Goodnotes Notability

  1. Rather than have an infinite working space, an alternative might be to be able to create a pre-defined number of pages. So if you know you need 10 or 30 or 150 pages, then being able to tell Goodnotes that, both in creating a new document and in existing documents, might take the chore out of having to create one page at a time manually.
  2. GoodNotes 5 is a note-taking application with an apple pencil on your iPad. I want to show what tips and trick you can do in.
  3. The planner has been created to work on any PDF annotation app or software across multiple devices. However, I would personally recommend usage on an IPad with an apple pencil (or a stylus) and the use of either Goodnotes or Notability. Please note that this planner is not suitable for use on mobile phones nor for printing.
  4. A digital version of the Self Journal for apps like GoodNotes and Notability. The template includes: Self Journal Guidebook, 13-Week Bucket List, BestSelf Benchmark, 13-Week Goal Worksheet, Habit Tracker, Monthly, Weekly, and Daily Planning Pages. Direct download after purchase.

Although Apple provides their own Notes app with iPadOS, it’s only intended to provide a simple and basic functionality. there are other notepad applications developed specifically for use on the iPad Pro. Notability and GoodNotes 5 are two of the leading note-taking applications for iPad. Both are powerful tools for students and business professionals who want to use their iOS devices like a digital whiteboard to capture handwritten notes and compile detailed documents.

Notability vs. GoodNotes, which notes app is best for you?

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  • Notability vs. GoodNotes: Note-taking Experience

Notability vs. GoodNotes: Features Breakdown

GoodNotes has everything you want for taking notes, including the ability to switch between typing and writing. Plus, you can choose from several built-in note layouts and templates, as well as import your own. Notably, GoodNotes 5 lets you adjust the sensitivity and palm recognition of the pen to match your writing style. This is perfect if you’re like me and tend to press very hard when writing.

Notability offers a delightful writing experience, yet it also makes it easy to embed images, annotate PDFs, and even record voice memos. Sketching and drawing in Notability is easy and downright delightful. Being able to doodle and quickly sketch out illustrations is one of our favorite things about taking notes on paper.

Goodnotes has less of a pressure gradient and the thinnest mark you can make with the same sized brushed is slightly thicker. Some people have preferred goodnotes because of this as thin lines appear slightly unrealistic when writing. Others prefer Notability.

Notability vs. GoodNotes: Display & User Interface

When you open GoodNotes 5, you’ll be treated to either a list or grid layout (your choice), which displays all of your notes, folders, and notebooks in a quick and easy-to-read format. This has to do with the way GoodNotes wants you to create notes, and it makes complete sense.

Notability takes a different approach. Opening the app, you will see a two-column layout with the right side featuring the various categories of notes taken, including recent notes, writings, and archive. On the other hand, your notes are arranged in a column based on the date they were opened. Additionally, you can also sort the recent notes out by using the filters provided such as name, date of creation, or last modified date. It’s a practical, efficient, and effective no-frills approach.

Notability vs. GoodNotes: Note-taking Experience

The GoodNotes toolbar offers a pen, eraser, highlighter, shape tool, lasso, photo library and camera access, and a text box. The pen can be set to fountain pen, ball pen, and brush pen, and each of the main tools can be set to any custom color or width (with three quick access colors and sizes in the toolbar itself). The highlighter only lets you toggle the ability to draw in straight lines.

Notability’s tool bar consists of a text box tool, pen, highlighter, eraser, lasso, and microphone for recording audio. Geometric shapes, photo library, and camera access are available via an additional plus button menu, along with GIFs, web clips, and stickies. The pen and highlighter have two shapes (comparable to the fountain pen and brush pen in GoodNotes) and feature a drop down menu that offers 12 sizes and any custom color.

The Pen Tool

GoodNotes has a fountain, ball or brush pen. You have fine control over stroke width and can choose from 15 standard colors. It’s easy to create custom colors, and you can access your 3 favorite colors and stroke widths from the toolbar.

The eraser tool has three sizes. You can erase just part of a stroke, the entire stroke, or just the highlighter.

Notability’s pen and highlighter tools have two stroke options similar to GoodNotes’ fountain and brush pens. Each begins with 32 standard colors and you can easily create custom colors. It limits you to 12 stroke widths.

