Guide to Use Google Keep for College Notetaking
If you’re ready to go digital with your college note taking, Google Keep is a great option. In fact, Google Keep was one of our picks for the best note-taking apps in 2020.
The note-taking app is particularly relevant if you’re a fan of Gmail, Google Docs and other G-Suite apps. Not only is the user interface similar to other Google products, but the integration between Google apps can create a seamless workflow. Who doesn’t want a simpler way to manage college notes and assignments?
Google Keep users skew younger, according to an analysis by Vertro Analytics. That makes sense based on how convenient the Google ecosystem is. Users aged 18 to 24 account for 58 percent of Google Keep users, according to the survey. This is starkly different from other note taking apps where this younger age group accounts for 37 percent on Microsoft OneNote and 34 percent on Evernote.
How Does Google Keep Compare to Evernote?
Google Keep and Evernote may both be in the same category of note taking apps, but their functionality means they’re used differently.
Google Keep has a format that’s similar to sticky notes. It’s not designed for longer notes, but if you want pages of text, you can convert a Google Keep note into a Google Doc. Google Keep does offer some of the same image recognition features as Evernote, and if you have handwriting, the app can convert it to digital searchable text. Google Keep will even transcribe audio recordings.
Comparatively, Evernote offers a format that makes it more convenient to have longer notes. There are also more organizational options letting you create a hierarchical structure that can nest notes under classes under semesters. Evernote does have a free plan available, but the simpler Google Keep is free for all users.
The note taking app that works best for you will depend on what type of notetaker you are, your learning style and what you want the app to do. Our guide to Evernote goes into detail about how to use the app and what functionality it offers.
For fans of G-Suite, the steps below explain how students can use Google Keep for college notetaking.
1. Google Keep Syncs Across Your Devices
Like other Google apps, Google Keep has universal device access. For example, you can create a note on your tablet during class, look at it later on your laptop, and review notes from your phone. No matter what device you use, information will be up to date.
The Google Keep mobile app is available for iOS and Android devices. You can also access Google Keep via a web browser. There’s even a Google Keep extension for Google Chrome so you can interact with your notes via the browser’s toolbar.
Note that for Apple users, the iOS app can be disappointing and only receives 3.4 stars. Apple Notes is a great alternative.
2. Use It Alongside Other Google Apps
Many people choose to use Google Keep because they’re already using other Google apps. By staying within the Google ecosystem for your class notes, you can get the full benefits of G-Suite integration.
The first benefit is visual access. You can display Google Keep as a sidebar within Google Docs, Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Slides or other apps. For students, this is a great way to access class notes when working on term papers or to keep task lists within view.
The second benefit is that information in your Google Keep notes can be easily moved to different apps within your Google account. For example, if your notes in Google Keep become long and unwieldy, you can select “Copy to Google Doc” to transfer its contents to another app. Additionally, you can drag and drop the contents of your note to Google Doc or Google Slides.
The seamlessness between Google Keep and Google Docs is especially important because Google Keep was not designed for large documents, nor does Google Keep offer all of the formatting options of Google Docs.
3. You Can Add Variety of Multimedia
You can type notes using Google Keep, but there is no rich text editing such as bold, italics or underline. However, you can add other types of media.
There is a text formatting option to turn lists into checklists, which lets you mark things done.
You can add images. For example, you can add a photo of your class’s whiteboard, your own handwritten notes, or something you saw in your textbook.
If you’re using the Chrome extension, you can also save web content to Google Keep. The light bulb icon functions as a web clipper, letting you save an entire webpage. You can even right-click to save a selection or web image to Keep.
You can also use the app to record and save voice memos.
The app also accommodates drawings and handwritten notes. Select the pen button on the app, and your touchscreen becomes a place to sketch ideas, create wireframes, or easily write math formulas.
4. Multimedia Becomes Searchable
The power of Google’s technology can be put to work for you.
In Google Keep, audio notes are automatically transcribed. Simply record your voice memo, and the result will be an auto recording paired with the transcribed text.
Images can be transcribed too. All you have to do is select “Grab Image Text,” and OCR technology (optical character recognition) can transcribe your image into typed text.
Once digitized, the text from images and audio recordings can be searched so you’ll only be a few clicks away from anything.
5. Stay Organized with Google Keep
Within Google Keep, each item looks like digital sticky notes. There are a few ways you can keep them organized.
You can change the colors so all notes for your Accounting class are green, for example. Then you can view by color code.
You can also organize notes by adding labels. User accounts can have up to 50 labels, and you can choose to group the notes for each class together that way.
There’s also the option to pin important notes to the top of the app. This can give you easy access to your to-do lists.
6. Reminders Can Help You Stay on Top of Homework
Google Keep offers two types of reminders.
The first is a standard time reminder. For example, you can set a reminder to review History class notes on Saturday at noon.
The second is a location-based reminder. It’s controlled by your device’s GPS and the alert will trigger at a specific location. For example, you can set a reminder for your Chemistry questions to pop-up when you walk into your school’s Science building.
Add a reminder to any note, and view upcoming reminders via the app’s menu.
7. Sharing Notes and Collaboration Tools
You can also use Google Keep with other people, sharing notes in a similar way that files are shared on Google Drive.
Theoretically, you could use Google Keep to collaborate on class projects. However, the simplicity of the platform can become quickly limiting.
A better way to use Google Keep is to share task lists. For example, you could share a grocery list among your housemates. This helps you quickly know that you’re out of hand soap or that someone already picked up the party supplies for tonight. You can add photos to the note. This way everyone will remember which frozen pizza has the best toppings or which variety of coffee is the household favorite.
In addition to Google Keep, there are other tools for sharing class notes that can help you work more efficiently. The app OneClass gives college students access to class notes and study guides that have been uploaded by paid notetakers.
Whether you've missed a class or you’re struggling with the material, you can quickly get up to speed by checking out the high-quality notes that have been shared online.
See what class notes are being shared at your school to find out how 90 percent of OneClass users have improved by at least one letter grade.
image attribution: fizkes - stock.adobe.com