When that little light bulb goes off in your head, Google Keep comes in pretty handy. This cloud-based note-taking app lets you jot thoughts down in a way similar to using Post-it notes, which you can then integrate into Google Docs (read our Google Drive review).
It’s pretty basic in comparison to other apps, but it’s free and easy to use, so we can forgive that.
It lets you create an unlimited number of notes, with up to 20,000 characters in each, and you can create labels to organize them. However, although it ticks all the boxes for an app that you can quickly whip out and get your idea down before your goldfish memory takes hold, it lacks features that other note-taking apps offer.
For example, Evernote offers more organizational features, and you can format the text (read our Evernote review). Still, Google Keep earned a slot on our list of the best note-taking apps.
With Google Keep, you can compile all your ideas, shopping lists and reminders into one place, and easily access them from another desktop or device. Keep reading our Google Keep review for more.
Strengths & Weaknesses
- Completely free
- Unlimited notes
- Easy to use
- Voice notes
- No notebooks
- 20,000 character limit
- Label limit of 50
- No text formatting
- No desktop client
- No automated notes
Alternatives for Google Keep
Although at first glance Google Keep looks similar to a Post-it note board, it lets you create different types of memos. It’s also tied to your Google account, so whichever device you use it on, your notes will be synced, provided you’re connected to the internet and logged in.
It’s easy to make a quick note, and you have the choice of doing so by text, checklist, voice recording, drawing or picture. The notes have a character limit of 20,000, which is longer than the likes of Zoho Notebook (read our Zoho Notebook review), but shorter than, say, Box Notes, which allows a whopping 500,000 characters (read our Box Notes review).
Google Keep Notes Limit
That said, there’s no limit to the number of notes you can create and no bandwidth limit; it doesn’t even go against your Google Drive storage limit.
Google Keep is missing some of the features that its competitors have, though, such as multiple notebooks and video notes. Plus, it lacks rich-text editing, so it’s not the best choice if you’re creating research notes or using it for business.
What you do get, though, is the ability to add all of its features into one note. You could have a picture, drawing, voice memo, tick box list and text note, all in one place. You can do those separately, too, but it’s good for notes such as recipes, as you can pop a picture at the top and have, say, an ingredients checklist underneath.
Plus, if you want to make a note into something a bit more elegant, you can integrate it into a Google Doc. You can then add formatting and anything else you see fit, but remember that it won’t be a “note” anymore.
Google OCR in Keep
You can use Keep’s optical character recognition to extract text from clipped sources and other images. Plus, with Google’s accurate speech recognition, it was no surprise that it was more than adequate for dictating notes and letting Google Keep transcribe them.
Google Keep also lets you create bulleted lists, as well as checklists, which are great for grocery shopping, as you can tick items off as you go. It lets you share notes and assign collaborators, too, so others can add to the list or check items off. No more pointing fingers when someone forgot to get milk. For bigger tasks, you’d be better off with a project management app.
Plus, you can set reminders by date and time or by location, which is handy if you want your shopping list to pop up when you get to the store.
Google Keep Mobile Apps
There are apps available for Android and iOS, and you can use it within a browser, too. However, there isn’t a dedicated desktop client. Instead, there’s a Google Chrome app that, once installed, works as a stand-alone app. You can open it from your Chrome “apps” page or, in Windows 10, you can go to the “start” menu after installing and pin it to the taskbar.
Each version has pretty much the same layout, too, so you won’t get confused looking at a different interface as you switch devices.
There’s also a Chrome extension, which can be used to clip web content and save it straight to Google Keep from within the browser. There are a couple of ways you can use it. First, you can highlight the content you want to save. Next, you can either click the Google Keep logo on the address bar or right click the content, then hit “save selection to Keep.”
Doing either of those will open a small window with your selection in Keep, and it automatically adds a page link, which you can remove. You can then add a title or label, or delete it, because it automatically saves.
If you want to make any other changes, such as color, you can click on the small arrow in the right-hand corner to open Keep in the web browser and edit the note from there.
