Note-taking App Comparison

This article compares note-taking apps that are similar to Reflect. This article will focus on personal note-taking apps, and ignore team collaboration features.

Note-taking App Comparison
This article compares note-taking apps that are similar to Reflect. This article will focus on personal note-taking apps, and ignore team collaboration features.

Compare different note-taking apps

Reflect
Obsidian
Apple Notes
Evernote
Roam
Mem
Logseq
Capacities
Use across devices
Ability to export notes
Tags
Bi-directional backlinks
Import existing notes
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Offline sync
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End-to-end encryption
Kindle Sync
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Voice Transcriber (audio notes)
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Mind Map
Fast
Append-only
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Simple and Polished UI
Web clipper
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AI Integration
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How to choose a note-taking app

Selecting a note-taking app is an intimate decision. It largely comes down to personal preference.
The best way to choose a personal note-taking app is to find the ones that have the features most important to you (and ideally very little else).
Try all of the different options that have those features. See which one feels best. Record your thoughts and capture information from various locations. Which one has the least amount of friction?
And perhaps most importantly: which one do you look forward to using each day?

Deciding what note-taking features are important to you

The first thing you need to consider is what features are critical for you to have in a note-taking app.
This will depend both on your goals and existing workflows.
For example, if you're trying to build a second brain, then you will almost certainly need a note-taking app that allows bi-directional backlinks (otherwise known as networked note-taking).
If you have a lot of calls or meetings, you might consider calendar integrations and contact syncing to be an essential feature.
Then, there are the essential features that every note-taking app should have, no matter your preference. Things like end-to-end encryption for security, and functionality like offline sync, and the ability to automatically sync your notes between devices.
Sit down and make a list of these essential features that you need. Read through it again and cross off any that you don't actually need.
It can be difficult to avoid the biases of the tools that we've been using. For example, if you've used Evernote your whole life, you might think that you need a note-taking tool with folders. In reality, the folder system is rather archaic and doesn't match our own thinking very well, so you'd be better off adapting to a modern network note-taking system.

Note-taking app features this article will compare

Offline sync
After taking notes offline without wifi or cellular data, will they automatically sync once back online?
Use across devices
Can you take notes on all your devices, and will they sync automatically?
End-to-end encryption
Are your notes secure and encrypted so that you are the only one who can see them? This is critical to avoiding self-censoring your thoughts.
Web clipper
Can you easily save things you find online?
Kindle Sync
Can you sync all of your ebooks with your note-taking app?
Voice Transcriber (audio notes)
Can you take audio notes and voice memos that are transcribed accurately?
AI Integration
Can AI organize your notes and assist in your writing? Can it automatically add backlinks to your notes?
Import and export notes
Are you able to import your notes from existing applications? Can you export them in mainstream formats?
Bi-directional backlinks
Can you form associations between your notes by backlinking them together?
Tags
Are you able to organize your notes into groups using tags? (ex. #meeting)
Mind Map
Can you see a visual representation of all of your notes?
Fast
Does the application open and function fast enough for you to capture your thoughts almost instantly?
Append-only
Does the note-taking app have an “ongoing” that you continuously add to?
Simple and Polished UI
Subjective of course, but is the interface simple and easy to use?

Overview of Each Note-Taking App

Reflect

notion image
Cost: $120/year
Reflect is a frictionless note-taking app that mirrors the way your brain works. It focuses on speed, performance, security and simplicity. Despite its minimalist interface, it has powerful AI tools built in. It even has an iOS widget that lets you transcribe voice notes with one tap.
It also happens to be one of the fastest and most secure note-taking apps out there 🏃‍♂️

Obsidian

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Cost: $16/month (to use features mentioned)
Obsidian is a unique knowledge base application that works on top of a local folder of plain text Markdown files. Like Reflect, it allows you to create bi-directional links between notes, allowing users to build a web of interconnected ideas. It's ideal for researchers, writers, and anyone looking to build a personal knowledge management system.
Obsidian is free but many of its features cost to use. It also has a substantial learning curve.

Apple Notes

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Cost: Free
Apple Notes is a straightforward note-taking app that comes pre-installed on Apple devices. It offers a clean interface, iCloud synchronization, and basic formatting options. It's best for Apple users looking for a simple, integrated solution for quick notes and checklists.
There’s a reason there is a meme about people constantly returning to Apple Notes. It’s one of the best note-taking apps out there!

Evernote

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Cost: $15/month or $170 a year (for features mentioned)
Evernote is a comprehensive note-taking platform known for its organizational capabilities. It allows users to capture notes in various formats, from text and images to web clippings, and organize them using notebooks and tags. With its powerful search and cross-platform compatibility, it's a long-time favorite among professionals and students alike.
However, Evernote has seen a decline in recent years. They even laid off their entire US staff, indicating that now might not be a great time to jump on the Evernote train.

Roam Research

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Cost: $15/month or $165 a year
Roam Research had a big role to play in the popularity of bi-directional linking. It's designed for networked thought, allowing users to easily create and navigate complex webs of information. Roam is particularly popular among academics, writers, and thinkers who appreciate its non-linear approach to knowledge management.
Like Obsidian it has a steep learning curve, so is not the best option if you’re looking for simplicity.

Mem

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Cost: $8/month
Mem is a dynamic note-taking app that focuses on rapid capture and easy retrieval of information. With features like instant search, contextual linking, and daily prompts, it's designed to seamlessly integrate into a user's workflow. It's best for those who value speed and efficiency in their note-taking process.

Logseq

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Cost: Free
Logseq is a privacy-first, open-source platform for knowledge sharing and management. It combines the best of outliner and page-based note-taking, supporting both hierarchical and bi-directional linking of notes. With its emphasis on privacy and local-first data storage, it's a top choice for users who prioritize data ownership and security.
In the cluttered landscape of note-taking apps, personal preference reigns supreme.
The journey of selecting the right tool is deeply intimate, hinging not just on features but on the unique rhythm of each individual's thought process.
This article has delved into a spectrum of note-taking apps, each with its strengths, nuances, and potential drawbacks.
Evernote, once a titan in this space, has seen challenges, while newcomers like Roam have introduced innovative ways to interlink thoughts.
The best app is the one that resonates with you. It's the one that feels like an extension of your mind, effortlessly capturing and organizing your thoughts.
Test, explore, and embrace the tool that feels right.
This article compares note-taking apps that are similar to Reflect. This article will focus on personal note-taking apps, and ignore team collaboration features.

Written by

Sam Claassen
Sam Claassen

Head of Growth at Reflect