Google Keep is Google’s note-taking app, introduced in March 2013.
It’s similar to apps like Evernote and One Note. Each of these kinds of apps has their own strengths and weaknesses, of course. I like to use a mixture of them in ways that work best. In this post, I’ll be writing about how I use Google Keep.
What Do You Need to Use Google Keep?
So, what would you need to get started with Google Keep? Just a computer with an internet connection.
I assume you have one of those or else you’d not be on this website, right?
You’ll also need a free Google account if you don’t already have one.
Google Keep does not currently have an independent app for Windows computers, but you can just use your web browser and visit keep.google.com to use Google Keep.
What’s the Point of Google Keep?
What’s the point anyway? I mean, you can just as easily take notes on pieces of paper, right?
Well…yes. But there’s more to it than that.
Unlike Evernote (which I also love and use for other things), I find Google Keep handy for shorter notes and short checklists (like my shopping list for grocery shopping). I prefer to use Google Keep for quick reminders, especially reminding me of things off into the future.
For example, if I know I need to take care of an errand a month from now, I could, theoretically, write down a note on some scrap paper and leave it on my desk. How well will that work, do you suppose? We all know how that will work. The note will get lost before the event happens. Duh.
However, if I use Google Keep for this reminder, I can not only write myself a note with all of the pertinent information (times, dates, location, what I need to bring, etc.), I can also have the note remind me when the day draws near. I have yet to find a scrap paper note that miraculously jumps up in front of my face to remind me of something. The reminders for these notes will also appear on my Google Calendar, by the way.
I can also set up reminders that are keyed to my GPS location. This feature obviously works well on my phone. When I go to the architectural salvage place, my note that has my running list of things I need when fixing my very old house beeps at me and begs to be looked at.
In the same way, I can have some notes “pinned” to the top of the screen for easier searching. I have a running list of things I’m hoping to find at garage sales. That one is front and center.
Never Forget Your Notes with Google Keep
I really hate it when I write out a shopping list, then leave it on my counter. So Annoying.
Since using Google Keep for my Shopping Lists, this does not happen anymore. Well, I suppose it could happen, if I forgot my phone. That doesn’t happen too often, if at all.
Let’s face it, it’s harder to forget a phone than a scrap of paper with a note or shopping list written on it, isn’t it?
Google Keep’s notes are Cloud Based. That means you can access them from anywhere if you can connect to the internet (using WiFi or Data).
Family-Wide Note Taking with Google Keep
Once upon a time, I had a chalkboard in my kitchen for my shopping list. Family members were instructed to write things on the list if they noticed we were low on things.
Somehow they usually noticed this while I was out shopping. Funny how that works.
Well, my running shopping list for groceries and toiletries is now a shared note in my Google Keep. That means that every member of my family who has a Google account can access this particular note in their own Google Keep account because I shared it with them. You can usually tell who has accessed it based on what is on the list.
This means that, while I’m at the store, if a kid happens to notice we’re running low on white kitchen garbage bags, they can add it to my list, and it will appear in my list on my phone.
How cool is that?!? Pretty cool, right?
To share a note, click the Collaborator icon on your note. It looks like a little person, with a plus sign next to them.
A Caveat. Don’t put Christmas List items on the shared shopping list. Oops.
Using Google Keep with Google Drive
Google Keep is actually part of Google Drive.
Google Drive is the Cloud Drive feature of Google. What that means is, you can create notes, documents, spreadsheets, etc. in Google Drive, and those are saved in your account. This way you can easily access them wherever you are if you have an internet connection.
Any Google Keep note can be “imported to Google Documents” inside of your Google drive. I do this quite a bit when I use the OCR feature on Google Keep. I’ll take a photograph of some text, and import the text into Google keep from the photograph. This isn’t perfect, and usually, I have to do a little correction, but it sure beats typing the whole thing by hand. I mostly do this with Recipes.
For example, if I’m at the Doctor’s office, reading a magazine, and I see a recipe I’d like to try, I take a photograph of the recipe with my phone, then import it into Google Keep.
Then I click on the image and ask Google Keep to import the text from the Image.
While I still have the magazine in my lap I look it over to make sure everything is correct. Google Keep doesn’t really let you adjust the layout of your notes like Evernote does, apart from putting checkboxes in front of lists. Therefore, I will select “Copy to Google Doc”. I can always make the Google Doc better formatted to my liking later. This is how I have all of my recipes saved.
I further organize those recipes into folders on my Google Drive. I find it easier to do this on my desktop computer instead of on my phone. You can create as man folders and subfolders as you need, just as if you were creating folders in your Documents library on your computer.
Organizing your Google Keep Notes
There are two ways to organize notes in Google Keep: by Color and by Labels.
I have decided on specific colors for different major categories, such as Recipes, Shopping Lists, Home Repair, Field Trips, and Holidays.
I also have some labels that I use to get more specific. For example, dessert recipes or low carb recipes.
Because Google Keep’s interface is set up like a bulletin board with post-it notes, with the most recent notes at the top, you can easily lose track of things that don’t have reminders on them. If you use a note frequently, such as your Shopping List, you can pin that note to the top of the interface, by clicking the “pin” icon.
If you’d like to be reminded of your note either on a specific day, when you visit a specific location or at a specific frequency (weekly or monthly for example) just click on the reminder icon (which looks like a string tied to a finger). The reminder icon will prompt you as to how you want to be reminded of this. For dated reminders, they will also be visible on your Google Calendar.