We all need to take some notes at different stages of our daily life. A traditional way was to always keep a (pocket) diary and pen with us all the time. Now almost all of us have a smartphone in our pocket but are you using your smartphone smartly? If no, this is a Google keep tutorial just for you.
Google keep tutorial: What it is?
Google keep is a free note-taking application, created by Google, a company that created Android; probably your mobile operating system.
Google is known for making free and great products and Google keep is no exception. Most important, it is simple. Simple enough for the elderly and new smartphone users, but at the same time, powerful enough for technical geeks and everyone in between.
We need to know some basics and tricks and this article will equip you with all the necessary basics and tricks. After reading this tutorial, you will be able to take any notes easily, efficiently and effectively; anytime, anywhere. So tight your seatbelts for a possible 10 minutes life-changing reading.
Getting Google Keep.
Before we start with Google keep tutorial, we first need to get access to it.
On your mobile
- Android: There are chances that Google keep is already installed on your Android. If it is not installed, get it from the Google play store.
- iOS: If you are using an iOS device like iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, you may get it from Apple App Store.
On your computer/laptop
Google keep do not have any desktop application for any operating system. However, it has a great web app, which you can visit in your browser (https://keep.google.com).
Login or register
Since keep is an application from Google, you may login to it through your Google (Gmail) account. Although rare, if you do not have a Gmail account, simply go to https://www.google.com/gmail and create a new one.
The first look
Assuming you never saw Google keep earlier, I recommend having a first look on your computer or laptop. It is not mandatory, just looking it on a bigger screen will be slightly better. I’m using the screenshots from my laptop but its features are the same on mobile as well.
If you go to Google keep for the first time, it will show a light theme and ask if you want a dark theme. I prefer a dark theme, and my screenshots are also in the dark theme, but it is an individual choice, choose as per your preference. Also if you select one theme, you may later change it in the settings (Given below under Settings).
The first look on desktop/laptop
The first look of Google keep web on desktop/laptop must be something like the following image. Please scroll down to the next section for the first look at Mobile.
We will go into greater details later, but first. let’s see the meaning of text/icons visible on the first screen.
- Top bar: This is the top horizontal bar on the Google keep page. Let’s quickly see different options there.
- Hamburger menu: On the top left, you will see three horizontal lines. It is called a hamburger menu, which shows or hide more. Try clicking it, you will see the text in front of icons (Notes, Remainders, etc) on the left toggle when you click on it. This is simply used to get more space for your notes, especially once you a have lot of notes.
- Google Keep logo: After the hamburger menu, we have the Google Keep logo. A white bulb in the yellow background and the text ‘Keep’. It is just the Keep logo and does not have any functionality.
- Search: Search is Google’s speciality thus it is also the most powerful feature of Google keep, especially when you have lots of notes. Once we go through other basic features, we will see the power of search in much greater detail later in the tutorial.
- Refresh: Icon after search, a half-circle with an arrow. It is used to refresh your notes. It is mainly used if you added a note from your mobile and it is not visible on your desktop.
- Grid/List view: Next icon may contain two rectangles (in grid view) or 4 squares (in list view). It is used to rearrange your notes in a list and a grid view. Once you have some notes, try clicking on this to select a layout that works for you. For most people, including me, grid view works best as we can see more information in that view.
- Settings: Next icon, which looks like a gear, is the settings icon. There are a lot of setting that we will see in detail later.
- Google icons: The next two icons are common in all google application
- Google apps: Shown as 9 dots in 3×3 grid. Clicking on this icon show other Google apps/services to quickly go to them.
- Account: This icon may look different to different people. If you have your photo uploaded to Google, you will see your photo or else, you will see the first letter of your name. Clicking that will open your google account menu with different options. Since it is not related to Keep, it is out of the scope of this tutorial but if you are new to Google services, try exploring different options there.
- Left menu: It is the vertical bar on the left with or without text. You can toggle text by clicking on the hamburger menu from the top bar.
- Notes: It is represented by a ‘bulb’ icon, followed by text ‘Notes’. Clicking on this will show all the notes in the main content area (described below)
- Reminders: You can also set reminders on your notes to remind you about them at different times. We can quickly see these reminders here.
- Edit labels: We will soon see about labels. It is one of the most powerful ways to categorize your notes. Once you create few labels, as we will soon see, you will also find your labels between Reminder and edit labels.
- Archive: Once you have a lot of notes, you may want to limit notes in your content area. Some notes, although important, you may not want to see in your main contents. For example, some historical to-do lists or some special notes that you may need in the distant future or some notes you may not want in your main content area. To clear up your content area, you may mark your notes as archived. Such notes will be displayed in this section.
- Trash: If you delete some note, it remains in the trash for up to 7 days, before it is permanently deleted. This is an important feature in case you accidentally deleted a note or change your mind after deleting a note. Please note, deleted notes will be cleared from the trash in 7 days, if you do not recover them.
- Content area: This is the main area to show your content. From here, you will a create new note and see the notes you already created.
- New note: You will first a bar with the text ‘Take a note’. We will see it in detail in the next section for taking new notes.
- Notes: Below the new notes bar, is a big space. It is empty because we have not taken any notes till note. Once we take few notes, they will be displayed in this area. We will revisit this area frequently during the rest of the tutorial.
The first look on the mobile
Let us also quickly see different options available on Google Keep mobile application. A screenshot of the mobile application is given on the right (above if you are reading this on mobile) of the following section.
- Topbar: This is the top horizontal bar on the app.
- Hamburger menu: Like on the web application, we will see a hamburger menu (3 horizontal lines) on the top left. Clicking on it will open/close the left menu as we discussed above in the first look at the desktop/laptop section. A major difference from the desktop is, it also has settings, which we had in the top bar in the web application. We also have ‘Help and feedback’ which open the support section and the option to provide feedback on the application.
