Regular note-taking is one of the most productive habits a person can practice. The ability to take notes online and access them anytime, from any location is priceless. Over the last few years, I have personally tested nearly 100 different ways to do this. Some of these note-taking systems are worth mentioning, and some are worth forgetting.
Here are the systems worth mentioning… a list of 40 useful online note-taking techniques and web applications, categorized and listed in no particular order:
Casual Online Note-Taking
When your note-taking requirements call for speed and simplicity…
Gmail Yourself a Note – I used to do this several times a day. If you have a smartphone with email access, this is one of the quickest and most basic ways to create an online note on the fly. I setup a special “to-do list” Gmail label (folder) for storing and processing all of my notes.
Delicious-Tag a Note – Quite frequently we find articles online that remind us to do something, or inspire us to try something. Tagging these articles with a “personal note” tag and entering an insightful comment in each bookmark’s “notes” area turns Delicious into a productive note-taking (and collaboration) tool.
Tweet a Note via Twitter – Create yourself a separate, private twitter account with protected updates strictly for note-taking purposes. Direct-message notes to this private note-taking account from any Twitter client (via web, iPhone, etc.).
AyeNotes – A simple web application for taking and storing notes online. AyeNotes’ key feature is its templating system for frequently used text strings. Users type in shorthand versions of commonly used phrases that then automatically expand to complete entries. Very useful for noting programmer-esque text snippets like CSS and HTML code.
Luminotes – This is one of my favorites. It’s a simple and efficient personal wiki notebook. The key feature of Luminotes is its ability to easily link one note or notebook to the next. You can also attach small files to notes and share them with your friends.
Notefish – If you’re doing a lot of online research, Notefish is for you. It’s a web application that allows you to take notes from portions of web pages by copying and pasting content into one handy online note page. You can then organize the notes by moving them around, changing their colors and breaking them down into categories and titled subsections.
list.it – A pet project of MIT CSAIL researchers, list.it is a Firefox browser plug-in designed for simple, efficient online note-keeping. Its key focus is on speed and simplicity. If you register for their free sync service, your notes will be securely backed up online. Also, if you install list.it on multiple computers, your notes will be mirrored to all of them.
Yahoo! Notepad – If you already have a Yahoo! account, you can give Yahoo! Notepad a try with your current login credentials. It’s a very basic, straightforward online note-taking application. Yahoo! also provides a widget front-end for Yahoo! Notepad. This widget allows you to add, edit, organize and delete contacts from your Yahoo! Notepad directly from the widget.
3tags – A simple online note manager that provides web users with a secure way to store and manage their personal information online. Data security and user privacy are the key features. In short, user data is encrypted before it is sent to and stored on 3tags’ servers.
WebNotes – With WebNotes you can highlight text and stick customized notes onto any web page. All highlights and notes are cataloged and organized in folders within your WebNotes account. Pages you take notes on can be shared through email or via online links.
TiddlyWiki – If you already run a web server and prefer to host your own note-taking service, TiddlyWiki is for you. It’s a reusable non-linear personal web notebook that can be run locally or hosted on a web server. It creates a single html file which has all the characteristics of a wiki, including all of the content, the functionality (editing, saving, tagging and searching). My company used it as an online collaboration notebook for about 6 months during a product launch, and it worked well.
Mojonote – A simple online interface for storing and managing your ideas, goals, recipes, contacts, memos, notes, schedules, wishlists, playlists, etc. Mojonote has a pretty decent calendar and ‘to-do list’ reminder system. It can send you reminders via text message or email.
MyStickies – Great for online research, it allows you to place little yellow digital notes anywhere on any website. MyStickies also offers a powerful interface to browse, search, sort, and edit your notes from any computer that has internet access.
Diigo – Also great for online research, it’s basically a combination of MyStickies and Delicious. Diigo combines online sticky notes, website highlighting, and social bookmarking in one convenient package.
Fruitnotes – Allows you to create and organize notes online. Fruitnotes’ key feature is it’s ability to accept voice notes by calling a specific phone number, though currently this feature is only available in the US and UK. It also allows you to create a blog for sharing your notes and collaborating with other users.
Quick Online Notes for Public Sharing
When you need a quick, temporary online repository for notes and data that can be shared with others…