When it comes to productivity, having everything you need in one place is useful. Note-taking, list-making, and file-saving are things we need to do all the time and work well together if placed under the same app. Plus, jumping between different apps is just plain inconvenient, so why not download an app that lets you do it all in one place?
What We Looked for in All-in-One Productivity Apps
The apps we chose for this article needed to have a few key features in order to be included:
- Versatility: These apps should allow you to, at the very least, write notes, create lists, and save images. Bonus points for features like spreadsheets, task management, and any other forms of recording data.
- Organization: You’re going to be keeping a lot of information in these apps. Because of this, they need to have multiple options for organizing that information. Whether that be a simple search bar or more in-depth methods like folders and tags.
- Cross-Platform: We only selected apps that were cross-platform across all the major platforms (iOS, Android, Windows, Mac, and Web), so that way the information vital for your work isn’t locked behind a certain brand of products.
- Cloud-Based Syncing: You shouldn’t need to backup and send documents back and forth between your phone and your computer manually, the app should take care of that and all the ones on this list will.
So, with all that in mind, here are the best apps we found.
The Go-To Option: Microsoft OneNote
OneNote should be the first app you try for this stuff. Not only is it brimming with features and options, but it’s completely free.
OneNote allows you to write notes, draw pictures, save images, draw on those images, create lists, and save documents, and the OneNote Web Clipper makes it easy to save articles you find online—no matter what it is, OneNote will let you save and archive it.
OneNote has plenty of organization options as well. You can create multiple notebooks (or folders) for broader subjects, and you can tag individual pages and documents for easy searching and sorting. And, using an Optical Character Recognition (OCR) based search engine, OneNote will even scan documents and images for the keywords you search for.
For example, let’s say you wrote down something on paper, but still want it in your OneNote system. You can take a picture and save it to the app, and OCR will scan the handwriting and allow you to extract out the words as text. It’s incredibly useful and allows for a nice blend of pen and paper writing and digital organization.
As previously mentioned, OneNote is completely free. You can find more information about the app and create a Microsoft account if you don’t already have one on the OneNote website. You can also access the web version of OneNote from there, or download it onto your Windows, Mac, iOS, or Android devices.
The OneNote Predessecor: Evernote
Evernote is likely a name you’re already aware of, as it pioneered this type of app. And while, in our opinion, OneNote being free makes it the better option, Evernote is still a great app worth looking at.
You can make lists, write notes, save images, save web content, and save documents. Evernote even has OCR search as well, so you can still search images for text. Evernote and OneNote are nearly identical feature-wise, so it just comes down to which one you prefer the design and looks of.
That is, assuming you don’t mind paying. While there is a free version of Evernote, it has a strict 60 MB monthly upload limit, only allows you to use the app on two devices, and offline access is limited to the desktop. If you want to get the most out of Evernote, you will have to pay $7.99 a month for the Premium plan, which bumps the monthly upload limit to 10 GB and grants unlimited devices. Evernote does have a useful chart that fully displays the differences between the two plans on its website.
Your Own Drag-and-Drop Wiki: Notion
Notion is made to be extremely open-ended. You can use it to create your own wiki, for simple note-taking and data-recording, or use it as a comprehensive digital workspace for your team.
The design of the entire app is based around “blocks”—you can think of them as index cards that you write your text on. You can freely move around these “blocks” with Notion’s drag-and-drop interface, and it makes it simple to rearrange text into rows and columns.
As for the “Wiki” part that Notion heavily markets: everything you save in Notion can link to each other, so you can easily connect different notes and pages across folders for things to be more unified. If you want an example of this in action, the Notion Help & Support page was completely made within the Notion system.
And, you can get a lot deeper into Notion, as the app has many power-user focused features that allow you to create the ultimate workspace. Or, if you want, it can just be a place to quickly throw notes and lists into. Notion’s design is still simple enough to accommodate that.
Notion has a few pricing options—the Free plan limits the amount of data you can upload to 5 MB and the number of “blocks” you can create to 1,000. The Personal plan lifts both of those limits and will track a 30-day edit history of any documents and notes in the app for $4 a month. Finally, the Team plan adds user-management and other team-focused features for $8 a month per user. We recommend getting the Personal or Team plan if you end up liking Notion, as you’ll hit the limits of the Free plan pretty quickly.
A Great Team-Focused Option: NoteJoy
While most of the apps we’ve listed so far do have collaborative features, none of them are focused on them. This is where NoteJoy comes in.
NoteJoy has many of the features and options of apps like Evernote and OneNote. You can create notes, lists, spreadsheets, and the organization options run just as deep with libraries, notebooks, and tags. But beyond that, the many options for managing and tracking team members are what make the app worth downloading.
You can get a thorough edit history of every document, leave notes and feedback, see an individual’s current and recent work history, and all your team members can work in the same notebook at the same time.
NoteJoy even has integrations with other popular team-focused work services, including, but not limited to, Trello (you can attach and view NoteJoy notes with Trello cards) and Slack (you can post NoteJoy notes to Slack channels and save Slack messages as notes in NoteJoy). The app is even highly customizable visually: you can adjust sidebar sizes, the color scheme, and change the font of the text.
When it comes to the different plans, we’d recommend the Premium plan ($12 a month per user) for teams of considerable size, as it’s the only plan to feature in-depth user management. For smaller teams, the Plus plan should suffice at $8 a month per user. The Solo plan ($4 per month), as the name suggests, loses a lot of the team-focused features and would only be workable for individuals. Finally, the Free plan is more of a free trial, except instead of a time limit you have a strict storage limit of 100 MB.
The Simplest Options: Google Keep and Zoho Notebook
Not everyone needs the power-user focused features of the apps previously mentioned, so we wanted to quickly mention a couple of simpler apps that still have plenty of features, but are overall more streamlined.
Keep will be familiar to most Android users, as it likely came pre-installed on your phone. It’s great for quick note-taking, list-making, and image-saving. The design is simple and straightforward, and everything can be organized with folders and tags. You’re definitely missing out on a lot of in-depth features with Keep, but considering it’s completely free, it’s a great option. Keep is available on the web, Android, and iOS.
Zoho Notebook is very similar to Keep in both feature-set and looks, but it has a few unique features that make it worth considering. You can still make your lists, notes, and save images, but now everything is contextualized in digital notebooks. You have notecards that use a drag-and-drop interface for easy arrangement, and you can even choose a cover for each individual notebook for some cosmetic customization and differentiation.