3 Pros and Cons of other Notetaking apps

I bet everyone on this forum has used or is still using other note taking apps. I would love to know what your top 3 pro’s and con’s are for those apps.

(this could also be useful insight for the development of Anytype)

I’ll begin!

Evernote
.+ Powerful search, including search on content of the note (contains attachments, images, tables, etc)
.+ Dedicated tag system
.+ Simple notebook and notebook stacks to organize all your notes

.- No advanced features like bi-directional links, databases, synced blocks or table of content
.- Slow sync resulting in duplicate notes (sometimes)
.- Slow development, feels behind the more modern note taking apps

OneNote
.+ Simple UI like Words and other Microsoft apps
.+ Text formating (colors, text size, etc)
.+ Simple tables, inside simple tables allowing for endless layout possibilities

.- No advanced features like bi-directional links, databases, synced blocks or table of content
.- No real note tagging (eventhough it has a form of tags, it really sucks compared to other apps)
.- Very slow development, feels behind the more modern note taking apps

Notion
.+ Databases with a lot of features like grouping, linked databases and formula’s
.+ Very feature complete (compared to many other apps)
.+ Huge community, many sources to learn from or get inspiration from

.- Online only, no internet connection, no notion, no acces to your notes
.- Not the most private note taking
.- Can quickly become over complicated when building your own systems

Obsidian
.+ Local note storage and accesible outside Obsidian (simple markdown text files)
.+ Very quick and responsive
.+ Plugins to fill the gaps you need from a note taking app

.- Requires some programming knowledge for the more advanced features and plugins (dataview for example)
.- No real text formatting
.- File/image attachments management can be annoying

What are your pro’s and cons?

7 Likes

Well, hello.

Let’s begin:

Telegram
(Yeah, I know, that’s not what supposed to be used as a Note-Taking app, but who cares if I can write something here and/or save smth for later)

Pros:

  • works just fine as “gathering tool”
  • works in situations where my internet is super-… no-no, extremely bad.
  • you can upload and store there files above 2GB
    • with premium - up to 4GB
    • you can create private channels only for yourself and split your notes\files by topics
  • you can quickly forward everything you noted\saved to your friends\family members\etc in Telegram(if they are registered there)
  • it can open links in Quick Mode on mobile(also works with bad internet)
  • tags and linking
  • reminders
    Cons:
  • vertical and strictly chronological structure of your notes
  • bad search(it’s bad for me especially, cuz I have notes on 3 different languages, and 2 of them are really close on writing)

Notion:
Totally agree with all your keypoints. I’d also add that there’s a lack of graph or smth that shows global connection between the notes you link to\mention.
Also I’d add there’s a lack of integrations, no native automations, reccuring tasks(without workarounds) and complex formulas approach(that feels more like programmer’s mast***ation than user-friendly approach), it’s almost propagated hierarchical approach(you should do the hierarchy to keep your system look clean) and mb something more, but I forgot it.

Obsidian
Again, totally agree with you.
I’d also add that the current state of the graph view is kinda disappointing. After some borderline it can’t give me any really useful info about my system or give me some insights. Is this relevant for you?

As for the cons:

  • I don’t understand why this:

is a disadvantage for Obsidian? Devs of Obs are not responsible for community plugins.

  • real text-formatting is present, but for some things you need to learn HTML(that may sound funny, but it is not a joke XD). And yeah, I agree that’s a total mess for a common user.
    And, basic markdown formatting is present too.
  • you can add files\images with:
    Options>Files & Links
    image
    and they’ll be automatically managed in the way you want. If I correctly understand your query.
1 Like

Yes, I would consider plugins require programming knowledge to be a disadvantage since that is how Obsidian works even for basic functions compared to other notetaking apps. Want a database/set page, good luck with that without some programming knowledge. Want a database/set page in Notion or Anytype, no such skill required. That is what i mean (hope I explained it).

As for the image/files I know how it works, but they are not in the note itself. Meaning, delete the note but keep the attachment. Which can be great, but it gets cluttered fast. Also, align an image to the center again requires some basic programming skills (to generalize it) compared to other apps that can do that with a click of a button.

But I am hoping with this topic to see what apps people use and what the pro’s and cons are to see what people like in note taking apps and what not.

1 Like

Yep, you explained it to me clearly.
The answer to the question of “why obsidian is so hard to use and learn in databases?” is simple:

  • Notion has a native support for such databases. It’s a killer-feature of Notion itself. Basically, it’s a total disaster if you don’t use Notion’s dbs
  • Anytype also has a native support for organizing your notes into Sets. Not as feature-rich as Notion, but enough for middle user and perspective enough for advanced users.

On the other hand Obsidian - and it’s not supposed to be used as a database tool. Your notes primarily don’t have any strict typization in Obsidian. Obsidian wasn’t developed to make any sort of databases at all. It’s all about fast and small Zettelkasten notes with constant linking one note to another.

