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Pricing, features, pros and cons

Zoho Notebook Review

score: 4.4/5

Starting price: $1.99 per person per month.

Main features:

  • Free forever accounts available.
  • Handwriting capture.
  • OCR search.
  • Web clipping tool.

If you are looking for a free alternative to Evernote, then there is no doubt that you will come across Zoho Notebook. This simple note-taking tool is great for beginners, personal use, and basic team collaboration. It also offers some advanced features such as handwriting capture and OCR search, but its template library and visual formatting options leave something to be desired.

In this Zoho Notebook review, we take a closer look at its features and analyze its pros and cons to help you decide if it’s the right note-taking app for your needs.

What is Zoho Notebook?

Zoho Notebook is a digital note-taking application created by Zoho. It integrates seamlessly with the rest of the Zoho software stack, but can also be used stand-alone for personal or business use.

Hands-on Zoho Notebook review results

We rank Zoho Notebook based on more than 30 variables. Here’s how it performs in the most important categories:

standard Fraction
feature 3.7/5
Price 3.9/5
Easy to use 5/5

Zoho Notebook Pricing

Fraction: 3.9/5

Pricing plan Monthly cost (per user, billed monthly) Monthly cost (per user, billed annually)
Laptop essentials $0 $0
Notebook Pro $1.99 $19.99

Laptop essentials

Zoho Notebook’s forever free plan lets you sync across devices and supports 2 GB of cloud storage for notes and files. You can upload files up to 100 MB and create notecards up to 30 MB each. The plan also includes other features such as the ability to scan documents, set recurring reminders, and read bookmarks offline.

Notebook Pro

Zoho Notebook’s Notebook Pro plan costs $1.99 per month, billed month-to-month, $19.99 for a full year, and $49.99 for three years. This plan includes everything in the free plan, plus up to 100 GB of cloud storage for notes and files, the ability to upload files up to 1 GB, and the ability to create notecards up to 200 MB.

With this plan, you can also search documents using OCR (Optical Character Recognition), create smart tags, and convert emails into note cards. This paid plan also gets phone and live chat support, while the free plan only gets community and email support.

Zoho Notebook Core Features

Fraction: 3.7/5

Zoho Notebook offers a variety of features to support personal note-taking as well as limited collaboration capabilities.

Notecards and organization

In Zoho Notebook, there are six types of cards to choose from: text cards, list cards, audio cards, photo cards, sketch cards, and file cards. You can customize each notebook by selecting one of Zoho Notebook’s preloaded covers.

Related notecards can be grouped into stacks to organize them by category or topic, and can be viewed in grid mode or landscape mode. Zoho Notebook also offers a My Notebook view that groups notes into Kanban-like columns such as Recent and All Files.

Zoho notecards in grid view.
Zoho notecards in grid view. Image: Zoho

format

Zoho Notebook provides basic text, formatting, and markdowns such as bold or italic text, inserting quotes, and adding tables. You can insert images into your notes, but the format is not as flexible as some other alternatives, such as Notion, which offers modules that can be moved around at will.

Code and syntax editing is also limited, especially compared to dedicated code editors. Zoho Notebook also doesn’t come with note templates, so you need to build each template from scratch every time.

Notecards with text, quotes and images.
Notecards with text, quotes and images. Image: Zoho

Collaboration features

Zoho Notebook offers limited collaboration tools. Notes can be shared with friends or colleagues via email address, and you can select the appropriate level of editing access before sending an invitation. You can share notes with your entire team by selecting the “Share with organization” option.

Only one user can edit annotations at a time, so Zoho Notebook does not support real-time collaborative editing like Google Docs. You can share a note with up to 50 users, share up to 50 notes with your organization, share up to 500 notes privately, and receive up to 250 shared notes.

Tags and links

Zoho Notebook offers many ways to organize and find your notes. First, you can tag a relevant note and then view all notes associated with that tag. Each note can support up to 100 tags, and notes can also be geotagged by location if you want to enable that feature. Text notes can also support hyperlinks to other notes, but this does not apply to other types of notecards.

Zoho Notebook makes it easy to mark up your notes.
Zoho Notebook makes it easy to mark up your notes. Image: Zoho

search

Zoho Notebook lets you easily search for notes by category type, such as “Favorites” or “Shared with me.” Notebook Pro subscribers also have access to OCR (Optical Character Recognition), which enables them to search based on content on photo cards, audio card transcripts, bookmark cards, file cards and scanned documents. Advanced object detection also allows you to search for images with similar elements.

