17 Best Personal Knowledge Management Apps You Need To Try

Ever feel like your brain's cluttered attic? Overflowing with ideas, notes, and random bits of information, but you can't find anything when you need it? That's where personal knowledge management (PKM) comes in.

As a business owner, digital marketer, or entrepreneur, I'm always on the hunt for tools that can help me streamline my workflow and boost productivity. PKM apps are a game-changer, offering a centralized hub to capture, organize, and connect all the information I need to succeed.

These apps aren't just for note-taking. They help you manage tasks, capture information from various sources, and even connect seemingly unrelated ideas to spark creativity. And the best part? They come with a variety of features tailored to different learning styles and preferences.

So, whether you're a visual learner who loves mind maps or a collaborator who thrives on shared workspaces, there's a PKM app out there for you. In this post, I'll share my top picks for the best personal knowledge management apps that can revolutionize the way you work and learn.

Note-taking powerhouses

In the realm of personal knowledge management (PKM), robust note-taking apps are the foundation upon which your knowledge base is built. As an entrepreneur, I've found that a well-structured note-taking system can be the difference between a scattered mind and a focused, productive one. Let's delve into some of the top contenders in this category:

Notion: your all-in-one digital workspace

Notion has become a staple in my PKM toolkit. It's more than just a note-taking app – it's a versatile workspace that seamlessly integrates note-taking, project management, and knowledge base creation

notion app logo

Key Features

  • Rich Text Editing: Notion's editor is a dream for those who love formatting. You can create beautiful, structured notes with headings, lists, tables, and even embedded media.

  • Database Functionality: Need to track projects, manage clients, or build a content calendar? Notion's databases have you covered. It's like having a mini Excel within your note-taking app.

  • Collaboration: Share your notes and projects with team members for seamless collaboration.

Ideal For: Users who want a single, powerful platform for all their PKM needs.

Evernote: the tried-and-true note-taking companion

Evernote is a classic for a reason. It's a reliable note-taking app with a long history of serving knowledge workers.

Key Features

  • Web Clipper: Save articles, web pages, or screenshots directly to Evernote for later reference.

  • Powerful Search: Never lose a note again. Evernote's search capabilities are top-notch, allowing you to find information quickly.

  • Organization: Tags and notebooks help you keep your notes organized and easily accessible.

Ideal For: Users who prioritize a simple, intuitive note-taking experience with robust search capabilities.

Obsidian: the markdown enthusiast's dream

Obsidian is a relative newcomer to the PKM scene, but it's quickly gained a devoted following. It's built on Markdown, a lightweight markup language that's perfect for plain-text note-taking.

Key Features

  • Interlinked Notes: Create a web of interconnected notes, building your knowledge base into a graph of ideas.

  • Backlinks: See how your notes are linked, revealing unexpected connections and sparking new insights.

  • Community Plugins: Obsidian's active community creates plugins for everything from calendars to Kanban boards.

Ideal For: Markdown users, visual thinkers who love knowledge graphs, and those who enjoy tinkering with customization.

Roam Research website

Roam Research: where ideas flow freely

Roam Research is another app that's made waves in the PKM community. It's designed for networked thought, allowing you to connect ideas in a non-linear way.

Key Features

  • Bi-directional Linking: Create links between notes that work both ways, allowing you to navigate your knowledge base fluidly.

  • Daily Notes: A unique feature that encourages journaling and reflection, helping you capture your thoughts and ideas as they occur.

  • Graph Overview: Visualize your notes as a network of interconnected ideas.

Ideal For: Writers, researchers, and anyone who wants to capture their stream of consciousness and build a network of knowledge.

Choosing the right note-taking app is a personal decision. Consider your workflow, note-taking style, and the features that are most important to you.

Knowledge connection champions

Ever had that "aha!" moment when seemingly unrelated ideas suddenly click together? That's the magic of knowledge connection, and it's a superpower for any entrepreneur or digital marketer. Personal knowledge management (PKM) apps that excel in this area can transform your note-taking from a mere collection of information into a dynamic web of interconnected ideas. Let's explore some of the top contenders:

Obsidian: your personal knowledge graph builder

Obsidian stands out as a champion for building a personal knowledge graph. It thrives on linking notes together, creating a visual representation of your thoughts and ideas.

Key Features

  • Backlinks: Automatically track how your notes reference each other, allowing you to see the bigger picture and discover hidden relationships.

  • Graph View: Visualize your notes as a network, revealing clusters of related ideas and uncovering new connections.

