Best Note-Taking App In 2023 For Researchers: Academic & Industry

In the fast-paced world of 2023, where information is king, finding the best note-taking app has become a crucial quest for researchers and professionals alike. Whether you need to streamline your research papers, collaborate with others, or manage projects with precision, the right note-taking tool can make all the difference.

From the cross-platform capabilities of Evernote to the streamlined simplicity of Bear, this comprehensive guide explores the top note-taking apps, their strengths, and even their quirks. What are the best note-taking apps in 2023?

Some of the best note-taking apps for researchers in 2023 include:

  • Slite
  • Apple Notes
  • Evernote
  • Microsoft OneNote
  • Bear
  • Google Keep
  • Notion
  • Obsidian
  • Glasp

Join us as we delve into the world of digital notebooks, markdown formats, PDF exports, and more, in our quest to uncover the best note-taking app for your needs.

Note-Taking AppStrengthsWeaknesses
Slite– Ideal for team collaboration– Free version limits documents and discussions
Apple Notes– Advanced search capabilities– Cumbersome content importing
Evernote– Cross-platform capability, versatility– Interface can be overwhelming for some
Microsoft OneNote– Comprehensive features, sync capabilities– Unpredictable formatting, some features behind paywall
Bear– Simplicity, aesthetic appeal, data privacy– Limited to Apple devices, hashtag-based organization
Google Keep– Simplicity, voice memo feature, location-based reminders– Limited organization options, basic image capture
Notion– Customizable dashboards, extensive features– Overwhelming for new users, potential productivity drain
Obsidian– Local data storage, markdown format, note linkage– Learning curve, no free version
Glasp– Social web highlighting, cross-platform capability– Beta status, may lack familiarity among users

Slite – Perfect For Project Management

Slite is a note-taking app designed for team collaboration, Slite is primarily pitched as a knowledge base platform, aiming to centralize a team’s collective knowledge. In the context of research, this application could be invaluable.

Researchers often collaborate with others, sharing insights, annotations, and edits on research papers. Slite, being a digital notebook, caters to this collaborative environment. It allows researchers to organize their research, create notes, and collaborate on notes in real-time.

This note-taking software is especially efficient for onboarding processes, streamlining how new team members integrate into ongoing projects.

One of Slite’s strength is its AI assistant, a unique feature potentially integrated with Open AI.

It enables users to utilize a command bar to swiftly search across their team’s knowledge base.

For example, when a researcher queries, “Where is our analysis on XYZ?”, the AI can quickly pinpoint the relevant document, streamlining the note-taking experience.

Slite also has a great feature, called ‘Projects’. Here, researchers can organize their notes, refining specific processes integral to their research routine.

For instance, if a research project involves a sequential method, each step can be outlined and assigned, making the research process more transparent for all involved.

However, every app has its limitations. Slite’s free version caps users at 50 documents and discussions, which may be restrictive for expansive research projects. 

Apple Notes – Best Note-Taking App For Apple Users

In 2023, with a plethora of note-taking apps available, Apple Notes continues to make a mark as an inherent tool on Apple devices.

Originally launched with iOS 1.0, this note-taking application has matured over the years, introducing features that make it a potent contender among best note-taking apps.

Apple Notes employs a folder system, distinguishing between regular folders and smart folders – a nifty addition that auto-sorts notes based on tags.

Researchers, who often deal with a wealth of information, will appreciate its advanced search capabilities. 

The optical character recognition feature allows them to search terms within handwritten notes or scanned documents, ensuring no vital research notes go unnoticed. The app’s organization extends to sorting notes by edit date, a boon for researchers to keep track of latest edits.

Researchers can easily collaborate on notes, adjusting permissions to either view or edit. With the unique feature of Quick Notes, jotting down spontaneous ideas or research papers’ insights becomes instantaneous.

Apple Notes is not perfect however. Importing content, especially from non-Apple devices, feels cumbersome. Also, the app’s export function is limited; converting notes to PDFs sometimes results in a blurred output due to raster ink usage.

In the ecosystem of apps in 2023, Apple Notes, especially for users engrossed in the Apple world, remains a top-tier note-taking app. 

Evernote – Best Note-Taking App For Power Users

Evernote is a popular digital notebook that allows users to seamlessly take notes and sync them across devices.

For the modern researcher, the app’s cross-platform note-taking capability ensures that capturing sudden bursts of inspiration is never a miss, whether you’re on a mobile app, web app, or desktop.

A significant strength of Evernote lies in its versatility. It’s not just about text; users can capture a myriad of note formats, from:

  • Sketches
  • Attachments
  • Audio notes.
  • Graphics
  • and more.

The optical character recognition feature deserves a special mention, enabling the app to identify words even in handwritten notes. 

