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Best Free Notes Organizer

 
Introduction

In today's electronic world, it can be quite a challenge to organize all useful information such as web clips, articles, bits of text, images, interesting web links, bookmarks, shopping lists, to-do lists, recipes, tips and many others that are hanging around your PC. It seems to be a common easy task but a difficult one to sort out as the information is so disparate.

Some folks have tried to get it organized by using free form databases while others use beefed up text editors or multi-media snippet managers. If you're one of them or just would like to look for a useful tool to organize your random bits of information, you might find that some of these freeware products come in handy and helpful.

For notes organizers featuring a tree-like structure, see Best Free Outliner, and for sticky notes, please try Best Free Sticky Notes Utility.

 
In a Hurry?

Go to details...  Go straight to the Quick Selection Guide

 
Discussion

EvernoteEvernote is an outstanding product that provides you with an excellent solution to manage notes and snippets of information. You can create notes on the page, drag-and-drop or cut-and-paste them with material including text and images.

This application supports multiple notebooks. To help organize your notes, the program allows for attaching multiple tags to a note. You can then choose to enter your tags, in addition to any keywords, to search for the stored information, while you can also sort your notes easily by a column title in a list view.

Clipping of web contents is made easier with its Web Clipper, which can be added as a bookmarklet or an extension to browsers such as IE, Firefox, Chrome or Safari. If the desktop program is installed, the clips go directly to the local application. Otherwise, they go to the Evernote Web application via a pop-up. In this way, Evernote offers a mix of a desktop application and web services.

Editor's Advisory Note: Evernote is now bundled with OpenCandy. See this article for more information.

 

CintaNotesCintaNotes is a lightweight and portable program which allows you to store your notes on an endless "roll' of virtual paper. It saves your workspace without cluttering like normal sticky notes.

This program is particularly useful when you need to frequently clip some text excluding images from any application. For instance, you can select some text on a webpage, press a pre-defined hotkey, and the selected text will be automatically saved to CintaNotes; together with time-stamping, subject and a link to that webpage.

Besides that, you can add tags to the notes so that you can find them easier, while you can also type any other keywords to get the instant search results.

Notes are saved into a dat file with auto backup and can be exported to a plain text file or xml format, though it's a pity that a print command seems to be missing from such a good program.

 

Tomboy If you want to have a useful tool to relate notes and ideas together with a wiki-like linking system then Tomboy could be the answer.

Left-click Tomboy's tray icon and select "Create New Note", you can then start describing your new note to which a link is automatically created. Right-click on selected words in a note and choose "Link to New Note", the selected words will then become an anchor text with a hyperlink to a new note, in which you can add more descriptions.

You can search all your notes by clicking a Search button anytime and all notes are listed in a pop-up window. You can also create new notebooks by right-clicking the left panel, and re-group your notes among the notebooks easily with drag-and-drop.

Other features of the program include rich-text formatting and printing or exporting notes to html format. Some plug-ins are available to extend the functionality of the program, but adding images to a note is not available.

 

If you favor keeping notes in a tree-structure form, there're many good choices for free products such as Keynote, NeoMem, TreeDBNotes Free, KeepNote and more, which are now covered in this related category Best Free Outliner.

NotesHolderNotesHolder (free version) holds your notes together in one place in quite a similar way that CintaNotes does.

You can create notes by double clicking the top panel and type out or paste a note copied from anywhere with text but not images. You can add a subject to a note, or set a reminder for it. Printing notes is available by selecting and right-clicking the notes, while exporting notes into a plain text file is also supported.

The main window can be either set on top of other opened windows, or docked to the side on your desktop ready to pop up whenever your mouse moves over the right edge of your screen.

Clipping of text works by selecting text and pressing the hotkey Ctrl+Shift+Q, and the selected text will be automatically saved to NotesHolder. The hotkey worked for me on Firefox and Internet Explorer but not on the Chrome browser when I tried it.

NB: Another program QuotePad works almost exactly the same as NotesHolder even on the user interface. It's been commented that QuotePad might be a 'rebranding implementation' of the free version of NotesHolder.

 
Other Free Notes Organizer Software

Several other free notes organisers were not rated in this review. I am listing some of them here with brief descriptions and links to their sites for ease of reference.

  • AllMyNotes the free version has disabled some useful advanced features such as hyperlinks, data sorting, auto backups, etc, that are available in the commercial version.
  • Flashnote is a quick notes manager but it lacks storing images and other more powerful features as in KeepNote, which is included in Best Free Outliner.
  • Linked Notes uses a Wiki-style notepad to organize notes into pages. The free basic edition lacks some useful features such as search all pages for specific words or export all pages into a single rtf file.
  • Catzware's Simple Notes lets you make up to five notes with the first note allowing for scrolling left or right. It lacks search and many other useful functions available in other note organizers.
  • Quicknote allows taking of notes grouped by category. It comes with an atypical user interface, and additional utilities such as a simple drawing tool, reminder, unit converter, screen measurer, etc.
  • Delphinus Notes contains simple notes, notepad, calendar and expenditure management modules with encryption of data. Additional features include showing time in 3 time zones, import and export of notes, etc. Searching for notes with keywords or tags is not supported.
 