Notability limits the eraser to 12 widths and you can erase parts or an
entire stroke.

Goodnotes Notability

Paper Styles

GoodNotes includes several categories of paper:

  • “Essentials”: standard blank, dotted, squared, ruled narrow and ruled wide sheets
  • “Writing Papers”: eight varieties of columned paper including Cornell, single, two and three column layouts
  • “Planner”: basic layouts for accounting, to-do lists, monthly, and
    weekly layouts

Notability handles paper very differently because of its “continuous” sheet layout. It provides the standard blank paper and four variations of ruled, squared and dotted paper. All in portrait orientation. Whatever layout you choose, you can pick from 15 different background colors including a purple polka dot.


The search comes as a handy feature in both GoodNotes 5 and Notability.

GoodNotes 5 now offers ways to search globally which means you can now be able to explore throughout your notebooks. Opening the Search tab from the Documents view presents a search field, recently searched keywords, and recently opened documents. Typing a query into the search field searches handwritten notes, typed notes, and the names of folders, notebooks, and notes. Results are helpfully divided into sections like Titles, Typed Notes, and Written Notes to indicate their origin.

Notability searches from the main screen. It returns a list of title and “content” matches. Content matches show any notes that contain your search term but does not display the actual results.

Tapping on any result takes you to the note and opens a pane along the right-hand side of the screen showing any matching terms highlighted in yellow. This is the same behavior as when you search within a document.

Handwriting Recognition

OCR implementation is both on GoodNotes and Notability. But remember you have to set your preferred language under general settings. Which means you will still have trouble using this feature typing in more than one language.

Audio Recording

Audio recording is one feature that is not available in GoodNotes yet.

Notability’s audio recording feature comes handy when you want to record audio while taking some notes. In Notability, you can adjust your audio by speed and also back by 10 seconds. Plus, you can also animate your audio and your text at the same time.

Notability vs. GoodNotes: Storage & Backup

By default, both GoodNotes and Notability use Apple’s iCloud sync to back up your notes. This is standard for most iOS devices, and it makes sense here since both apps also have an iPhone version and a Mac app. Using iCloud sync, everything automatically updates on all other Apple products.

Notability allows users to back up their files to 3rd-party storage services like Dropbox, Google Drive, and OneDrive using the Auto-Backup. With Auto-Backup, users can select the service of their choice and create a secondary, one-way backup on that service.

GoodNotes only supports an iCloud sync.

Both apps also allow users to export files to share with other devices. This is helpful if you have a PC or Android device that you need to use to access your data. In this case, you’d either email or export your note as a PDF file to one of the offered services and send it on its way.

If you’re sharing notes with another GoodNotes or Notability user, you could also send the GoodNotes file or Notability’s “Note” file so that the file can be imported directly to another user’s app.

Notability vs. GoodNotes: Pricing & Updates

On pricing, GoodNotes will set you back by $7.99 while Notability will cost you $2 USD more. Both apps are:

  • a one-time purchase
  • available (for a separate purchase) on iPadOS, iOS, macOS
  • don’t have a Windows version. It’s a shame really. That’s a market with untapped potential.


  1. Prices may vary depending on your AppStore’s country (due to taxes).
  2. Going with Notability will probably cost you less in the long run because GoodNotes requires users to purchase the new version of their software upon each major release.

Notability vs. GoodNotes: Popularity Comparison

Deciding Which Notes App is Best for You

GoodNotes is for writing enthusiasts who value the quality of their work more than anything else. On the other hand, Notability serves more casual purposes.

Notability works best at home, whereas you can use GoodNotes for professional purposes. Both apps can make good notes depending on the setting. Go for the app that will serve you without inconveniences.

Goodnotes Notability

Though the needs for each note-taker may vary, we think Notability will be the preferred app for most users.

Bonus: A Comparison Chart of the Best 10 Note-taking Apps for iPad

I have been using both GoodNotes and Notability for a bit now. Both purchases were made after recommendations and some research. Most people seem to pit these two against each other as if they are rivals. But I beg to differ. I’ll tell you why at the end.