Evernote’s task system acts as both a note-taking tool and project management software, helping users track their daily objectives. One user, who relies on Evernote to manage ADHD, lauds its easy task system which syncs in real-time across devices.

Evernote’s organizational prowess is very notable, offering notebooks and a search feature that can even pull words from uploaded documents.

One issue with Evernote is that it can be too powerful, and be overwhelming for some. While the app offers various functionalities, some users might wish for a more flexible note-taking format with a more intuitive interface.

Microsoft OneNote

In the rapidly evolving world of digital tools, Microsoft’s OneNote emerges as a powerful note-taking app. Touted by many as the best note-taking app for multi-platform users, OneNote is a digital notebook that offers seamless sync capabilities across iOS, Windows or Android devices.

OneNote’s strength lies in its adaptability. For researchers, OneNote is not just a digital notebook but a comprehensive note-taking tool.

The app offers functionalities like the ‘Researcher’, which is invaluable for those writing research papers. It allows users to pull information from credible sources and even automatically formats citations—a feature that streamlines the academic writing process. 

The cross-platform nature of the app is showcased by its sync with other devices, whether it’s an iPhone, iPad, or a two-in-one PC. One can take notes on one device and seamlessly access them on another, a capability that even rivals like Apple Notes and Google Keep are striving for.

One major issue with OneNote is its format sometimes exhibits unpredictability, with text boxes appearing haphazardly, which can be confusing.

While the app offers extensive features, some, like the math helper, are tucked behind a subscription fee, unlike the free plan in Evernote or Google Docs.

Additionally, while it’s a robust note-taking app, OneNote might not replace project management tools or the collaborative capabilities of Google Drive entirely.

In comparison to 2023’s other note-taking tools, OneNote’s capacity to import PDFs, export notes, and collaborate with others is commendable. Its ability to rival standalone apps like Evernote and Apple Notes demonstrates Microsoft’s commitment to refining this digital notebook. 

Bear – Simple Digital Notebook

The Bear app stands out for its simplicity and aesthetic appeal. Unlike other best note-taking apps like Evernote or OneNote, Bear offers a streamlined experience, resonating with researchers who prioritize minimalistic interfaces.

Bear was developed by a team from Parma, Italy, in 2016, and has since become a beloved note-taking tool among Apple users.

For a researcher, taking notes without distractions is essential, and Bear’s markdown format hits the mark, with the added perk of advanced markup options, such as inline code blocks.

This digital notebook doesn’t overcomplicate the process but ensures the user has all they need for effective research.

One of Bear’s prominent strengths is its dedication to user data privacy. Unlike some note-taking apps, Bear’s default setting stores notes locally on devices, thus minimizing data leakage risks.

Plus, for those wary of the dreaded app lock-in, Bear supports the export of notes to numerous file formats, ensuring that switching to a different note-taking app or platform is hassle-free.

One criticism about Bear is it’s use of hashtags instead of folders, which some users find less intuitive.

Moreover, its exclusive availability on Apple devices limits its reach, although a web app version is reportedly in the works.

Bear’s free version is notably generous, offering all features with the exception of cross-device sync, which is reserved for the Pro plan. It’s a competitively priced app that offers quality service, making it a contender in the list of best note-taking apps for 2023. 

Google Keep

In the landscape of note-taking apps in 2023, Google Keep emerges as a significant contender. As a note-taking app, it’s designed for swift capture of ideas, essential for researchers who often need to jot down sudden insights.

One of its primary strengths is its simplicity, focusing on quickly capturing notes and making them accessible across devices. It integrates seamlessly with the broader Google ecosystem, which means if you’re working within Gmail or Google Docs, your notes are just a sidebar away.

For the uninitiated, Google Keep is more than just a digital notebook. For researchers, the voice memo feature stands out, converting voice recordings directly into text, thus making it a valuable tool when conducting interviews or vocalizing thoughts.

Google Keep also offers collaboration features, allowing users to share and collaborate on notes with others in real-time. This is handy when working on joint research papers or group projects.

Unlike Evernote, a popular note-taking app, Google Keep doesn’t excel at archiving vast volumes of notes or organizing them into intricate notebook structures. Instead, it relies on labels for categorization, which might not suffice for detailed research notes organization.

While Google Keep’s camera feature aids in capturing images, it lags behind when compared to Evernote’s sophisticated document capture capabilities.

Researchers should also be aware of the location-based reminders, a feature unique to Google Keep.

Imagine setting a reminder to review certain research notes when you arrive at your university or research facility. This sort of integration between physical location and digital reminders can be invaluable.

Google Keep does offer a robust suite of features for the researcher seeking a free, integrated, and straightforward note-taking tool. Its mobile app ensures that you can take notes on the go, and its collaborate with others feature makes teamwork smoother. 