Web and handwriting capture

Zoho Notebook offers web clippers for four different browsers: Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Microsoft Edge. You can use the clipper to save images, text, screenshots, links and even entire web pages.

You can also capture handwriting or sketches using sketch cards or text cards. This feature syncs with the Apple Pencil and Samsung S Pen styluses, so you’ll need one of those to take advantage of it. OCR searching does not currently work with Sketch Cards, but is expected to be available in a new update soon.

Zoho Notebook Web Clipper is running.
Zoho Notebook Web Clipper is running.Image: Zoho Notebook

Ease of use of Zoho Notebook

Fraction: 5/5

Zoho Notebook is very easy to use, even for beginners who have never used a note-taking application before. Initial setup is easy, and so is the learning curve for additional features. The interface is intuitive, attractive, and easy to navigate. Zoho also offers mobile and tablet apps for iOS and Android, so you’re not limited to desktop apps. For these reasons, we rate Zoho Notebook very highly for its ease of use.

Zoho Notebook Customer Service and Support

Zoho Notebook offers multiple DIY support options for free users and live chat and phone support for paid users.

knowledge base

Zoho Notebook provides a knowledge base that both free and paid users can access for assistance. Zoho has compiled FAQ guides on common topics, and you can also use the search bar to search for specific questions.

community forum

If you can’t find the answer to your question in the Knowledge Base, please go to the Community Forum. When you post a question to the forum, other users and Zoho administrators can provide answers to help you resolve the issue.

Phone and live chat support

Paid Notebook Pro users get phone and live chat support. However, free users are limited to the knowledge base and community forums for help.

Pros and Cons of Zoho Notebook

advantage shortcoming
Simple design and intuitive interface. OCR is limited to paid accounts only.
Free forever accounts available. No annotation template available.
Low learning curve for beginners. Limited text formatting and editing.
Includes basic collaboration features. Search and sorting capabilities can be more advanced.

Best uses for Zoho Notebook

Zoho Notebook combines an affordable price with a low learning curve, making it particularly suitable for specific scenarios.

personal use

Zoho Notebook does offer simple collaboration features, but the lack of real-time editing can hinder collaboration. Therefore, Zoho Notebook is ideal for personal use and personal note-taking.

Teams with a limited budget

Zoho Notebook offers a forever free plan and a paid plan of just $1.99 per person per month, which is much lower than other competitors such as Evernote and Notion. If these other options are too much for your budget, and you don’t need particularly powerful collaboration features, Zoho Notebook might be a good fit for you.

Note taking for beginners

If you’re new to the idea of ​​creating a second brain, other digital note-taking apps may overwhelm you with their advanced features for power users. Zoho Notebook’s intuitive interface and low learning curve make it perfect for beginners who are new to digital note-taking.

Zoho Notebook alternatives and competitors

Microsoft OneNote

Microsoft OneNote icon.
Image: Microsoft

Microsoft OneNote offers several advanced features, including a template library, OCR search, and handwriting support. The free plan comes with a wealth of features, but if you decide you need more storage, you can also get OneNote as part of a Microsoft 365 Personal bundle. If you need a more advanced, free alternative to Zoho Notebook, OneNote is well worth considering.

For more information, read our Microsoft OneNote review.

google workspace

Microsoft OneNote icon.
Image: Google Workspace

If real-time collaboration and editing are the most important features to you, then you should definitely check out Google Docs, Google Sheets, Google Slides, and other Google Workspace products. While they’re not as efficient as Zoho Notebook for quick note-taking, these apps are great for more serious real-time collaboration on business and school projects.

concept

Concept sign.
Image: concept

Notion offers multiple types of content blocks as well as a WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) editor, which sets it apart from Zoho Notebook’s more limited formatting options. The downside is that Notion doesn’t support handwriting capture or OCR searching, but if you don’t need those features, it could be a great Zoho Notebook alternative worth exploring.

For more information, read our Notion review.

Zoho Notebook Review Method

We signed up for a free Zoho Notebook Essentials account to test the software for ourselves. While writing this review, we also watched the demo video and reviewed the product documentation. We rate Zoho Notebook based on a number of different features, including templates, visual formatting, Markdown support, collaboration features, and markup. We also weighed other factors such as ease of use, interface design, learning curve, and customer support.

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