Tips For Google Keep Users
Created Feb 3, 2015
Updated Feb 27, 2017
These Tips Were Compiled and/or Created by Beverly Howard

Google Keep is a very powerful note keeping app that has become the most important app on both our phones and tablets, but, like anything technical it has "issues" and, since it is a google app, it is not only unsupported, google has not responded to almost none of the user inputs for fixes, needs, additions or even responses since the app was release in early 2013.

Peer to peer forums have been the only Keep user options.  But, while google has dedicated support forums for all of it's other products, there has been no google product support forum specifically for Keep. 

Since the early Keep web interface url contained the word "Drive" the only forum where ongoing threads have been active is the google drive product forum, so, those threads related to Keep issues are not only buried, they are currently "unsearchable" for the most part.

Recently, a "Topic" was added to the Google Docs forum, but it is pretty hard to find;

https://productforums.google.com/forum/#!topicsearchin/docs/category$3Akeep

As a result, I created this page to help other Keep users find user developed solutions in order to address some of Keep's major deficiencies. 

Feedback, comments, corrections and additional tips would be appreciated.



Page Contents

  1. Backup Options For Google Keep
    1. Backup All Keep Notes and Images to Google Drive
    2. Copy All Keep Notes' Text at Once
  2. Vanishing Notes?
  3. Folder Alternatives for Keep
    1. Add Labels to Keep Notes
    2. Embed Filter Keywords in Notes
    3. Use Keep Colors Creatively
  4. Keep Search Factoids
  5. Sorting Tiles
  6. Banishing Big Fonts
  7. Voice Notes in Keep
  8. Image Bliss & Blues
    1. Pocket OCR
    2. No Image Data Retained
    3. Broken Sharing
  9. Feedback to Google


Backup Options For Google Keep

Even though Keep was originally associated with Google Docs/Drive, Keep has no option to backup files, automatically or otherwise.

Yosh Mantinband just discovered that Keep is now included as a data export option under google's "google takeout" page.  The output is in HTML format.

Beware of the fact that the Google Keep App has NO "Undo" option when editing notes, so, this is a very important reason to regularly backup all of your Keep notes. 

When using the Android Keep App, it is painfully easy to delete large parts or entire critical notes.  For example, if you power off your device and leave Keep in edit mode, when you turn the device back on, your hands, fingers, pocket fabric, etc. etc can easily mark large blocks of text and if any part of the keyboard is touched after marking, the marked text is gone permanently... there are no recovery options.

A new danger has just appeared in the "Marshmallow" OS when editing in Keep!!!

Normally, when you <tap-hold> the cursor position, a "PASTE" option appears.

Not sure when it happened, but now a "PASTE  SELECT ALL" option appears. 

It is possible to accidentally tap BOTH options at once, so, that what you have in the paste buffer instantly replaces the entire note...

AGAIN, THERE IS NO "UNDO OPTION" TO RECOVER FROM THIS MISTAKE.

One obscure option is to _IMMEDIATELY_ turn on airplane mode when something is accidentally erased _BEFORE_ you exit the edit mode using the pulldown shade.

You can then open your keep notes using a pc browser, and IF YOU ARE LUCKY the previous version might still be there.

You can then copy the old note and save it somewhere.  When you turn airplane mode off on your device, the original note _will_ be overwritten within seconds.

Thanks, and a tip of the hat to Harry Whale for this tip!

Backup All Keep Notes to Google Drive
(Updated April 23, 2015)

Backing up all Keep notes at once is fairly easy using a PC web browser on the page at https://keep.google.com

Keep was updated since this page was created and things have changed.  At the moment (subject to change at google's whim) the easiest way to update is using a web browser (such as FireFox or Chrome)
Since the backup is created in Google Drive, your backup file(s) are available to download to your pc from the drive interface or using google's "google takeout" page.

Note, the above selects only the tiles present in the current view.  For example, if you want to also back up your Archived Notes, you will need to switch to the archive view and repeat the above.

