Useful Utilities is a series where Mr Epidemiology outlines software he finds helpful and feels that students would benefit from knowing. Today, he’ll be talking about Simplenote, which is online note taking software.

I’ve found in my Grad School career that I often have ideas that hit me at random points. I’ll be walking down the street and suddenly think “Wait! The validity of that tool is questionable! I must research this!” or “Wait! Do I have milk!” and other matters of national security and life altering importance.

Pictured: The old fashioned way of writing notes (click pic to go to Moleskine site)

While a more traditional (archaic) approach involving paper and pencil might be preferred by some, I like my gadgets. I also find that many a notebook has fallen prey to the evil forces of leaky coffee mugs. And let’s fact it, notebooks aren’t much good when they’re soaked through. Even if you wrap your notebooks in a ziplock bag to keep them dry, if you forget it at home, you’re stuck.

When looking for a note-taking app, I wanted something that was: 1) available to me on my desktop, iPhone and iPad, 2) simple and clean and 3) free.

Enter Simplenote!

It’s no secret that I’m a fan of cloud-based storage. Last time I wrote about Dropbox, and ranted and raved about how awesome it is. Simplenote is a similar idea, except it’s just a notepad. No fancy screens, no font choices, just a barebones interface for getting ideas down. It’s got great cross-platform compatibility – I can write something on my phone, elaborate on it on my laptop, and then review it later on my iPad.

The Simplenote interface: elegant, minimalistic and effect. Via Appstorm (click the image to go to their review)

However, while it is simple, it is very functional. You can set tags – classifying all work related notes together for example. It also saves previous drafts of notes, so if you accidentally delete something, you can recover it (similar to ctrl+z in Word).

Given how many students use multiple computers and have smartphones, a utility like Simplenote is incredibly useful and always available. And for the low low price of free, there’s no reason to not check it out!

Simplenote [iTunes]

Simplenote [Simplenote]

For other formats (android etc), check out the Simplenote Downloads website.

Disclaimer: I am not being paid by Simplenote, and I am not receiving anything from them. However, if they want to send me a t-shirt, that would be cool.