16 Free Note Taking Software For Windows – Evernote Alternatives

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Which is the best Note Taking App for Microsoft Windows, Apple Mac and Linux? Evernote is perhaps the most popular note taking software, Google Keep and Microsoft OneNote are both equally good. However, if you are looking for something simpler, something with a clean user interface, something that doesn’t store all your data on the cloud, here are some of the best open source and free note taking software for your desktop computer.

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Some of these software do not sync with your tablet or smartphone’s app or they lack an app for smartphones. Which is alright with me, since I dislike bringing ‘My Work’ with me everywhere. Compatible with Android smartphones from Sony, Samsung, Huawei, OnePlus, Oppo, Vivo, XiaoMi, and also Apple’s iOS iPhone.

1. Simplenote

Simplenote

The simplest way to keep notes. Light, clean, and free. Simplenote is now available for iOS, Android, Mac, Windows, Linux, and the web. What makes Simplenote great?

  • Use it everywhere – Your notes stay updated across all your devices. No buttons to press. It just works.
  • Stay organized – Find notes quickly with instant searching and simple tags.
  • Work together – Share a list, post some instructions, or publish your thoughts.
  • Go back in time – Your notes are backed up when you change them. Just drag the version slider to go back in time.
  • Instantly search – Type what you’re looking for, and your list updates instantly. You’ll never misplace an important thought again.
  • It’s free – Backups, syncing, sharing — it’s all completely free.

2. Zim

Zim

Zim is a graphical text editor used to maintain a collection of wiki pages. Each page can contain links to other pages, simple formatting and images. Pages are stored in a folder structure, like in an outliner, and can have attachments. Creating a new page is as easy as linking to a nonexistent page. All data is stored in plain text files with wiki formatting. Various plugins provide additional functionality, like a task list manager, an equation editor, a tray icon, and support for version control.

  • Keep an archive of notes
  • Take notes during meetings or lectures
  • Organize task lists
  • Draft blog entries and emails
  • Do brainstorming

3. Turtl

Turtl

Turtl lets you take notes, bookmark websites, and store documents for sensitive projects. From sharing passwords with your coworkers to tracking research on an article you’re writing, Turtl keeps it all safe from everyone but you and those you share with.

  • Turtl stores your info encrypted, unlike Evernote. Much more private.
  • You can easily share boards of bookmarks & notes you can synch files & images it’s cross platform & free

4. NixNote

NixNote

Made in China, it is probably the most complete open source, self-hosted or paid-for Evernote alternative in terms of functionality. Sadly, the English instructions aren’t easy to find or that clear. But it works phenomenally well as an Evernote alternative. Basically, it comes with a 30 days free trial and when the trial expires, you still can use the app but with limited functions.

5. QOwnNotes

QOwnNotes

QOwnNotes is the open source (GPL) plain-text file notepad with markdown support and todo list manager for GNU/Linux, macOS and Windows by Patrizio Bekerle, that (optionally) works together with the notes application of ownCloud (or Nextcloud).

  • You own your own notes! All notes are stored as plain-text files on your desktop computer.
  • Sync them over devices (desktop & mobile) with your ownCloud or Nextcloud sync client.
  • Use ownCloud Notes to edit your notes in the web.

6. Joplin

Joplin

Joplin is a free, open source note taking and to-do application, which can handle a large number of notes organised into notebooks. The notes are searchable, can be copied, tagged and modified either from the applications directly or from your own text editor. The notes are in Markdown format.

Notes exported from Evernote via .enex files can be imported into Joplin, including the formatted content (which is converted to Markdown), resources (images, attachments, etc.) and complete metadata (geolocation, updated time, created time, etc.). Plain Markdown files can also be imported.

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The notes can be synchronized with various cloud services including Nextcloud, Dropbox, OneDrive, WebDAV or the file system (for example with a network directory). When synchronizing the notes, notebooks, tags and other metadata are saved to plain text files which can be easily inspected, backed up and moved around.

7. Microsoft OneNote

Microsoft OneNote

Get organized in notebooks you can divide into sections and pages. With easy navigation and search, you’ll always find your notes right where you left them. Revise your notes with type, highlighting, or ink annotations. With OneNote across all your devices, you’ll never miss a flash of inspiration. Great minds don’t always think alike, but they can share ideas and create together in OneNote. Teachers can use OneNote to organize lesson plans in searchable digital notebooks, and staff can create a sharable content library. Encourage students to handwrite notes and sketch diagrams.

8. Standard Notes

Standard Notes

Standard Notes is a safe place for your notes, thoughts, and life’s work. A free, open-source, and completely encrypted notes app. Your notes are encrypted and secured so only you can decrypt them. No one but you can read your notes (not even us).

Standard Notes is free to use on every platform, and comes standard with cross-platform sync and end-to-end privacy. For those wanting a little more power and flexibility, they created Extended, which unlocks powerful editors, themes, and automated backups.

9. Laverna

Laverna

Laverna is a JavaScript note taking application with Markdown editor and encryption support. Consider it as an open source alternative to Evernote. The editor can be switched to distraction free mode where you can focus solely on writing notes. You can make your notes available only to you by enabling encryption. Make your notes available on any device with your Dropbox & RemoteStorage account.

  • Tasks – Keep simple to do lists organized in notes and notebooks.
  • Keybindings – You can manage your notes without ever lifting your hands from your keyboard.
  • Code highlighting – Keep snippets of code to have access to them anytime and anywhere.
  • No registration – Do you prefer to stay anonymous? You do not need to go through registration process to start using Laverna.
  • Import & Export – You can export your notes from Laverna and import them back anytime. You are not tied to using it forever.

