Everyone has their own overall college experience, but one aspect that all students experience is researching, and sometimes collaborating with classmates. Online and mobile tools make this easier, and this resource list highlights some online/ mobile apps and tools in five broad categories, plus a miscellaneous section. Every app (Web or mobile) listed here addresses some aspect of academic need (notes, bookmarking, file sharing, collaboration and so on), and is either free or has a 15- or 30-day free trial.
Writing, Note-taking, List-making, Sketching, Audio Clips
- Apple Notes — lets you take or dictate notes, sketch, create lists, save on Apple iCloud. Platform: Mac OS, iOS.
- Bear — is an easy to use text editor for notes/ documents, has a Web page preview feature, and Markdown editing. Mac OS, iOS.
- Clyp — allows for audio clip recording sharing, with up to six hours for a free basic account — ideal for audio notes. Platform: Web.
- Dynalist — has note-taking, checklists, Markdown, export and import, tags, bookmarking, sharing and collaborative features. Students get a 50% discount on the Pro plan. Platform: Mac OS, iOS, Windows, Linux.
- Evernote — provides general note-taking, including audio and images; productivity planning and list making; note scanning (“Scannable”); curation (Web Clipper extension for Chrome browser) and more. Platform: Mac OS, iOS, Windows, Android, Web, plus free and freemium Web-based 3rd-party integrated apps.
- Google Docs — is essentially a Web-based word processor app with cloud document storage and collaboration features. Platform: Web, iOS, Android.
- Jot — is a Chrome Web browser plugin for list-style note-taking in a blank tab. Platform: Web.
- Microsoft OneNote — offers to-do lists, notes, info and image curation, document organizing, PDF preview, sharing features. Platform: Windows, Mac, iOS, Watch, Android, Android Wear.
- Paper by FiftyThree — is useful for advanced sketching and handwritten notes, arranged in easy to access visual paradigms (grid and swipe flow). Platform: iOS.
- Paperwork — is an open-sourced alternative to Evernote, OneNote and Keep (all listed in this resource article) for note-taking and archiving that you run on your own Web server.
- Quick Write Text Editor — is an extension for Chrome browser, with basic text editor features, including: character and word count, font selection (minimal). Platform: Web.
- Simplenote — no-frills note-taking, list-making, archives, search and sharing. Platform: Web, Mac, Windows, Linux, iOS, Android.
- SomNote — offers general cloud-based note taking with a folder-based paradigm. Platform: iOS, Android, Web, browser plugin (Chrome).
- WordSlingr — is a writer’s studio, primarily for novels, but has note and edit history features useful for brainstorming and general research, collaboration, and publishing to multiple digital formats. Platform: Web.
- WorkFlowy — offers note-taking in an outline paradigm (used by many notable startup founders and influencers), and claims it improves creativity and productivity. Platform: Web, Mac OS, Windows, Linux.
Task and Project Management
- Asana — gives task and project management tools for up to 15 team members for free, with conversation, dashboard and search capabilities, and easy-to-follow visual progress features, including grids, columns, timelines. Student group pricing available for Premium features. Platform: Web, iOS, Android.
- Basecamp — is one of the more popular platforms for project management and collaboration, with messaging, realtime chat, lists, file storage, document management, and more. A 30-day free trial may be enough to start and manage small, individual student projects. (Team access requires paid subscription.) Platform: Web, Mac OS, Windows, iOS, Android.
- Gingko — is suitable for outlining and writing, project management and task organizing — for students and professionals, including for class notes, a thesis or research paper. It has collaborative notes, multiple presentation views and more, offered in a “tree” paradigm, and a growing selection of languages other than English. Video tutorials for usage practices are available.) Platform: Web. Paid desktop versions (Mac, Windows, Linux) with 30-day free trial available.
- Notion — has group and team management, with list, document, wiki features, task management in minicard format, spreadsheet and database features, with unlimited members and guests in free plan — multiple research tools in a single application. Platform: Web, iOS, Mac, Windows.
