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Hands on with Google Keep: Can it slay Evernote?

Ian Paul | March 22, 2013
Evernote who? Google is taking on the perennial digital note-taking favorite with Google Keep, a service that lets you store quick notes, checklists, Web links, and photos for things you need to remember or keep track of.

Pro tip: If you change the color of your note when using the "Add quick note" option that will permanently change your notes' default from white to the new color.

Sharing for Keep

Android users can also share their notes with others by selecting the share icon inside a note while in full screen. Keep's sharing function works similarly to the general Android sharing options, allowing you to share notes using the apps installed on your device.

I found sharing notes via the Gmail for Android app is especially useful. Checklists are shared as plain text, using brackets to stand in for check boxes, and photos are sent as standard attachments. Subject lines for shared emails are chosen automatically, using the title of your note.

You can also add notes from other apps using Android's share options. That includes Chrome, which is helpful if you want to grab a Web page for later reading or just plain remember a site.

To add a Web page to a Keep note, select the three-square icon from the upper right corner in Chrome and tap "Share..." Next, select Keep from the share menu, add any extra text you want to the note, and you're done. (The same basic process should work with most Android apps.)

Keep is clearly designed to create a Website preview when you grab a page from Chrome, but it doesn't do a great job of that right now. The app is supposed to display the page's headline and URL, and there is a large space for an image from the page. In my tests, however, Keep failed to display an image for any of my saved pages from multiple sites, including TechHive, The New York Times, and

Desktop version

Keep may be a little rough around the edges on Android, but the mobile version is far more refined than the Web interface. For starters, even though Keep saves your notes in Drive, the service is not yet integrated into the Drive menu, meaning there are no quick links or shortcuts to get to Keep from Drive. Instead, you have to manually type in the URL,

Similar to the Android app, the Web version lets you view your notes in a grid or single-column view. You can also type in new text notes, create checklists, upload images, search, delete, archive and view archived notes. Beyond the basics, however, there are a few obvious features that are lacking. If you grab a URL from a news story on your PC, Keep doesn't create a preview of the Webpage and saves the URL as plain text--it can't even create a link. You can upload images from the desktop, but there's no option to use your Webcam to take an image. Grabbing a quick Webcam image of a receipt or product you want to remember is a very useful option in the Evernote desktop app. It's a shame Google didn't work a little HTML5 magic to include this option on its Web-based version of Keep.


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