Do you remember things like paper, pen, pencil and notebook? These were used to write things down. Yes, writing and not typing.

Since my school days, I had the habit of writing things down in my pocket notebook. Be it a list of homework to get done, things to buy, or any other information worth keeping. This habit hasn’t died yet. Not that I write down homework lists, but others for sure.

Believe it or not, I still sometimes use notebooks for many things. But every time I ran out of my pocket notebook’s pages, I had to rewrite many things into a new book. It was becoming difficult to keep track of many things on different pages. 

So one day, I thought its time to go digital. Then I installed Google Keep which turned out to be a game-changer. Why? Read along. Who knows? It might help you too.

What is Google Keep?

Google Keep is a note-taking service by Google which was released on 10th March 2013. It is available as a web application and mobile app for both Android and iOS. This productivity app is integrated with other Google services.

Why it is a game-changer?

Initially, my requirements were quite simple. I could keep multiple lists, label them, colour code them and the best part – share it with others. I think the most practical use is the grocery list which is shared with my family members. Anyone can add items and later delete them once the item is bought.

Another thing which I find very useful is setting reminders. Normally in Google calendar, the built-in reminder function allows you to type only a few words. But with Google Keep, you can add as many details as you want and turn it into a reminder.

Note format

A note has two parts. The title and the body. You can have different things in the body like text, checklists (tick them off when done), pictures (existing or take a photo), voice notes, drawing for handwritten notes and more.

Google Keep features

The above features are just the tip of the iceberg. There are many other really useful things you can do with Google Keep:

Organization

You can organize your notes by adding colour and label. You can archive less important notes and pin the important ones. You can even arrange the order of your notes and search for them. Oh, and you can delete them as well!

Reminders

You can create or turn your notes into reminders. And it’s not just the time you can set, even the location! Suppose you want to buy something at a particular store or do something when you are at a particular place. Just make sure your location is turned on to use this feature.

Sharing

Any note can be shared with others by just adding their email addresses. They can not only view but also edit the note.

Voice notes

Another feature I love is the voice notes. If I come up with an idea while walking, I can just record it and it will store both the audio as well as the text form, thanks to the text-to-speech feature.

Integration

As I have already mentioned, Keep can set reminders that will be synced with Google calendar. It even has a place on the Google sidebar on your browser. Thanks to this, you can easily drag and drop your notes to your Google Docs. 

Having Google Keep opened in your sidebar with Gmail has some advantages. The opened mail can be added as an attachment to your note. Or you can refer your notes while sending an email.

You can make a note through your Google Assistant too. OK Google?

OCR – Optical Character Recognition

As the name suggests OCR is a feature to recognise characters. You can take a photo of any writing – handwritten or printed form and Google Keep will convert it into a text. You can use this feature to grab text from existing images also. Another use of OCR is to grab text from the handwritten notes using the draw feature.

Dark Mode

Like most of the apps and softwares out there, Google Keep has the dark mode for both the app as well as the web version.

Bookmark

Google Keep has a chrome extension which can be used to bookmark any web page. You can add a book even from your mobile browser. Just click on the share option and select Google Keep.

Cross-platform

Even though it lacks a desktop app, It is available on Android and iOS. You can access the web version from your desktop and it even has a chrome extension.

Offline

The mobile app can be accessed even when offline. All the changes you have done will be synced and updated when your device gets access to the internet. But since it does not have a desktop app, you cannot use it offline from your desktop. 

Free

Yes. You don’t need to pay for the app. Like all other Google services, Keep uses Google drive to store all the data. Unless your drive has exceeded the 15GB limit, you don’t have to pay for the storage.

Disadvantages

Like any other product, Google Keep is not short of disadvantages.

  • You cannot organise your notes into folders. There is no hierarchical system to store notes.
  • There is a limit to the number of characters for every note, exceeding which you will be prompted to copy to Google Docs.
  • No text formatting is available. Not even the simple options like bold, italic and underline.
  • Another lacking feature of Keep is resizing of notes. If your note is lengthy, it takes almost the whole screen.
  • Even though checklists is a useful feature, you cannot combine it with others. You can’t even add a simple text in the same note with checkboxes.
  • Keep would be better if it had a desktop app. The web version cannot be used offline.
  • You cannot sort your notes. But the search option is pretty good.
  • Google Keep does not integrate with Google Calendar or Google Tasks. It can set reminders, but that’s it.

The main disadvantage of Google Keep is that it is too simple for a note-taking app. It can be a replacement for your pocket notebook but not for other notebooks. It lacks many other advanced features which I have listed above. If you want to store lengthy notes and other information in different formats, you can use other note-taking apps and softwares like Microsoft OneNote, Evernote, Notion, Apple’s Notes etc.

Conclusion

Even with the disadvantages, Google Keep shines in its simplicity. The absence of advanced features actually helps you in taking quick notes without worrying too much about organizing them. Think of Google Keep as your digital pocket notebook or digital sticky notes.  

If you want to try Keep, you can start with the web, Android or iOS version. Or try adding the chrome extension if you are already using it. 

If you are already a user, tell me what you like and dislike about Google Keep.

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