- Redbooth — is a task and project management app with subtasks and assignments, gantt charts, chat, kanban and notification views, and integration with free Google Drive, Slack and Dropbox integration. (Offers up to two workspaces and 10-user maximum on free plan, plus 14-day free business features preview.) Platform: Web, iOS, Android.
- Teamweek — combines project management and a calendaring tool into a timeline paradigm, with free features that include capacity planning, timeline sharing and extensions (Chrome browser), plus paid features (project roadmaps, annual overview, etc.). Free for up to five-person groups/ teams, with student pricing for paid features. Platform: Web, iOS, Android.
- Trello — offers a card-based paradigm for idea-tracking and basic project management features, including task checklists, progress bar, image previews, etc. Choose from dozens of Power-ups or build your own, to create Web apps integrated with Trello. Platform: Web, iOS, Android.
Brainstorming, Outlining, Idea and Image Curation
- Dropbox Paper — offers Dropbox collaborative document editing features, similar to Hackpad (a result of Dropbox acquiring the latter), with features for chat, document management, workspaces and more. Connect with Slack, Google, Office 365. Free for Dropbox accounts. Platform: Web, Android.
- Google Keep — uses a grid format for sticky-note-like card items, to maintain checklists, image cataloging, reminders, etc. Platform: .
- MindMeister — is for research, note-taking and brainstorming in a mind mapping visual paradigm. Platform: Web, Mac OS, Windows, Linux.
- Pinterest — is an great option for visual idea collection, with organization and sharing/ collaboration feature. Platform: Web, iOS, Linux.
- XMind — is arguably the most powerful and versatile free mind mapping tool for brainstorming and general research, with built-in Web browser for page preview and idea collection. Platform: Mac OS, Windows, Linux, iOS.
Document Management and File Storage
- Box — offers filesharing, document management, project management, virtual dataroom, with collaborative features and more. Platform: Web, iOS, Android.
- Box Notes — is note-taking combined with filesharing (integrated into Box), designed for groups/ teams, with collaborative features to facilitate brainstorming, meeting note capture, to do lists, comments, coediting, annotations, versioning and more. Platform: Web, Mac OS, Windows, iOS, Android.
- Dropbox — has document storage and file sharing (with additional features available by integrating with Dropbox Paper, mentioned elsewhere in this list). Dropbox Basic is free and includes 2GB of space, while Dropbox Business has additional features and a 30-day free trial. Platform: Web, Mac OS, Windows, iOS, Android.
- Google Drive — is the document management, file storage and sharing companion to a suite of other Google apps — many mentioned in this resource, including Google Docs and Sheets. Drive can handle up to 5TB-size files. Extra storage subscriptions can be purchased. Platform: Web.
- OneDrive — is a file store and document manager from Microsoft, available for multiple devices, and with offline access and sharing features. Platform: Windows, Mac, iOS, Android.
- Quip — offers notes, documents, tasks, checklists, spreadsheets and chat, arranged in a folder-based visual format, with project management features, plus Live Apps for additional functionality — all suitable for group/ team productivity. Free for personal use, with a free trial for advanced features. Owned by Salesforce.com. Platform: Mac, Windows, iOS, Android.
- Zoho Notebook — offers a note organizer using a visual paradigm (mini card grid), to take notes, maintain checklists, catalog images, plus a Web Clipper feature. Card items can integrate text, images, checklists or even file contents. Platform: Web, Mac OS, iOS, Android.
Communication, Chat, Virtual Meeting, Whiteboard
- Appear.in — lets you create virtual meeting rooms for video conversations, with room privacy, screensharing, device flexibility, integrations (Trello, Slack, YouTube) and more – depending on plan selected (free for up to four participants). Platform: Browser – desktop or mobile.
- Concept Board — offers whiteboard-style project management in the Web, ideal for visual collaboration. Platform: Web (desktop or mobile), Chrome browser (extension).
