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Note-Taking Apps for the iPhone

Jotting down ideas and information to refer to later should be easy, and these five apps help different people do it in different ways, from the visually-oriented to Microsoft devotees.

note-taking-apps-for-iphoneAs any efficient, organized, and focused person knows, finding the right note-taking app is crucial to getting the most out of your iPhone. But the very best note-taking apps are designed help disorganized people keep their thoughts and memos in tip-top order, too. We tested five of the best, including the most well-known apps and two of the newest ones to hit the app store, to help you sort out which one will offer what you need.

Note-taking apps for the Apple iPhone are plentiful, but they don't all support the same features or offer equal functionality. Some let you sketch and draw directly with in the app, while others only let you type. Some let you record and save voice memos. Some dazzle the eye with visual layouts. Some are so plain-Jane, they are a complete bore to use. And not all help guide disorganized people to a more productive and systematic way of saving—and later finding—the information they need.

Whether you're a disheveled and harried type, forever looking for those eyeglasses that are invariably on top of your head, or more like a Girl or Boy Scout, prepared for any situation, you need some kind of note-taking app, and maybe even two for two different kinds of things you need to remember. Before you download the wrong apps and waste your time jotting down dates to remember or directions to your mother-in-law's house, only to never access them again, read through our advice to find the note-taking iPhone app that will best fit your lifestyle.

Evernote (for iPhone)
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free to $45 per year for Premium
When it comes to staying organized, keeping track of ideas, and writing things down, Editors' Choice winning Evernote Premium for iPhone does the heavy lifting for you. Integrate it with one or two other apps, and you can't do better. Evernote makes synchronization effortless. It has the best search capability of any note-taking app, hands-down. It also excels as a pared-down word processing app, so it's great for businesspeople and individuals who write frequently. Audio notes are supported and easy to record. Evernote for iPhone integrates nicely with other iPhone apps, including the list-maker Awesome Note (+Todo) (see the next entry below).

app-awesome-note-todoAwesome Note (+Todo) (for iPhone)
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$3.99
Awesome Note gives list makers and task masters a more creative way to keep track of ideas and chores, with graphical customization on nearly every page. It's the best app for to-do lists and other checklists, but not as strong as Evernote for basic writing. Users of the Lite version haven't seen half of what the full version can do. Awesome Note is one of the most visual note-taking apps, with a highly customizable interface that lets you change colors, typefaces, background images, and icons. The graphical calendar also simplifies deadline management. You can also sync your Awesome Note appointments and memos to Google Docs and Evernote, making it an excellent companion app.

app-onenote-splash-screenMicrosoft OneNote Mobile (for iPhone)
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free for a limited time
If you rely on Microsoft OneNote, the online or desktop application, there's no reason not to download OneNote Mobile while it's still free (for a limited time!) in the Apple App Store. But you may want to wait a few update cycles before you invest too heavily in using it because it loses tags from OneNote Office and the web app. It's also a little buggy, but it offers all the features you'd need as a Microsoft user.

app-catchCatch (for iPhone)
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free
The free iPhone note-taking app Catch aims to provide an uncluttered and simple user experience, but it comes up characterless as a result. "Uncluttered" also means there's almost no customization available, so you're stuck with the look and feel that Catch provides. But the app does have a one-touch interaction philosophy, which some efficiency aficionados might appreciate. Catch syncs with a Web version of the application, letting you see your notes on a full-sized computer screen easily if you need to (although so does Evernote).

app-moleskine-for-iphoneMoleskine (for iPhone)
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free
Loyal fans of the Moleskine brand may enjoy the design of this pretty note-taking app, but serious list-makers and note-takers should turn to one of the alternatives. It supports sketching and images, as well as the ability to overlay text on top, which may be useful for visual people and artists. Moleskine offers as much customization as Awesome Note (+Todo) in terms of colors and backgrounds, but basic text alignment formatting, like bullets and checklists, are not included, nor are audio files.

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