retirement days' PC File Manager. I email my daily notes to myself and sync it into Good Reader as a searchable text file. I want most of my files as text files, so that I can transfer them to any computer and read them without needing any specific app. Long live .txt. Almost forgot, I use an iPod touch.

Native Note apps...
Use when do a little speech conveference to about 200 audience using my iPhone :D

I have a bit different approach from many here as I use Toodledo for note taking. It has a Notebook feature that combined with syncing to my Toodledo account which I then sync to Outlook using a freeware sync tool from Chromatic Dragon. Syncs all my categories keeping everything organized (also use this to sync tasks/to-do's).

I use evernote and also toodledo. It is my task application and the notebook portion of it allows me to have notebooks of items already categorized into my task application folders. It syncs every time I open/close the app between my iphone and pc and available from website as well.

I have tried many a notes applications. Plaintext, Evernote, and the native notes application are the ones that i still have on my phone. But about a year ago, everything changed. I realized that there are two types of notes I need to take. Quick reference (as in i need to quickly reference the note(s) from my phone), and reminders (aka tasks). For quick reference I have swung between Plaintext and the native notes since they are FAST, Though I do find myself using the natives notes app more and more since it syncs with my mail application.
Which brings me to my A #1 go to notes application. It's called eMail. I check it every day already, and i can access it from anywhere in the world. I even have a folder called reference to store things I want to check later. Nothing else comes close. Once I got over the change of using email for notes, I have never looked back. Why have to check multiple sources when only one will do.

I take a screenshot of whatever I want to remember. And If Its a thought I generally type it in my Safari Google search bar. I never look at the Notes app so I figure the next time I search something I'll see it and do something with it.

After trying and using Evernote, Awesome Note and other simpler applications I now use MobileNoter on my iPhone and iPad. MobileNoter let me sync with MS OneNote and have my full notes with pictures and hand writing everywhere. MobileNoter has also a Quick Note posssibility to add simpler notes.
OneNote on my PC is also sync with SkyDrive so I can access and edit my notes through any web browsers, on my Mac for example.
I just hope that MobileNoter will add some more functionalities on iPhone and iPad and that a OneNote client will be available on Mac (Growly Notes seem not too far, or perhaps a MobileNoter for Mac?).

Noteshelf is great and very easy to use for my weekly meeting notes using my iPad. I like the notebooks, paper styles, and smooth writing with my Boxwave or Acase stylus pens. For quick notes I use my native Notes app on my iPhone because I can search readily for all kinds of quick notes as I always have my phone with me.

Springpad. Free and has an awesome online client as well as a great Chrome plugin. Prefer it over Evernote because it does pretty much everything Evernote does and is more lightweight.

I wanted something to allow me to jot down a quick note, a quick to-do list (with check boxes), or take a photo note. I tried Evernote (slow) and a few others, and much to my surprise - I like the MS One Note app! I don't need to sync my notes to my computer, so I can't vouch for the PC version, but the iOS app is perfect for my needs.

iThoughts.
Mind Mapping lets me organize while I take notes. Dropbox sync makes sure they're all backed up and accessible through my desktop mind mapping tools.

Catch Notes.... does it all, can take notes when your without signal, sync's with the cloud. Can edit from web browser on your PC / MAC. Ability to share via mail with others.

ScatterBrain; clean, sweet, simple. Has a sync feature and plans are in the works to integrate with DropBox.

This is really a good topic!
I've been using Appigo's Notebook for several years now. It's excellent-- a great interface, with folders, the ability to email notes, it even has rich text formatting (a little clunky-- think insert codes). I brought over several hundred notes from my Palm PDA to it and that worked fine (albeit with some prelim work).
However, you can only sync the notes with a 3rd party server out on the web (Toodledo) which means you've just lost all your privacy for your business memos, diary, love notes, tax info, medical results, etc. Not a good system. The lack of local is really too bad--it's the key missing feature..
I've been looking for an alternative. I played around with SyncBook again today. It syncs locally but, alas, it hasn't been updated in 2 years! The folders are not really folders, but banners put across the page, separating your notes. You end up with a long, very long, list of notes and memos that you have to wade through. That makes it unusable. The synching also did not work with Snow Leopard.
So, what would the ideal notes app have? Four things:
1) Folders
2) Local synching to one's laptop or desktop computer.
3) Font and font size choices.
4) Ability to e-mail notes.
It seems a pretty straightforward, simple set of features, but I'm having a hard time finding a notes app that has all 4!! I'd even settle for the first 3!

I agree with you on #3! It's incredible that so many people have jumped onto the cloud-sync bandwagon that developers basically don't develop for local sync at all anymore. You're not alone in wanting to keep your medical notes and personal memos private. Dropbox, Simplenote, Evernote — these are not private options.