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Google Keep on a phone
Google Keep on a phone (Image credit: Android Central)

Google Keep isn't your average note-taking client. While the app sports a minimal interface and is easy to pick up and use, it offers a set of powerful tools that make it an effective task management utility. From creating collaborative to-do lists to transcribing voice notes and saving bookmarks, the app does it all.

The best part about Keep is that all changes are synced automatically, giving you quick access to your notes across all your devices, and on the web. Here's what you need to know to get started with Google Keep.

How to install and log in to Keep

This part's straightforward. Just head to the Play Store, search for Keep, and install the app.

  1. Open the Play Store from your home screen or app drawer.
  2. Search for Google Keep and tap the first search result (by Google).
  3. Tap Install.

  1. Following the installation, open Keep and tap the Get started button.
  2. Select the Google account you want to associate with the app.

How to create and edit your first note in Keep

One of Keep's strengths is that it is very simple to use. Creating a note or editing an existing note is about as easy as it can get.

  1. Open Keep from the home screen or the app drawer.
  2. Tap the Take a note section at the bottom of the screen.
  3. Enter the title and text, and tap the Back button to save the note.

  1. Tap the note you want to edit.
  2. Tap the desired section to start making changes to the note.
  3. Tap the Back button to save the changes.

How to create and manage lists in Keep

Keep allows you to easily create and manage to-do lists. Here's how to get started.

  1. Open Keep from the home screen or the app drawer.
  2. Tap the List button at the bottom.
  3. Set a Title for the list, and start adding items. To delete an item, tap the Delete button on the right.

  1. If you've already started a basic text note, you can turn it into a to-do list by tapping the + button at the bottom left of the screen.
  2. Tap the + button, and hit the Checkboxes option to turn the note into a to-do list.
  3. You can turn the note back into a text note by selecting the Menu button in the top left and selecting Hide checkboxes.

How to share notes and add collaborators in Keep

Keep has an excellent collaboration feature that lets you quickly share your notes and to-do lists with your friends and family. I use the feature to collaborate with my wife over grocery lists, chores for the weekend, and things to buy for the house. Here's what you need to know about sharing notes.

  1. Tap the note you want to share.
  2. Tap the Action button at the bottom right.
  3. Tap the Collaborator button.
  4. Allow Keep access to your contacts.

  1. Enter the email address or name of the person you want to share the note with.
  2. After adding the collaborator, tap the Save button to share the note.

How to set reminders in Keep

The ability to set reminders for notes or to-do lists is one of Keep's most useful functions. The reminders feature works the same way as it does in Google Now: you have the option of creating a reminder based on time or location. Here's how you can easily set a reminder in Google Keep:

  1. Launch Keep from your home screen or the app drawer.
  2. Tap the note for which you want to set a reminder.
  3. Tap the Remind me button in the top right.
  4. Set a reminder that triggers at a particular Time or at a Location.

You can also set recurring reminders for things like shopping lists. Reminders set in Keep will show up in Google Now and Inbox. When you're setting a reminder, you get default options for Morning, Afternoon, and Evening. Here's how to change the default options.

  1. Open Keep.
  2. Tap the menu button on the left. It looks like three stacked lines.
  3. Tap Settings.
  4. In the Reminder settings section, tap Morning to change the default time for notification alerts in the morning.

How to dictate audio notes in Keep

In addition to text notes, you can also dictate notes to Keep, with the audio getting automatically transcribed. It is a lesser-known feature that comes in handy when you're taking notes in class.

  1. Launch Keep.
  2. Tap the Speak button at the bottom.
  3. Start recording your note. After you're done speaking, you'll see a text form of the note along with the recording underneath.
  4. Tap the Play button to listen to the note.

How to add an audio recording to an existing note

Adding an audio recording to an existing note is really easy.

  1. Launch Keep from your home screen or the app drawer.
  2. Tap the note to which you'd like to add an audio recording.
  3. Tap the + button at the bottom left.
  4. Tap the Recording button and start speaking. You'll see a text version of the recording as well as the audio added to the bottom of the note.

You can delete the recording by hitting the Delete button at the right of the audio. Doing so doesn't delete the text, which you'll have to clear manually.

How to take images using Keep

You can easily take photos from within Keep, and extract text from within images.

