What is Google Keep? 9 Reasons You Should Use It

Google Keep has been around for nearly a decade. It is one of Google’s numerous free apps that the company released over the past several years.

So what is Google Keep? It’s a note taking app, designed to help with productivity and organization. The fact that it’s free gives it an edge over many other note taking apps and software on the market. Google Keep is easy to use, but it also has some advanced features that can help you track and sort all of your most important items, accessing them whenever you want.

We’ve put together a list of the nine reasons you should use Google Keep. First, though, let’s compare Keep to other note taking apps.

What Makes Google Keep Different?

When you are wondering, what is Google Keep and why is it different, it may be helpful to compare it to a couple of other note taking apps, helping clarify the features of Google Keep that differentiate it.

Google Keep Vs. Evernote

Google Keep offers a far simpler interface than Evernote, so if you’re in a hurry when using your note taking app, Keep is the better option.

The interface for Keep almost resembles a wall of sticky notes, allowing you to rearrange them as desired. Evernote, on the other hand, almost works like a paper notebook where you’d take handwritten notes in different sections of the notebook. You’ll need to create multiple folders and subfolders to properly organize your items in Evernote.

Evernote has a free version, but it is far more limited than the completely free version of Keep. Evernote’s pay tiers, which offer advanced features, start at $7.99 per month.

Google Keep Vs. Microsoft OneNote

If you prefer having the software installed on your computer, so you can use it when you don’t have an Internet connection, OneNote gives you this option, as well as the ability to run from the cloud or through an app on a mobile device. Google Keep is only available as cloud software or as a mobile app.

For those who have limited free space available on a mobile device, the Keep app uses far less data storage space than OneNote’s app.

OneNote gives you the ability to attach files to your notes and lists, such as files from the Microsoft 365 apps and PDF files, which means OneNote may work better for a business user who needs more extensive collaboration and project planning features than what Google Keep is able to deliver.

Both Keep and OneNote are free, which gives both of them an advantage over Evernote.

Reason 1: Google Keep Syncs With Google Drive

If you use multiple other Google apps, including Google Drive for synching your data and storing your files in the cloud, you’ll appreciate that Google Keep works closely with Drive.

As you create lists and notes inside Keep, the app saves them to Drive, ensuring you always have a copy in a safe place. There’s no need to remember to save your notes and lists manually, as the process occurs automatically.

When your notes are in Google Drive, they’re always accessible to you whenever you have a device that you can connect to the cloud.

Reason 2: Collaborate With Others About Your Notes and Lists

Google’s apps have a central theme around allowing for collaboration between you, as the creator of the information, and anyone with whom you care to share the information. This collaboration feature extends to Google Keep.

Click on any note or list that you want to share with another person from your collection of items stored in Keep. Along the bottom, select the Collaborators icon (marked with the head of a person). Then enter the email address of anyone with whom you want to share the information.

That person will receive a link that allows them to open your note or list, and the other person will be able to add items or edit items, creating a collaborative effort around list creation.

Because you store all of your Google Keep information in the cloud with Google Drive, sharing the files with others is an easy process. They do not need to have a Google account to see your notes.

Reason 3: Google Keep Runs Fast

For those who simply want a note taking app that is easy to use, allowing them to make quick notes and lists without having to go through several steps, Google Keep’s extremely basic interface is ideal for this type of use case.

It’ll run fast, even if you’re using older hardware, because of the simple interface. Rather than having to make multiple formatting selections before you begin adding your note or list items, you can simply begin tapping or typing immediately.

Should you later want to add color coding or labels to your notes, helping to organize them more successfully, you can do so, but you don’t have to do this until you’re ready.

Keep is an equally fast performer in the browser version and in the mobile app.

Reason 4: Add Voice Notes Quickly

If you prefer to make notes and lists for yourself audibly, rather than typing or tapping them on your mobile device, Google Notes makes this an easy process, allowing you to make these recordings quickly. (This feature is only available in the Google Keep app for mobile devices.)

To add a voice note in Keep, just tap the microphone icon and begin speaking. After you save the voice recording, the Keep app will convert your speech to text, giving you a visual copy of the information in the voice note.

As an added benefit, you can attach your voice recording to any new or existing note in Keep, allowing you to play it back whenever you desire.

Reason 5: Grab Editable Text From a Hand Drawn Note

If you have made handwritten notes in Keep, either by drawing on a touch screen or by drawing them with a cursor on a computer screen, Google Keep can attempt to translate your handwritten notes into a text string that you can copy and edit, just as if you had typed it yourself.

After making your hand drawn notes, click the three vertical dots at the bottom of the window. Then select Grab Image Text from the popup menu. Google Keep will add the text that it has translated from your handwritten note to the bottom of the window with the note in it. You then can copy and paste it into any other document, if desired.

As an added benefit, you also can use this feature to grab text inside a photograph, creating an editable text string from it.

Reason 6: Add Reminders to Your Notes

When you create a note in Keep, you have the option of adding a reminder notice to it, such as a date and time for a deadline. Google Keep then shares this reminder with other aspects of your Google account, including Google Calendar, ensuring that you always have up-to-date information about your schedule. You also can choose to have reminders pop up on your smartphone screen, if desired.

With a list or note open on the screen, click on the Remind Me icon (marked with a bell). You then can select a date and time when you’d like to receive a reminder about the note.

You even can have Keep notify you about the note or list based on your location. If you want the list to appear on the screen when you reach the grocery store, for example, you can use the Remind Me feature and the GPS in your smartphone to accomplish this.

This saves multiple steps versus creating a note, then adding a separate entry to your calendar tracker to remind you to check the note. You can do all of it through Google Keep.

Reason 7: Archive Your Old Notes

It certainly feels good to check off a task when you complete it. In digital note taking apps like Keep, that usually means deleting the note or list, never to see it again.

However, Keep gives you a choice beyond deletion. Instead, you can choose to use the Archive feature for your completed items. When you select the Archive function, Keep will remove it from your active list, just as if you deleted it.

However, Keep maintains a copy of it in the Archive section, meaning you can go back and retrieve it later. This can be helpful if you need the same note a few months down the road or if you have an image stored with a note that you will want to be able to find again.

Reason 8: Color Coded Note Taking

The various colors available for notes in the Google Keep app look good, but they also have a purpose. You can use the multiple colors to differentiate between the types of notes and lists you’ve created, making it easy to see at a glance the information that you need.

If you use Google Keep to track your personal notes and your work related notes, you can give each type of them a different color, easily differentiating them. You can use 10 or more colors to sort and separate the types of notes you’ve entered.

Using color coding means you don’t have to take time to set up networks of folders and subfolders before you are able to begin using Keep, as you must do with some note taking apps.

Reason 9: Filtering Your Notes and Lists

When you take advantage of Google Keep’s Search bar, you can make even greater use of the different colors you’ve used to organize and sort your items.

As you collect dozens of items in Keep over time, finding one particular item would become a significant challenge without the Search function.

To filter your notes and lists, place the cursor in the Search bar at the top of the page. You’ll then see all of your search filtering options, including by the type of item and the color used. Select any one of these options, and Keep will remove from view all stored items that don’t meet your search criteria.

To clear the search criteria, click on the X in the search box.

You also can use the Add Label feature inside the three dot popup menu to add a text label to related notes and lists for filtering. When you type a label onto a note, Keep creates a “folder” along the left navigation pane for this label. Every note or list associated with this label will appear when you click on the label in the left side of the window.

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Bryan Wise
Bryan Wise,
Former VP of IT at GitLab

Incredible companies use Nira