10. TakeNote

TakeNote

TakeNote is a free, open-source notes app for the web. It is a demo project only, and does not integrate with any database or cloud. Your notes are saved in local storage and will not be permanently persisted, but are available for download. No database – notes are only stored in the browser’s local storage and are available for download and export to you alone

11. CherryTree

CherryTree

Cherrytree is a free and open source, hierarchical, note-taking application. It can store text, images, files, links, tables, and executable snippets of code, featuring rich text and syntax highlighting, storing data in a single xml or sqlite file. CherryTree is an option you should seriously consider because it lets you organize notes in a smart and logical way. Don’t get deceived by its seemingly simple interface – CherryTree has so many features that I could write a book about it.

12. Taskade

Taskade

Taskade is a collaborative task management software with unlimited flexibility, designed to help individuals and remote teams work together in one unified workspace. Taskade is built for real-time collaboration. Share your projects and tasks, chat with teammates, and see changes as they happen, across all devices on mobile and desktop. Free Includes:

  • Unlimited Tasks & Projects
  • Unlimited Members & Guests
  • Unlimited Folders & Teams
  • Templates, Calendar, Repeat Tasks
  • Real-time Collaboration

13. Zettlr

Zettlr

Zettlr is a supercharged markdown editor that combines many writing editor features and collects them in one application. It aims at speeding up your workflow and helps you write without any interruptions. Therefore it integrates all features that one might need during a writing process. Writing is an essential part of their everyday life. Why make it complicated? Zettlr redefines what writing means. It is slim, fast, and versatile. Focus on what matters to you. Publish, not perish.

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14. Notesnook

Notesnook

Notesnook is a free (as in speech) & open source note taking app focused on user privacy & ease of use. To ensure zero knowledge principles, Notesnook encrypts everything on your device using XChaCha20-Poly1305 & Argon2.

Notesnook is their proof that privacy does not (always) have to come at the cost of convenience. They aim to provide users peace of mind & 100% confidence that their notes are safe and secure. The decision to go fully open source is one of the most crucial steps towards that.

15. Standard Notes

Standard Notes

Other apps force you into a rigid structure, making it difficult to truly capture and organize all of your thoughts, ideas, and creations. As a result, you find yourself relying on multiple tools to get the job done, leaving your data scattered and potentially vulnerable.

With Standard Notes, you have a single, all-in-one solution for securely storing and organizing your notes, files, and everything in between. Say goodbye to the hassle of using multiple apps and hello to pure, effortless productivity.

Some notes call for more than just text—they call for action. With Standard Notes, you’re not forced to writing every note using a simple toolbar. Choose what a note is and what it should do. Simple text—easy. Rich text, spreadsheets, tasks & todos, markdown, passwords & tokens—easier still. Each note type provides a distinct, purpose-built, and seamless editing experience.

16. Skiff Pages

Skiff Pages

Protect your notes, documents, and wikis with Skiff Pages – end-to-end encrypted and fully collaborative. Take your thoughts and ideas to the next level with a private, end-to-end encrypted workspace. Write and edit together in real time. Connect securely and confidently with your collaborators from anywhere in the world.

  • Version history – Wind back the clock to view the past state of your team’s documents.
  • Decentralized IPFS storage – Opt-in to store your files on the interplanetary filesystem, a decentralized storage network.
  • Mobile app – Keep your synced across both your desktop and mobile devices.
  • Powerful text blocks – Flexibly write with numerous editor blocks including headers, tables, code blocks, and more.
  • Wallet-based authentication – Collaborate with others through your Metamask, Coinbase, Keplr, Phantom, Brave, or BitKeep cypto wallet.
  • Public link sharing – Publish writing onto the internet so that non-Skiff users can appreciate your work.

17. Elephant

Elephant

[ Discontinued ] Elephant is a notetaker with a classic interface you already know. Keep your notes to yourself. No accounts or clouds. For syncing use Dropbox, Github, rsync. No feature bloat or redesigns, ever. Elephant stores notes in plain files and folders. No databases and no migration. Cross-platform for Mac, Windows and Linux. Built for longevity with a classic interface. New versions will never offer weird functionality. There will never be a chat feature and it will never show stuff from Financial Times.

  • Keep your notes to yourself. No accounts or clouds. For syncing use Dropbox, Github, rsync, …
  • Elephant stores notes in plain files and folders. No databases and no migrations. Notes can be plain text, styled rtf, markdown or html (html is read-only).
  • Cross-platform for Mac, Windows and Linux.
  • Built for longevity with a classic interface. New versions will never offer weird functionality.
  • Premium is free, no ads of any kind.
  • No feature bloat or redesigns.
  • No privacy policy weirdness!

8 Comments

  1. Gravatar
    John Xie [ Reply ]

    Please give Taskade a try!

  2. Gravatar
    Pamela [ Reply ]

    Which is your favorite?

  3. Gravatar
    Kumara [ Reply ]

    Elephant is apparently discontinued too.

  4. Gravatar
    Mariya [ Reply ]

    Thanks for the info. about the 8 free note taking apps. Helped a lot!

  5. Gravatar
    Simple [ Reply ]

    You should try Standard Notes, a very clean, simple, private and secure note-taking application. :D

  6. Gravatar
    Lawrence [ Reply ]

    CherryTree is still a live project and is up to V0.99.38. I use and can recommend it.

    • Gravatar

      Autonote maker, takes note/snip image with a click with GlonetSoft SimplifyNotesG

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