Are you looking for some software to write notes when you’re in a meeting at work or in a lecture at university and would like to get some tips in this regard? Well, I’d say that you’ve come to the right place at the right time. With this tutorial of today I intend to show you what, in my humble opinion, are the best programs to take notes currently available.

There are several, both for Windows, macOS and Linux, both free and paid. All you have to do is find the solution that you think is best for you, download it to your computer and start using it right away. You can use the programs in question both to write longer texts and simple notes, all directly from the PC screen and in an incredibly practical and fast way.

So? May I know what are you still doing standing there? Position yourself comfortably in front of your computer and start immediately to concentrate on reading what is reported below. I’m sure that, at the end, you’ll be happy and satisfied with what you’ve learned and that, even, in case of need, you’ll be ready to give advice to your friends eager to receive a similar tip. Good reading and good work!

Programs for taking notes on PC

Looking for note-taking programs on PC? Then you can rely on those belonging to the above category, available for Windows, macOS and Linux, which I have described below. I’m sure that in no time you’ll be able to find a solution that suits your needs.

Obsidian (Windows/MacOS/Linux)
Obsidian

The first among the note-taking programs I want to suggest you to try is Obsidian, which one of the best PKM (Personal Knowledge Management) software available. It can be used on Windows, macOS and Linux (as well as mobile devices) and allows you to take notes by writing them in the Markdown markup language, linking them together dynamically via backlinks and tags. This means having all your notes in plain text, not tied to a closed system and easily editable/exported to any document processing application, while being able to easily organize and synchronize them across multiple devices (just set up your own archive, called a vault, on a cloud storage service).

Its operation can be extended and customized endlessly by means of plugins and even by modifying the interface using CSS code. With plugins you can add concept maps, tables, to-do lists and change the behavior of the program, even on mobile, in almost any way. All this helps to build your own “second brain”. Obsidian can be downloaded and used for free with no limitations, but paid subscriptions are available to have a proprietary note synchronization system with end-to-end encryption and file history, or to access online publishing tools.

To download Obsidian to your computer, visit its website and click on the Get Obsidian for Windows button, or the Get Obsidian for macOS button (depending on the operating system you’re using). Once the download is complete, if you’re using Windows, open the .exe file obtained and wait for the software to install.

If, on the other hand, you are using macOS, open the .dmg package obtained and move the program’s icon to the Applications folder, then right-click on it and select Open twice in order to launch Obsidian while circumventing the restrictions imposed by Apple on software from non-certified developers (this should only be done on first startup).

Now that you see the main screen of the application, select Italian from the language dropdown menu at the bottom and press the Create button located next to the Create a new vault item to indicate the name you want to assign to the folder that should contain your notes and the location where you want to create it.

Next, you’ll be able to start taking notes with Obsidian by clicking on the paper icon located at the top and typing in the title and content of the notes on the right side of the screen.

To move, link and organize the contents of your notes in a different way, just click on the button with the three horizontal lines at the top right and select the option you prefer from the menu that appears, while the button with the sheet and adjacent lines of text allows you to switch between viewing and editing modes.

If, on the other hand, you want to open an existing note you can select it from the list on the left, which can eventually be structured into folders, which can be created by pressing the button with the folder. In the sidebar, instead, there are buttons to open the graph view, the command pane etc.

Please note that all the notes you create are automatically saved by the program, but you can eventually export them by selecting the appropriate item in Obsidian’s menu (or simply by browsing your vault folder, as I told you they are very simple text files; as well as any multimedia attachments are kept in their original format).

OneNote (Windows/MacOS)
OneNote

Another one of the note taking programs that, in my opinion, you would do well to consider is OneNote. This is a free software developed by Microsoft with which you can take notes and create notes that are accessible at any time through the use of your Microsoft account, all perfectly organized between notepads, sections and pages. You can also insert multimedia content and markup. It is available for both Windows and macOS.

If you have installed Office on your computer and if you have activated the Microsoft 365 subscription (at a cost of 7 euros/month for the Personal plan or at a cost of 10 euros/month for the Family plan), you will find OneNote among the programs installed on your PC, as it is an integral part of the Microsoft office suite. For more details, you can consult my specific guide on how to install Office.

If you do not have Office, you can download and install OneNote on Windows 10 and later by accessing the relevant section of the Microsoft Store and pressing the Get button. If you are using an older version of Windows, on the other hand, go to this web page and click the Download button, then launch the obtained .exe file and press the Yes button in the window that appears. Then launch the program by clicking the appropriate shortcut in the Start menu.

If you’re using macOS, instead, visit the relevant section of the Mac App Store, press the Get button, then the Install button and authorize the download by typing in your Apple ID password or via Touch ID, then launch the application by selecting the icon that has been added to the Launchpad.

Now that you see the OneNote window on the screen, sign in to your Microsoft account, after which you can finally start using it to take notes, selecting the notebook you want to use from the section on the left or creating a new one by clicking on the Add Notebook item.

