best note taking apps for college best note taking apps for college


Unlock your academic potential with Apple Notes that is the best note
taking app for college students who use iOS phones and tablets. Meanwhile,
Evernote is the best the pick for Android as it keeps all your notes
synchronized across all devices.

I am a college student who has experimented with plenty of note-taking apps and I know full well that landing on the perfect one is key. So, I've put more than 35 different options through the wringer, and here are the best note taking apps for college that I managed to find.

Quick Overview

App Suitable For Leading Elements Free Plan

Apple Notes

Apple users

Native integration, seamless syncing



Versatile users

Advanced organization, extensive integrations



Handwritten note-takers

Support for handwriting, PDF annotation



Multimedia note-takers

Robust annotation tools, audio recording



Collaborative work

Rich feature set, versatile workspace



Visual learners

Mind mapping, annotation, multimedia support



Minimalistic note-takers

Clean interface, Markdown support



Distraction-free writers

Focus mode, customizable themes


I've put together an informative rundown of the top apps out there for students. They each have their own perks, so whether you're all about working together, prefer jotting things down by hand, or just want a simple setup to focus, with this quick overview, you’ll be able to pick the perfect fit for your studies.

1. Apple Notes

iOS, iPadOS, macOS

best note taking app for college apple notes
  • Integrates with Apple devices
  • User-friendly interface
  • Folders and tags for intuitive organization
  • Supports multimedia content
  • Not compatible with Android
  • No advanced features available in competitors

I put this app at the top spot because, all in all, Apple Notes has been a super handy productivity app for staying on top of my academic tasks. Its smooth integration with my iPhone, iPad, and MacBook means I can grab my notes from wherever I happen to be.

The interface is very understandable. Users can jot down lecture notes in a snap and sort them out using folders and tags. What's more, it is possible to add multimedia content like photos (I often snap shots of the lecturer's board) and sketches. This is a real perk for visual learners like me.

Unfortunately, this tool caters exclusively to iOS and iPadOS users, so Android owners have to look for another app. Furthermore, its collaboration capabilities pale in comparison to those of competing apps. This can be a big hindrance for team projects or studying with classmates.

2. Evernote

iOS, iPadOS, macOS, Android

best note taking app for college evernote
  • Supports many file formats
  • Copies webpages, images and PDF files
  • Text search in images
  • Works in offline notebooks on a PC
  • Synchronization between devices is a paid feature
  • Limited functionality in a free version

I think, this is one of the best note taking apps for college students that allows to work with a wide range of note types like text, pictures, audio notes, drafts, checklists, scanned documents and screenshots. It has a set of great instruments for organizing and searching the necessary notes. For example, with this app, I can decipher text in images.

Evernote is also one of the best mobile scanner apps and a web clipper for your browser. You can choose which part of the page you want to capture, the whole text or a selected fragment.

But, when it comes to a free version, I believe, it is very limited. By upgrading to a Premium or Business account, you can find a particular phrase in PDF files or office documents. Unfortunately, a free version doesn’t allow you to synchronize more than two devices.

3. Goodnotes

iOS, iPadOS, macOS, Android

best note taking app for college goodnotes
  • Manifold note-taking features
  • Smooth synchronization across devices
  • Advanced organization tools
  • It is possible to add handwritten notes, typed text, images, etc.
  • May be difficult for new users
  • Rather expensive
  • Limited co-op functionality

To my mind, the highlight of this college note taking app for iPad is the possibility to add handwritten notes, typed text, images, and even PDF annotations into one notebook. Therefore, I can manage information in my preferred way. Plus, GoodNotes really amazes with its robust organization tools. Thanks to customizable notebooks, folders, and tags, I can easily stay on top of my coursework, lectures, and research materials.

GoodNotes does wonders with its smooth syncing feature across all my gadgets. Whether I'm jotting down notes on my iPad tablet for business during a lecture or giving them a once-over on my MacBook later, I can be sure my notes are always up to date and at hand.

However, as with any tool, GoodNotes has some drawbacks. Some users, particularly those new to digital note-taking, can experience difficulties getting the hang of the app. Moreover, the cost can be a deal-breaker for students watching their wallets. The price factor becomes particularly important as there are free options like Apple Notes available in the market.

4. Notability

iOS, iPadOS, macOS, Android

best note taking app for college notability
  • Straightforward UI and functionality
  • Top-notch annotation tools
  • Syncs across devices
  • Convenient organization with notebooks and folders
  • Some features are paid
  • Handwriting recognition may be inaccurate

Notability has a very easy-to-use interface. It lets me grab my notes and sort them out in a quick and understandable way. I can effortlessly scribble down summaries from class, add comments to my readings, or list ideas for my essays. With a well-thought-out interface, I can keep tabs on my coursework, without getting tangled up in any fancy formatting or tricky menus.

Notability has some impressive annotation tools in its arsenal. It's got your back whether you're jotting down notes by hand, typing away, adding images, or recording audio. This means I can tweak my notes to match how I like to learn and gather info in the most effective way for me.

Besides, the app brags about its nifty palm rejection tech and super smooth writing feel. It's almost like the sensation of pen meeting paper, even when I'm just scribbling with a stylus on my iPad.

