Simple Tools for Taking Notes

by: Scott Nesbitt | 05 July 2022

There’s no single note taking tool to rule them all. Some of us need a tool with all of the bells and whistles. Some need a tool with a smaller number of those frills.

Then there are the folks who only need a basic application. Something bare bones. Text only. No linking, no images, no visualization, no multi-angle shower head. This article is for those people.

Let’s take a quick look at five simple tools for taking notes in plain text.

Nextcloud Notes

If you’re not familiar with Nextcloud, it’s a file syncing and storage application. Thanks to the various components that have been integrated into it, Nextcloud can also be a very effective personal productivity hub. One of those components that make up the hub is Nextcloud Notes.

Notes is a simple tool, which enables you to quickly and easily take plain text notes. You can also format your notes with Markdown and organize them using categories (which are like folders that contain notes on a similar subject). There’s even a mobile app for Android.

You can read more about Nextcloud Notes in this article.


For the longest time, Simplenote was my go-to application for taking notes. Why? It didn’t have any bells or whistles. It gave me a minimalist, blank canvas on which to write notes (and more). I didn’t need to worry about other features I’d never use.

While Simplenote has gotten a few additional features bolted on to it over the years, it's still minimal. It’s still easy to use. On top of that, it supports Markdown and has apps for the Linux, macOS, and Windows desktops along with apps for Android and Apple devices.


Notorious is simple, keyboard-driven note take application for the Linux desktop. All you need to do is enter a title for your note, then start typing. You can’t get any simpler than that.

You can format your notes with Markdown, choose to save them with the extension .txt or .md, and you can specify where to save your notes. It’s simple, light, and quite snappy.

Auer Notes

Auer Notes is one of those tools that started life as a way to scratch its creator’s itch. That itch? To create a quick, simple, secure note taking application for macOS.

In a lot of ways, Auer Notes looks like the stock Notes app on the Mac desktop. That’s where the similarity (which is quite superficial) ends. Auer Notes saves your notes as text files, which you can keep on your hard drive or sync using a service like Nextcloud.

Your Favourite Minimal Text Editor

Who says that you need a dedicated note taking app at all? Why not use a text editor? Like the one installed with your computer’s operating system.

Yes, even something as barebones as Windows Notepad. As long as it saves files as plain text and as long as you use a well-thought out folder structure, a simple, minimal text editor can be more than enough for your note taking needs.