Related Products and Links

You might want to check out these articles too:

 
Quick Selection Guide

Evernote
5
 
Gizmo's Freeware award as the best product in its class!

Runs as a stand-alone program on a user's computer
Supports contents including text and images with drag-and-drop, organize notes with tags, easy sorting and searching, a mix of a desktop application and web services, online syncing.
Free account comes with a lower upload limit and other restrictions. Bundled with OpenCandy (see advisory note in text above).
http://www.evernote.com/
4.6.7.8409
52.5 MB
32 bit but 64 bit compatible
Feature limited freeware
Windows XP to 8, Mac OS X, iOS, Android, Blackberry, Windows Phone, Safari, Chrome and Firefox
CintaNotes
4
 
Runs as a stand-alone program on a user's computer
Lightweight and portable, auto backup, time-stamping and auto note subjects, tagging, fast search, works great to clip text from webpages, export notes to txt and xml formats.
Keep pure text but not images, no print option.
http://cintanotes.com/
http://cintanotes.com/
2.3
3.02 MB
32 bit but 64 bit compatible
Unrestricted freeware
A portable version of this product is available from the developer.
Windows 2000 to 7

View the changelog here

NotesHolder
4
 
Runs as a stand-alone program on a user's computer
Lightweight and portable, auto backup and time-stamping, works great to clip text from webpages, set note subjects and reminders, export notes.
Keep pure text but not images, hot-key doesn't work on some browsers such as Chrome.
http://notes.aklabs.com/
2.2 Build: 144
1.4 MB
32 bit but 64 bit compatible
Unrestricted freeware
This product is portable.
Windows 2000 to 7

This program can be installed in a portable mode.
Another program QuotePad works almost exactly the same as NotesHolder even on the user interface.

Tomboy
4
 
Runs as a stand-alone program on a user's computer
Relate notes and ideas together with a wiki-like linking system, rich text formatting, plugins, export to html format.
Adding images is not yet supported.
1.14.0
2.6 MB
32 bit but 64 bit compatible
Unrestricted freeware
Windows, Linux or Mac OS X

Novell's gtk-sharp (8.2 MB) needs to install separately before setting up the program for Windows.
v1.14.0 released 25 March, 2013
View the changelog here
v1.15.1 under developement available now

 

Editor

This software review is copy-edited by Jojo Yee. Please help edit and improve this article by clicking here.

 
Tags

Notes taker, notes organizer, organize notes, notes keeper

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Comments

by dsp_418 on 7. March 2014 - 5:50  (114808)

Mempad is the best option for me. Text only, fast, extremely lightweight, portable, sync via dropbox.
Shortcuts makes it even faster, moving or creating nodes. Has also a Diary function, it adds automatically a tree node with the date.
User can also password protect files.
It worth a try but spend some time on it, at first glance it might be a bit discouraging as it's quite essential (and that's where its true power relies).

by zdravko100 on 17. January 2014 - 19:58  (113673)

QuickTextPaste is the best for me. It save my time.

by substorm on 25. August 2013 - 20:32  (110321)

I have searched the entire internet to find a notes organizer with the following features:
- Search as you type (find all word instances just like in CintaNotes and ResophNotes)
- Rich Text support including images
- Flagging
- Alarms/Reminders like in Pnotes
- Re-arranging of notes in a list using shortcuts or dragging
- Category folders (could be in a folder tree)
- create notes from clipboard
- offline
- portable

The closest is Evernote but with their enforced cloud approach it won't work for me.

If ResophNotes could store images, I would be set. I find ResophNotes much better than CintaNotes since ResophNotes just works. For instance, try searching in CintaNotes for a repeating word in a large note. It displays the found instances in the preview but once you open the note, you only see the first found instance. A huge bug!

If you know anything that has similar features, please let me know.

by wesman on 20. July 2013 - 10:42  (109418)

It would be nice if Cinta Notes had the feature of storing images. After all, as they say, a picture is worth a million words.

by Panzer on 8. April 2013 - 9:07  (106896)

Dragdis - Collect images, videos, texts, links from the web just with drag&drop:
https://www.dragdis.com/

by biber on 12. January 2013 - 22:09  (104425)

I just wanted to state that I have just downloaded and installed the free version of Evernote thanks to this review and I have not found any trace of OpenCandy or other adware, toolbar etc. I'm not sure if it's not there any more or something weird happened during the installation. I guess that they have simply removed it.