Images:
Don’t know how about them, but I see no problems at all(mb I am fortunate):


I wonder if there are some plugins for easy aligning images.
To delete your image,you can:

  • right click on the link to your image, choose “show in Explorer” and delete it from there
  • click on "reveal file in navigation and also delete it

In my opinion, the main problem of all notetaking apps is that each of them takes their niche and has it’s own unique features(Notion - dbs, Obsidian - so far the best graph) but because of the lack of strong competitors on the market they don’t hurry up to improve such things so they just stay almost unchanged for a long period of time. And that’s what I hope, Anytype can avoid after going public. An Of course, if the devs will keep work as hard as now.

4 Likes

Good idea. These are my apps:

Evernote

Pros

  • Time-tested
  • Browser access. My phone broke during lockdown, so it was a huge relief to be able to access my notes online without having to download the app.
  • A note-taking tool in every sense (typewritten, handwritten, voice recording)

Cons

  • I always get a “note conflict” so I have to check which among the duplicated notes is the most updated.
  • Random crashes when I’m trying to open it, so it’s not always available for note-taking.
  • When I’ve typed too many words inside one note, a message pops up telling me it can’t spellcheck anymore. The problem is this notif is placed exactly where I’m supposed to write at the bottom and it shows up every time I edit, so I can’t see what I’m typing. Couldn’t find a way to turn it off.

Notion

Pros

  • Feature-rich but also not overwhelming to learn because you always start with a blank page. So it could be as simple or as complicated as you want it to be.
  • The emojis. I never realized how beneficial it is to assign icons to pages until Notion.
  • I love the mobile widget’s minimal design and smaller texts (when compared to Evernote). I could fit in a lot of shortcuts on my phone’s Home without the widget taking over the whole screen.

Cons

  • Totally inaccessible offline. Even the shortcuts on my mobile widget disappears.
  • UI is kinda bland, in my opinion.
  • Customizing navigation. If I want to add a category, I would have to create a blank page to get that effect on my sidebar.

ClickUp

This one goes beyond note-taking, but I think I’m not alone in wanting an all-in-one productivity tool. :grin:

Pros

  • Great project management features. (Folders, subtasks, recurring tasks, start and end dates, edit history, assign hex codes or custom colors based on status, etc.)
  • Nice calendar with filters and toggle options
  • I really like their all-in-one vision. I found it convenient to access tasks, notes/docs, calendar, and airtable views in one place. This approach inspired me to create a navigation that I now use anywhere possible.

Cons

  • You suddenly lose the ability to type if you’re having connection issues while in the middle of typing a document. And once the connection is restored, you experience data loss (a paragraph or so of what you’re writing).
  • Their notes doesn’t look accessible, like it’s not part of the UI’s overall design/layout and only added as an afterthought. I was much more comfortable using their Docs. (Though it still lacked features.) And after discovering Notion and Anytype, I couldn’t fathom why you can’t just convert a note or combine it with docs. :upside_down_face:
  • No desktop view of their calendar in mobile. Even attempting to log in via mobile browser doesn’t work. I at least had that workaround when I was using Asana. Overall, mobile app feels behind in features.

As a fourth app, I’m using Samsung Notes but only to create color-coded notes/reminders on my phone’s home screen (like sticky notes). I wouldn’t use it for anything else because it’s a mobile-only app.

6 Likes

My notetaking app of choice is Mem.ai

Pros:
Bi-directional linking of notes
self organizing / no folder structure
WYSWNG Editor (aka. not markdown so it feels more natural to me when i am formatting text)
MemX

Cons:
No android app (yet)
No databases or tables of any kind
Can’t organize notes into columns (only one column in a note)
A little cumbersome for my main use case (besides taking regular notes)

My use case: (For Mem)

Aside from taking regular notes and saving stuff in mem for later, I also use it to hold all my Bible Sudy notes. I find it cumbersome when I have studies on multiple verses at once (i.e. Matt 5:1-10) because I end up having to make a note with the name “Matthew 5:1-10” and then in that note i have to link to each individual verse. Otherwise I will end up with a LOT of redundancy in writing down the different verses i’m studying. This Issue becomes compounded when I end up with overlapping passages of the Bible, such as Matt 5:1-10 and Matt 5:5-12.

4 Likes

I have used more than I can remember and obsidian is the best all around
Pros

  • files are stored locally as plain text
  • huge community
  • while I would prefer open source, their privacy policy is one of the least offensive ones Ive read
    Cons
  • Mobile is lacking, its basically a shrunken version of the desktop app. This can be mitigated on android since you can open the markdown files in other editors but not possibly on IOS
  • Not open source
  • managing attachments can be tedious
2 Likes

Love reading these replies!

I recently discovered a new app called Upnote, which is an up and coming Evernote Alternative (my current main note taking app). Featuring a lot that makes Evernote great while adding more modern features such as backlinks and inline tags (with a simular tag interface as Evernote).

Pro’s

  • Lightweight, simple and fast note taker
  • Inline tags
  • Very cheap one time payment for a lifetime premium

Cons

  • One man dev team (so who knows how long this is getting developped)
  • Missing quality of life features (like editing saved search, editing youtube tumbnail sizes, etc)
  • Offline only without account, online sync only with account. Premium needs account but you can’t choose offline only then hehe (if I understand this correctly which I might not)
1 Like

Another issue with Obsidian is that the max number of files appears to be quite limited. I’m using Obsidian, I like it, but, according to what I’m reading, things start lagging when you get into the 20,000 file range.