Google Keep vs. Evernote vs. Bear: Which Note-Taking App Is Ideal for You?

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There’s no doubt apps like Google Keep, Evernote, and Bear are each terrific at offering some unique traits. Yet, even though each app has its strengths, they also have their drawbacks depending on a person’s unique needs and goals with a note-taking app. Let’s go through what each app offers and why Keep, Evernote, or Bear could be ideal for you.

For Quick Notes: Keep

If you want to take quick notes on the fly that are super-easy to access everywhere else, then Google Keep is for you. On your mobile, you can set up a widget so a Keep note – such as a checklist – is always open and easy to add to. The fact Keep plays nice with the rest of the Google ecosystem, like Gmail, is also a major plus.

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Although the app is speedy and fluid in adding a basic note, the offerings for organizing notes – essentially only possible via labels, color-coding notes and pinning them to the top of your note list – are far more minimal in comparison to the robust offerings of Evernote and Bear.

On this basis, Keep is ideal for someone who needs to take a lot of quick notes and do so rapidly but does not need to sort through them or hold onto them for a long time.

For Seamless Organizing: Evernote

For many people, Evernote will be the first app that comes to mind when thinking about note-taking. There’s a good reason for it, too. By many measures, Evernote’s app pioneered the contemporary note-taking system we see today in Keep and Bear. Although the app is not as quick as Keep, it remains easy just the same to take a new note, create a smartphone widget, and set up checklists.

Where Evernote goes above and beyond is the ease in which seamless storage of notes can occur. Creating new notebooks to collate and store notes is a breeze. The key drawback to Evernote is the cost: beyond the basic freemium version, a subscription starts at $9.99 a month – and there’s a big gap between that sum, Bear’s cost of $1.49 monthly (after a free one-week trial), and Keep being totally free.

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Accordingly, Evernote is ideal for those wanting more depth than Keep but who aren’t quite ready to jump in the deep end with Bear.

For an In-Depth Offering: Bear

For first-time users, Bear can seem intimidating, especially for those unfamiliar with the markdown language. But beyond the learning curve, it can be a joy to use, making it easy to take new notes, categorize them, and link them together using Bear’s hashtag system. This system makes it a breeze to not only search for old notes but link them together. Over time these links help create your own “personal Wikipedia” in Bear, allowing you to easy navigate through all your notes and immediately see how they relate to one another via the hashtag links.

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One drawback of Bear is its (current) Apple-exclusive identity. It is known the team is working on a web app, but it appears from the app’s FAQ that they shall retain a focus on Apple-only devices going forward and that this web app will sync with iCloud. So even if non-Apple users can access some basic functionality of Bear on PC via the web app, it’s unlikely to offer a comparable experience just as iCloud on Apple devices is far and away better than the (limited) experience of iCloud that can be had on PC via the iCloud web app.

For anyone with Apple devices who desires a powerful and comprehensive note-taking app, Bear is A+.

Taking Note of the Possibilities and Pitfalls

It’s necessary to note it’s possible to use multiple note-taking apps in your day to day. At the same time, it’s important to remember doing so can quickly complicate the process substantially. This is because – as distinct from other sets of apps like productivity ones that you can utilize together but use separately for different purposes – it can become more of a challenge to take notes that’ll be easy to keep track of and retrieve later when using multiple apps at once.

Note-taking apps are at their best when they help streamline and simplify the process of taking notes. So proceed cautiously before setting up a system that could become counterproductive if it makes it harder to keep track of all your files.

Image credit: Businesswoman with lots of reminder notes by DepositPhotos

Ed Kennedy

Ed Kennedy is a journalist and ghostwriter from Melbourne, Australia. A keen technologist passionate about all things digital, Ed also holds a background in public policy and law. When not at his desk Ed spends time with family, running, and reading.

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