A Review And Complete Guide To Using Google Keep On The iPad

Using Google Keep on the iPad Square
Using Google Keep on the iPad Square
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I have been a Google Keep user for years. I love the simplicity of the app and how easy it is to access and use. When I bought my iPad Air, it was one app I downloaded first. This post is a complete Google Keep review and Google Keep tutorial on how to use Google Keep on the iPad. 

What is Google Keep?

Google Keep is a simple and fast note taking app for the iPad. It works similar to post it notes as it allows you to create short notes and lists of items you want to remember. Some people even use it as a task manager but the functionality for this is a bit limited. It may work well if you want to use Mark Forster’s Autofocus method.

Using Google Keep on the iPad Pin

What does Google Keep do?

Google Keep is a simple note-taking app. In Google Keep you can have notes for different things, such as websites you want to visit, shopping lists, etc. If you are looking for a note-taking app with more functionality, consider the UpNote app.   

How to use Google Keep notes on the iPad?

You need to have a gmail account to use Google Keep. You log into the app using your normal gmail credentials. 

Google Keeps’ layout

Let’s look at the layout once you are logged in to the Google Keep app. Once you log in to Google Keep, you see a blank canvas. 

Using Google Keep for the first time with the menu options in the four corners
Using Google Keep for the first time with the menu options in the four corners

Menu options in the top right-hand corner

Here you will see your initials and if you click on this, you will see your log in details, namely, the Gmail account you used to log in to Google Keep. Next to it you have two rectangles – one on top of the other. Clicking on the rectangle lets you to change the layout of your notes from the default to rows of notes. You won’t be able to see what clicking on this does until you have created a few notes.

Menu options in the top left corner

In the top left corner, clicking on the hamburger menu to open the organisation menu. Here you will have the option to see all your notes, only notes with reminders and all your labels. You will also find the bin and your archive here. You can also change your settings from this menu. 

Google Keep - Top Left Corner Menu Options
Google Keep – Top Left Corner Menu Options

The options in the Google Keep settings

The options for Google Keep are fairly simple:

  • The first choice you have is whether you want to add new items to the bottom. This relates to new notes you create. If you toggle this to on, your new notes will always be added to the bottom. Leaving it toggled off means that your new notes will be added to the top of your notes or lists. 
  • The second option is about keeping items that have been ticked off in their original location or whether it should be moved to the bottom of your list. 
  • The third option is whether you want any links you add to a note to show a rich text preview. Keeping this off means that the link will show in a note, but there would be no preview. Toggling it on allows a small image preview of the link you have added.
  • The next item relates to reminders and then the automated timing thereof. You can set the times for morning, afternoon and evening reminders. If you choose to set a morning reminder for any note, it will use the time you specified to remind you of the note. 
  • The next option allows you to choose whether you want to share notes with friends or family. Keeping this off will limit your ability to share notes with others, so think carefully about how you intend using your notes in Google Keep.
  • Next you can set your Google Keep app settings. Under this item you can choose your default internet browser, your app for locations (important when you set reminders based on your location), your calendar and email apps. You can also choose to set it to ask you each time you need to open a link in one of these apps. 

Menu options in the bottom right corner of Google Keep

There is only one item here and it is a colourful plus. Clicking on the plus allows you to create a new note. 

Menu options in Google Keeps’ bottom left corner

In this corner, there are several items: a tick icon, a paint brush, a microphone and a picture. These are types of notes you can create when you click on these icons.

How to create a new note in Google Keep on the iPad

There are two options for creating a new note:

1. Clicking on the plus in the bottom right corner opens a simple text note

2. Clicking on the tick, microphone, paint brush or picture icon in the bottom left corner. Clicking on any of these icons, allows you to create one of the following types of notes in Google Keep:

  • A task or reminder list 
  • A voice recorded note
  • A drawing or sketch note
  • A picture

Note content when using Google Keep on the iPad

Once you have clicked on the plus icon in the bottom right corner, you have a plain text note. First you can choose to complete the title before turning to the content of your note.  Google Keep notes do not offer rich text formatting, you cannot make simple formatting changes (bold, underline, changing font size or colour etc) to any of the notes. You can undo and redo in a Google Keep note. Apart from adding content to a note, you can choose one of 12 colours for your note’s colour.

Let’s take a look at the various content options for notes based on the layout of a note in Google Keep.

Menu option in the top left corner of a note in Google Keep

There is only option in the top left corner and that is an arrow to close the note and take you back to the main Google Keep screen.

Menu options in the top right corner of a note in Google Keep

Here you have three options, namely, pin your note, set a reminder using the bell with a plus icon or archive your note. 

