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The 7 best note-taking apps to get started with personal knowledge management in 2021

A roundup of stand-out note-taking apps for note-taking, working on your next writing project, or building your digital mind garden.

Elizabeth Butler
Elizabeth Butler
3 min read
The 7 best note-taking apps to get started with personal knowledge management in 2021

We've talked about how overwhelming it can be to decide on which software to use to build your personal knowledge management system. Here are some stand-out note-taking apps that offer a robust set of features for note-taking, digital note management, outlining your next research paper, building a digital mind garden, organizing your digital life, or drafting a book, thesis, dissertation, or other writing project.

What makes a great note-taking app?

There are many, many great note-taking apps that didn't make this list. They'll probably get featured in a later list. This list was developed as a starter guide to 7 top options for getting started with digital note taking for personal knowledge management.

Here's how this list was developed:

  • The apps had to be aesthetically pleasing. Beautiful apps are a pleasure to use, which in turn makes digital note-taking a regular habit.
  • The apps had to be quick and easy to use. Some have a higher learning curve than others, but every app on this list basically lets you get started in short order.
  • These apps generally have robust export options (but test them out first before you build your entire personal knowledge empire in them!). It's important for future-proofing your PKM that your digital notes are transportable if you decide to move to another platform, software, or system.

The best note-taking apps

  • Bear for speedy, Markdown based text-based notes across the Apple ecosystem (Mac, iPad, iPhone, Apple Watch)
  • Craft for collaborative, stylish documents for the Apple ecosystem (with Windows and Linux access via the web)
  • Evernote for cross-platform notes with email functionality and OCR searching within images, PDFs, and Word documents
  • Inkdrop for cross-platform and mobile Markdown notes
  • Notion for flexible, customizable web-based notes accessible on any platform
  • Obsidian for a highly customizable, flexible knowledge base built on local Markdown files with tons of plug-ins and extensions
  • Roam Research for a note-taking tool focused on networked thought to support long-term research

Bear

Craft

Evernote

Inkdrop

Notion

Obsidian

Roam Research

Next Steps

Are you ready to create a personal knowledge management system that saves you time? Do you want to free up mental energy to work on accomplishing big things?

My Calmer Notes learning bundle (ebook + workbook + PKM app database) is launching later in 2021. Head over to the Calmer Notes website to learn more. Or join the list below to get updates on the project.

Psst... If you want to join my inner circle of early adopters (thank you to those of you who've already pre-ordered - I appreciate your support! ❤️), you can preorder on Gumroad to lock in the lowest early-adopter pricing.

AppsDigital NotesNote TakingNotionObsidianPersonal Knowledge ManagementRoamBear NotesCraft NotesEvernoteInkdrop Notes

Elizabeth Butler

Your guide to the world of personal knowledge management. Creator of the Calmer Notes method (calmernotes.com). Physician, PhD, parent, tea drinker.


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