  1. Launch Keep from your home screen or the app drawer.
  2. Tap the Camera button in the bottom right.
  3. Tap an image from your gallery or tap Take photo to take a new photo.
  4. Add a title and text to the image if required.

How to extract text from an image

Want to grab the text from a photo you took, but don't want to manually transcribe from the image? There's a feature for that.

  1. Launch Keep.
  2. Tap a note with an image in it.
  3. Tap the image.
  4. Tap the Menu button in the top right.
  5. Tap Grab image text.
  6. You can also make annotations to an image by tapping the Pen button in the top left.

How to add an image to an existing note

If you're looking to add an image to an existing note, it's quick and easy.

  1. Launch Keep from your home screen or the app drawer.
  2. Tap the note you want to add a photo to.
  3. Tap the + button in the bottom left.
  4. Choose Take photo to take a new photo to add to the note.
  5. Tap Choose image to add an image from the gallery to your note.

How to doodle in Keep

Like doodling? You can use Keep to draw digitally, with three modes available.

  1. Open Keep from the home screen or app drawer.
  2. Tap the Pen button from the bottom.
  3. Tap between Pen, Marker, and Highlight tool.

  1. Start drawing on-screen. To go back, hit the Undo button on the right.
  2. Tap the Eraser from the bottom bar to erase your drawing.
  3. Tap the Select button from the bottom bar to select and move part of your drawing.

How to use Keep as a bookmark tool

Remember Delicious? You don't need a dedicated tool to save bookmarks anymore, as Keep does a capable job of saving and organizing your bookmarks.

  1. Launch Chrome.
  2. Navigate to a website.
  3. Tap the Menu button from Chrome to save a link to Keep.
  4. Tap Share.
  5. In the Share via screen, navigate to Keep to save the link.

  1. Use the Label button to assign a label to the link.
  2. Tap Save to add the link as a note in Keep.

How to export notes to Google Docs

While Keep has a lot of features, it doesn't offer rich text editing. If you're in need of more robust formatting and editing tools, you can export your note to Google Docs, Evernote, Word, or other word processing services.

  1. Launch Keep.
  2. Tap and hold on a note to show menu options.
  3. Tap the More button from the top right.
  4. Tap Copy to Google Doc to turn the note into an editable Google Docs document.

  1. If you're looking to edit the document in another word processor, hit Send from the menu.
  2. Tap your editor of choice from the Send note menu.
  3. Tap to save the note in your word editor.

You can also save several notes to a single Google Docs file. Just hold down to select individual notes, and then tap Copy to Google Doc.

How to archive or delete older notes in Keep

If you no longer need a note, you can easily archive or delete it. Here's how:

  1. Launch Keep.
  2. Tap a note.
  3. Tap the Archive button to archive the note.
  4. Tap the Action menu from the bottom right to access the delete option.
  5. Tap Delete to delete a note.

How to recover archived notes in Keep

If you've accidentally archived a note, you can recover it by going to the Archive tab from the hamburger menu.

  1. Launch Keep.
  2. Tap the menu button (looks like three stacked lines) on the left.
  3. Go to Archive.
  4. Tap the note you want to recover.
  5. Tap the Unarchive button located at the top right corner.

You will be able to do the same for deleted notes, with notes staying for up to seven days in the trash.

  1. Tap the menu button on the left.
  2. Go to Trash.
  3. Tap and hold on the note you want to recover.
  4. Tap the Restore button.

How to sort and organize notes with labels in Keep

Keep lets you add labels to organize your notes. If you're like me and take a lot of notes throughout the day, labels are absolutely essential to make sense of the clutter.

  1. Launch Keep.
  2. Tap the note for which you want to add a label.
  3. Tap the Action button in the bottom right.
  4. Tap Labels.
  5. Add your desired label.

How to add labels via hashtags in Keep

You can also add labels quickly with the hashtag (#) symbol.

  1. Launch Keep.
  2. Tap the note for which you want to add a label.
  3. Type a #, which brings up all available labels.
  4. Add your desired label from the list.

How to edit and organize notes based on labels in Keep

You can create, edit, and organize notes by labels with ease.

  1. Tap the menu button (looks like three stacked lines) on the left.
  2. Tap on a label to show notes tagged with that particular label.

