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How (and why) to use Google Drive as a powerful note-taking tool

Derek Walter | Feb. 4, 2015
There's an abundance of perfectly good note-taking software available for organization addicts, with tools like Evernote and OneNote typically topping the list. The field gets even more crowded if you expand to mobile app stores, which are loaded with specialized tools that promise to save all your ideas from those lengthy brainstorming sessions, meetings, or classroom lectures.

There's an abundance of perfectly good note-taking software available for organization addicts, with tools like Evernote and OneNote typically topping the list. The field gets even more crowded if you expand to mobile app stores, which are loaded with specialized tools that promise to save all your ideas from those lengthy brainstorming sessions, meetings, or classroom lectures.

But don't overlook Google Drive as a potential go-to note-taker even though it's generally designed as a word processor. The productivity suite has some key advantages that the note-taking not-quite-competition fail to offer, at least as a singular package.

First of all, all of your docs (or notes in this case) are saved in Google Drive, which has the best search capabilities around, hands-down. That makes it easy to find the note your looking for in a flash. Evernote's search is good, but not as good as Google's.

You also can use Drive's excellent collaboration feature to write and share notes with others in real-time — an especially useful scenario if you're doing a group project with colleagues or classmates. 

Finally, using Docs as your note-taking tool of choice prevents that oh-so-annoying scenario when you're trying to remember exactly where you saved a key file. There's no more "Oh, I put that note in Evernote, but the related Word document is in Dropbox, and the image is in OneDrive," et cetera. If you go all-in with Drive, it's all there. 

If those sound like capabilities you need, Google Docs could very well scratch your note-taking itch. Transforming Docs into a note-taking powerhouse takes a wee bit of upfront work, however — not much, but some. Here's how to get started. 

Set up an organizational structure

The first step is to create a folder for all your notes — even though Drive's search capabilities are excellent, it still helps to have some kind of organizational plan for your notes and other files.

You could just set up one blanket folder called Notes that you stuff all of these into, or you could get more specific with folders for meeting notes, agendas, recipes, or perhaps even individual classes if you're a student. Drive also lets you nest folders if you want to further subdivide your organizational system.

Collaborative note-taking

If you're working on a project with others, you still can't find a better real-time collaboration app than Google Docs.

Google Drive makes it exceptionally easy to share a page of notes with a colleague — just use big blue Share button in the corner and fire away. Even better, the Docs commenting system allows you to ask questions or discuss any of the material back and forth right inside the file.

 

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