October 14, 2019 100

The best note-taking apps for the iPad and Apple Pencil

The best note-taking apps for the iPad and Apple Pencil

hi this is life of Macworld and today
we’re gonna look at the best note-taking apps for the iPad and the Apple pencil
now I’ve actually been using my iPad this way for a long time I like to use
it kind of like a legal pad as opposed to something that you type on and
everything and the Apple pencil makes that really convenient the really good
news is that there’s a lot of apps already on the App Store that allow you
to do this even though the Apple pencil just now came to the smaller iPad so
today let’s try some of those out so the first step we’re going to look at is
Apple’s own Notes app it’s Apple’s own stock app so you shouldn’t expect any
big features in it so down here basically you have a pen you have a
highlighter you have a pencil you have an eraser and a selection tool and
assortment of colors you can also choose if you wanted to have lines or you want
it to be unlined and but that’s about the extent of the customization you’re
going to get with this tool one thing I really like about it is that the pencil
actually looks like you’re riding with a pencil you believe it or not that it’s
really hard to get in a lot of note-taking apps but another really
amazing thing about this is that this selection tool is extremely accurate
it’ll pick up the line if you want summary of a section of the text and
because this is Apple’s own app it works directly with the iPad interface itself
so very nice if you have an Apple pencil you can just tap on it and boom you
don’t even have to unlock your iPad you can scribble a note but again it’s very
bare-bones so the next step we’re gonna look at is
notability and if I were to tell you to spend 10 bucks on any of these apps this
would be the one I would try to spend 10 books on I’ll tell you why because it’s
the one that I actually bought and it’s the one that I use frequently I use this
app almost every day so you have a lot of the same features as Apple’s does you
know you have the pin but the difference is you can actually adjust the stroke
width here which you could not do with Apple’s one you have a lot more colors
here you have the highlighter you have the eraser a cutting tool and just
something there that allows you to you know the move around the text you also
have a you know you can actually just write by regular text using a keyboard
if you want to but the most amazing thing about a know bit none note ability
and which makes it more notable than any this
is that it feels exactly like riding with a pen so many apps don’t get that
they feel you know you can you feel like you’re still using a stylus but this one
it actually feels fluid and I think that’s really important nobody else
nails that quite like notability the other thing that’s really nice about
this is other apps dude that’s better I should say is that you can take the
selection tool and you can click on it right there and convert the text and
it’ll actually see it actually misread it there but I was trying to say dog and
this is what I mean by some apps do this better but it’s not that it’s not the
best one and so converting your handwriting into text is still very much
a work in progress but it is possible if you write super neat the thing you have
to remember with a lot of these apps is that often you’re not really writing
neat so don’t expect perfection with that one final feature that I really
love about this is that you can start recording up here and it will tell you
know so if I’m writing this later on I can go back to these notes and I can
press on this and you’ll hear the actual audio that was being saying while I was
writing dog is black you know this is really helpful if you’re in a lecture
hall taking notes and you’re writing by hand and you want to see what your
professor said alternatively you can also import PDFs mark them up with this
app and you can also change what the paper looks like there are many
different varieties of colors here you can you know make the paper gridded just
like you could a notes but there’s a lot more options here but basically anything
you want a handwriting based app to do with your Apple pencil with taking notes
not necessarily making art with it you can do it with notability so the next
step we’re gonna look at is good notes for good notes for is still a really
great app I wouldn’t call it as great as note ability but one of the really cool
things that it does is it allows you to categorize your your subjects by
notebook so say you know you can change the art here you know you can change the
paper and so you can create that book and gives you a really good idea of
having like different subjects so we would you know just like a regular you
know notebook that you buy at Walgreens or something like that
you could you could boom you know you’ve got a subject heading for that and then
you can you can start writing it here so let’s do something right here now the problem with this as I see it is
this is an app that basically mimics the feel of using real paper I actually
consider that a weakness because one of the amazing things about digital ink is
that you know technically you should be able to just keep scrolling and writing
as you want with this you’re basically limited into how the page looks which is
the way paper used to be which makes it convenient for printing out obviously if
you want to and you can do that with this app but the problem is it really
limited you and what you do but this doing still has a lot of good options
you know you have the highlighter you know you can erase you have the
selection tool and you also have a really cool feature in that which you
can basically use the shape tool to make perfect shapes more along the lines of
what you want it so let’s make a circle let’s make a triangle and see it’ll
basically make them on your page the way you meant to make them so much like
notability and a couple of the other apps we’re gonna be looking at it does
recognize your text but unlike a lot of these other apps it doesn’t try to give
you text that you can paste into an email or something however it does allow
you to search through your notes which is kind of cool because it will actually
recognize what you wrote and sometimes like video or this will show up
I doubt it could read Macworld here but what that one feature I really like
about good notes for is that you can use this little zoom in tool you know so if
you’re typing if you’re riding along as I should say and you remember something
so I want to put a big note up here so boom as you can see that shows up in the
actual text here on the page but it’s a lot smaller and especially when you have
a lot of text going here it’s a lot simpler to get that in so the next step
we’re going to look at is my scripts Nero and Nebo is really cool because
handwriting recognition is its thing it’s a fairly simple app otherwise but