In the ever-evolving realm of note-taking apps, Notion stands out in 2023 as a comprehensive tool that promises more than mere note-keeping. Notion surpasses the functionalities of its competitors such as Evernote, Google Keep, and even Microsoft’s OneNote.

The platform has been recognized as the best note-taking app that goes beyond digital notebook functionality to a broader project management space.

For researchers, Notion acts as a digital playground. Unlike traditional note-taking apps, Notion offers the capability to create dashboards customized to individual workflow preferences. It’s not just about taking notes; users can also:

  • Embed Loom videos
  • Integrate calendars
  • Generate templates for repetitive tasks
  • and many more.

Researchers can efficiently organize their research notes, develop content calendars for publishing, and even design databases. The cross-platform note-taking experience ensures consistency, whether accessed via web app or mobile app.

Notion’s ability to collaborate on notes is unmatched. Sharing specific pages, embedding various content formats, and the ease to sync your notes across devices make the process seamless.

For instance, databases can be shared, filtered, and viewed in different formats, like a Trello-style board or a conventional calendar.

Notion’s flexibility, its biggest strength, can also be its most significant weakness. The sheer range of possibilities can overwhelm new users, and without a streamlined approach, one can end up complicating tasks.

Its expansive nature requires time to master, with a potential risk of becoming a productivity drain instead of a booster.


Obsidian has risen as a formidable contender for the best note-taking app title. Operating as a digital notebook, Obsidian stands out from the multitude, including popular names such as Evernote, OneNote, Google Keep, and Apple Notes.

So, what makes Obsidian unique? Unlike many note-taking apps that store notes in the cloud, Obsidian keeps your notes in a local folder, providing users control over their data.

This note-taking app also adopts a markdown format, which is not just for those familiar with coding but is a user-friendly way to take notes.

With a cross-platform note-taking feature, Obsidian allows users to access your notes across various devices seamlessly.

A distinguishing feature is its ability to create and visualize links between notes, enhancing the note-taking experience and making it easier to organize your research.

This interconnected web can be an invaluable asset, especially for researchers who wish to see connections between different research notes or topics.

While Obsidian thrives in note linkage and local storage, it might present a steeper learning curve for those accustomed to more straightforward apps like Google Docs or Apple Notes.

Another issue is the absence of a free version. This may deter some, but Obsidian’s robust features could justify its price tag for dedicated users.

In comparison to apps like Roam Research, which also emphasizes interconnected note-taking, Obsidian’s strength lies in its local-first approach.

Still, if collaboration is a key aspect of your research process, you might find apps that prioritize real-time collaboration, such as Microsoft’s OneNote, more suitable.

Glasp – Take Notes Differently

In the expansive realm of note-taking apps in 2023, Glasp emerges as a unique web app designed specifically for researchers and avid online readers. With the app’s Chrome extension, users can effortlessly highlight and capture text from web sources.

Here are some features of Glasp:

  1. Social Web Highlighter: Glasp’s focus on highlighting and sharing web content makes it stand out. Users can create profiles based on the web content they clip, similar to how social media platforms like Facebook work. This adds a social element to the note-taking process, enabling collaboration and sharing of insights.
  2. Integration with Other Note Apps: Glasp’s compatibility with other popular note-taking apps is a significant advantage. This allows users to export their clippings or highlights to various note-taking platforms, ensuring flexibility and the ability to organize their research across multiple apps seamlessly.
  3. Cross-Platform Note-Taking: The cross-platform note-taking feature is essential for users who use different devices or platforms for their work. It ensures that notes and clippings can be synchronized and accessed from anywhere, enhancing productivity and convenience.
  4. Heatmap Feature: The heatmap feature is an interesting addition, as it helps users visualize their note-taking habits over time. This can be valuable for improving the research process, identifying areas of interest, and staying organized.

Glasp is however, in beta, which can be a reason for caution for some. Researchers accustomed to using more established platforms like OneNote or Roam Research may find the transition challenging. Additionally, while the app offers various note-taking tools, Glasp’s main strength lies in its unique blend of note-taking and social sharing.

Wrapping Up – Best Note Taking Apps In 2023

As the note-taking app landscape continues to evolve, each app offers its own strengths and weaknesses. Choosing the right note-taking app for yourself ultimately depends on your specific needs, preferences, and workflows. 

So, whether you’re looking to streamline your research papers, collaborate with others, or manage projects, there’s a note-taking app out there in 2023 to cater to your requirements. Choose wisely, and may your note-taking journey be both efficient and productive.

The Author

Dr Andrew Stapleton has a Masters and PhD in Chemistry from the UK and Australia. He has many years of research experience and has worked as a Postdoctoral Fellow and Associate at a number of Universities. Although having secured funding for his own research, he left academia to help others with his YouTube channel all about the inner workings of academia and how to make it work for you.