What is Google Keep and Why Use it in Your Writing?

My daughter just bought her first house (though it went on hold several times as the Navy threatened/offered to move her). We wanted a simple way to share a ToDo list that would be available on phones, iPads, and computers, and would auto-update with our ideas. I looked at a variety of options but found something wrong with each of them.

Until I found Google Keep. It is marketed as a note-taking app — which it is — but trades sophisticated note-taking tools (like formatting) for simplicity. It is similar to iPhone Notes, but is more visual, syncs across all devices, and allows collaboration. You can add thoughts by typing or speaking (mobile devices only), as a narrative note or a bullet list, and include images from your collection, your camera roll, or by taking one with the native camera (mobile devices only). The title is auto-formatted to stand out from the rest of the note. You can organize notes by category or color, search for a particular note, pin the most important to the top, and re-arrange the collection by dragging-dropping. As in Google Reminders, you can set a location-based reminder to pull up your grocery list when you get to the store or a time-based reminder to make sure you never miss a parent conference.

It requires a Google account and — as with other Google Apps — the amount of space you get for saved notes depends upon your Google Drive size. It works on iOS, the web, Chrome (with an add-on), and Android.

google keep

Pros

Because Keep doesn’t include a lot of (rarely-used) tools, it is intuitive to learn, simple to use, and really quick to start up. Just tap the icon to open the program, tap to start a new note. That’s it. This is ideal when you want to quickly jot down a phone number or email address, or take a photo. You don’t need to fumble through an armload of start-up functions while whatever you wanted to note down disappears or is lost in your short-term memory. If you’re driving or both hands are busy, simply tap the microphone and talk. Keep records your audio and adds a text version of the message.

One of the most amazing features of Google Keep is that it will pull text from images (such as pictures of pages from a book) into typed text.

For Android users: You can add a drawing to your note and/or draw on an image that you took or is shared with you.

Cons

There are few formatting tools available (all you can do is color the note and add checkboxes) and no audio recording ability in the Web app. While Android users can annotate images, no versions at present allow for PDF annotation.

Writing applications

Many of my colleagues consider Google Keep an easy-to-use, easy-to-deploy note-taking option for students. Here are nine suggestions for using it in the classroom:

  1. Bookmark interesting links. While researching a topic for your next novel, copy-paste the links to a Keep note for reference. Most links show a preview in a list below the link collection so it’s easy to see what’s covered on that site.
  2.  Write notes to yourself. Because it’s easy to take and categorize notes, this is an ideal way to jot down quick notes and reminders like an appointment or phone number.
  3. Share information with others. Because notes are easily shared, this is great for group projects. Data that can be shared include links, images, screenshots, videos, camera shots (mobile only), and more
  4. Color-code a note for “WIP” and pin it to the top of the Keep canvas. This makes it quick to add ideas that come to mind anytime and then make sure you blend them into your WIP.
  5. Set time-based reminder alarms for notes and bookmarks. This alerts you to meetings, group projects, or anything that is based on a due date. It might even be to remind you to take a break from your writing and pet the dog!
  6. Set a location-based reminder. This reminder goes off based on the GPS location of the user (and their phone) in relation to whatever event you programmed the alert for. For example, you may set a reminder to bring a flier to your book club meeting that is tripped when you leave your home.

***

Overall, Alan Henry over at Lifehacker said it best:

Comparing Google Keep to Evernote is a bit like comparing a screwdriver to your favorite cordless drill. One is a generic, basic tool that can be used in multiple ways, but has its limits. The latter is a tool that can be used in place of the former, has a broader set of use cases, and is admittedly more powerful.