  • Customizable: Tailor Obsidian to your unique workflow with a wide range of community plugins and themes.

Ideal For: Visual learners, systems thinkers, and anyone who enjoys building a web of interconnected knowledge.

Roam Research: the networked thought powerhouse

Roam Research is designed for networked thought, embracing the idea that knowledge is interconnected. It emphasizes bi-directional linking, allowing you to navigate between related notes seamlessly.

Key Features

  • Bi-Directional Linking: Create links between notes that work both ways, fostering a fluid exploration of your knowledge base.

  • Graph Overview: Visualize your entire knowledge base as a network, revealing patterns and connections you might not have noticed otherwise.

  • Daily Notes: Encourage a habit of daily reflection and capture fleeting thoughts, contributing to a rich tapestry of knowledge

Ideal For: Writers, researchers, and anyone who wants to capture the flow of their thoughts and build a personal knowledge management system that mirrors the way their brain works.

TheBrain website home page

TheBrain: your mind mapping maestro

TheBrain takes a unique approach to knowledge connection by using a mind map-like interface. It's designed for visual thinkers who prefer a non-linear way of organizing information.

Key Features

  • Visual Interface: Connect ideas visually with a mind map that expands and evolves as your knowledge grows.
  • Multiple Views: Switch between different views, including a list view, a graph view, and a 3D view, to gain different perspectives on your knowledge.
  • Rich Media Integration: Embed images, videos, documents, and web pages directly into your mind map.

Ideal For: Visual learners, creatives, and anyone who wants to explore their knowledge in a dynamic, non-linear way.

Choosing a knowledge connection champion depends on your individual preferences and how you best process information. Experiment with different apps to find the one that resonates with you and unlocks the full potential of your knowledge base. Remember, the goal is to create a system that empowers you to connect the dots, uncover hidden insights, and ultimately make better decisions.

Collaboration champs

Let's face it, in the world of business, entrepreneurship, and digital marketing, collaboration is key. Whether it's brainstorming marketing campaigns, managing projects, or building a knowledge base, working together is often the secret sauce to success. Personal knowledge management (PKM) apps that prioritize collaboration can transform the way you and your team share knowledge and achieve your goals. Let's spotlight some of the standout apps in this category:

Notion: the team's shared workspace

Notion isn't just a personal knowledge management powerhouse, it's also a team player. Its collaborative features make it a top choice for businesses and teams who need a shared space to create, organize, and manage information together.

Key Features

  • Real-time Editing: Multiple team members can edit the same document simultaneously, fostering a sense of shared ownership and efficiency.
  • Shared Workspaces: Create dedicated workspaces for different projects, departments, or clients, ensuring everyone has access to the information they need.
  • Comments and Mentions: Engage in discussions directly within documents, tag team members, and keep everyone in the loop.

Ideal For: Teams of all sizes, from small startups to large enterprises, who need a versatile platform for collaborative knowledge management.

Coda website homepage

Coda: the doc-meets-app powerhouse

Coda is another standout option for collaborative PKM. It combines the flexibility of documents with the functionality of apps, allowing you to create powerful workflows and knowledge bases that your team can easily access and update.

Key Features

  • Building Blocks: Integrate tables, charts, calendars, and other interactive elements into your documents, creating dynamic knowledge hubs.

  • Automation: Automate repetitive tasks and workflows, freeing up your team's time for more strategic work.

  • Integrations: Connect Coda with other tools like Slack, Google Calendar, and Jira to streamline your workflow and keep information flowing seamlessly.

Ideal For: Teams who want a highly customizable and flexible platform to build knowledge bases, manage projects, and collaborate on documents.

Notion vs. Coda: the collaboration showdown

Both Notion and Coda excel at collaboration, but they have different strengths:

  • Notion: Offers a more intuitive interface and is easier to get started with. Its versatility makes it suitable for a wide range of use cases.

  • Coda: Provides more advanced features for customization and automation. It's a good choice for teams who need a tailored solution for their specific needs.

Ultimately, the best collaboration champ for your team depends on your specific requirements and preferences. Consider factors like team size, budget, and the types of projects you'll be working on together. Experiment with different apps to find the one that fosters seamless teamwork and maximizes your collective knowledge power.

women in front of laptop computer

Active learning advocates

In personal knowledge management (PKM), active learning techniques are the secret weapons for solidifying information in your mind and maximizing knowledge retention. 