- Deekit — offers visually-oriented, whiteboard-based group/ team collaboration with filesharing, brainstorming, note capture, expandable whiteboard canvas, project management and other features (depending on plan selected). Free for small groups, four boards, 25MB storage per member (unlimited), with a 30-day trial for additional paid features. Platform: Web, Android.
- Google Hangouts — lets you chat with colleagues through text messaging, voice and video calls. Platform: Web, Android.
- Google Mail/ Gmail — is more than just email, with chat integration, document storage, plugins for email-based task management, and the inherent collaboration properties of an email client. Platform: Web, iOS, Android.
- GoToMeeting Free — combines chat, voice (web audio), document viewing, 1-click virtual meeting features for up to three people in the free version. Also available: 14-day free trial for pro features such as video conferencing. Platform: Chrome browser, with meeting broadcasting to Mac OS, iOS (iPhone) and Android devices.
- GroupMe — offers one-to-one or group/team text messaging with basic image and document sharing abilities. Platform: Web, iOS, Android.
- Otixo — offers group/ team/ client communication, file storage, drag-and-drop file sharing (limited for free), integration with other cloud storage services (Amazon S3, Box, Dropbox, Evernote, Google Drive and more). Platform: Web, Mac OS, Windows, iOS, Android.
- Skype — might be thought of as a text/ voice chat client, but it also has conference calling, file sharing, collaborative screen preview (now part of Microsoft). Platform: Web, Mac OS, Windows, Linux, iOS, Android, Windows 10 Mobile, Xbox, Kindle Fire HD.
- Slack — allows collaboration through chat, video calls, to-do lists, image/ document sharing, integration with Box, Dropbox and Google Drive, and more. Free plan allows for 1-1 video call, 10K messages (most recent), and 10 apps/ integrations (including Google Calendar), 5GB storage. Additional features for paid plans. Platform: Web, Mac OS, Windows, Linux, Windows Phone, iOS (iPhone), Android.
- Whatsapp — is a general free messaging, voice and video calling app that also allows for sharing of text, images, documents (up to 100MB in size), videos with groups of up to 256 people, plus voice and video calling. An Android Business app (free) with paid features is available. Platform: Web, Mac OS, Windows, Windows Phone, iOS, Android.
Combination and Miscellaneous Research Tools
- Diigo — is great for Web-based researching, with the ability to add sticky notes to a Web page, highlight text, bookmark (add, organize), mark pages for ‘read later,’ tag, outline, create groups, create a personal library, share content socially, archive Web pages (paid feature). Platform: Web, Chrome and Firefox browser extensions, Diigo toolbar for browsers, iOS, Android.
- Fleep — is a messenger /communication tool with note-taking, file storage chatting, pinboard, basic task scheduling for groups/ teams, and integration with email, Google Hangouts and more. Free plan has 10GB file storage and is suited to students. Platform: Mac, Windows, Android, iOS (iPhone).
- Google Sheets — is one of the best spreadsheet apps for the Cloud, with collaborative features similar to Google Docs, and integration with Google Drive. Platform: Web.
- Grammarly — is a freemium spelling and grammar checker designed for both students and professionals. Platform: Chrome browser extension, Mac, Windows, MS Office.
- IFTTT — lets you combine multiple apps (from hundreds of choices) to automate capture of information availability, physical events, messages received, etc., then send you email or alerts (mobile) – useful for research, info curation, etc. Search Google for student use of IFTTT. Platform: Web, iOS, Android.
- Paste by FiftyThree — lets you create attractive slide decks in a storyboard view, sourcing slides from Paper by FiftyThree and elsewhere. Platform: Web.
- Penultimate — supplements Evernote by allowing for stylus-driven handwritten notes (with scanning and OCR) and drawing. Platform: iOS (iPad only).
- Squid — is similar to Penultimate in that it allows for digital handwritten notes (with image integration), and adds research/ annotation features for various document types including PDF, virtual whiteboard, slide presentation, etc. Platform: Android.