- Using iCloud Version History on iOS. In Notability, open the Library. Press and hold on a note's name. Tap the 'iCloud Version History' button that appears. Tap a version to restore it. The restored version will be downloaded as a separate note. It will not overwrite the latest version. Using iCloud Version History on macOS. In Notability, open.
- With Notability in Split View, I can keep a primary app on the left and take notes on the right side without the iOS keyboard getting in the way. By letting the Pencil and multitouch interactions intentionally slow me down, doing research and taking notes feels calmer.
Do you love the tactile experience of taking notes on paper but prefer the organization features of digital note-taking apps? We do, too.
And until recently, the best compromise we’d found was taking notes on paper and then scanning them into an app like Evernote.
Notability: Which note-taking app is best on iOS? By Erik Eckel in Software on September 3, 2019, 2:43 PM PST iOS note-taking apps are plentiful, but two stand apart-GoodNotes and Notability. IOS: Importing from Files.app. Download Files (iOS 11) from the App Store. Open iCloud Drive or Files. Find the file you'd like to import. Tap '( i )' by the file's names. Tap the share button. Tap Notability from the list of apps. IOS: Importing from Other Apps. To import files from other apps, use the share feature in those apps.
While this approach worked, it wasn’t as seamless as we wanted. So for a while now, we’ve been experimenting with ways of taking handwritten notes with an iPad. And we’re excited to share that we’ve finally found a method that combines the best parts of writing by hand with the best parts of digital note-taking.
The key is to use a quality stylus, a screen protector that mimics paper, and, most importantly, the right note-taking app.
In this post, we’ll show you six of the best note-taking apps for the iPad. With a bit of practice, these apps will give you all the benefits of writing by hand without sacrificing the convenience of digital organization.
Note: All of the apps below work for both the iPad Pro and Classic, though the Pro’s larger screen size makes note-taking easier.
If we had to recommend just one iPad note-taking app, it would be Notability. The app 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. Notability does an excellent job of emulating this experience, while also allowing you to do things you can’t do on paper such as resizing and moving your drawings.
In addition, Notability includes a variety of flexible layout options. This allows you to, for instance, have a slide or reference material open on one side of the page while you take notes on the other.
And beyond the layout of individual pages, you can also organize your notes using digital “Dividers” (which is perfect if you’re used to taking notes in a physical binder).
Finally, Notability gives you plenty of options for exporting and sharing your notes, including Google Drive, Dropbox, and AirDrop.
Check out the video below to see Notability in action:
Noteshelf was our favorite note-taking app for the iPad before we discovered Notability, and it’s still a superb option.
Notability Mac App
It has many of the features we love in Notability, including the option to annotate PDFs and multitask with the iPad’s split screen. You can also record voice notes to go along with your handwritten notes, which is perfect for recapping a lecture or meeting at a later date.
If you speak/write multiple languages, you’ll also be pleased to know that Noteshelf can recognize handwriting in 65 different languages. This makes it a powerful tool whether you’re taking a language class or learning a language on your own.
Finally, Noteshelf lets you export your notes to iCloud, Dropbox, Google Drive, OneDrive, and Evernote. The option to export to Evernote is noticeably missing from Notability, making Noteshelf our top pick for serious Evernote users.
Apple Watch users will also benefit from the app’s ability to record voice notes using the Noteshelf Apple Watch app.
3. GoodNotes 5
Up next, we have GoodNotes 5. This app 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.
Finally, GoodNotes 5 includes a “Presentation Mode” that lets you turn your iPad into a digital whiteboard. Using either AirPlay or an HDMI cable, you can project what you’re writing onto a larger screen while still being able to see the GoodNotes interface on your iPad. This is handy whether you’re giving a class presentation or pitching a business idea.
Want to learn how to take better notes? Check out our guide to the best note-taking systems.
4. Apple Notes
We couldn’t discuss iPad note-taking apps without mentioning Apple Notes. The app comes free with macOS/iOS devices, and it does a great job of letting you type or take notes by hand. The app’s drawing features are also solid, making it easy to add sketches and illustrations to your notes.
Aside from being free, the biggest advantage of Apple Notes is its deep integration with iOS. If you use iCloud and other Apple devices, you can effortlessly switch between taking notes on your iPad, iPhone, and Mac.
Plus, everything you create is automatically backed up to iCloud, and you can even create voice notes using Siri while you’re on the go.
Developed by Evernote, Penultimate is designed to be the go-to note-taking app for Evernote users. It has all the standard note-taking features you want, including a variety of layouts and the ability to search your handwritten notes with optical character recognition.
If you already use Evernote, then you can seamlessly add Penultimate to your workflow. Once you sign into the app with your Evernote account, all your notes will automatically sync to the Evernote notebook of your choice.
While the additional writing features of Noteshelf still make it our preferred note-taking app to use with Evernote, Penultimate remains a solid choice (especially if you’re looking for a free app).
6. Microsoft OneNote
Odds are, you’ve used (or at least have access to) Microsoft OneNote at work or school. But did you know that the OneNote iPad app allows you to take handwritten notes?
OneNote lets you write notes either on a blank page or a layout that emulates a sheet of lined paper. The general setup of the app mimics a physical binder, allowing you to organize your notes by topic.
