7. Study tools

Icon key

Free icon Free tools are completely free to use with all features.

Freeware icon Freeware tools include basic functionality for free. Additional features may need to be paid for.

open source icon Open source tools are developed in a collaborative manner and can be used, modified or shared openly. This software can be used for free and often includes a lot of support documentation.

paid tools icon Paid tools can only be used after purchasing, and agreeing to, a product licence.


There are a range of tools available to help you with your study, including notetaking, brainstorming and mind-mapping tools, as well as tools to help you read, highlight and annotate PDF documents and books.







Looking for help with your assignment?

  • Write, cite and submit – Covers plagiarism, referencing and referencing styles, EndNote software and assignment submission requirements.
  • Types of assignments – Information on written, video, audio, presentations, posters, 3D models and coding assignments.

Note-taking tools

Tool Useful features or limitations In-person training Online training Cost
Evernote Evernote is available online or via apps and can sync across 2 devices. Evernote allows you to organise your notes by notebooks or by tag and has a robust search function. You can embed a wide range of file formats into your notes. No Using Evernote freeware
Google Keep Google Keep is a streamlined note-taking tool available online or via a mobile app. You can colour or label your notes, or search by keyword. Google Keep is more suitable for short notes, or to-do lists, rather than lecture notes. No Google Keep by Dummies: Getting Started! (YouTube, 8m56s) Free
Notability Notability is a note-taking app available to Mac users. Notability allows users to type or handwrite create and sync notes across devices, embed PDFs, and sync lecture recordings. No How to use Notability as a student (YouTube, 6m32s) Free
Notes Notes is Apple's note-taking tool and is available on Apple products and online. You can sync your notes across several devices and can organize notes into folders, browse notes by material (photos, sketches, websites, audio, document), but cannot tag or colour code notes. This is a good option for someone who uses Apple products already. No Notes User Guide Free
Microsoft OneNote Microsoft OneNote is available online, on your computer or via a mobile app. Organise notes into notebooks, by colour-code, assign tags or search across all of your notes. Microsoft offers most of the text edit functionality, which makes this an ideal tool for recording lecture notes. Insert images, sound recordings, and other files into your notes. You can share material using OneNote and sync your notes across devices No OneNote Essential Training (LinkedIn Learning, 2h33m) Free

Brainstorming and mind-mapping tools

Tool Useful features or limitations In-person training Online training Cost
Bubbl.us Bubbl.us is a free, web-based, collaborative mind mapping tool that includes a presentation mode. No Introduction to Bubbl.us (YouTube, 2m14s) freeware
Coggle Coogle is a web-based, collaborative mind-mapping/flowchart tool. It offers users 3 private diagrams or unlimited public diagrams for free. No Coggle introduction (YouTube, 1m30s) freeware
Padlet Padlet is an online whiteboard tool that is ideal for collaborative brainstorming. You can post links, images, sound recordings, screen recordings, and maps to the board. UQ has its own Padlet domain that offers additional functionality compared to the free version. No Padlet Help has guides and video tutorials freeware
Reasons.io Reasons.io is an open source, digital argument mapping platform. You can embed it into any HTML page and create, edit, share, and export argument maps. Reasons was developed by Dave Kinkead for the University of Queensland Critical Thinking Project. No Getting started with Reasons.io open source

PDF and eBook tools

Tool Useful features or limitations In-person training Online training Cost
Adobe Digital Editions Adobe Digital Editions is an eBook reader available to download on your computer, table or mobile device. You can download and read Library eBooks in PDF or EPUB format, as well as organize your books using bookshelves. You can bookmark pages, highlight or annotate text. No Limited (see Adobe Digital Editions FAQ) Free
Adobe Reader Adobe Reader is a free PDF reader available on your computer, tablet or mobile device. Use Adobe Reader to read, annotate or highlight text, or share PDF with colleagues. By signing into Adobe Reader with your free Adobe ID you can sync your library between devices. No Adobe Reader Help Free
Annotate Annotate is an online annotation, collaboration and indexing system for documents and images, supporting PDF, Word and other document formats. On Annotate, you can now all comment on a single read-only copy online. No Annotate Support Resources Free

Organisation tools

Tool Features Cost
OneDrive Easy link sharing, use on most devices, can be used with Office365 apps to edit online freeware
Students should get a personal account
Dropbox online cloud storage for personal files, allows for sharing with others so great for collaborating, subscriptions available to increase storage space freeware
Microsoft To Do available as a free app or through your Microsoft account, share lists and set tasks and reminders free


Icon for the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License

Choose the Right Tool Copyright © 2023 by The University of Queensland is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

Share This Book