Similarly, if you have a search (filter) term entered or a color selected, <Ctrl-A> will only select the tiles that match the search term or color.

Until recently, copying notes that contained images did not copy the images to Google Drive, but, today's test showed that images were copied as well as text.  Since Keep has dropped the ability to store audio recordings, copying audio is no longer an option.

Finally, you can "send" an individual keep note to google drive from within the Keep app.

There are two options for doing this.  The first is when editing an individual note using the Android Keep App.

"3Dot" menu
"Send"
"Copy to Google Docs"

The Android Keep App was recently updated so you can select multiple tiles using the app interface and send them all at once to google drive;

<Tap-Hold> a tile
You can then <Tap> to select additional tiles (there is no way to select "all" tiles)
"3Dot" menu
"Copy to Google Docs"

(Obsolete, Copy All Keep Notes' Text at Once)
(Now Obsolete Updated April 23, 2015)

As a result of the above change in Keep's Web Page interface, it is no longer possible to copy text other than to copy each individual note's text during editing of the note.

If you need a complete copy of just the text in all notes, use the above "Copy to Google Drive" option, then open the saved google drive document and then type <Ctrl-A><Ctrl-C> to copy the entire text of the saved notes and paste them where needed.

Backup All Keep Notes Text and Images to PDF File
Save All Keep Notes as Web Page File

Because of the recent redesign of Keep's Web Interface, neither of these options are now possible.

Vanishing Notes?

So... you had a note disappear without warning?

In most cases, when an entire note disappears for no apparent reason, the culprit is from accidentally tapping the "archive" icon (top right folder icon with a down arrow)

The fix is easy... go back to the main menu ("3Bar" menu top left) tap "Archive" and see if the missing note is there.

If it is, enter the note, then tap the "un-archive" icon (top right folder icon with a up arrow)


Folder Alternatives for Keep
(Updated April 23, 2015)

Keep users have been requesting folders as far back as the week after Keep was released on Mar 20, 2013, but, until the most recent update google did not respond in any way to those needs, it has been up to us Keep users to come up with alternatives.

1 - Add Labels to Notes

Finally, you can now add "Labels" to Keep notes.  There are two ways to do add labels and it works in both the web and app interface

The first is to "select" one or more notes, then select the "3Dot" menu and choose "Add Label"

"Selecting" tiles is different on the web interface and the app interface. 

In the web interface, use the new check option at the top left of each note tile
to select one or more tiles.
In the app interface, <Tap/Hold> any tile until it changes color, then you can quickly <tap> additional tiles with a single tap.
You can also open a note for editing and add a label using the "3Dot" menu within the edit interface.

2 - Embed Filter Keywords in Notes

While the above is a nice new addition to Keep, fwiw, I have gotten used to embedding keywords in all of my notes and find that offers the same, if not better, organizational options... so, retaining the description.
Then, when you type a string such as "gkwine" in the Keep search box, only those tiles containing that keyword will be visible.

"gk" is simply a unique prefix string that assures that your search terms will be unique and not be found in any other notes.

This approach also has the advantage that any note can be included in multiple "virtual folders"

Conversely, you can search for two or more different "virtual folder" keywords in the same search

3 - Use Keep Colors Creatively

Keep has had the option to "color" notes since day one.  Recently (late 2014) the keep search option has included the ability to filter notes by color.

So, if you color your notes based on the type of note, you can now instantly hide all notes that have different colors.  Unfortunately, you can only filter by a single color during any search.

Hot Tip!  Keep a reference to the embedded keywords and color uses in one of your "top notes"  ...leave the "gk" off of these references so they are not detected during keyword searches


Keep Search Factoids

Despite the fact that google is the king of the "search" kingdom, there is still no way to search for items within individual Keep notes despite many request for the option from countless users. 

Fortunately, there is an indirect option... on the PC/Web interface (https://keep.google.com) set "List View" (icon at the top right of this page) and search for your term.

