Here’s how Google Keep’s long-overdue text formatting could work

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Google has a knack for getting the core functionality down in the first few iterations of a new software-based service, but most of its apps lack additional features. Although Google Keep is one of the best note-taking apps out there, it is no exception, nailing the basics and doing little else. Thankfully, we spotted evidence of a major change last year, and now we have our first look at how rich text formatting should work in Google Keep.

In May and June last year, we saw snippets and icons from Google Keep suggesting rich text formatting options could be in the cards. Now, AssembleDebug on Twitter has shared a video demonstrating these features in action. Interestingly, the features aren’t available to beta testers yet, because they are still in development. You can only turn on these formatting options with specific flags in the app code.


Shortcuts for text formatting appear in a bar just above your keyboard. Like most document editors, the formatting options for Google Keep include bold, italics, underline, and strikethrough. You can even choose between three sizes for the text — two for headings denoted by H1 and H2, and a button to switch to normal size text, denoted by Aa. The feature could have wide-ranging benefits from cleaner presentation within notes to adequate emphasis on specific entries like “Red bell peppers.” You could even use the multi-level headings to catalog something like a recipe with an integrated shopping list.

However, text formatting options aren’t the only thing Google Keep lacks. We sorely miss support for hyperlinking to webpages and external content in the app. With formatted links, it would be easier to find videos of specific how-to guides on YouTube when you finally get around to tackling that DIY project. It would be wonderful if Google added this to Keep’s changelog, but we don’t expect anything immediately. If Google Chat’s updates are a suitable yardstick, hyperlinking support is usually next in the order of business after Google adds text formatting support to an app — Chat gained formatting in January followed by hyperlinking support in July.

Despite the lack of any specific timetable for release, the text formatting options in Keep appear ready for prime time, and they should roll out on the app as soon as they go live on Keep’s web interface. That way, you won’t lose out on features when switching between platforms.

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