PKM apps that embrace active learning can transform your note-taking from a passive activity into an engaging and effective way to solidify your understanding and recall information effortlessly. Let's delve into some of the champions in this category:

Anki: the flashcard powerhouse

Anki is a classic flashcard app that's been a mainstay for students and lifelong learners alike. Its spaced repetition system ensures that you review information at optimal intervals, maximizing knowledge retention and minimizing forgetting.

Key Features

  • Spaced Repetition: Anki's algorithm schedules your reviews based on your performance, ensuring that you're revisiting information at the precise moment when you're most likely to forget it.

  • Customizable Flashcards: Create flashcards with text, images, audio, and more, catering to different learning styles and preferences.

  • Statistics and Tracking: Monitor your progress and identify areas where you need more focus, allowing you to optimize your learning strategy.

Ideal For: Students, researchers, and anyone who wants a proven and effective way to memorize information and combat forgetting.

RemNote: the spaced repetition revolution

RemNote is a relative newcomer to the active learning scene, but it's quickly gaining traction as a powerful tool for knowledge retention. It combines spaced repetition with other active learning techniques like retrieval practice and interleaving.

Key Features

  • Spaced Repetition: RemNote utilizes a sophisticated algorithm to optimize your review schedule, ensuring that you're revisiting information at the perfect time.

  • Retrieval Practice: Actively recall information from memory, strengthening neural pathways and boosting your ability to recall knowledge.

  • Interleaving: Mix up different learning materials to improve your ability to distinguish between similar concepts and prevent confusion.

Ideal For: Students, researchers, and anyone who wants to take their active learning to the next level and unlock deeper understanding.

Remnote website homepage

Anki vs. RemNote: the active learning showdown

Both Anki and RemNote are excellent choices for active learning, but they have different strengths:

  • Anki: Offers a simple and intuitive interface, making it easy to get started with. Its focus on flash cards is ideal for those who prefer a traditional learning approach.

  • RemNote: Provides more advanced features for customization and active learning techniques. It's a good choice for users who want a more comprehensive and flexible learning experience.

Ultimately, the best active learning advocate for you depends on your learning style and preferences. Consider factors like your preferred interface, the types of materials you'll be learning, and the level of customization you desire. Experiment with different apps to find the one that helps you actively engage with information and solidify your knowledge base.

Versatility powerhouses 

While note-taking is a cornerstone of personal knowledge management (PKM), the modern knowledge worker often needs more than just a place to jot down ideas. Enter the versatility powerhouses of the PKM world. These apps are like the Swiss Army knives of knowledge management, offering a wide range of features that go far beyond simple note-taking. They empower you to manage projects, track tasks, build databases, and even create custom workflows – all within a single platform.

  • Project Management Tools: Plan, track, and execute projects with ease. Create project timelines, assign tasks to team members, and monitor progress. These tools are a godsend for digital marketers managing multiple campaigns or entrepreneurs launching new products.

  • Task Creation and Management: Create and manage tasks, set deadlines, and track progress. Some apps even offer features like time tracking and project budgeting. These features help you stay on top of your to-do list and ensure that nothing falls through the cracks.

  • Database Building: Create custom databases to store and organize information in a structured way. For example, a digital marketer could create a database of clients, campaigns, and results. An entrepreneur could create a database of business contacts, ideas, and resources.

  • Custom Workflows: Automate repetitive tasks and create custom workflows to streamline your work. This could involve setting up reminders, triggering notifications, or even integrating with other tools.

man in white shirt using macbook pro

Choosing the best PKM app

With so many amazing personal knowledge management (PKM) apps out there, it can be overwhelming to choose the right one. But fear not, my fellow knowledge enthusiasts, I'm here to guide you through the process. Remember, the best PKM app is the one that fits your unique needs and preferences like a glove. It's like finding your perfect business partner – someone who compliments your strengths, fills in your gaps, and helps you achieve your goals.

Making a list: Your PKM wish list

Before you dive into the world of PKM apps, take a moment to reflect on your needs and preferences. What do you want your PKM app to do for you? Here are a few questions to get you started:

  • What's your note-taking style? Do you prefer linear notes, interconnected notes, or a combination of both?

  • How important is collaboration for you? Do you need to share notes with others or work on projects together?

  • What kind of features are you looking for? Do you need task management, database building, or other advanced features?

  • What's your budget? Are you willing to pay for a premium app, or are you looking for a free option?

