Whether it’s adding your fifteenth entry to an already lengthy checklist, collaborating with your study group partner on the details of your Criminal Procedure outline or taking notes in your daily class lectures, note taking is a quintessential facet of the law school experience. The ability to take concise and, most importantly, helpful notes about a complex topic is a necessary skill for any lawyer. A skill that’s tested and groomed to perfection during your three years of law school and a skill that can be drastically aided by the ideal app. In today’s world of technology overload there is certainly no shortage of note taking apps to choose from. Whether your preference is more of a simplistic analog style or more of a complex feature-filled app, the options are endless.
So, if you’re interested in trying out a new note taking app, and you’re not sure where to start, this post is for you. I’ve taken the liberty of digging into some of the more popular note taking apps for both Mac and Microsoft users, and I’ve highlighted the features that I believe would be most helpful for any law student.
If your preference is a simple, streamlined, easy to use option, then I recommend Apple Notes or the Zoho app. Both apps are ideal for the “non-techie” app user, like myself who just wants something clean with limited features that can still adequately get the job done.
Apple Notes (Apple Only)
- If you’re an Apple user, then you’re likely already aware of the Apple Notes app. This is the standard Note app that is automatically available for free on your iPhone or Apple desktop without the need to be downloaded for access. By virtue of its simple appearance (a literal notepad), it is very easy for this app to be overlooked, but as a frequent user of this app, I can personally attest to its benefits. This is an excellent app for:
- Class Notes: This app is available on your desktop, so it is a great space for drafting and categorizing your class notes into folders. You can also add attachments directly into your notes. Therefore, if you’re allowed to record lectures, you can attach lecture audio into your notes or attach relevant documents and pictures. The best part is that your notes automatically sync between your desktop and IPhone, therefore, if you’re on the go and you don’t have your laptop you can easily review your class notes right in the palm of your hand.
- Checklists: This app provides a checklist feature that allows you to insert bullets for each action item and actually tick them off as each item is complete. This is a perfect tracker for the multiple checklists that you will certainly accrue each day.
- Sharing Notes: This is a great app for study groups as it allows you to add people to view your note. Think about how much more convenient it would be to draft class notes and immediately share this with a study group partner, as opposed to saving your class notes and promising to email it over which is just another extra step to forget.
- Don’t have an Apple laptop but interested in the features Apple Notes has to offer? No problem, because the Zoho app has you covered! The Zoho App is available to Apple and Microsoft users, and it offers all the great simple features that Apple Notes has, but it offers it within a beautiful interface. This app which is completely free, allows you to take notes, make checklists, share notes, record lectures directly within the app, on a beautiful note card of your choice. If you’re a visual learner, I highly recommend this app for you!
Feature-rich Apps for Tech Lovers
Interested in something a bit more technical? No worries! The One-Note or Evernote app may be the perfect tool for capturing your notes and organizing your law school life. Both apps are available for both Microsoft and Apple users and although they are both available on your desktop or mobile phone, I would highly recommend using these apps primarily on your desktop or tablet to take full advantage of their advanced features.
- The One-Note app probably most resembles the Microsoft Word interface that we are used to. Therefore, utilizing this app for class notes is probably the most natural choice. Additionally, when you draft your notes here, you can rest assured that they won’t accidentally get deleted or get lost in the inevitable final exam laptop crash, because your notes are synced to the web and stored on One Drive.
- This app allows you to create multiple notebooks and topics within notebooks. It enables you to embed tables, share notes, audio attachments, checklists and even mix different media types into one note. Also, in addition to these great features, this app allows you to handwrite your notes if you have a touch screen laptop or tablet and if your handwriting isn’t the greatest like mine you can also convert this writing to text.
- Another exemplary feature of this app is the ability it has to search through your notes, typed text or handwriting alike. When you’re studying for finals and you need to quickly scan your notes for every instance of a certain element, this will certainly come in handy.
- Evernote is also a great feature rich app, which offers almost, but not all of the features, One-Note has to offer. Although Evernote is perhaps one of the more popular note taking options out there, many of its features have limits. If you enroll in the free user option, you are limited to 60 MB of online storage which is less than the 5GB storage you have for free with One-Note. Additionally, Evernote’s handwriting feature is limited to iPhone users and Evernote doesn’t allow you to extract searched text like One-Note does.
- I will say that Evernote’s template feature is very handy as it provides pre-made templates for different items, however, based on the limitations for free users, I recommend the One-Note app as the most cost effective and feature rich option.
I hope this post guides you to your perfect Note App companion.
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