OneNote for iPad also offers a variety of multimedia features. You can type text, insert graphics, and even include voice recordings. You can also search notes for specific words and view your notes across devices. And everything you create in OneNote is automatically backed up to OneDrive.
If you’re already a serious Microsoft app user, then OneNote will integrate seamlessly into your workflow.
Price: Free (with a Microsoft Account)
Start Taking Notes With Your iPad Today
I hope this article has shown you the exciting options you have for taking notes with your iPad. It’s now easier than ever to get the benefits of writing on paper without sacrificing the organization features of digital apps.
Of course, to benefit from taking notes, you need to make it a habit. If you’re looking to build the habit of taking notes (or another productive habit), you’ll love our latest course.
Notability On Ipad
Click the button below to learn how you can take it (and thousands of other classes) for free:
Take My New (Free) Class: Productivity for Creatives
If you do creative work—writing, taking photos, making videos and music, etc.—then this class will help you boost your output and take that work to the next level.
Ranking - Productivity (iPhone)
Ranking - Productivity (iPad)
Apple Editors' Choice on iPad, iPhone, and Mac! Top selling paid app on iPad App Store, regularly ranked #1.
Students, teachers, and business professionals use Notability daily to enrich their lives. It is uniquely designed for each device to provide the best note-taking experience at school, home, and work.
CREATE MEMORABLE MULTI-MEDIA NOTES
• Work with a variety of note-taking, journaling, and drawing tools like ink, highlighter, text, and audio.
• Explore endless ideas with continuous page scroll.
• Mark up imported textbooks, documents, lecture slides, class assignments, and images.
• Add photos, GIFs, web pages, and more.
STAY ORGANIZED, PAPER-FREE
• Always keep your notes with you, without the weight, the hassle or the paper waste.
• Group notes with customizable subjects and dividers.
• Quickly search handwriting*, typed text, PDF text, image text, and note titles.
• Secure notes using Face ID and Touch ID.
HANDWRITE AND SKETCH NATURALLY
• Ink is fine-tuned for the Apple Pencil for the most responsive, precise writing experience yet, including double-tap gesture for switching tools, erasing, and more.
• Create custom colors and match any color with the color dropper.
• Precisely erase freehand ink or shapes with varied brush sizes.
• Easily create perfect shapes.
• Quickly switch between ink or eraser styles with the Favorites Toolbar.
RECORD AND PLAYBACK AUDIO
• Get more out of your lectures and meetings when you record them.
• Replay audio recordings and tap anywhere on your note to hear what was said at that moment.
SHARE IDEAS IN PRESENTATION MODE
• Present ideas in full screen without distracting toolbars when connected to an external display.
• Engage an audience with all of Notability's tools including a Laser Pointer.
DO MORE WITH MULTI-NOTE
• Work with two notes side-by-side.
• Quickly switch between notes and Drag & Drop handwriting, typed text, images, etc.
• Full-featured, left-aligned typing with word count and a wide range of fonts, custom fonts, sizes, and colors.
• Create outlines, interactive checklists, and text boxes.
IMPORT AND SHARE
• Import PDFs, DOCs, PPTs, images, GIFs, and more - conversion to PDF happens on your device, so information stays private.
• Easily create searchable multi-page PDFs using the built-in Document Scanner.
AUTO-BACKUP AND ICLOUD SYNC
• Use iCloud to automatically sync your notes to Notability across iPad, iPhone, and Mac.
• Use Auto-backup to send your notes to a cloud service for archiving or recovery. Dropbox, Google Drive, Box, WebDAV, and OneDrive are all supported!
Customize your note-taking experience in the Notability Shop! Explore an exciting array of content available for purchase:
• *Handwriting Conversion and Search (included with Edu VPP)
• Daily Planner
• Stickers, themes, and more!
Mac app sold separately.
Notability is a registered trademark of Ginger Labs, Inc.
*** What's new in 10.4 ***
Introducing Ink Grouping!
• To use this feature, select your handwriting or drawing and choose “Group” from the menu option. Now styling, transforming, erasing, and moving can be applied to the entire group.
• To ungroup, simply select it and choose “Ungroup” from the menu option.
• You can even choose to group a collection of groups
My Stickers – if you can draw it, you can save it!
• With My Stickers, you can draw and save custom stickers to use at any time across all your notes.
• Simply use the pen and/or highlighter to draw your desired sticker, select it, and choose 'Save as Sticker'. Your creation is now saved and can be accessed from My Stickers for easy, repeated use.
Library Grid View – change the way you view your library!
• Have you ever wanted to view your notes with bigger thumbnails? Now you can!
• At the top of any subject, pull down to reveal the newly improved view options. Toggle to the grid icon and watch as your library transforms from a list to a grid with bigger thumbnails.
Spring is here in the Notability Shop with colorful new Sticker Packs!
• The new stickers include beautiful spring-inspired designs and an essential pack for teachers
- + Notability is a highly rated app (5-star).
- + Notability is currently ranked #7 in paid Productivity apps for iPhone, as well as #2 in paid Productivity apps for iPad.
- + It is also the 197th most popular paid iPhone app, as well as the 7th most popular paid iPad app (all categories combined).