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.

 

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.
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 DutchPete on 30. July 2014 - 8:43  (117667)

I don't know where you get your info, but Evernote is NOT bundled with OpenCandy. If you download Evernote from the Evernote site it is free of crapware, spyware and anything else you can think of.

by Chigwells on 6. October 2014 - 22:07  (118990)

I've been using Evernote for about three years and I never heard of it being bundled with OpenCandy.

I run a W7 Sony Vaio, where it comes pre-installed. Before that I was using it with XP pro. I've got it on my Android tablet, and when I recently installed it on my HTC Android phone they gave me a years worth of premium account.

So no, I don't believe that info is correct, at least I've never heard of any mention of it.

Anyhow, thanks for the continuing great website. I use Evernote for all manner of general note-keeping, web clipping, I use it to write my ideas and thoughts down. As it's cloud based with not too much (enough) emphasis on security,I treat it like an open postcard. I've read about people keeping all manner of personal and professional info on it, not sure that is a good idea.

Right now I'm looking for a lightweight portable notes organiser, still working through your excellent selection, TYVM!

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

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