You will then see the columns in which the notes are arranged: in the first column are the sections that group several notes, while in the second column you will find the notes for each section. To add a new section, press the Add Section button at the bottom left, and to create a new note, press the Add Page button next to it.

After creating a new note, you can use the text section on the right to enter text into it. At the top you can write the title, further down everything else.

I would also like to point out that at the top of the screen you will find various tabs: the Home tab that contains commands for formatting the inserted text, creating bulleted and numbered lists, adding highlights, etc.; the Insert tab for inserting drawings, tables, files or other elements; the Draw tab for creating and inserting freehand drawings; the View tab for choosing a different color for the note, enabling the display of lines and squares, etc.; and the Insert tab for inserting drawings, tables, files or other elements.

The notes you create are automatically saved to OneDrive, but if you want you can share them with other users by clicking the Share item located in the upper right corner. For more in-depth information on using the program, you can check out my guide on how to use OneNote.

Evernote (Windows/MacOS)
Evernote

It is impossible to carry out a review of note-taking programs without mentioning Evernote, one of the most famous and advanced applications for creating and managing information in the form of notes. It lets you keep your notes always synchronized on all your devices, saving them in special notebooks. It works on Windows and macOS. It is free, but to use the service on more than two devices and unlock additional features, you must subscribe to one of the pay plans (at a basic cost of 6.99 euros / month).

To download the program to your computer, if you are using Windows 10 and later, visit the relevant section of the Microsoft Store and click on the Get button. If you are using an older version of Windows, go to the program’s website and press the Download button. Then open the .exe file and in the window that appears on the desktop click the Yes button, select the I accept the terms of the license agreement item, click the Install button and finish the setup by clicking the Finish button. After that, open OneNote by selecting the shortcut added to the Start menu.

If you’re using macOS, however, you can find the application by visiting the relevant section of the Mac App Store, pressing the Get button, then the Install button and authorizing the download using your Apple ID password or Touch ID. Then, launch the program by selecting the icon added to the Launchpad.

Once the main window of the program appears on the screen, immediately register an account in order to use Evernote, by filling out the proposed fields with the required data. Alternatively, you can log in with your Google or Apple account.

Next, follow the short introductory tutorial and start taking notes by clicking on the New item at the top left, choosing the Note option and typing the title and body of the notes in the writing area on the right. At the top you will also find the toolbar with all the buttons for formatting text, inserting voice notes, files from the main cloud storage services, images, sharing items etc.

When you’re done writing, choose in which notebook to store your notes and add any tags, using the additional commands available, after which the note will be automatically saved to your account. If you want, however, you can still export it by pressing the (…) button at the top right and choosing the most appropriate option from the menu that opens.

All the notes you create will be visible in the Notes section of the program, which you can access by selecting the appropriate item in the left side menu. Always through the latter you can also reach the sections to create and manage new notebooks, tags, tasks, etc.. For more information, see my tutorial on how Evernote works.

Google Keep (Online)
Google Keep

If you don’t want to or can’t download new programs to take notes on your computer, I suggest you give Google Keep a try. As you can easily guess from its name, this is a solution made available by Google through which you can write notes directly via your browser and create to-do lists. It is totally free and has a nice user interface as well. The only thing to keep in mind is that you can only use it through your Google account, which allows you to synchronize the notes you write between all the devices connected to it.

To use Google Keep, reach the home page of the service and log in to your account (if necessary). Then, start writing your notes by accessing the Notes section that you find in the left sidebar and clicking on the Write a note field that appears on the right.

Now, fill in the proposed sheet with the title of the note at the top and the body of the note at the bottom. Further down you’ll find buttons to change the color of the note, add images, add labels, etc., while at the top is the button to fix the note. When you are done writing your notes, click the Close button.

All the notes you write are accessible from the main screen of Google Keep and by clicking on them you can expand their content. To manage reminders, labels, archived notes and those moved to the recycle bin, click on the appropriate items in the left sidebar.

Other programs to take notes on PC
Simplenote

None of the solutions that I have already mentioned convinced you in a particular way and, therefore, you would like me to show you other programs through which you can take notes on your computer? You can find them in the list below.

Simplenote (Windows/MacOS/Linux) – this is free software that runs on all major operating systems and allows you to create notes and write memos. Simplicity is its strong point as it is very intuitive and has a minimal user interface. It is completely free.

JustNoteIt (Windows/MacOS) – is a software available for both Windows and macOS that is very easy to use and combines the convenience of the old post-it notes with the power of PCs and the Internet. It allows you to create notes “on the fly” directly from your desktop and save them in virtual notes that can be shared with friends and colleagues in the local network or on the Web. It also includes a useful reminder function through which you can set alarms and reminders to fulfill your commitments. You have to pay for it (the Windows version costs €23.99 and the macOS version costs €13.99), but you can download the free 15-day trial version.