  1. Tap Edit to change label names.
  2. Tap the Edit button on the right to edit the name of a label.
  3. Tap the + button to add a new label.

How to color code notes in Keep

Along with labels, you can use colors to visually differentiate between different types of notes.

  1. Launch Keep.
  2. Tap the note for which you want to add a color.
  3. Tap the Action button in the bottom right.
  4. Tap the desired color from the options at the bottom.

Questions?

If you're looking for a minimalist note-taking app with a robust feature-set, it's time you gave Keep a try. The note-taking service is now integration into Google Docs, making it easier for you to surface information from your notes into your documents.

What do you use Keep for? Let us know in the comments below.

Updated January 2018: Updated with the latest additions to Google Keep.

Harish Jonnalagadda is a Senior Editor covering Asia at Android Central. He leads the site's coverage of Chinese phone manufacturers, and writes about the semiconductor industry, storage servers, and audio products. Contact him on Twitter at @chunkynerd.

75 Comments
  • I love Google Keep! Super easy to make packing lists, to do lists, even lists of things I want lol. Posted via the Android Central App
  • One topic is terribly missing for me - how to set font size for notes in Google Keep on Android? I need 40+ points for any note-taking app to be really useful for my weak eyes
  • Try those two steps:
    1. In general settings on your mobile choose exstra big font
    2. Choose "Accesibility" - "Vision" and "Magnification gestures". When it is active - triple tapping (quick) on screen allow you zoom in and out and pinching to adjust zoom level.
    This works fine with Keep.
    Galaxy Note-3
  • Negative, both "solutions" suck. Ad 1: Many apps get broken when this setting's active, since many developers don't bother to test their UI when this setting's active. And since I don't use just Google Keep, I can't have this setting active. Ad 2: This gesture is naturally enabled, but it's impossible to type with active magnification, and text isn't wrapped to screen width. And constant l/r screen movement is for convicts. Google apps generally suck in supporting people with low vision.
  • Wow, that was harsh... The guy was only trying to give you a hand and you tell him that his suggestions "suck". While I'm sure that we can empathize with your situation, I'd imagine that you won't get too many that will enlist their assistance in the future.
  • Very useful. I never fully made the transition from Color Note to Keep. Though I tried to break my old habit a couple of times, and copied notes over, I always opened Color Note by default.
    There are some weaknesses in Color Note. I will read this fully later. Iirc, you don't need a connection to use Keep? It will sync later.
  • My wife and I switched over to Keep after the whole Evernote change. Much more efficient now! Better sharing and collaborating!
    Thanks Evernote for bringing me to Keep! Posted via the Android Central App
  • I know, I did the exact same thing. It works great.
  • I love Keep for shared lists, but the lack of being able to lock notes keeps me from using it 100% of the time. I use Color Note for everything else.
  • +1 I do use it, but wish I could lock specific lists.
  • I would probably use keep if it could pin notes to the taskbar like color note does.
  • Google keep is the best! Very easy to share and jointly edit lists. Also easily accessing the app through chrome desktop browser is nice Posted via the Android Central App
  • I may have to look into this. I don't take many notes, but when I do, I just use Samsung's S Note. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Love Keep, love the shared notes... it's funny to see someone else typing in an item in real time on the list. Simple, fast, lightweight. Great utility..
  • I like being able to access my notes from a web browser at keep.google.com Posted via the Android Central App
  • I don't keepsake Posted via the Android Central App
  • I love using keep as well! pretty good note taking app.. AC @ s7
  • And all this is available on any web browser.. Just go to https://keep.google.com/
  • Google Keep and Google on general has been a life saver for me. Posted via the Android Central App
  • I love Keep. I have a Note 5 and have started using the drawings to take hand-written notes during meetings. I am just not a fast enough thumb or Swype typist to enter useful text notes, but drawings and the S Pen are fast enough. I just wish I could scroll the drawing pane to fit more on one image, or even just be able to scale objects down.
  • Thank you. Very useful article. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Is it possible to clip articles from web pages to Google Keep? I don't have any use for making notes, but I use Evernote for the clip web pages feature. Evernote is great for just tapping and saving an article from the web. I'd cancel my subscription to Evernote if I were able to find a free app that does that. Do any exist? Posted from my Nexus 7 2013 via the Android Central App
