The 5 most popular student apps, tried and tested!

Ever wonder how you can improve your life by using your phone, tablet or laptop? I do, too. All of the time. A simple search in the ‘productivity’ tab on the App store generally doesn’t cut it, though. Over the past 2 years I have searched high and low to find the absolute BEST apps you can use to organise your life, boost productivity and stay motivated. So read on if you’re expecting to join us at York, these are tried and tested (by me and my friends) ways of simplifying your life as a student!

  1. Notability, £1.49 on the App store

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Notability is the holy grail of note taking. Most people who own an Apple device and bring them along to their lectures or seminars have this app installed. The app features dividers and folders for all your modules and whatever else you wish to take notes for, a fun hand-drawing features which allows you to draw graphs or write algebra by hand on your iPad, and, my personal favourite, a recording button. Oh, and the colours are customisable! This means you can make the most of your lecture by listening to it when studying for exams! I use it every single day – it’s easy to use and makes your notes accessible, wherever you are.

2. Toodledo, free on or £2.29 on the App store

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I have only just started using this app, but I can see the reason behind its success. This to-do app allows you to list your upcoming tasks and divide them by module or folder, rank them in order of priority and assign each a due date. The layout makes it easy to see what needs to be done first and is in my opinion a great alternative to a written to-do list. You can set yourself reminders and create endless lists and plans for your assignments!

3. SleepCycle, free


Halfway through your first term, you’ll most likely have been sleeping all day and partying all night. This app can help you do this effectively, and prevent you from turning into a zombie by the time Christmas comes along. Just tell the app how long you want to sleep for, and the alarm of your choice will gently wake you up (no kidding, they’re very gentle) . Best of all, SleepCycle measures the depth of your sleep and wakes you up at the optimal time. You should have more energy after only a few uses!

4. Scannable, free

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There’s absolutely nothing wrong with the scanners at the library, unless you are miles away from one, or there is already a queue of people waiting to print something out. I use this scanning app on my phone to save scans of books in Notability, and just by taking a photo of the relevant pages. That way, I can freely highlight the important parts of the chapter on my iPad and read them at my own pace. Major bonus: the app transforms the appearance of your photo, making it much clearer and very legible!

5.  MoneyWiz, free or £4.99 a month

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Let’s talk finances. Unfortunately, it can be one of the toughest parts of being a student. And if you struggle keeping track of things in general, this app can really help you stay on top of your spending. All your bills and expenses are collected, which makes it easy to see the bigger picture of where you are and how you can maintain a sustainable spending plan until the next instalment of your student loan comes through. The premium subscription doesn’t come cheap, but considering it could save your precious pennies in the long run, it’s definitely worth it!

6. SafeZone, free

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The app was especially designed by the university to keep students safe on campus. It’s not exactly one you’d be using very often (unless you get in trouble a lot!), but I have it set up and ready to go in the case of an emergency. The app allows you to call for help and pinpoints your location, and it’s very easy to use. Read more about it here.

What are your favourites apps to stay on top of your life? Share in the comments below!

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Hi there! I'm Elise and I'm a second year on the Economics and Finance course at the University of York. I love food, Pinterest and Halloween amongst many other things.

2 thoughts on “The 5 most popular student apps, tried and tested!”

  1. Re: Number 2. Toodledo – I recommend the app ToDoist (apple and android). Same sort of idea, the basic version is free and, best of all, it’s super simple. It really is just a to do list with only a few extra bells and whistles so *you actually use it* instead of endlessly fiddling with advanced features and it becoming more time-consuming to use than to do the actual thing that needs doing. You can even email things to it while you’re on the go so they appear in your to do list. And you can divide your list up into topics/folders and share the folder if you want. So your housemates can assign tasks to you like “Don’t forget to buy me some chocolate when you’re at Sainsbury’s”
    I used to forget to do loads of little things all the time and now I don’t!

    1. Interesting input John, the emailing feature sounds super useful, I’ll give it a try. I’m glad it’s worked for you! 🙂

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