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Taking Note: A Comparison of Note Keeping Apps

As a designer, I often get the help of a project manager to iron out the details of a project and handle some of the ins and outs so that I can concentrate solely on design.
It’s too bad I can’t take that project manager and have him/her work out a weekly meal plan or maybe organize my next home move. That way I can enjoy life without the pain of organizing all those pesky little details.

However, I do have my methods for keeping my life organized. I use a combination of digital and analog methods. If you are like me, you over use Post-It notes (analog) and end up with important information floating on those tiny squares of paper that are easily lost. I also keep a quick list in the app called Clear (digital) and sometimes I just email myself a note (digitally ghetto).

Alas, they each have their downfalls especially for stuff like meal planning. The digital quick lists are temporary. Email notes are not well organized and more annoying to search for later. Handwritten notes, either on a Post-It note or 8.5″ x 11″ sheet are only good if you are keeping a binder. I haven’t been into binders since Trapper Keepers were still around. OK, I sort of miss having a Trapper Keeper.

So, what’s a girl to do without a binder that holds and organizes by subject? Let’s look at a couple of digital options I’ve played around with: Evernote and Springpad.



Evernote is very slick and feels professional. It’s easy enough to use, although I haven’t used every single feature. You can easily share your Evernote “Notebooks” if you ever needed to collaborate with anyone. Everything is aligned flush left and the interface demands a bit of a learning curve. I had a hard time figuring out the difference between a simple “note” vs. a “notebook”.

Screen Shot 2013-04-08 at 8.26.33 PM

Evernote’s main interface

Evernote is available on Windows, Mac, via Web-based interface, iOS (iPhone, iPad), and Android platforms.

However, something I am excited to try out some more is Evernote Food!:


Springpad does an excellent job of showing off its interface and features. For some reason, I also enjoy its more centered UI with navigation controls at the top of the page. I like that there is a visual thumbnail that can go with your “spring”. Since I’m a visual person, staying organized visually is a major bonus.


Springpad: “My Stuff” view

I like the easy to understand + plus symbol that is used to add things and to tag them in a category. Alternatively, you can simply add a note or paste in a link that you can search for later. I have to admit that I much prefer Springpad’s UI and user experience.

Springpad (adding a "spring"

Springpad: Adding a “spring”

I am also looking forward to exploring using them for meal planning. You can start your meal planner even from a free account. One of the best features is that you can copy and paste a recipe’s URL and, voilà, the recipe and its ingredients are there for you. You can then take those ingredients and add them to your shopping list. Springpad even offers up wine pairings for your added recipe. Pssh, I love it!

Springpad - Adding in a recipe

Springpad: Added a recipe

Springpad is available for Android, iOS (iPhone and iPad), the Amazon Kindle and there are extensions for Firefox and Chrome browsers.

A wonderful feature of both of these apps is that you can access them online and from your smartphone so that you are always connected, able to edit and add no matter where you are. Now that’s really keeping things in sync, which is a must when trying to stay organized.

So what would you use a note taking app for? Have a favorite one besides these two?


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