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Standard Notes might be the best note-taking app on the market

If you're looking for a note-taking app that can sync across devices, don't overlook the open-source Standard Notes.
Written by Jack Wallen, Contributing Writer on
Reviewed by Min Shin
A woman uses a laptop at a sunny cafe table.
Alissa Kumarova/Shutterstock

I'm going to preface this by saying I'm a big advocate of open-source technology, and any time I can, I'll select an open-source piece of software over something that is proprietary. That doesn't mean all I use is open-source. For instance, I use Spotify, Slack, Zoom, Opera, and a number of other non-open software apps… even on the Linux operating system.

So, when looking for a note-taking application, I knew of ones such as Evernote, which happens to have an app for the Linux desktop.

I've used Evernote and think it's a fantastic tool. Evernote is everything I need in a note-taking app. But it is proprietary, and when I see an open-source option, such as Standard Notes, I'm all over it.

Standard Notes is a note-taking app that places privacy front and center. 

Also: How to take notes on your iPad with an Apple Pencil

With 4x-audited, end-to-end encryption and all of the features you'll ever need in a note-taking app, why wouldn't you choose this option?

Standard Notes offers three different plans:

  • Standard: Free, end-to-end encryption, unlimited device sync, plain text notes, offline access, tags, password-protected notes, full data export, two-factor authentication, daily encrypted email backups, and community support.
  • Productivity: $90 a year, everything in Standard plus markdown, rich text, spreadsheets, checklists, Daily Notebooks, folders, one-year note revision history, and premium support.
  • Professional: $120 a year, everything in Productivity plus 100GB encrypted cloud storage, sharing with up to five accounts, Moments, no file size limit, offline file access, file backups stored locally, maximum note revision history, and premium support.

For most users, the Standard account will work fine. But if you want to be able to create rich text, markup, spreadsheets, checklists, or code, you'll have to bump up to the Productivity plan. 

Also: The 5 best note-taking apps for iPad

However, for simple note-taking, the Standard account is pretty good.

With the Standard account, you can take basic, text-based notes and do the following with them:

  • Add tags.
  • Pin to the top of your list.
  • Password protect.
  • Star.
  • Export.
  • Duplicate.
  • Archive.
  • Sync across devices.

There's even a built-in spell-check feature and the ability to lock to prevent editing. For privacy advocates, the best feature is the use of XChaCha20-Poly1305, one of the strongest forms of encryption available. This level of encryption ensures no one but you can view your notes. As data is sent to the Standard Notes servers for syncing, it is encrypted using Amazon Web Services for syncing and storing. 

This means if someone were to intercept data from Standard Notes as it syncs with the Amazon Servers, they wouldn't be able to view the contents because it's all encrypted. And for more security, you can always password-protect more sensitive notes, so only those with the password (you) can read them.

Also: How to turn your old devices into Amazon gift cards

To make this even more appealing, the Standard Notes UI is very simple to use. One might even call Standard Notes pretty basic in its design. For many users, that simplistic design means the application has a very shallow learning curve. I cannot imagine anyone opening Standard Apps and not immediately feeling right at home with the tool. And because Standard Notes is available to install on Linux, MacOS, Windows, web, Android, and iOS, you can sync your notes to any device you use. 

The one caveat to installing on Linux is that you're limited to either an AppImage or a Snap package. I've tried both and found they perform equally as well. However, I do prefer the Snap package as it can be updated without having to download a new AppImage.

The Standard Notes interface.

I use Standard Notes to keep track of my writing projects.

Image: Jack Wallen

Is Standard Notes for you?

Okay, so the free version of Standard Notes is pretty limited in the type of notes you can add. But if you tend to only use basic notes (and have no need for spreadsheets, markdown, lists, code, etc), the Standard plan will work just fine. 

But if you're looking for a drop-in replacement for the likes of Evernote, you will have to pay the fee for either the Productivity or Professional plan. 

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For me, however, the free plan does a great job of filling my note-taking needs. Since first installing Standard Notes, I've stopped using Evernote and have found the new app to be one of the best apps of its kind. 

And given the interface is so simple and the features aren't overwhelming, I can easily take notes and know they'll be secure and in sync with all of my devices. So, if you're looking for one of the best, easiest-to-use, note-taking apps on the market, look no further than Standard Notes.

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