Since all notes display their entire contents in "List View" the term you search for will be highlighted and visible as you scroll down through notes.

Unfortunately there is no way to do this on an android device... google even removes the "search google keep" box when the above web page is accessed using a mobile device... probably just to aggravate iOS users ;-)

Sorting Tiles

You can arrange Keep Note Tiles in any order you wish by <tap/hold> drag on android devices as well as <click/hold> drag in the web interface.

Banishing Big Fonts

For some unknown reason, google displays note tiles containing only one or two lines of text using a huge font.  Solution?  ...add two or three <carriage returns> at the end of the text.

Voice Notes in Keep

Finally, Keep has changed the way voice notes are handled which makes taking voice notes in keep functionally usable.

In the beginning, Keep simply generated an audio file.  If the user wanted text, the user had to transcribe the recording.

Then, Keep simply turned on the Google Voice Input keyboard, but didn't retain a voice recording.  If the microphone transcription was incorrect, you had to be in a position to observe and correct the transcription which is not a possibility in cases such as taking a voice note when doing something like driving.

Now, the GV microphone icon does both.  You can record a note without monitoring the text transcription since keep is now keeping the voice recording so that you can correct the transcription down the line after you have forgotten what you dictated.

However, a couple of caveats;
 It would be nice to have "Take a Voice Note" added to the "OK Google" options, or a widget that would specifically start a voice note when the widget icon was tapped.
Where the original voice notes were stored in an obscure audio format that most audio players did not recognize, the current audio files are in .AAC format which many audio players such as Windows Media Center recognize.

To download voice notes you have created, use the Keep web interface and download audio from there.

The last time I looked (a year or so ago) I was unable to find any apps or windows software that would both transcribe voice input and retain a voice copy of what was spoken.  That means that this current capability is a valuable tool since both the audio and transcriptions can be copied and used elsewhere.  Unfortunately, that value is significantly reduced by Keep's intolerance to any pauses when recording.

It is also a shame that Google does not take the time to use the "What's New" field in the play store descriptions effectively.  I stopped using Keep's voice notes options when Keep no longer retained audio files and I read all of the "What's New" notes but never saw anything related to changes in voice notes.  I found this change completely by accident.

Image Bliss & Blues

Images can be included in Keep notes by either using the device camera to take pictures or by importing images from Gallery (Pictures)

This is a very useful and valuable feature to quickly and easily take images (such as product labels, etc) and keep them associated with related notes, but know that there are both good and bad aspects when using Keep to snap images.

Pocket OCR

Keep's images offer the option to "Grab Text" from any image.  After you take a picture, you can select "Grab Text" using either the 3dot menu in the note or when viewing a single image.  Keep's OCR does an excellent job of capturing any and all text that it can find within any image.

The only issues with this feature are that it doesn't handle text that is other than in simple paragraph format, and the ocr is limited to a little more than a page of single spaced text.

No Image Data Retained

When using Keep to take a picture, know that almost no image data is retained... including the date and location when the image was taken.  If this information might be important in the future, always use the camera app to take pictures, then use Keep's import option to add images to Keep notes.

Broken Sharing

While Note's images have "sharing" options, almost all of them seem to have problems.  In my experience, the only way to reliably export an image for use elsewhere is to "EMail" it to myself... and even then, the GMail app "chokes" when the image is shared from Keep.  (I close GMail by swiping it off of the recent apps list, and when GMail is restarted, the email with the attached image is finally "sent."  Other options such as ES FileExplorer's "save as" simply fail.

Feedback

Unfortunately there is no "link" to google's feedback system for google's apps.  To send feedback, you have to open the app or web interface, open the "3bar" menu and select "Feedback"  I often wonder if this limit is to reduce the amount of "feedback" from google app users since it is much more difficult to compose and edit on a mobile device.  You can, however, compose feedback on your computer, then email it to yourself, copy the email contents and paste that into the feedback form... I didn't say it was easy.