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Free Notes Managers Tested Head-to-Head

Freeware comparison

reviewed by JohnHood, Jan 2006



Test results from John Hood @ jhoodsoft.org

Free Notes Managers Tested Head-to-Head:


I use four computers, three different operating systems in two locations as well as supporting 300 more. I have perhaps 15 projects running simultaneously. I have been looking for a way to keep project data and supporting data in one place. I need to be able to access it quickly, no matter where I am.




Fast, cross-platform, easy to install, support text and graphic data, data needs to be printable and exportable. Data import and addition needs to be easy. Search and/or function needs to be mature so I can see quickly find and print what I am looking for.


I tested six different notes managers for a week with the same data. The results are in: Keynote won by a nose over Evernote, for one reason only: Keynote runs on Windows 98 which is one of my platforms. Evernote runs on Windows 2000 and above only.


Keynote's pluses - The "grab clipboard" button is a Godsend. No dragging and dropping nor tedious typing here. The "Find" function displays all results in one window so you can choose which note you want. There are keyboard shortcuts galore. All Notes are in a single file which can be move around at will.


Minuses - Not the prettiest thing. File import only handles RTF format. Import graphics are BMP and GIF and that's it. It's better than nothing, but still. When creating a new note, you need to be very careful about where you are putting it. Printing a note takes some fiddling with the print settings to get usable output.


Keynote is my personal choice, but then I'm a serious geek! If I were asked to recommend for regular people with the right system, I'd say Evernote for ease of use.


EverNote pluses - Instead of notes in a tree structure, you assign one or more categories to the note, and the filter bar on the left shows you which notes you have in which categories. This is VERY useful when a piece of info can be put in more than one place. Evernote has pre-built "new note" templates for contact, phone message addresses, shopping lists, even "ink notes" where you can doodle. Print output is attractive and easy to read. Drag and drop from most MS Office products is supported.


Minuses - As noted above, it will not install on Windows 98. Also, the database is hard to find, and the import export feature won't win any awards. There is no way to completely close a note. You get the first three lines no matter what.




GoldenSection Notes - The last freeware version. Nice layout, supports text and graphics. A little skimpy on the more advanced features.


Treepad - Text notes only, but an incredible feature set.




NeoMem - Colorful and well laid out, but I think that the learning curve is a bit too high for the average user.


NoteIt - No kidding, you cannot edit a note after you've made it. Text only, and no way to change the defaults. Whoever developed NoteIt, "don't call us, we'll call you".


Screenshots: KeyNote & EverNote

Expand pictures Keynote EverNote