How to get the most out of Google Keep

As part of my work as a technical writer, and as part of my ongoing efforts to get things in order at some point, I’ve tested a whole bunch of note-taking apps over the years: the simple, the advanced, the quirky, the AI-powered, and so on it goes. It’s a popular app category and there’s no shortage of options.

Amid all these different choices, Google Keep is one of the apps I come back to regularly. It’s quick and easy to get around, it works on just about any device, and once you dig a little deeper into the colorful sticky notes interface, there are plenty of useful features you can take advantage of.

Whether you’re a current Google Keep user and want to do more with the app, or you’re wondering if Google Keep has enough to tempt you to abandon the note-taking system you’re currently using, these are some of the most attractive features.

With Google Keep’s colorful Post-it note look, you can organize your notes clearly from the start: yellow for tasks and blue for shopping lists, or whatever you want.

In addition to the standard white, you can choose from eleven different pastel colors, and you also have nine background images to use, with themes such as party, places, recipes and music.

These backgrounds can be changed at any time by clicking paint palette icon at the bottom of each note.

Google Keep borrows a trick from Gmail with labels: individual notes can have multiple labels, so something can be tagged with “family” and “urgent” or “ideas” and “vacation.” It’s a useful way to bring order to your notes, even if the numbers are tens or hundreds.

Labels can also help you with searches. As you’d expect from a Google product, Google Keep has a search function that’s fast and accurate: click in the search box at the top of the web interface and you can limit your search to notes that match a particular label (or category, or color).

On the web, your labels are listed on the left for easy reference. To apply a label to an open note, then click the three dots at the bottom of the note Add label (or Change labels).

If you want to be able to check off items in a list, it’s very simple: click the button in an open note three dots (or the plus icon in the mobile app) at the bottom of the note and select Checkboxes.

Google Keep also lets you collaborate on notes with other people without the feature ever becoming too complicated. Click on the collaborator icon on an open note (the number with a plus next to it), then enter the email addresses of the contacts you want to share the message with. (In the mobile app, you can find the icon by clicking the three dots at the bottom of the screen.)

You don’t get to see who is making what edits like in Google Docs, but you do get updates when someone makes changes to a note, and you can see who your collaborators are at the bottom of each note.

Similar to collaboration, reminders are a really useful feature that is implemented in a simple way. You can receive notifications from the Google Keep app at a specific time or even when you reach a specific place (if you have the mobile apps installed). Reminders can be set to repeat, so you can create a list of household chores that nudge you back at the same time each week.

To set a reminder on the web version, just click on the little one Remember me icon at the bottom of each note (which looks like a bell), then set the options to your liking. On the mobile version, the icon is at the top of the screen.

Sometimes you make a note that you want to be able to find immediately. In that case, you can pin the note to the top of your list by tapping the pin icon at the top of the note. However, be careful about overusing this; Sometimes I find that if I pin too many notes, they are just as hard to find as if I don’t pin them at all.

Not only can you add images to notes using the image icon at the bottom of the note, but you can also extract the text from it. In the web version, click on the three dots Grab the image text. In the mobile version, tap the image and then tap the three dots top right and Grab the image text. As long as the letters on the photo or in your drawing are clearly legible, you will get a copy printed underneath – something that can be very useful if you take a photo of a business card, for example.

You can add hand-drawn scribbles. In the web version, click on the three dots and then Add drawing; in the mobile version, click on the plus icon And Drawing.

Notes can be quickly converted into documents in Google Docs by clicking and choosing the three dots at the bottom of a note Copy to Google Docs. (In the mobile app, click the three dots and select Send > Copy to Google Docs.)

There are a few additional features available in Keep’s mobile apps for Android and iOS.

  • You can also add a photo to an open note by tapping plus icon and then take a picture. To start a new note with a photo, just tap the image icon at the bottom of the screen and select either one take a picture (for a new photo) or Choose image (to select one from your photo gallery – the latter is also available on the desktop version of Keep).
  • If you have the Android version of Keep, you can now format your text. You can make it bold, italic, underlined or strikethrough; you can also resize it to an H1 or H2 heading. Look for the icon with a underlined A at the bottom of the note. (Unfortunately, this is not yet available in the iOS or desktop version.)

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