5. Notion

iOS, iPadOS, macOS, Android

best note taking app for college notion
  • Pages are easy to edit
  • Convenient databases
  • Tools for embedding the text
  • Text structuring
  • Variety of features can cause confusion
  • Limited offline functionality

I particularly like Notion's digital organization capabilities. It is not merely a note-taking app for iPad for college students. It's a versatile workspace, where you can develop personalized databases, task lists, wikis, and other tools. The best part is that all processes are integrated into a unified platform.

A praiseworthy feature of this note taking app with stylus is its flexibility. I can fully rely on it when capturing lecture insights, managing research data, or orchestrating team endeavors.

Notion furnishes me with the essential utilities to organize information in a proper manner. Besides, I like that it’s possible to make bespoke templates and databases, thus, personalizing my workspace to fit my exact requirements. Organization and productivity here are on point.

As for disadvantages, both Notion and Goodnotes take time to understand the interface cause some features look like they are hidden. There are lots of customization options and features, which can be overwhelming initially. But if you are persistent, you will learn how to use the software.

6. MarginNote

iOS, iPadOS, macOS, Android

best note taking app for college marginnote
  • Great annotation tools
  • Mind-mapping feature
  • Syncs across devices
  • Helps grasp concepts better
  • Confusing interface
  • Not the cheapest option

To my mind, the most impressive aspect of MarginNote is its strong annotation capabilities. They come in handy when I mark important sections, take notes, or incorporate my own ideas and perspectives directly onto the page. MarginNote simplifies the process of managing my textbooks and lecture slides a lot.

I think the most impressive feature of MarginNote is its mind mapping. Making several taps, I can convert my annotations written on a tablet for school use into visual mind maps, better understand intricate concepts and highlight connections between various subjects. This feature is particularly helpful when it comes to preparing for exams and writing research papers.

However, the interface may seem a little confusing when you just start learning the app. This may pose special inconveniences for users who aren't familiar with mind mapping techniques. Moreover, the cost of this application can be a barrier for students with limited financial resources.

7. Bear

iOS, iPadOS, macOS

best note taking app for college bear
  • Secure notes with encryption
  • You can format text while typing
  • Convenient export
  • Notes are hidden in the Focus mode
  • Not for Android users
  • Limited organization features
  • Incorporating multimedia content is impossible

Bear takes a different approach to organizing my notes than other similar note taking apps for students. While working in this app, I can easily link one note to another creating a network of information, eliminating the need for tags and folders.

Moreover, Bear has an archive feature that can save me some time. By archiving a note, the app removes it from the search without deleting it. Bear also has several export options, including HTML, PDF, DOCX, MD, JPG, and others.

The app's free version has only basic functionality, while advanced features are available for people who pay. Also, Bear is really good at sorting out text notes, but if you want to add pictures or recordings to your notes, it may not be the best option for you.

8. Ulysses

iOS, iPadOS, macOS

best note taking app for college ulysses
  • Publishing to WordPress
  • Focus mode
  • Convenient organization and configuration
  • Unified library
  • Platform availability
  • Limited collaboration features

I can say that Ulysses is great free software for students for both note-taking and long essays or articles because it has everything I need to write without distractions.

Unlike many similar iPad note taking apps for college students, it has a convenient multi-level hierarchical organization. Its unified library contains everything I will ever write and includes necessary tools to manage projects writing of all sizes and purposes.

This note-taking app for students and writers can turn my texts into beautiful PDFs, Word documents and eBooks that are properly formatted and stylized. It also allows me to export your texts to HTML.

I don't think it's the top pick for users who often work together on group projects or study sessions and need to edit or comment together in real-time. Such collaboration tools are simply missing here. Besides, even though Ulysses works on various platforms like macOS, iOS, and iPadOS, it isn’t compatible with Android.

How to Choose the Best Option for You

When looking for the best note-taking app for Mac college students and those using Android devices, you should consider different factors. The most important of them, I have listed below.

Figure out what you need. Think about what features you really need for taking notes. Do you want to write by hand, add pictures or videos, or work together with others? Write down the important features to pick the right app.

Consider compatibility. Make sure an app works with your devices and operating system. Whether you have iOS, Android, Windows, or macOS, you need an application that runs smoothly on the platform.

Check how easy it is to use. Opt for an app with a simple layout and easy-to-understand design. A note-taking app should make your work easier, not harder. Try out a few apps to see which one feels best and is easy to get the hang of.

Clarify how you can organize your notes. Good organization is important for taking notes for college without issues. Pick an app that has strong organization tools like folders, tags, and search. Therefore, it will be easier for you to keep your notes in order and find them when you need them.

Check out collaboration features. If you frequently work with classmates or colleagues, choose note-taking apps where you can edit together, comment, and sync in real-time. This is very important for productive joint work.

Pay attention to how syncing and backup work. Find apps that sync smoothly between your devices and automatically back up your student notes. Thus, you can have peace of mind that your notes are updated and safe, and you won't lose anything. Besides, you’ll be able to take notes without interruption.