Once you've answered these questions, you can create a list of your PKM needs and preferences. This will help you narrow down your options and find the app that's the best fit for you.

visualizing creating pkm apps

Best PKM apps for you

Here's a list of popular personal knowledge management (PKM) apps, along with brief descriptions to help you decide which ones to test drive:

  1. Notion: An all-in-one workspace that excels at note-taking, project management, and knowledge base creation. Ideal for users who want a single platform for multiple needs.

  2. Evernote: A classic note-taking app with powerful search and organization features. Great for capturing and storing information from various sources.

  3. Obsidian: A Markdown-based app that emphasizes interconnected notes and knowledge graphs. Perfect for visual thinkers and those who love to build knowledge networks.

  4. Roam Research: A note-taking app designed for networked thought, offering bi-directional linking and a focus on knowledge connections. Ideal for researchers and writers.

  5. TickTick: A feature-rich task management app with calendar integration, reminders, and collaboration features. Perfect for teams and individuals who need to stay organized.

  6. Todoist: A minimalist task management app that prioritizes simplicity and ease of use. Great for users who prefer a clean interface and streamlined workflow.

  7. Microsoft To Do: A free task management app from Microsoft that integrates with Outlook and other Microsoft products. A good option for users who are already invested in the Microsoft ecosystem.

  8. Things: A beautifully designed task management app for Apple devices. Known for its intuitive interface and elegant design.

  9. Instapaper: An app for saving articles to read later, with a clean reading interface and offline access. Ideal for knowledge workers who want to curate content for later consumption.

  10. Pocket: Similar to Instapaper, Pocket allows you to save articles, videos, and other content for later. A great option for users who want to build a personal library of knowledge.

  11. Raindrop.io: A bookmarking tool with a beautiful interface and powerful organization features. Perfect for users who want to keep their bookmarks organized and easily accessible.

  12. TheBrain: A visual knowledge management app that uses a mind map-like interface to connect ideas. A unique option for visual thinkers and those who prefer a non-linear approach to knowledge management.

  13. Coda: A doc-meets-app platform that combines documents, spreadsheets, and apps for powerful collaboration and knowledge management. Great for teams who need a flexible and customizable workspace.

  14. Airtable: A cloud-based platform for building custom databases and workflows. Ideal for users who need a powerful and flexible tool for managing data.

  15. RemNote: A note-taking app designed with active recall in mind, integrating spaced repetition systems and flashcards. Perfect for students and lifelong learners who want to optimize knowledge retention.

  16. Anki: A popular flashcard app with spaced repetition and customization options. A versatile tool for learning any subject, from languages to medical terminology.

  17. SuperMemo: The original spaced repetition system, offering a variety of features for active learning. A powerful tool for serious learners who want to maximize their knowledge retention.

To find your perfect match, try out free trials or demos of different apps to see which one best suits your workflow and personal preferences. Experiment with different features and see how each app integrates with your existing tools and processes. Remember, the best PKM app is the one that empowers you to learn, create, and achieve your goals.

Remember, there's no rule that says you have to use just one PKM app. Many people use a combination of apps to create a personalized knowledge management system that works for them. For example, you might use one app for note-taking, another for task management, and a third for knowledge connection.

The key is to find the combination of apps that helps you work most effectively. Don't be afraid to experiment and try different things. After all, the goal is to create a PKM system that empowers you to do your best work.

woman in black tank shirt facing a black laptop computer on brown wooden round table

Building a PKM System

Congratulations! You've found your perfect personal knowledge management (PKM) app, the Robin to your Batman in the quest for knowledge domination. But hold your horses, my friend, because choosing the right app is just the first step. 

Think of your PKM app as the foundation of your knowledge empire. It's the tool you'll use to build your castle of information. But a castle is more than just its foundation; it needs walls, towers, and a moat to protect it from invaders (aka information overload).

Your PKM system is the blueprint for your castle. It's the set of processes and strategies you'll use to manage your knowledge effectively. It's about more than just collecting information; it's about making it work for you.

The takeaway

So there you have it, my fellow knowledge navigators!  We've journeyed through the exciting world of personal knowledge management (PKM) apps, uncovering the tools that can supercharge your productivity and transform how you handle information. 

Whether you're a note-taking ninja, a collaboration champion, or an active learning aficionado, there's an app out there with your name on it.

Remember, the best PKM app is the one that fits your unique workflow and helps you achieve your goals. So, don't be afraid to experiment, try out different options, and find the perfect fit for your knowledge empire.

Now, go forth and conquer the world of information!

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}