- Search: Next we have search, which is similar to search on the web application. Once we go through other basic features, we will see the power of search in much greater detail later in this Google Keep tutorial.
- Grid/List view: Next icon may contain two rectangles (in grid view) or 4 squares (in list view). It is used to rearrange your notes in the list or grid view. Once you have some notes, try clicking on this to select a layout that works for you. For most people, including me, grid view works best as we can see more information in that view. However, on mobile, you may also prefer a list view. Just check which view works best for you.
- Account: This icon may look different to different people. If you have your photo uploaded to Google, you will see your photo or else, you will see the first letter of your Name. Clicking that will open your google account menu with different options. Since it is not related to the Google Keep, it is out of the scope of this tutorial but if you are new to Google services, try exploring different options there.
- Content area: This is the main area to show your content. We will see the notes you already created here.
- New note: At the bottom, we have a bar with a different option to take a new note. This is a little different from the web application. On the web, we have 3 options: Text note, Checklist and Image. On the mobile application, we have 5 options:
- Checklist: First icon with a tick mark in a square.
- Drawing: This option is not available in the web application. If you have a stylus, this is going to work great for you. I’m personally using this stylus since around one year and it is working great not only for making some quick drawing notes, do other work which needs precision, not possible through a finger.
- Note: Above link of the stylus is an affiliate link. It will not cost you anything extra but will give me a small percentage if you buy from the above link, which will help me fund some costs of hosting this site. Please support me by clicking on the above link for any purchase on Amazon.
- Speech note: This is also a mobile-only option. On mobile, typing is not very easy, especially if you are in hurry. You can click on it and speak what you want to note. Google keep will not only save your audio but also change it into the text. This is one of the most important features of Google Keep, which I use a lot.
- Image: Same as the web application but on the mobile application, we get an extra option of capturing images from the mobile camera. Great feature if we want to take some pictures like a book cover, any product and add some description about it.
Taking your first note
Now we understand Google keep interface on both mobiles as well as web (Desktop/Laptop). Now it’s the time to do some real work, capturing notes. Clicking on the ‘Take a note’ box on the web or ‘+’ button on the bottom-right of the mobile app will open the following section for taking a new note:
Above image show screen taking new note on the web app (left) and mobile app (right). On both screenshots, we can see an option to capture the title and the note. The title is optional. Even though the note is also optional but we may not want empty notes, they are useless.
Let’s create two new notes. In the first note, let’s write “My first note”. On the second note, let’s make a title “My first title” and note “My first note with title”. After taking these two notes, check the difference between the notes with and without a title. With this exercise, you may get an idea of when to capture notes with a title or without it.
Pin a note
Once you are comfortable with Google keep, you might be taking a lot of notes. As you take new notes, old notes will be pushed down. You may rearrange them but sometimes, you may want a particular note to be at the top.
Well, there is a solution; pin the note. While taking a new note or editing an existing note, you may click on the pin icon on the top-right. This will pin the note on the top.
Google keep is a simple interface and do not allow folders to group your notes. However, it does not limit your ability to group the notes. Google instead support labels.
We already discuss Edit Labels in the first look section. Let’s see its power in detail.
Instead of creating a folder, you can assign each note to one or more labels. That’s correct, with folders, we may put notes in only one folder but with labels, we can assign multiple labels to a note. This is similar to keep a note in multiple folders. How you use this feature, entirely depends on you but trust me, this is one of the most important features, borrowed in Google Keep from Gmail.
Once you create some labels, you will see the labels on the left-hand menu as well. Just click on the label name and Google Keep will filter your notes by labels. Easy to find the notes.
Google’s first product was a search engine and its search algorithm is one of the best. Google get that algorithm into your notes.
Do you have a lot of notes? Do you want to find a particular note, but forgot which label you applied to it? No problem. If you remember even a single word from the note, put it in search and Google will search the note for you.
You may also search the notes by type. Different types are:
- Types: Filter notes by reminders, recordings, URLs, or other types.
- Labels: Filter notes by labels you’ve given them.
- Things: Filter notes that fit into categories such as books, music, travel, and more.
- People: Filter notes that you’ve shared with specific people.
- Colours: Filter notes you’ve tagged with a certain colour.
Type of notes
Google Keep can not only take text notes but also images, voice, checklist or free drawing.
Voice notes are works only on a mobile. They are especially useful when you are on move and do not have time to type the note. Just record the note a voice note and Google Keep will also convert your voice into text. This is my personal favourite when I need to take a note and I’m on move.
Free drawing gives us a plain canvas and we can draw anything on it. I do not use it a lot. I do have a great stylus for mobile. If you want to make drawing notes, check this stylus.
Text notes are the most commonly used notes format, we write the text, with or without a title. Now that text could be anything; a whole story, URL, short remainder or whatever you prefer.
Checklist is also popular. Although I use other apps for my ToDo list with the support of GTD, Google Keep’s checklist could be useful, especially due to its feature of collaboration. I have shared checklists with my wife, where we add things to be purchased next, some common home works like pay bills, EMI deadlines etc. One checks it and the other knows it is done. You may define your use case with it.
As described in above section about checklist, Google Keep allow us to share notes with others. That note could be anything you want to share with others.
Just click on the human icon on a note and add the person or email with whom you want to share the note.
Google Keep is a simple yet powerful note-taking app. Its simplicity is its great power but it never comes in the path of usefulness.
Please comment below and let us know if we miss your favourite use-case or feature of Google keep.
Did you like this app tutorial for Google Keep? If yes, you may like our Instagram tutorial as well.