The program seems to be really, really nice and I have also found an useful series of video tutorials here:

http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLEEDC8F246D346066

by pottster on 19. December 2012 - 11:58  (103758)

Big CintaNotes update today (2.0) which includes tabs. For me, this is still the most elegant solution to text based note taking. Development is very active with good incorporation of user suggestions.

by texastechy on 15. January 2013 - 3:11  (104484)

thanks for mentioning this update. I used Cinta in the past and wasn't impressed. but 2.0 does seem better. love the tagging and instant search. plus portable.

by Still searching (not verified) on 16. November 2012 - 20:19  (102440)

I am still looking for that perfect tabbed / hierarchical note (info) application. My priority feature is sync with google drive with decent formatting coming a close second. I have tried so many apps (notes/pims/organizers/etc) that I have lost track.

- google drive sync (readable online as well?)
- formatting
- images
- tables
- links
- file attachments?

Some have come close but usually fail to properly sync with Google and when saved from work and opened at home it is completely different.

Basically I work IT support and I have so much info that needs to be collected, organized, and easily referenced that nothing that is syncable (word?) really works. There are a lot of really nice note taking applications out there that fit my formatting needs but none that are portable enough to fit my needs.

by Roshan Khilnani (not verified) on 7. November 2012 - 7:08  (101978)

Has anyone used ZIM. Its is desktop wiki.
the link
http://www.zim-wiki.org/

I find it useful for desktop version and to organize notes.
Please to try and help review it...

by KingL (not verified) on 14. June 2012 - 10:04  (94835)

I'm looking for a tree organizer tool that doesn't use a database but just text files in a Windows directory.

The thing is, if text files are viewable in Windows then I can upload them to Dropbox and view on my phone etc. Anyone know such a tool?

by GregA (not verified) on 22. June 2012 - 13:45  (95227)

Why not just used a text editor, then?

I've done note-taking for years this way.

You can use Window's search function to find them but I almost never do that.

For this to work, you MUST name your files something meaningful and put them in a well-named folder so they are easy to find.

>> work >> meetings >> HR >> 20120621 misc agenda.txt

But, you'll want a better text editor than Notepad. My favorite for Windows is TextPad but I'm mostly a Linux user now.

You've touched on the great advantage of this -- migration. I started doing this system on my Kaypro II CP/M machine back in college! Then my Tandy 102. Then DOS. etc. etc.

by KingL (not verified) on 22. June 2012 - 14:23  (95229)

That's what I decided! After searching I came to that conclusion. A good text editor is needed though, as you say. I found TotalEdit. It's free. The good thing, is that it shows the Windows directory tree in a panel on the left inside the software. You can rename, delete and create text files in the Windows directory all from inside the software. That's what I was looking for.

However, because of the need for quality searching I am also using Evernote which additionally allows me to use tags. No tags in text files in Windows unfortunately.

Yes I agree, to make the most of text notes (in Evernote also) you need good file or note naming. I see you are using the date trick I only just learned: YYYYYMMDD makes files sortable by date (same trick needed in Evernote). You know your stuff.

by Geert on 11. April 2012 - 8:55  (91901)

Just to let you know that CintaNotes released its first commercial version (1.6) containing features that are only available in that version.
Fortunately, the basic functionality (which covers all features of version 1.5.7) continues to be free.

by Anonymous A Ludolph (not verified) on 23. December 2011 - 0:24  (85754)

Hi I am looking for a free/cheap program to manage B&B bookings on a front desk calendar which have taken by several other agencies ie say "bookit" etc
At the moment we receive emails, we could unknowingly end up with a DOUBLE booking
it would be good if we could be linked tothese agencies.
What are your thoughts on this, regards AOL

by supanut on 18. August 2011 - 2:53  (77850)

Previously I've been using Microsoft Word for taking notes for my classes, and it's fine.
However to keep things organized that way, I have to make new libraries for the current school year and create new folders inside that library for each subjects, which is a bit inconvenient.
The solution I'm looking for now is a program that allows me to create a category for a set of pages(E.G my current school year), then I could make a sub-categories for each subject, and create a page where I could create a note.
Also, the program I'm looking for must support inserting pictures, tables, captions, drawings, and diagrams.
The program must also be able to export either as a zip file with folders for each subjects inside and a note file in either RTF or Word format, or at least allow me to export a specific notes to either RTF or Word format.
It must be compatible with Windows 7, and must work with screen readers, and of course, it must be free and portable.
Sorry if my comment seems to be in a wrong category.

by Michael Connor (not verified) on 18. August 2011 - 4:50  (77856)

You might like to try this;

http://www.snapfiles.com/get/librarynet.html

I think it fulfills your requirements.

