• Posted on August 10, 2013

Google Keep - Be Slightly More Organized

Todo lists seem to be dying a little bit due to its big brothers, the calendar and project managers. But at times, having an area to quickly jot down a note or a task that you cannot forget to due in the future is useful. Once again, Google comes to serve. This is a review on Google Keep and their Chrome Extension. It’s also available for cell phones, but I will not go into much detail their. Everything said about the Extension and the Google Keep site should cover the smartphone areas.

With all software, there is a goal or an overcasting task it’s trying to accomplish. Google Keep’s goal is to let you write “Sticky Notes” or create and update lists quickly and from anywhere. This is nothing new. There have been many Sticky Note programs in the past, one even comes bundled with Windows, oddly enough it’s called “Sticky Notes”. Other than that, there is nothing else Google Keep is trying “to-do”.

First Impressions

I’ve heard about Google Keep a while ago, and always wondered what twist Google would bring to this limited program idea. Sadly enough, the twist is at most a fraction of a turn. When first visiting the Google Keep site (keep.google.com) I was slightly surprised. There was a lack of… everything. It felt very empty and had a lot of white-space. But I continued to create notes and lists.

After creating 3-4 items, the lack of visual customization and ordering really got me. I couldn’t rearrange the lists I made (moving one list above another list and so on). Then not having an order key to order a list you made in alphabetical order or by date. Oh, and about date ordering, you can’t enter dates anywhere. The point of a to-do list is to stay organized quickly. Having a quick and optional date field would help immensely to stay organized. Each item can be color-coded to the limited 8 colors. Too bad you have to go to the Item View page or the Large List display to change the color.

The display methods of “Grid” and “Large Display” are just awful. The Large Display would work well on a phone, but applications need to start thinking about computer users again.. Microsoft.

The Grid Display doesn’t allow you to mark Lists Items as complete, lists are cut off and can’t be scrolled through, you can’t add new items to lists, and you can’t modify notes. All of the editing functions require the Large Display. But the Large Display has a few issues too. It’s a single column list. Why not 2 columns, or 3, or more? I have a large enough display, or displays that I can warrant having the window opened large enough for daily use of Google Keep. Or when I’m editing lists and notes, I want to quickly scan over everything I’ve written. In a single column you may be scrolling for a while.

Ease of Use

Although my first impressions were not the greatest, I could really get behind the ease of use of this. Fixed in position on the top of the Keep page is the Note Creator. Just start typing and you are done in seconds. Just the way note creators should be. But creating something that’s easy to use doesn’t mean you have to remove all other settings from it. On the creation of notes, adding “Finish By” or “Complete By” dates would be nice, along with changing the color or categorizing the notes you are creating.

When adding more tasks to a list after you created it, you just click on the available text field under all the other items. Very cleanly integrated into the list’s box and quick. Other than adding more tasks, you can toggle a check mark next to each item and delete them too.

The Image Feature

Every note or list can have an image uploaded to it. It serves as a banner to that item. But make sure it’s at the height you want before uploading since there are no resizing options inside of Google Keep. Besides the lack of resizing options, I really love how the images play into note keeping. Now, I have no need to have images and notes combined as of yet, but while playing around with the feature I found myself really loving it. It displays really well in the Grid Layout, allowing me to find notes instantly. Also, you can add more than one image per list or note. So far I’ve only added 3, and am not sure how many more can be added.

The Chrome Extension

The official Chrome Extension is what I now use daily, and because of it, reminded me that I needed to write another post on this site (no alerts). Instead of just having Google Keep just live instead of your browser, you can pin the application to your taskbar or create a desktop shortcut icon. All Chrome Applications allow for this, but Keep uses a standalone frame so it doesn’t open Google Keep in the normal browser and can run independently from Google Chrome.

Chrome Extension for Google Keep

The extension doesn’t vary much from the website version. You share the same notes, have notes and lists, can add images and all of that. But the framing design is different. Instead of having a search bar and navigation bar of other Google Products on the top of the page, all you have are buttons for Create, Switch View Types, Status of Notes and Search. It gives you a cleaner todo list and it’s just as simple as the main site. I do recommend downloading it if you plan on using Keep, instead of using their website.

You can download the extension for Google Chrome over at the Google Webstore

The Final Thoughts

It’s good for what it is. It has a few new things other listing programs don’t have, but it does lack some features here and there too. Right now, this is my main tool to save paper in my office. I always have the Chrome Extension running on my desktop so at a moments notice, I can add more work I have to do, how exhilarating.

I suggest you try Keep out. I feel like it’s one of those things that people will either love or hate right away, and because of that I think it may not get some of the love it truly does deserve.

You can access Google Keep in the following ways.