Notes (macOS) – is the free, default macOS application for taking notes and creating notes of various kinds, including by hand with Apple Pencil. It syncs with iCloud (so everything is accessible from iPhone, iPad and via the Web), allows you to create a virtually infinite number of notes, even with images, documents and drawings. It is very easy to use and also has a pleasant user interface. It also supports the use of tags (starting with macOS Monterey and iOS 15) and lets you protect access to the writings you create.

Notes (macOS) – is the free, default macOS application for taking notes and creating notes of various kinds, including by hand with Apple Pencil. It syncs with iCloud (so everything is accessible from iPhone, iPad and via the Web), allows you to create a virtually infinite number of notes, even with images, documents and drawings. It is very easy to use and also has a pleasant user interface. It also supports the use of tags (starting with macOS Monterey and iOS 15) and lets you protect access to the writings you create.

Programs for taking notes on PDF

Do you need to add notes to your PDF documents and would like to understand which tools are useful for this purpose that you can rely on? I’ll satisfy you instantly. Below, in fact, you will find a whole series of programs to take notes on PDF, on Windows and macOS (and also on Linux), to which you can decide to turn.

LibreOffice (Windows/MacOS/Linux)
LibreOffice

Among the best programs to take notes going to intervene on documents in PDF format is without any doubt LibreOffice. This is a free and open source work suite that comes from a rib of OpenOffice. It includes applications for drafting texts, processing spreadsheets, making presentations, etc. Among the various functions offered there is also one that lets you edit PDFs. Using it, in fact, you can add customized text to PDFs, edit text already in the document (where possible), insert arrows, highlights, images, etc. It is compatible with Windows, macOS and Linux.

To download LibreOffice on your computer, connect to the LibreOffice website and click on the Download xx version button. Once the download is complete, if you are using Windows, open the installation package and, in the window that appears on your desktop, press the Run button. Then click on the Next button, select the Typical option and click on the Next, Install, Yes and Finish buttons.

If you are using macOS, open the .dmg package, drag the LibreOffice icon to the Applications folder, right-click on it and select Open from the menu. Then press the Open button in the window that appears on the screen, in order to launch the program and bypass Apple’s restrictions on applications from non-certified developers (this should only be done on first startup). Then close the program completely by pressing cmd+q on your keyboard.

After completing the above steps, again on macOS, visit the LibreOffice website and click on the Translated User Interface button to get the package to translate the software into Italian (which on Windows is included in the basic installation package).

Once the download is complete, open the new .dmg package, right-click on the LibreOffice Language Pack executable inside it, select Open from the menu that appears and press the Open and Install buttons. Next, select /Applications/LibreOffice.app from the window that opens and click the Install button. If you see a warning about permissions while doing so, to finish the setup click the Yes, identify me button, enter your user account password and click the OK button (twice).

Now that you see LibreOffice’s main window on your screen, import the PDF document you want to insert your notes into the program by clicking on the Open file option on the left. This will start Draw, LibreOffice’s editor for editing PDF documents.

Once you have opened the file, you can write on it by clicking on the button with the A and the lines of text on the toolbar at the top and create a selection to write on the point of interest. Instead, to adjust the size and type of the writing characters use the options on the right side.

You can also edit the text already in the document, selecting it and writing what you want or editing and/or deleting the existing one and you can insert other elements such as arrows, geometric shapes, lines and images using the appropriate buttons on the left sidebar.

When you’re done editing, remember to save the final file by selecting LibreOffice’s File menu and then Export to PDF.

Other programs for taking notes on PDF
PDFElement

If you are looking for other programs through which you can take notes on your PDF files, you can try to take a look at the ones I have provided in the following list.

Adobe Acrobat Reader DC (Windows/MacOS) – program designed specifically to view and edit documents in PDF format and, of course, to add notes to them. It was made by the software company that developed the PDF format and is available on both Windows and macOS. Basically it’s free, but some features, such as the ability to edit existing text, are reserved for subscribers to the paid version (with prices starting at 18.29 euros / month), which you can try for free for 7 days. More information here.

Preview (macOS) – is the free image and PDF viewing application included with Apple’s operating system. It can also be used to add notes and various drawings to PDF documents, but without altering the existing text.

Programs for taking notes with a graphic tablet
Graphics tablet

Are you looking for programs to take notes with a graphic tablet? If so, I am happy to tell you that you can use the software I have already mentioned in the previous lines without any problem.

For more information on how to connect your graphics tablet to your computer you can follow my specific guide, while for more information on how to use it you can read my post on how to draw with a graphics tablet and take a look at my review of free graphics tablet programs.

Programs for taking notes on tablets
iPad

You never have your computer at hand and, therefore, would like to understand what are the best programs for taking notes on tablets? If so, you should turn to ad-hoc solutions, available for both Android and iPad, such as those you’ll find in my reviews on note-taking apps and iPad note-taking apps.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *