Atom (opens in new tab) has an interesting history. It is developed by GitHub, a popular online code repository, as a text editor (opens in new tab) to complement its platform. The company made Atom open-source early on, giving other individuals and companies the opportunity to build on it.
Being customizable, the Atom text editor doubles as a note-taking tool. For this purpose, you can use the bare-bones text editor or download additional packages built by developers to turn Atom into a full-fledged note-taking app (opens in new tab).
Atom: subscriptions and prices
As we mentioned, the Atom app is free and open source (opens in new tab). It doesn’t cost a cent to use, which is one of the great benefits of the app. Many apps with similar features charge significant amounts of money to use, but not Atom.
Being open source also helps Atom positively, as anyone can build additional features for it. On the official website, you can access these additional features as “packages” built by thousands of developers.
To use Atom, you need to download the desktop app on the Windows, macOS, or Linux operating system. Atom is one of the few note-taking platforms with a native app for the Linux operating system, which is commendable. But there is no web-based interface or native mobile app, which is a major drawback compared to competing platforms.
We found it easy to set up Atom. Download the executable file (.exe) from the official website and install it. In our test, installation took less than a minute and the app was ready to use.
Atom is not a typical note-taking app, nor does it work like that. It’s not as easy as creating, saving and sharing notes like most other competing platforms.
The first feature you should notice in the app is: create files where you store your notes. Find the new file button on the menu bar, click it and the app will launch a new page where you can type notes.
The Atom text editor is easy to use. You can type as much text on it as you want. The editor feels like an integrated development environment (IDE) for writing computer programs, not surprising given the app’s creator is GitHub. That’s why we think the best people to use Atom are computer programmers and IT specialists.
When you’re done writing your note in the text editor, you can save it as a file on your computer. Search for the save or Save as button in the top left menu bar where you previously clicked the new file knob. Click on it, select the name of your file and save it.
You can create and save as many files with your notes as you want. Likewise, you can open any file and edit it at will. Search for the open file button in the menu bar at the top left, click it and choose the file you want to open.
These are the basic functions of the Atom app. You can get much more functionalities by downloading packages from the official website. The platform is highly customizable, which we see as its main advantage.
For example, you can use the Spell checker package to check and correct spelling when typing notes.
Atom: interface and usage
The Atom app has a double-edged interface. According to our observations, it can be a bit complicated to learn as it is not a traditional note taking app. However, it’s something you’ll probably enjoy learning how to use, thanks to its extensive customizability.
The main drawback is that you can only use Atom as a native desktop app. The lack of a web-based interface or mobile app severely limits accessibility.
Atom is a free app, so there are no customer service representatives on staff to contact if you have any problems. To make up for this, the app has extensive official documentation to help users familiarize themselves with every aspect of it.
We also found an unofficial discussion forum for Atom users hosted on Google Groups, where participants often share solutions to each other’s problems.
Atom: the competition
There is no shortage of note taking apps on the market. Popular alternatives to Atom include Dropbox Paper (opens in new tab)Zoho Notebook (opens in new tab)Simple Note (opens in new tab)and Ulysses (opens in new tab). These apps are easier to use compared to Atom, making them ideal for regular users. Tech users who cherish customizability are likely to enjoy Atom more than other platforms.
Atom: Final Verdict
After testing Atom, we can confidently say that it is a good note-taking app. However, we don’t think it’s ideal for most users, but it’s best suited to the niche of tech users with a knack for computer programming.
We’ve highlighted the best note-taking apps for Android.