In short: Google Keep is an uncomplicated note-taking tool that allows users to take notes quickly, intuitively, and share them with others without the sometimes confusing mix of optional tools available in Keep’s more robust cousins

More on digital notetaking:

How to go Paperless in Your Classroom

5 Programs That Make Digital Notetaking Easy


Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy, and the thrillers, To Hunt a Sub and  Twenty-four DaysShe is also the author/editor of over a hundred books on integrating tech into education, adjunct professor of technology in education, webmaster for four blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer,  a columnist for TeachHUB, monthly contributor to Today’s Author and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics. You can find her books at her publisher’s website, Structured Learning.

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The Writers Circle: Handwritten or Typed

TWC
One of our goals here at Today’s Author is to help all of the writers among us to do what we love to do: write. One of the best ways to accomplish this is by talking to each other and learning from each other.  Our Writers Circle series is designed to do just that – provide a chance for us to discuss writing, editing and publishing questions.

This week’s topic is:

When you begin working on a new project – be it to start the actual drafting or to start building an outline – do you have a tendency do this with pen and paper? Or do you tend to do this on a computer? Do you find your level of productivity with the initial work on a new project to be better if you write it out by hand or if you type/draw it on the computer?

Let’s discuss this in the comments and see what our community thinks.

The Writers Circle: Gifts for Writers 2016

TWC
One of our goals here at Today’s Author is to help all of the writers among us to do what we love to do: write. One of the best ways to accomplish this is by talking to each other and learning from each other.  Our Writers Circle series is designed to do just that – provide a chance for us to discuss writing, editing and publishing questions.

This week’s topic is:

With the holiday season upon us, thoughts turn to gifts for us or for our loved ones. What do you, as a writer, wish someone would give you as a gift this holiday season? What are you planning to give to the writers on your gifting list? If you’ve been shopping this past weekend or today for Cyber Monday, did you come across any great writer-oriented gifts?

Let’s discuss this in the comments and see what our community thinks.

The Writers Circle: Gifts for Writers 2015

TWC
One of our goals here at Today’s Author is to help all of the writers among us to do what we love to do: write. One of the best ways to accomplish this is by talking to each other and learning from each other.  Our Writers Circle series is designed to do just that – provide a chance for us to discuss writing, editing and publishing questions.

This week’s topic is:

With the holiday season upon us, thoughts turn to gifts for us or for our loved ones. What do you, as a writer, wish someone would give you as a gift this holiday season? What are you planning to give to the writers on your gifting list?

Let’s discuss this in the comments and see what our community thinks.

The Writers Circle: Helpful Websites

TWC
One of our goals here at Today’s Author is to help all of the writers among us to do what we love to do: write. One of the best ways to accomplish this is by talking to each other and learning from each other.  Our Writers Circle series is designed to do just that – provide a chance for us to discuss writing, editing and publishing questions.

This week’s topic is:

With NaNoWriMo less than a week away, thoughts for many people turn to ways to build higher word counts.  But whether you are participating in NaNoWriMo or not, sometimes having help getting motivated to write is a good thing. There are many websites out there that are designed to encourage you to write more words quickly and save the editing for later.  What are some of your favorite sites and tools to help motivate you and increase your writing output?

Let’s discuss this in the comments or on the forums and see what our community thinks.

The Writers Circle: NaNoWriMo Poll 2015

TWC
One of our goals here at Today’s Author is to help all of the writers among us to do what we love to do: write. One of the best ways to accomplish this is by talking to each other and learning from each other.  Our Writers Circle series is designed to do just that – provide a chance for us to discuss writing, editing and publishing questions.

This week’s topic is:

It’s a special Thursday edition of The Writers Circle!  Now that we are mid-way through October, we wanted to check in once again to see how many of our community members are joining the hundreds of thousands of people around the world who are excitedly anticipating November 1 and the start of NaNoWriMo 2015.  What are your thoughts are about NaNoWriMo this year?

After taking our unscientific poll, leave a comment to discuss NaNoWriMo:  Have you participated in NaNoWriMo? What have you learned or gained from it?  Will you do it again?  If you haven’t done NaNoWriMo, are there reasons you would or would not consider it in the future?

