Google’s note-taking app is the best free program you’re not using and perhaps never knew existed in the first place.
Let’s talk about Google Keep. You remember Google Keep, right? It was supposed to revolutionize taking and organizing notes in 2013, but it’s faced a lot of competition.
There are, of course, plenty of productivity and organizational apps that will help you shepherd your life across multiple devices. Evernote may be a PCMag Editors’ Choice for note-taking apps, but Keep has its benefits as a free, minimalist tool that simplifies the process of sharing ideas across multiple devices.
For example, you can jot down notes in Keep on your Android or iOS device while in transit and pick them up later on your computer. Or when you’re about to head out to an appointment, add info (such as addresses and directions) on the web app so you can access them on the road. You can also keep on top of tasks with to-do lists that can be added to or checked off from multiple screens.
So if you haven’t been using Keep or had no idea it even existed, there are plenty of reasons why you should give it a try. Read on to get a better sense of what Google Keep offers you and how you can better organize your notes.
Easily Copy to Google Docs
One of the greatest benefits of Keep is its seamless integration with the entire Google ecosystem. That means if you rely heavily on Gmail, Google Drive, or Google Docs, you can easily share items in Keep between platforms, from inside the Keep app, or through a Google program that supports Keep.
In the app, just tap an item, select the three-dot menu, and choose Copy to Google Docs. A notification tells you the note is being saved, then a new notification appears with a link to a Google Doc that contains your Google Keep data.
Import items from Keep by clicking on the Keep icon on the right side of the screen. This opens a side menu filled with all your notes and images, which can be added to emails, Drive folders, or existing documents. Either use the item’s three-dot menu or drag it into place.
Share and Collaborate With Others
Items in your Keep app can be shared directly with other users without having to go through the typical share menu you may see in other programs. Select a note or image you wish to share and choose the person icon. You can then add a user’s email address or their name from your contacts.
This turns you both into collaborators. Now whenever anyone makes changes to a note, edits will automatically be visible all the people with whom it is shared, though the original owner can revoke access at any time.
The Keep Widget: Always On, Always Live
Add a widget to your phone’s home screen for quick and easy access to your notes. Depending on the size of the widget you choose, recent notes can be viewed right on the home screen without opening the app.
Add the Android widget by long-pressing on an empty space on the phone’s home screen, tapping the Widget button, then selecting Keep. On iOS, swipe right from the home screen into Today View, scroll to the bottom and tap Edit. Find the Google Keep widget and tap the plus button to add it.
Transcribe Text From Images
Keep on the web can transcribe text from images. Click on an uploaded image, then click the three-dot menu and select Grab image text. All text in the image is then converted into searchable and editable text.
It’s perfect for digitizing information on business cards, signs of interest, and pieces of paper. You can do the same with handwritten notes, but your mileage may vary depending on the quality of your penmanship.
Keep Is Your Personal Stenographer
Ever have an absolutely brilliant idea but not write it down immediately? Then when you finally had a moment, you found whatever you had in mind was gone? Are you a journalist in need of an app that can transcribe interviews?
With Google Keep , you can dictate a note into your device, and the recording is transcribed into a searchable, editable note.
Create a pop-up reminder in Keep, and it shows up across your Google account. Start creating a note as you normally would, and click the bell icon.
Set a reminder for a certain date and time or even when for you reach a certain location. You get a notification in your browser or on your phone.
By default, Keep provides you with specific reminder times for quick access, but you can change them. Open the Settings menu to change the default time for Morning, Afternoon, and Evening.
If you’re using Keep regularly, its workspace is going to get filled up fairly quickly. But this being a Google product, the app’s search smarts are robust.
Tap the search bar at the top of the screen, which displays search categories. Filter by reminders, lists, images, drawings, or links. The app also supports color-coding — red for grocery lists and blue for work-related to-do lists, for example — so you can search by hue, as well.
Originally published at www.pcmag.com.