Pinning a note in Google Keep

Google Keep - Pinned Notes
Google Keep – Pinned Notes

Clicking on the pin will pin your note, which will list it at the top of your notes in Google Keep. 

Adding a reminder to your note

When you click on the reminder icon (the bell with the plus), you can add a reminder to your note. You can choose whether you want to choose a date and time or a place for the reminder. If you choose the date and time, you can choose the date and then set a reminder for the morning, afternoon or the evening – the times specified by you in the Google Keep app settings. Alternatively, you can choose a custom time for the specific date you chose.

Google Keep – setting a recurring date and time-based reminder

You can also choose to set a recurring reminder from here. You can choose how often the task or item will repeat. The options for a recurring reminder is daily, weekly, monthly, yearly. You can also choose to set a custom recurring reminder, ranging from various options such as every day/week/month/year, every second or third day/week/month/year, etc. You can also set a date for when the recurring reminder needs to end.

Setting a reminder based on your location is another cool feature of Google Keep. You can determine a specific location and when you get to this location, the reminder will be activated. This will link to the default location app you set in the Google Keep app settings. 

Google Keep location-based reminder
Google Keep location-based reminder

When the date, time or location is reached, you will receive a notification on your phone to remind you of the specific item. 

Archiving a note in Google Keep on the iPad

Next to the reminder icon is the archive icon. Clicking on this will archive your note and move it to the Google Keep archive, which you can access by clicking on the hamburger menu at the top left of your main Google Keep screen. 

Menu options in the bottom left corner of a note

The bottom left corner of a note has a small plus – when you click here, it gives you the option to add a tick box to your note, a drawing or sketch, an image, a voice-recording or you can even take a picture directly from Google Keep. 

Adding an image or photo to your notes in Google Keep

When you choose to take a picture from Google Keep, you will need to give it access to your camera before taking the photo. Once you have taken the photo, you can select whether you want to use the photo in your note. 

Another wonderful feature of Google Keep is that you can scan documents or picture by taking a picture from within Google Keep. Essentially you scan the document and add it to a note in Google Keep. 

Clicking on image will let you choose one of the images from your camera roll on your device to add to your note. Choosing an image will automatically add it to above your note’s title and it will act as a header image for your note.

Adding a drawing or handwritten note to your Google Keep note

Google Keep Paper Options for Handwritten Notes or Sketches
Google Keep Paper Options for Handwritten Notes or Sketches

If you click on drawing, a page will open up for you to draw, write with a stylus or even use your finger to draw or right. Once done, this image will be added to your note. Similar to any other image, it will become your note header image and move to above your note’s title.

Drawing Options in Google Keep
Drawing Options in Google Keep

In the drawing window, you have access to normal options, such as a range of colours to use, different pens, an eraser and a lasso tool. Unlike some of the more advanced note taking tools, the lasso tool can only take complete items and not parts of images or text. 

Adding a voice note to your note

Google Keep - Voice Note Recording
Google Keep – Voice Note Recording

If you click on the microphone, a new canvas will pop up. It will have colourful circles at the bottom and a prompt to start speaking at the top. What is pretty cool is that Google Keep will transcribe a voice note recording as you make the recording and use the transcribed text as the voice note’s name. Once you click on the x on the bottom left, the recording will be added to your note. 

Menu options in the bottom right corner of a note 

Google Keep - menu options bottom left corner of a note
Google Keep – menu options bottom left corner of a note

The menu options can be accessed by clicking the three dots in the bottom right corner of a note. From here you can choose the following options:

  • Deleting the note
  • Make a copy of the note
  • Send the note to someone using email. This will link to the default email app you specified in the Google Keep app settings. You can also use this option to open the Google Keep note in Google Docs if you need more advanced formatting features.
  • If you enabled sharing in the Google Keep app settings, you can also collaborate on the note by sharing it with someone. If you add a collaborator, they will receive an email to inform them that you have shared a note with them and they will see the note in their Google Keep notes.
  • You can set a label for your note by choosing one of the existing labels you have used previously or by creating a new label. 
  • You can choose a colour for your note from the options provided.

Additional features of using Google Keep on the iPad

Google Keep has some additional features that are quite useful:

Editing images in Google Keep

If you have an image or scanned document in your note, you can click on it. This will take you a screen that focuses on the image or document only. The top right corner contains a paint brush, clicking on it takes you to the drawing and editing menu (similar to the drawing option). From here you can add notes or highlights to the image using the tools available. Once you have made your changes, you can click back to go back to the image-only screen. 

Google Keep - Optical Character Recognition From Images
Google Keep – Optical Character Recognition From Images

Next to the paint brush in the top right corner, there are additional options if you click on the three vertical dots. Here you can choose to grab text from the image if there are any words on the image. Google Keep can apply optical character recognition (OCR) to converts text from images to typed text in your note – a most useful feature. 