Let’s discuss this in the comments and see what our community thinks.

The Writers Circle: Gifts for Writers 2014

What’s with all the red?

Today is December 1st–World AIDS Day. The fight against AIDS is very personal to me, and my co-owner/editor has agreed to let me make this change to show support for World AIDS Day.

I lost my father 25 years ago when the disease was a death sentence. Today because of the hard work of hundreds of thousands of people, that’s no longer the case. In a few more years we might even have a cure.

Here are some quick links:
Learn more: http://www.worldaidsday.org/
Learn more: http://www.red.org/en/learn
Do Something: http://www.worldaidsday.org/act-aware.php
Do Something: http://www.red.org/en/act
Donate: https://mydonate.bt.com/charities/natnationalaidstrust
Donate: http://www.red.org/en/act/donate
Buy something (charity gets a cut): http://www.red.org/en/shop/

Thank you for your taking the time to read this. And if you used any of those links to support, or learn more about, a cause that’s important to me, I thank you for that, too.

And now, I’ll turn your attention back to writing and today’s topic of Holiday gifts for writers.

–Dale

TWC
One of our goals here at Today’s Author is to help all of the writers among us to do what we love to do: write. One of the best ways to accomplish this is by talking to each other and learning from each other.  Our Writers Circle series is designed to do just that – provide a chance for us to discuss writing, editing and publishing questions.

This week’s topic is:

With the holiday season upon us, thoughts turn to gifts for us or for our loved ones. What do you, as a writer, wish someone would give you as a gift this holiday season? What are you planning to give to the writers on your gifting list?

Let’s discuss this in the comments and see what our community thinks.

The Writers Circle: Seasons

TWC
One of our goals here at Today’s Author is to help all of the writers among us to do what we love to do: write. One of the best ways to accomplish this is by talking to each other and learning from each other.  Our Writers Circle series is designed to do just that – provide a chance for us to discuss writing, editing and publishing questions.

This week’s topic is:

Do you have a favorite time of year to write? Is it easier for you to feel creative at some points during the year than others?  Do you have a favorite time of year in which you set your stories?

Let’s discuss this in the comments and see what our community thinks.

The Writers Circle: NaNoWriMo Poll 2014

TWC
One of our goals here at Today’s Author is to help all of the writers among us to do what we love to do: write. One of the best ways to accomplish this is by talking to each other and learning from each other.  Our Writers Circle series is designed to do just that – provide a chance for us to discuss writing, editing and publishing questions.

This week’s topic is:

With the calendar saying it has already flipped over to October, thoughts for many thousands of people around the world have also flipped over to National Novel Writing Month.  So given our wide community we’d like to know what your thoughts are about NaNoWriMo this year. 

After taking our unscientific poll, leave a comment to discuss NaNoWriMo:  Have you participated in NaNoWriMo? What have you learned or gained from it?  Will you do it again?  If you haven’t done NaNoWriMo, are there reasons you would or would not consider it in the future?

Let’s discuss this in the comments and see what our community thinks.

Coffee Talk: Let’s Talk about Writing

brainstormingSeveral members of our community wrote in and suggested that we have an occasional post where we simply talk about writing.  New or less-experienced writers often have a lot of questions about crafting stories or editing or publishing and can benefit from hearing from more-experienced writers and their efforts in those areas. Similarly, experienced writers can get stuck in a rut where writing is more of a chore than a joy and they can benefit from new ideas, tools, methods and energy from other writers.

So, let’s take today to just talk about writing.  Do you have trouble with some aspect of writing? Do you struggle with a particular tool you use when writing? Are you lacking a tool for some aspect of it?  Do you have a particular tool or writing process you’ve found to be a tremendous benefit to your writing efforts?

We have a vast community of writers with many levels of expertise and experience, and each of us has something to offer and something to learn.  So, grab a cup of coffee or tea or whatever your beverage of choice is and let’s share some ideas, questions and answers here in the comments.