Regards....Mike Connor

by supanut on 18. August 2011 - 7:31  (77872)

Thanks for that!
I've just checked...the latest version has just been released!
Indeed it's promissing and yep it pretty much fills my need. Maybe I'll have to try it when I got back to school next Monday to see how it works!

by Michael Connor (not verified) on 18. August 2011 - 8:13  (77876)

My pleasure. I think you will like it. It's the best I have found, and I have tried many.

Regards....Mike Connor

by Michael Connor (not verified) on 18. August 2011 - 7:08  (77870)

Read the review to get started!

http://www.snapfiles.com/opinions/fishcode-library-free-note-edition/fishcode-library-free-note-edition.html

Regards....Mike Connor

by syntax_error on 7. October 2011 - 21:58  (81069)

Another thanks, Mike.

by syntax_error on 11. November 2011 - 5:23  (83082)

Free, portable and just updated:

http://fishcodelib.com/CodeLibFree.htm

by Australia (not verified) on 14. August 2011 - 1:16  (77627)

Thank you for your excellent review. Two points:
1)Portable versions
While not absolutely necessary, I am impressed when an author creates a portable version of notes software (or for that matter ANY software) - allows user to use the same program on several different computers using the portable USB drive version - thus no duplication, and the same notes are accessible on several computers
Portable versions of software also indicates the program doesnt need bloat or registry modification to work well
I have just started reviewing some of these programs, thus Cintanotes gets a tick of approval on initial review

2)Some programs no longer have a homepage
Some excellent freeware on Gizmos Freeware no longer has a home/author page. Several programs spring immediately to mind, including Tarry Alarm Clock, Marxio Timer, and Microsoft Virtual CD-ROM - ie ISO reader
As long as the program is spyware free, and ideally is also present on a recognised "spyware clean" website eg Softpedia, Fileforum; then the lack of author support is a disadvantage that Im prepared to accept

by hubjf on 20. May 2011 - 11:14  (72392)

There's a "GAOTD" today (20th May) which may be worth having a look if you're looking for some notes manager :
Tree Notes 2.
It looks nice and handy, but I haven't been so far anyway.
This is just for your information !
Here's the link, if I'm authorized to post it :
http://www.giveawayoftheday.com/tree-notes/
Still valid for a few hours...

by rhiannon on 20. February 2011 - 19:28  (66808)

Nevernote is similar to Evernote. It run on Macs, Linux, and Windows. :)

Nevernote - An Open Source Evernote Clone

-Rhiannon

by wodewick on 10. March 2011 - 8:27  (67729)

Thanks for the suggestion Rhiannon.

Nevernote is an open source project intended to provide access to Evernote functionality on a Linux platform. Because it is written in java, it means it should be able to run on most platforms.

From my brief initial play with it, it appears to be similar to Evernote 3.

Note: Evernote 4 has recently been released, which is claimed to be a rewrite from the ground up, I shall be reviewing it with some of the other suggestions provided in the comments.

by jree (not verified) on 15. February 2011 - 8:07  (66456)

Anyone uses a wiki such as TiddlyWiki to take notes.

by 54pete on 20. February 2011 - 6:26  (66780)

I have used three different TiddlyWikis: 'standard', d-cubed and iTW. The last can be used with the AndTidWiki app on Android. I find them great for text entry and cut-and-paste, but I have not seen a drag-and-drop like the other note taking apps listed here (that's why I'm looking at this article!).
With a TiddlyWiki, you can quickly link with WikiWords, link to Web or local files, format text (bold, underline, etc.), do lists, do tables, insert images, search, use tags, and probably other stuff I've forgotten about. You probably already know they are self-contained HTML pages with a built-in editor. There are some quirks with saving in different browsers.
They are more like a web site with interlinked pages, rather than a collection of items, so while some TiddlyWikis might have an alphabetical or date listing, you don't usually have a sort function. Printing is via your web browser print function.
I think TiddlyWikis are very clever. Hope this helps, and would be interested in hearing other people's experiences.

by gregoryPeterFrancis (not verified) on 2. October 2010 - 1:10  (58874)

SPRINGPAD!!! I have both springpad and evernote chrome extensions and I tend to use springpad as it allows me to tag things and clip them easily. Evernote makes me sign in and I just dont want to. SPRINGPAD for me! I will check out the others though, thanks for the comprehensive roundup.

by irwanwr on 1. October 2010 - 19:18  (58851)

if you use Google Chrome, you could try Diigo Web Highlighter. it requires registration. so it will save anything you choose into your account.
these are the features included in the extension;
Highlight: highlight some text online on the web. and it will automatically be stored in your Diigo account.
also Bookmark, Sticky Notes, and the last button for Share.