Whether you are working toward a degree or simply marking down information, the note-taking app we choose can make or break our ability to remember that information later on — which as you know, is super important for active recall and doing well on tests & exams.
Enter the iPad. We are now in the digital age and note-taking, along with many other things, has gotten more interactive. Technology can help capture audio from lectures (anyone else have really fast-speaking professors?), annotate PowerPoint slides, draw diagrams, and much more.
But with so many iPad note-taking apps on the market, it can be difficult to determine which app offers the best solutions for digital note-taking. Many even come with a cost — and not every has the money to spend trying to search app after app for the best solution.
And this is where KDigitalStudio comes in. I’ve tried multiple note-taking apps, both free and paid. Today, I am sharing the best FREE note-taking app that has all the features students (or anyone, for that matter!) need and even features that big, paid apps lack!
A free note-taking app
CollaNote is a digital note-taking app available for free on the App Store. It is currently not available for Androids. The app has a 4.9 rating out of 5, which is one of the highest ratings I’ve seen for an indie app. It can also be downloaded on the Mac or iPhone.
What doesn’t it have?
This app has all the features you’d want in a note-taking app, but for free. There weren’t any crucial features I felt were outright missing. And it seems like the developer is very active in the community, encouraging those who download the app to join the Reddit thread and submit feature requests. Even if a feature you want is not available in the app, it is easy to be heard by the developer, unlike many other apps we can download out there!
A feature that many believe is lacking in the popular paid note-taking app, GoodNotes 5, is audio recording. This is available in competing apps like Notability, but it is hard to come across the same feature in free note-taking apps — until CollaNote that is. CollaNote offers audio recording, which can be a helpful feature for recording lectures or meeting presentations. You can listen to the audio recording back and simultaneously see what notes were taken at that point in the audio recording. This feature in CollaNote is similar in function and design to that in Notability.
Many templates for notes
Like other note-taking apps, there are variety of templates you can choose from to take your notes. Meaning if you prefer to take meeting notes on lined paper, math notes on graph paper, and lab reports on dot grid, CollaNote has you covered. It even has more decorative page templates to try out, and a public notes sections, which is a feature I haven’t seen before in other apps!
In public notes, you can join “chat rooms” to play hang-man, ask math questions, and much more. It doesn’t appear to be a monitored community, so approach with caution but it does seem like a fun way to interact with other CollaNote users!
Stickers, stickers, and more stickers
Similar to Elements in GoodNotes, CollaNote has the option to add fun stickers to your notes. This can be great for when you need to call attention to things like formulas, important points, and reminders, but it can also be fun to embellish your notes.
CollaNote offers dark mode for those who prefer darker interfaces. This is a feature I don’t see in other note-taking apps (they mainly offer dark paper options). What’s different about CollaNote is that you can have a dark interface and white paper templates for your notes or convert your paper to dark mode too. It automatically inverts your notes to optimize them for dark paper. If you import PDFs or lecture notes, it will invert those colors too!
So much more
There are so many other features I could chat about that students and avid digital note-takers will find useful! Below is a video that walks you through the entire app, what all the buttons do, and much more. But if you’re unsure whether CollaNote takes the cake, I have a GoodNotes 5 vs. Notability video that might help or a GoodNotes 5 tutorial + walk-through, so you can see the insides of two other note-taking apps before making your decision!