6 best note-taking apps for an Apple iPad

These are the best note-taking apps you’ll find

Apple, iPad, iPhone, iOS, notes, taking notes, apps
Leif Johnson

We all need to take notes, and these six note-taking apps all have their own unique advantages, particularly when used with Apple Pencil.

The app you’ve got: Apple Notes

Apple’s Notes app works quite well with an Apple Pencil, but it is quite limited compared with the more full-featured choices in this collection. You can use it to keep sketches, notes, drawings, web links, and more. I use this app a lot, but I’d really value better export, filing, and deep linking options within the app, so I could not only link notes up to one another but also bring them inside third-party project management and shared project folders. It would also be useful if you could sync Notes up elsewhere than iCloud.

Apple Notes website. (Free)

My personal favorite: MyScript Nebo

While Notes can scan handwritten notes in order to search them, the Apple app doesn’t yet transcribe these notes into written form. This is where MyScript Nebo steps in. Possibly my favorite note-taking app for iPad, MyScript Nebo can handle most note-taking tasks (images, website links, algebraic notation), but what I really like is the OCR-based handwriting recognition – it’s surprisingly accurate and even lets you create headlines, sub-headlines, and paragraphs as you write. A clear filing structure and numerous export options (including PDF and Word) makes this little app a powerful solution for taking notes on your tablet. Support for multiple sync services (Google Drive, Dropbox and iCloud) means you can also export your notebooks in text, Word, HTML, or PDF documents, which is excellent for project reporting and legacy.

MyScript Nebo website. ($7.99)

GoodNotes on 9.7-inch iPad Leif Johnson/IDG

A powerful solution with unique advantages: GoodNotes

This notes-taking power tool includes a range of different paper types, which may not sound too impressive until I tell you that one of these is music notation, so you can sketch that song on the train. You can create and use your own paper templates – and notes can be printed. Writing, drawing and Apple Pencil support, plus the capacity to sync via iCloud and back up to services such as Dropbox, Box and Google Drive, complete the features. The final feature is the coup de grace, as GoodNotes supports the same handwriting search recognition and text conversion as you’ll find in MyScript Nebo.

GoodNotes website. ($7.99)

If you use Office 365: OneNote

If you subscribe to Office 365 for Word, then you also have access to OneNote, Microsoft’s capable app for note-taking and collaboration. The app offers Apple Pencil support, audio notes, and support for such things as videos, websites and tagging. I like the file system, which lets you create different notebooks for different topics and put notebooks into sections and sub-sections. Notes sync, so you can work on them across all your devices. I don’t like that you can’t export notes as PDFs, which is a slightly churlish limitation to put inside Microsoft’s note-taking app.

Microsoft’s OneNote website. (Office 365 subscription required)

The notes app Apple uses: Notability

Notability’s clean interface and full feature-set is supplemented by its capacity to share and print notebooks. Handwritten notes, sketches, annotation, web clips, and many forms of content (including audio) can be tapped inside any note. You can also use Notability to annotate PDFs or webpages for later reference, as well as convert handwritten notes into text. Notability is compatible with most sharing services, such as Box, Google Drive and iCloud. A Mac application is also available, which means you can be working on a Mac and call up notes taken on your iPhone as you pull your project together. One more thing? Even Apple uses this app.

Ginger Labs Notability website. ($9.99, in-app purchases available)

Pricey but pretty: Notepad+ Pro

By far the most expensive app in this selection, Notepad+ Pro provides a much more traditional-feeling digital equivalent to taking notes with pen and paper and is best used with an Apple Pencil. You’ll get multiple pens, lots of highlighting and color options, shape, and password protection for notes you want to hide from others. This is a great app for sketching out ideas within projects, and you can share your notes using email, Dropbox, and Evernote.

Apalon’s Notepad+ website. ($19.99)

Come across a note-taking app you think I should take a look at? Please make contact via one of the social media networks below.

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Copyright © 2019 IDG Communications, Inc.

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