Hackpad - Features, Pricing, Alternatives, and More

Vicky Cassidy
Reviewed by Vicky Cassidy
Last updated October 12, 2015

Keeping notes that your whole team can read and edit is essential for sharing workflows and collaborating on projects. Evernote Business is one popular option, but Google Docs often ends up being picked thanks to its live co-editing tools. The only problem is, it'll leave your notes scattered across multiple files, where it's hard to find the info you need.

Hackpad, an online collaborative notebook that was acquired by Dropbox a few years ago, may be the perfect half-way point between the two. It's a simple online notebook where you can co-edit notes together in real time, organize everything into notebooks, and search through your entire team's notes at once. It caters towards developers and designers that need more than just your standard word processing features—there's code blocks, video embeds, and Markdown-style headings.

A “pad” in Hackpad starts out as a blank document. You can type text, add links to webpages, and embed images or other rich media. Need to capture a couple follow ups? Use the “task list” feature to create a to-do list that you can then check off as you complete. And because Hackpad is fully integrated with Dropbox, you can also add files of any size to your pad.

Formatting your text on Hackpad is easy. You can use the editor buttons in the menu or use one of the many enabled shortcuts. Developers using the app can get inline code and code syntax highlighting by beginning a line with four spaces, or you can add headers with a hashtag and a space as in Markdown. If you save a pad with a code extension like “.html”, “.js”, or “.sql”, the text will be correctly highlighted for that language.

To stay organized, you can collect different pads into collections or workspaces. Workspaces are like notebooks—they hold a number of notes together in one place—while collections are more like tags or labels. You can use collections to group similar pads together, and can even add a single pad to as many collections as you need. Hackpad also supports the use of hashtags—and, like you’d expect, clicking on a hashtag will bring up any pads that use it. You can also use the @ symbol to pull in a link to another pad, which lets you create a Wikipedia-like notebook structure.

Hackpad automatically generates a table of content for your pad by picking up on formatting. Any fully bolded line is considered a header, and will show up in the table of contents on the right hand side of your screen. Clicking on the table of contents will jump you to that section, making finding what you’re looking for very easy.

Another way to find what you’re looking for is search. You can search by keyword, collection, or hashtag to find exactly what you need. If you’re interested in seeing the latest updates on pads you follow, the homepage will show you recent changes, or you can have changes emailed to you.

Because Hackpad is designed for collaboration, it is easy to share a pad with a single team member, a group, or to open it up to the public. Changes to content are visible in real-time, and every update is attributed to a user. Users can also add in-line comments, which is useful for elaborating on a change or asking a question. And, because Hackpad requires that users login, you’ll never be left with edits made by “anonymous.”

Public pads are indexed by Google and thus discoverable by anyone. For your internal notes and brainstorming sessions, you can set private pads up to be accessible to anyone with the link or only to those that you invite. Sometimes you need to share the information in your pad with others, but you don’t want to give them access to edit it without your approval. For these cases, you can turn on Moderation mode, which gives you the ability to review any changes before they’re incorporated into the pad.

You can access Hackpad on the web or on your iOS and Android devices, even when you're offline. Hackpad is also open source and can be hosted on your own server. If you’re looking for a tool to share and collaborate on notes, code, and files, Hackpad is a great lightweight and flexible app that can be used in sophisticated ways.

Have any feedback on this overview, or something we should change? Let us know!

Hackpad Features

  • Capture notes, code, images, videos, and more into pads
  • Organize pads into collections and workspaces
  • Search inside pads to find information
  • Share pads with specific people or make pads public
  • Moderate additions, updates, and comments added to your pads
  • Access your pads offline for editing on the go
  • iOS, Android, and Web apps available

Hackpad Pricing

  • Free Public Workspaces for unlimited users
  • Free Private Workspaces for up to 5 users
  • $2/user per month for private workspaces for over 5 users

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