What really attracted me to GoodNotes is the Zoom Window feature. It is second to none in its class. A zoomed in view bar of the selected line section of your page appears from the bottom. Here you can write as you normally do in quite comfortable large handwriting. What appears is a smaller version of your handwriting looking very neat. As you reach the end of the window line a greyed-out window appears at the beginning (left-hand side) showing you the end of your writing. To continue just write in the grey area. This means you can write continuously without breaking your writing speed. Very neat.

This implementation is better than Notability’s version of the Zoom Window in which the greyed-out area (right-hand side) is already there and into which you write. After a long enough pause the writing moves to the front. It is this pause which breaks your writing speed. Notability’s version isn’t bad but GoodNotes’s implementation is just better if not the best.

With this point said I would like to point out that even though they use the a similar kind of handwriting input system their purposes are different.

There are several feature differences between GoodNotes and Notability which make them different beasts (like tigers and lions). Firstly, GoodNotes has a TV-out AirPlay ‘hide use interface’ feature for projectors and TV screens. This is a strange feature to have for a so-called “note-taking” app. Sure you want to use it for annotating research PDFs but do you do it on-screen? Hardly.

Notability App For Windows 10

For me this feature is what I use most for for filling in answers in textbook gap-fills or for highlight important parts of the textbook for students to see. In other words my students can focus on what I want them to focus on. But because the handwriting input system is so good I can use it as a whiteboard as well.

Goodnotes Notability

In short, the handwriting input system and on-screen mode are the selling points for GoodNotes.

So what about Notability? As I said they are like lions and wolves (as ferocious as each other but one is felid, the other canid). The core design to Notability are the Library and Notes Views. The Library View is designed to let you organise and navigate your notes easily and quickly. Looking rather like a folder window on your desktop even down to the collapsable divider tree makes visualising how you organise your notes easy to understand. Limited to three “tiers” – divider, subject and notes – it is more than enough and keeps things uncomplicated. That only the divider tier is collapsable makes organising subjects easy. And that only notes go into folders means things are found quickly and organised neatly. notice also your notes are notes and not notebooks. This makes a huge difference to your thinking and approach to them. One no longer sees a need to fill in an entire notebook with that pretty cover but that they can be as long or short (more often short) as you want them. They are like loose leaf pages to be put into subject “folders” when necessary.

So coming to notes as I said they are like loose leaf pages. The input method can be either handwriting and/or keyboard. Whereas GoodNotes aims to be handwriting input based Notability aims to be keyboard based. Why I say this is because this is where it excels. The entire page of a note can be used for continuous typing. This is unlike GoodNotes which uses only text boxes. Not only that the other objects (images, figures, webclips, stickies, etc) automatically work around – or rather wrap around – the text. In other words the text dominates the landscape with other things working around it. This is highly intuitive for digital text and is something well implemented by Notability. The fact that Notability chose to force the app to use the entire width of the iPad screen means Notability was never concerned with looking at the entire page as if it is some kind of PDF but as a note-taking tool.

Goodnotes Notability

Goodnotes Notability Android

This is thinking outside the box on the parts of both Notability and GoodNotes. GoodNotes is, in my opinion, suitable for projector/TV presentation-based of content effectively, while Notability is suitable for serious note-taking that keeps people focused on that. This is evidenced by the difference in their concentration of text input methods (handwriting vs. keyboard) and in the difference in uses (on projector screen vs. on tablet screen). Both are same but different, but both are just as effective and as deadly in the killer-app sense.

Conclusion … use them for what they do best
These two apps were designed to serve different purposes. GoodNotes is great for on-screen productivity. While Notability is great for not-taking. They are both good at what they do and shouldn’t thought of as doing the same work. GoodNotes fans will tell you it is great for handwriting and they are right. Notability fans will tell you it is great for taking notes and they are equally right. But whether you want to do your note-taking in handwriting or keyboard is the question. Personally I don’t really need my notes to be handwritten. But I do love being able to handwrite on-screen all over my digitalised textbooks and workbooks so GoodNotes is my app of choice for classroom teaching productivity. But equally I do love the organisation and ease of note-taking with Notability so that is my app of choice for research productivity. No one ever said I had to either use GoodNotes or Notability. Why not use both for what they do best and not what you are told they are intended for.

Goodnotes Notability Dcard

[note: the original has been corrected from “… as tigers and lions …” to “… as lions to wolves …”. Both tigers are and lions are feline. Again I get this mixed up as I did as a child.]