Sometimes you just need a little extra help outside the classroom. We’ve compiled a list of 20 of our favorite software and apps that are designed to make your life a little bit easier. We know you are already paying tuition so these resources are 100% free!
One of the great advantages of taking digital notes is that you can search them when you need to review. We prefer note taking software that syncs across multiple platforms and allows you to incorporate images or multi-media to make your notes as detailed as you want! Many of these platforms also let you share your notes with your peers.
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Evernote syncs across all your devices. It is great for to-do lists, pictures or class notes. We strongly suggest you use the desktop version if you are planning on taking detailed notes.
Evernote is searchable and will let you share your notes easily. You can also set reminders through the app.
The downside: to store all your notes so that they can by synced across devices, Evernote makes you purchase Cloud space after its limit of uploads of up to 60 MB of data each month.
Mendeley is a note taking software that focuses more on academic use. It is designed primarily for desktop computers but it can be accessed on your mobile device or tablet. It combines a robust note taking interface with a reference manager, PDF annotator, and content organizer.
Mendeley will sync your notes so you can access them remotely and it will date your entries in case you need to find notes for a specific class later. Mendeley also offers the ability to securely share papers, notes and annotations..
The downside: As with all cloud storage services, Mendely is only free for 2 GB of space.
Journler is a fantastic freeware for Macs that combines multi-media notes and a really great organizational structure. Journler will support audio, video, images, PDFs, and websites within your notes. It will also help you make file folders and will date all your notes. Journler offers an easy way to tag your notes for future review as well.
To share your notes you can easily export them to a PDF.
The downside: Journler doesn’t sync across multiple devices and it is only available for apple computers. It is, however, 100% free no matter how much file space you use.
MyScript Smart Note is an app that lets you write, sketch and annotate images. It has a robust OCR capability so it will transform your notes to text to make them searchable.
MyScript Smart Note also allows you to store your notes in your Dropbox or Google Drive, so you will never need to pay for storage. It also syncs with Evernote.
The downside: The free version only includes 10 pages and only lets you share your notes as text (rather than as a PDF).
EasyBib is a free bibliography generator. It allows you to search for books, articles or journals and helps you format your references in the correct format. By creating a free account it will save your references.
EasyBib is also a fantastic digital image citation reference. It offers an app and add-ons for Chrome and Google Docs.
Mendeley isn’t just a great note taking tool, it also offers Bibliography help. It can be installed into your browser or Word document. It will help you make your bibliography (and format it correctly) in Word.
EndNote offers a free, but limited, online service to create bibliographies and save your references. It also offers a “manuscript matcher” to help you identify journals for future publication. EndNote, however, primarily caters to its downloadable desktop and mobile software subscription service.
For a quick bibliography aid, RefMe is a great app that lets you scan the barcode of the book or journal you are reading and produces its bibliographical information. It will also help you cite websites directly from your mobile device or tablet’s browser. RefMe will also save your growing bibliography, organize your citations, and share reading lists or projects.
9. Google Drive
Google drive should probably be your go-to file sharing method. It is secure and since your ATSU email comes with a drive account you won’t need to sign up for yet another service or remember another password.
The default sharing settings for documents shared in your ATSU drive is to allow any ATSU member with the link to access your document. You may want to keep this in mind if you have a group member who prefers to use a different email address or if you want to add boosted privacy settings.
Google Drive now offers a mobile app and has a desktop extension.
If your google drive is full of documents and you are looking for something more organized you may want to try DropBox. DropBox documents can be accessed on your computer, mobile device, or online. However after you surpass 2GB of space you will have to buy a DropBox subscription. DropBox far surpasses Google Drive in the usability of its organization set up.
Documents is a mobile app that allows you to open files in a variety of file formats. It also allows you to annotate uploaded PDFs. Documents offers a desktop version to allow you to download and organize files and folders. It also contains a built-in media player so you can keep lectures or animations in one place for quick access.
Flipboard calls itself your personal magazine. It essentially works as a visual RSS feed, allowing you to browse current and relevant news from trusted publishers. More importantly, you can “collect” articles, videos and images you think are relevant and share them with your peers. Flipboard is a great way to keep articles you find that are relevant to your career or that you want to share in a discussion board.
Librarian Pro Tip: We’d highly recommend using Flipboard with Browzine! Browzine will alert you to new articles published by journals you can access from the library and Flipboard will help you look for connections in the media.
Diigo is a social bookmarking resource that will allow you to organize, annotate, and share articles, webpages and other online resources. Diigo has a fantastic built-in discussion board, but it is also a great way to keep track of a wide variety of information sources online.
13. A Web Whiteboard
A web whiteboard is just that: a touch-friendly whiteboard and app that lets you draw AND collaborate on projects. The free version won’t let you save your board, so these are best for impromptu online planning sessions, study groups, or anything that you don’t plan on having to go back and edit later. That said, with some of the screen saving software mentioned near the end of the list you can always save your images and come back to them later.
If you want smart flashcards Brainscape is definitely the way to go. Brainscape uses tested algorithms to help improve your studying by creating a pattern for your concepts that reacts to how well you know them. Brainscape offers certified subject flashcards as well as an option to create your own, or search other user-created cards. Brainscape is free, however they lock some pre-created subject areas to motivate you to purchase a subscription.
Chegg is one of the better recognized producers of apps for university students. Their Flashcards+ lets you make and study flashcards on your mobile device. More importantly, they allow you to incorporate images. Chegg also offers a fairly decent set of pre-made flashcards in various subject areas.
If you haven’t heard of Chegg you may want to check out Chegg’s textbook rental service that can occasionally help you save money on required texts.
Todoist is an all-platform tool to let you keep track of tasks and collaborate on projects. The software will send you notifications and help you visualize your productivity. This software is a great way to stay on top of assignments and work in groups to delegate tasks.
iStudiezLite is an iOS only tool to help you keep track of your class schedule, assignments and general calendar. It also integrates with any grading system (think Blackboard) to let you know your grades and the assignments you have coming up.
If you prefer to organize your ideas and thoughts in a Mind Map, we highly recommend XMind. Their free version doesn’t come with clip art, but you can always supply your own. More importantly you can make as many Mind Maps as you want using their free version. X Mind integrates int Office and PDF and exports in a variety of formats, you can also save it to Evernote.
If you have an apple computer you probably can ignore these last 2 entries. If you didn’t know already Command + Shift +4 will allow you to select an area of your screen to take a screenshot. (Command +Shift+3 will take the entire screen).
If you don’t have a mac, or if you want to be able to edit your screenshots before they are saved Jing is a great option. Jing can record pictures and videos of your scree and it is completely free! It is easy to use, and a great resource if you want to save images, group work, or stills from a class video for your notes.
20. Jump Cut
Have you ever copied some important text and then before you could paste it ended up copying something else? Jump Cut is designed to help you access all the information you’ve cut and copied. Unfortunately Jump Cut requires an OS (mac) computer, but it can certainly help save some time when you are trying to put together flashcards or other study materials!
Have a favorite app that isn’t on here? Let us know!