  • Use Pocket. It saves them offline and is available on web too
  • I use it for shopping list. However I usually just take pictures of the items I need to replace. It insurers that I get the correct item. Alittle simple but very helpful. Posted via the Android Central App
  • I've started using Google Keep a lot. It's a really good tool! Custom fonts and a highlighter in it would be good though.
  • Tried it a few times, I would say Gtasks is more useful... especially the widget. I have 10-15 notes/tasks on home screen and they all fit without scrolling
  • Can not wait to learn how to use this and get used to the interface so in a few monthe google can compleatly change everything or kill it for something else Posted via the Android Central App
  • What? I don't have the option to transcribe text from an image on mine! I've been using keep for awhile, found it very handy. I'd like to be able to merge notes sometimes. A few features like that would make it unbeatable.
  • I like creating a grocery check list to share with my son. Then, when we get to the store, he starts at the top of the list, and I start at the bottom. We can watch the list getting shorter and shorter. We also have Android Wear (I have the Huawei Watch, and he has the Asus Zenwatch 2),so we both work out from our watches. So slick!
  • Bingo! I'm so glad I'm not the only one who does this. I insist that all shopping lists / to do lists are in a shared keep note. That way you can see when stuff gets done, so it's not duplicated. Also, I've gone to the supermarket, and the wife has added things to the shared list while I'm shopping. Its easy. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Do the exact same thing but wouldn't it be useful if saved lists could be stored alphabetically? Posted via the Android Central App
  • It's much more efficient if you order your grocery list by type, that way items closer to each other are in the same section of the grocery store. You don't put milk at the start and cheese at the end, as these things are typically next to each other in the store. That's way more efficient than randomly listing things you need and then starting at opposite ends. It also reduces the amount of walking around in the store (and the amount of time spent in the store). Meats, Grains, Canned Goods/Foods, Dairy, Frozen Foods, Frozen Deserts, Fresh Fruits and Vegetables, etc. I organize these things into sections, and then organize the sections in order of how they're organized in the store (if you shop at the same place often, this gets easier and you can reuse the same note like a template for future trips). This way, I end up doing one simple sweep across the store and them I'm done.
  • Whilst that may work for you, not everyone is using keep to sort shopping lists. You can still use Keep the way you like if it has an alphabetic sort OPTION that many need.
  • Great but wish you could sort lists alphabetically. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Sorting by alphabet or date is the reason I don't use it.
  • Love it and use it on android and iPhone. Is there a way to password or passcode protect?
  • Thank you for pointing out the "grab image text" feature. I didn't know Keep could do that. I tried it out while working on something for my classroom and it's amazingly good at transcribing the text. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Love Keep - use it on my computers, tablet and phone to add to lists, keep notes on what ink my printer uses, how much yarn and what weight a pattern uses, ideas for my artsy-fartsy projects, possible music for the weekly library downloads, on and on - it's very handy.
  • One of my favorite apps, which I've used for several years. I access and enter data from a browser. It's installed in all my Android devices (3 phones and a tablet). The app helps keep my life and notes organized.
  • Thanks! I did not know about the OCR feature.
  • Awesome guide! didn't know about extract text from photo !
  • Thanks Harish. I enjoy using Keep and your article was exhaustive and interesting too. There were a number of things that I didn't know too. Keep is my go to app for all lists and any quick noting that I need to make. And its synched with my home computer. I find it very useful.
  • Is it possible to use Keep with voice commands? I can open the app, but haven't been able to figure out how to do functions like adding something to a shopping list.
  • First, make a list called "Shopping List". Then say "OK Google add Milk to shopping list" You can also say "OK Google take a note" followed by whatever you want on the note like "25 miles at 4pm."
  • Great how to article. Very clear. As keep user for a long term I learned a few things and features I didn't know were there. Only thing I saw missing was how to access something that has been archived.
  • Good app, but wish it were tightly integrated with Gmail and would replace the ancient Google Tasks. . . Posted via the Android Central App
  • Thanks for the article. I never knew you could collaborate in Keep. Might come in handy some time.
  • How hard is it to transfer content from Evernote?
