Encrypted Documents & Notes

Review: Standard Notes (Encrypted Notepad Service)

standard notes ui

Standard Notes is an encrypted note taking software. You can download it for most platforms including Windows, Mac, Linux, Android and iPhone. I use Standard Notes for almost everything I write digitally.

Many articles for this website were first written in Standard Notes. As well as that I keep recipes, notes, quotes, training diaries, my Bathmate and Penomet diaries and a whole lot more in it. It’s such a simple, well designed and useful service. Only you have access to your data and best of all, Standard Notes is free. They have a premium option that includes more features like spreadsheets and nested categories. However if you just want the ability to take text notes, it’s free.

Standard notes has applications for Windows, Mac, Linux, Android and iOS. You can also use it online. So basically you can use it on everything.

I love the fact that Standard Notes is open source, zero knowledge and client-side encrypted. The user interface is great and the ability to tag notes is so useful that I don’t think I could ever go back to my old way of taking notes. Just for the record my old way of taking notes was writing things in notepad files and email drafts… it was a really messy system and I used to lose things constantly.

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To keep text documents, I am convinced that Standard Notes is the best option available. I also like the spreadsheet add on that comes with the premium service. It has a spell checker built in and can support multiple languages (I use the french and english spell checker for example).

Standard Notes is really amazing and they’ve done a great job with this service. An area for improvement is its premium features price structure. It’s very cheap if you get the 5 year subscription however if you want to pay monthly the price difference is crazy. Even the one year plan is still considerably more expensive than the 5 year plan. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still affordable but the 1 year plan currently costs 58% more than the 5 year one, I consider that a bit too different. As I’ve already mentioned though, Standard Notes is great even if you just use the free version. They also say on their website that if you are financially unable to afford a subscription, then you can send them an email explaining the situation to get a discount. This is a kind company!

Premium prices (at the time of writing):

  • 5 year plan: $2.48 per month ($149 billed all at once)
  • 1 year plan: $4.17 per month ($49 billed all at once)
  • 1 month plan: $9.99 per month

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Another area for improvement is it’s password protection system within the app. Not the way the app itself is unlocked with your main password, I mean the way it protects individual items within the Standard Notes app. You can currently set passwords on individual notes, however that means anyone looking into the app window can still see the note titles. I think it would be a good feature if we could password protect tags too.

Premium feature review of Standard Notes

I use the premium version of Standard Notes and I love it. It makes my life so much easier now that everything is in one place. I can even do financial spreadsheets in it, which is great. I use only half of the many Premium features available but they’re probably the ones most people will use.

Plus Editor

Standard Notes Plus Editor bar

Plus editor is a little like the WordPress editor or a basic version of what you’d find in Microsoft Word. It works just great and I have no issues with it. Whether I’m on my PC or my phone the editor works well.

Secure Spreadsheets

Standard Notes Spreadsheets

This is the spreadsheet editor of Standard Notes and for me it does everything I’d ever need it to. I use it to calculate my personal finances, safe in the knowledge that everything is encrypted. Unlike many spreadsheet applications, this one is easy to use on both my PC and on my phone. It’s difficult to find a spreadsheet editor that works so well on a phone.

One of the things I dislike about their spreadsheet editor is that the currency format of it only supports dollar signs. I’d like to be able to set it to my own currency, Euros. More problematic is that the buttons for insert columns to the left/right, rows above/below etc don’t work properly. You also can’t multiple select cells and drag them to a new place, you have to cut and paste them. So even if it’s good to use now, it could still do with some refinement.

The spreadsheet works well and is more than enough for your typical needs though. Power users of spreadsheets may find a few features missing but personally I have everything I need.

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Code Editor

Standard Notes code editor

I don’t often write code directly into Standard Notes however I do use it as a code library very often for this website. For blocks of HTML and CSS that I use very regularly it’s very useful to be able to have it all saved into Standard Notes. Admittedly I don’t really need it to have a code editor to save my code in it but it’s a nice feature nonetheless!

The reason I don’t write code into Standard Notes itself is because it’s one very important feature, find and replace. In order for me to use Standard Notes as my code editor for real I would need find and replace because I have to use it all the time while editing code. As it is, I have to paste what I need into Notepad++ (a free code editing program) and then use that program’s advanced functionality.

Task Editor

Standard Notes task editor

I use the task editor all the time! It works well and I like the graphical progress bar that shows up in the note list. Currently it isn’t possible to delete tasks from the Task Editor without clearing your ‘completed items’ list though. They could improve that I think.


The Token Vault can be used as a Time-based One-time Password centre (TOTP for short). I tested the token vault and it works well in generating one time passwords. However I don’t personally find it useful to have a Token Vault inside of a notes program. I prefer to use an open source, dedicated TOTP program called andOTP on my phone instead. The advantage Standard Notes has of course is that whenever I wipe my phone, I wouldn’t need to backup and restore the TOTP passwords like I have to with andOTP.

The biggest issue with Standard Notes’ TokenVault is that it can’t use your device’s camera. Therefore you have to take a screenshot or download an image of the QR code you need to upload it to the TokenVault app when making a new TOTP passwords.


Enabling FileSafe allows you to attach media files of up to 50 mb into your notes. It stores encrypted versions of the media files in either Dropbox, Google Drive or WebDAV. I personally use WebDAV to keep all of my files on my pCloud account. FileSafe works great however it only works in the Bold Editor, which is a little like the Plus Editor.


With the premium version you can nest tags inside of one another in the sidebar which I find a really useful way to organise things.

Action bar

Standard Notes Action bar

I find the Action bar of the premium version very useful too because it gives me the word count, character count and the average amount of time it would take someone to read what I wrote. This is a great feature to have for a blogger like me!

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Backup to Email, Google Drive, Dropbox and OneDrive

With premium you also have the option to set Standard Notes to make daily backups of all your notes to the services listed above. Unfortunately it isn’t yet possible to upload to WebDAV (if you don’t know what this is you won’t miss it).

And more

With the premium version you also get several code editors, a rich text editor, time based password keeper and a nice looking to-do list format. There are a lot of other features too but rather than me explaining them you should go over to their website and check out the online demo (no sign up necessary to view that).

So there you have it! This is without a doubt the best notes app that I could have found for myself. I’m convinced that it will be for you too. I used the free version of Standard Notes for awhile before finally buying a premium subscription. I find the premium option prices too varied however for me the tools are worth the cost of the one year and 5 year plans. For monthly users, it’s too expensive in my opinion. Standard Notes offers a 30 day money back guarantee if you’re not happy with your premium subscription, so why not give it a try!


  • Zero knowledge
  • Simple and good looking user interface
  • Free for normal note taking
  • Unlimited devices in free version
  • Unlimited data capacity in free version
  • Offline access
  • AES-256 bit encryption (even in free version)
  • Multiple language support
  • Spell checker (multiple language support)
  • Easy to use spreadsheet editor on phone as well as PC
  • Automatic local backups
  • Option for daily backups to be sent via email or through Dropbox, G Drive or One Drive


  • There is too much variation in the prices between monthly, annual and 5 year plans!
  • Their spreadsheet’s currency format currently only supports dollar signs
  • No find and replace tool in Code Editor
  • TokenVault can’t use device camera to scan QR Codes (you have to upload the image instead)
  • Not possible to backup to WebDAV

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Score: 9 / 10

Reviewer: Adam Rouge

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