You can’t clip a whole webpage like in some note-taking apps, such as Evernote or OneNote (read our OneNote review), though. If you don’t highlight any content, it will just clip the page link, but you can add things to it yourself, as we described before.
Google Keep Overview
|Embed note links|
|Optical character recognition (OCR)|
One of Google Keeps upsides is that it is absolutely free. It doesn’t cost a penny, so it’s definitely a good choice if you’re a bit low on cash.
Plus, because there’s no limit to how many notes you can keep, and the fact that it doesn’t contribute to your Google Drive storage space, unlike OneDrive (read our OneDrive review), makes Google Keep even more appealing.
On the one hand, Google Keep’s UI is great because it’s so simple. On the other hand, it’s possibly too simple. Other note-taking apps, such as Evernote, offer a completely decked-out interface, giving you more options to choose from. That said, Google Keep’s simple layout makes it easy to see what’s what.
Though there is no desktop client, the Chrome app pretty much replaces the need for one. However, to get that, you’ll need to download the Chrome web browser, if you haven’t already installed it. You could just use the browser version instead, though.
With the layout of all the available clients being almost identical, it’s no surprise that the Android and iOS apps are easy to use, too. There are only minor differences, such as the settings menu being in a different place, and it’s still easy to navigate.
The center window displays your notes by default in a tile format, but you can change that to a list display instead, if you prefer. The hamburger menu lets you switch between notes and reminders, go to a specific label or create a new one, as well as see your archived or deleted notes. For mobile apps, you can also access the settings from here.
It’s simple to make a new note. Just start typing into the box that says “Take a note…” or choose one of the other methods: tick boxes, drawing, voice memo or picture. As we said before, there’s no rich-text formatting options available, but we like the fact that you can add other options, such as color coding, labels and reminders, making it easier to organize notes.
Google Keep Drawing Tools
If you want to draw a note, there are a few tools included. You get a pen, marker and highlighter, all of which you can choose the color and size in a dropdown menu. You also get a rubber tool, and if you click its dropdown menu, you can clear the page.
There’s also a cutting tool, which allows you to move, rotate and resize the selected content. You can even choose a grid to draw on: squares, dots or “rules.”
The Google Keep extension is handy if you want to quickly grab something from the internet or save a page link, but it’s a shame that you can’t clip a whole webpage, too.
Overall, Google Keep is great if you’re just after a simple tool to quickly jot down notes and ideas. It works well for shopping lists, and it’s easy on the eyes, too.
Plus, if you like to keep voice memos, Google Keep is one of the better options due to Google’s speech-recognition capabilities. Combine all that with the fact that it’s free, and it definitely shines as a great tool.
Security & Privacy
There isn’t much information on Google Keep’s security, but if we presume it’s the same as every other Google app, then there are some issues. Google compiles data for advertising and targeted-marketing purposes. When you read its terms of service, you’ll notice that it’s more in-depth than some think.
First, it states that when you upload, submit, store, send or receive content, you give Google and the companies it works with the right to use that content. It goes into more detail, but you get the idea. Plus, it specifically states the following:
“Our automated systems analyze your content (including emails) to provide you with personally relevant product features, such as customized search results, tailored advertising and spam and malware detection. This analysis occurs as the content is sent, received and when it is stored.”
Basically, Google doesn’t tailor adverts only by looking at what you’ve searched for in the browser. Instead, it can look at anything you have stored with them, which we presume includes Google Keep, too.
Keep isn’t the best place to save your sensitive data, such as login information and passwords, because you’re most likely going to be logged in to your Google account on at least one device.
That means anyone who gets hold of it can access your Google services, including Keep. You could protect your account, though, with two-factor authentication and by making sure you log out.
Google Keep is a simple, yet satisfying note-taking app. It’s great for getting random notes down quickly, and organizes them pretty well, too. It falls short in some areas, though, such as not having text formatting or notebooks.
With Keep being free, it’s a good tool to have on hand, anyway. You can make and view notes quickly and easily, organize them well enough, and have them synced with your devices, too. That said, if you’re after more organization options and text formatting, Evernote may be a better choice.
What’s your verdict on Google Keep? Share your opinions in the comment section. Thank you for reading.