  • I haven't found a method of importing notes, and I've been looking for awhile. If there was an easy import tool, I'd switch from Evernote to Keep in a heartbeat.
  • I use Keep for anything and everything I need or want to save. I have recipes and various notes about wilderness survival and bushcraft. It's fantastic software. I never could find a Diabetes app that would record all of my BG numbers, I would put the numbers into the app and check later and they had not been saved. I use Keep for my log book.
  • I use Keep for my Shopping List, then view them on my Android Wear Watch while I'm walking around the supermarket. Then I just check them off on my Watch as I go... My phone can stay in my pocket.
  • Very cool idea. I can't decide between an Android Wear watch and a Gear S3... So torn lol.
  • I find Keep confusing and overly complicated. Feels cluttered to me. I think a notes app should be easy and simple to use. I have used Gnotes for several years now and find it very easy and simple, perfect for my uses.
  • Google Keep is great. I've been using it ever since Evernote went with a subscription plan. I realize Keep isn't technically as powerful as Evernote, but it does everything I need it to very well
  • I am thinking now in ditching Evernote, what do you think Keep does not have yet?
  • Love it and use it. One feature I would love to see - the ability to lock a note.
  • If you create a check list and need to go back and add something to it, how do you do that without having to recreate the entire list?
  • Hi, wondering if anyone is having trouble with going to your google keep note the next day only to find out the hour you spent editing a detailed note is not longer there. This is not something you can recover in trash because it wasn't a deleted note just all my brain work gone because I thought it all went into the newer version of my note. Can't find help anywhere!! I usually do click on "done" but shoudn't it save my edits regardless?. I find now I have to make duplicate copy through the day to make sure I have a back up copy in case the edits don't stick! WOuld appreciate any help on this!!
  • Absolutely love this app and thanks for the guide. Dear Google. You're a big company. You can spring for more than 8 colors.
  • Excellent guide. This looks very similar to OneNote, which I use daily. What are some differences and benefits to using Keep instead of OneNote?
  • They're both very similar OneNote can handle hyperlinks I believe better than Google Keep, Also the computer app OneNote is 10 times better then Google Keep
    MS toolbar in OneNote is awesome on the computer app. Plus there's really no limit on how many characters one can put in OneNote and I believe after what is it 19,000 or something close to that Google keep will want you to transfer it to Google Docs It's just boils down to how much one is invested in Google Docs and the like or how 1 is invested in word and Microsoft ecosystem
  • This article is updated with info about recovering old notes.
    They forgot to mention about the feature that was taken away.
    The Google Home shopping list was removed keep. I used to be able to build a list with Google Home that would go into Keep.
    I could open it at the store WITHOUT mobile data and check off the items on the list as I shopped.
    Not any more!
  • This one really pissed me off. Used to use it all the time for groceries. Even got my mother to use it through Google now. One day she called me and couldn't figure out where her shopping list was.
    She uses paper now. Good job Google, now we know you don't give a crap and hate trees.
  • This app is the reason I ditched my Windows Phone and switched to Android. I adore Google Keep!
  • Bring back shopping list integration. Please...
  • Awesome guide, great job! Thanks for this.
  • I guess I'll have to give this a shot. I'd been using Scribble, but it suffered the same fate as the HTC Music Player and the Media Gallery.
  • I wish they didn't disconnect it from Google Assistant. Used to love being able to simply say "Ok, Google- add milk to my grocery list"- and it went straight to my grocery list I'm Keep. Now it goes to that convoluted Google shopping list that I have no interest in using... Such fail. At least give us an option of where to send stuff through assistant.
  • Just one little editing mistake:
    How to add an image to an existing note If you're looking to add an image to an existing note, it's quick and easy. Launch Keep from your hoe screen or the app drawer.
  • I use Keep for quick notes and grocery lists. It's perfect for that. I use OneNote more when I'm taking notes on the computer for more intense tasks, such as when I'm researching or brainstorming. I use both often, and I'd rather not be without either.
  • if only keep had the ability to password protect
  • ^^This. google should copy Apples Notes and they'd have a good product.
  • Any way to import from Evernote so I can switch apps.?
  • Choice between Keep and OneNote for me boils down to the fact that at work they block Keep (and Evernote) desktop site but allow the OneNote one. Not fair, I know.
  • I absolutely love Google Keep. I love how it syncs between my 2 phones.