Clicking the three dots also gives you an option to delete the note or to send it to someone else. 

Changing labels

You can change a note’s labels from the menu options in the bottom right corner, but also from accessing the create/edit labels option which you can access by clicking on the hamburger menu in the top left of your main Google Keep screen. 

Rearranging your notes

Google Keep - Pinned note
Google Keep – Pinned note

You choose whether new notes will be added to the top or bottom in the Google Keep app settings, but you can easily arrange your notes in Google Keep by clicking and dragging notes around. You can also pin notes (from within the note – top right corner) which will place them at the top of your notes in Google Keep. 

Clipping websites to Google Keep

Clipping to Google Keep
Clipping to Google Keep

On the desktop you can install a chrome extension to clip websites or documents to Google Keep. On the iPad you can share a website link to Google Keep to make a new note in Google Keep.

Frequently asked questions about using Google Keep on the iPad

Here are some of the frequently asked questions about Google Keep:

Is Google Keep free?

Yes, Google Keep is a free note taking app from Google. You can access it free on the internet by going to keep.google.com or you can download the Google Keep app for free to your phone or tablet. 

Can Google keep be used offline

You can use Google Keep without the internet. Any new notes or changes you make to notes while offline will sync as soon you go online again.

Can Google Keep be locked?

To lock Google Keep you need to sign out by clicking on your initials in the top right of the app. This does mean you need to log in when you want to use the app again.

What password is used to log in to Google Keep?

You need a gmail account to use Google Keep. Your password for your gmail account will be used to log in to Google Keep.

How can you hide notes when using Google Keep on the iPad?

Perhaps you have completed all the items on your to do list in a note or no longer need a note. If you want to keep a note, but not see it in your Google Keep notes feed, you can archive the note. It will remain accessible by clicking on the archive option in the menu you access from the hamburger menu in the top left corner of the app. You can unarchive a note from here at any time. 

What is the Google Keep character limit for a note?

The maximum number of characters in a Google Keep note is 19,999. The character limit for a note title is 999 characters.

Is Google Keep’s notes backed up?

Yes, all Google Keep notes are held on your Google server. If you deleted the app from your phone, and install it again later, you should still be able to access all your notes. If you deleted all your Google Keep notes, you will not be able to restore it since it would have been deleted from Google as well. 

How does Google Keep notify collaborators of shared notes?

Anyone you shared a note with will receive an email to inform them of you sharing the note and they will be able to see the note in their Google Keep notes. 

Can Google Keep convert handwriting to text?

Yes, if you have a handwritten note as an image in a note, you can click to have the handwriting words converted to text. The success of the conversion will depend on the how clear the handwriting is. 

Does Google Keep have folders? 

No, there are no folders in Google Keep. You can use labels in Google Keep to organise notes. By assigning labels to your notes, you can click on any label to only see the notes with that specific label. You can have up to 50 labels in your Google Keep. 

How many notes can you have in Google Keep

You can have an unlimited number of notes as long you have storage for them. 

How secure is Google Keep on the iPad?

Google Keep uses the standard Google security features. 

Can you print a Google Keep note?

Yes, but not from within Google Keep. Open the note and send it to Google Docs (menu options on the bottom right in a note) from where you can format and print the document.

What are some Google Keep alternatives?

Some alternatives to Google Keep is Walling, where you can clip or add items to a wall. 

Can you import documents to Google Keep on the iPad?

Yes, but only from Google Docs by sending it to Google Keep. 

Can Google Keep be used on different platforms?

Yes, apart from using Google Keep on the iPad, you can also use Google Keep in your web browser or download the app on your phone or tablet. 

How can I customise my Google Keep appearance?

Google Keep - Customisation
Google Keep – Customisation

Many people create and upload custom note headers. Examples include a note per day to use Google Keep as a task manager or custom headers for shopping lists, task management, etc. You can also change the colour of notes to have a specific colour for different topics or labels. You can add notes with quotes and pictures to make the Google Keep notes feed more interesting. 

Using the Google Keep app on the iPad: review and ratings

Value for money
Note-taking functionality
Organisation
Ease of use
Cross-platform
Stability
Integration and sharing options

Key take-aways

Google Keep is a not a traditional note-taking app. It does not have normal text formatting options. Although it offers some handwriting functionality, it is limited. Note organisation is limited to 50 labels only and no folders can be created, which may be a significant issue for some. Its cross-platform availability is a big advantage since it syncs across devices. The unlimited notes, ease of use and ability to set reminders, make this a multi-functional app. For a free app, Google Keep provides excellent short note-taking functionality.

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By Sunelle

I love trying different note-taking and productivity methods. This website will document my learnings - why not join me?