you know you can’t really adjust these lines you can’t put the grids on there
and everything but it is absolutely fantastic at handwriting recognition
this is what it is meant to do so let’s write a line out here so I wrote the
sentence this is a video about apps and I don’t know if you can see it but I it
came out perfectly in text as I was writing it and so there’s none of this
circling it and everything else it does it immediately and it does it very well
the problem is again you’re really stuck in this one structure but if you’re just
interested in getting your you know translating your thoughts from
handwriting into actual text without doing a lot of you know retyping or
something like that this is a good app for doing it now the problem is as a
person who writes a lot by hand I can tell you that if you’re taking notes and
you’re in a classroom or something and your professor is going so let’s see I
want to say the nearest star to us is the Sun and he’s – saying that that’s me
being I can actually read that but it came out the nearest start to co-ed he
ate you MA so that gives you an idea if you’re really rushing to write something
down maybe you have better handwriting than I do it’s gonna you know you’re not
gonna have an easy as a time and I should say you know this works best with
a print based handwriting system as opposed to cursive or something so let’s
let’s write my name yeah see I was looking all pretty there in his putting
leg so if you’re writing you know the way it wants you to riding along the
lines writing and basically you know a manuscript non cursive script it will do
really well other than that I don’t know but if handwriting recognition is what
you want niebo is a really good app for it so
Apple fans get this the next app we’re going to be looking at is actually a
Microsoft app this is Microsoft OneNote now he is a good chance that you’ve
actually used one notes before it’s a very robust app especially if you’re
taking text and everything like that you can insert photos you can answer tables
files but since we’re working with the Apple pencil this is what we’re going to
be focusing on the drawing section now in a lot of ways it’s very similar to
Apple’s own app and that it’s got very simple tools you know you you have the
pin you have a blue pin a green pant a highlighter and some other stuff and the
nice thing is is that unlike Apple’s Notes app you can actually adjust a
stroke width and stuff so let’s take a look at it so far so similar to anything
else that we’ve written and let’s add another one now one of the reasons why I
really love OneNote is a lot of these you can’t really you know let’s say I
want to scribble in something in between here as you saw sometimes I had to use
like a magnifying tool or something but watch this I can actually insert more
text in between here for me that’s very amazing especially when I’m writing like
handwritten drafts and I want to insert another paragraph or something boom I
don’t have to rearrange the whole thing and another really amazing thing
especially if you’re using this for like a corporate group or something is that
you can actually add people too you know you can invite people to collaborate on
this notebook with you and if you think this is a small space so so let’s add a
little blue here check this out it gives you a massive range this is a massive
board to work with so this little bit that we were working out of here the
opening page that’s right here this is the whole whole screen that you have to
work with so if you’re trying to use mind mapping with your colleagues or
something like that this is a good way to to map it all out unfortunately this
means that you can’t easily export it to PDF like you handle with some of these
other apps but you know for the chance to collaborate they’re having a nice
easy place where your notes are stored in the cloud available anywhere you want
them to be it’s an excellent app so the next thing we’re looking at is notes
plus this actually used to be my favorite handwriting app but later on I
found that notability had the really fluid writing and so I went over to that
but other than that it’s a it’s you know it’s something that really gets what
it’s like to write with a pen on digital paper you’re not really necessarily
limited to the actual page that you’re working with you can keep writing you
know so you know if I have this here now I can just keep moving it and just
go on forever and that that’s really amazing thing to do here now another
thing as you saw you know some of the other ones you know you I can use this
to zoom in to say something else so it’s uh yeah so if I need to really you know
zoom in to write something I can do that now
the really cool thing about this one in my opinion is that I can’t believe that
and other apps don’t do this but if I make a mistake and I want to scratch it
out look at that I can just scratch it out that’s such a simple thing you think
that would be very intuitive with the rest of apps with the Apple pencil but
this is the only one that I know of that really does it and I think more of them
should do that as with other apps you have you know handwriting ticket you
know handwriting recognition that one actually did recognize me saying dog so
hey good for you notes plus but it’s basically the same thing as good notes
for note ability but it does some things a lot better like that scratching out so
the next step we’re gonna look at here is car flow and unlike using in an iPad
like a legal pad or a notebook it focuses on allowing you to use index
cars without killing a whole forest worth of trees and I really like this
because it’s a good way of arranging your ideas in a way that a traditional
outline won’t allow you to it’s basically a storyboard you know the way
that screenwriters and novelists will put their ideas on the wall of index
cards and rearrange them as needed and this allows you to do that right here on
the screen and it’s it’s really cool because you know you can select multiple
of them and therefore you know you can arrange them as you need and I could add
so many more cards to this the problem is is that I’ve noticed sometimes when
you get too many cards it’ll sometimes crash but other than that I really love
this way of doing it you can also do it with text you don’t have to just use the
the pencil you know if you buy the the premium version there is there actually
a very good free version you can add hyperlinks and images and stuff like
that and it makes it really useful but again I love this it is actually my
favorite outlining tool and for similar reasons that you see with storyboards
and the like so today we’ve looked at seven apps that all focus on writing by
hand with the pencil on the iPad they all have various
strengths and they did those strengths very well but if I were to choose ones
that I would use every day and one that I would spend my money on it would be

100 Replies to “The best note-taking apps for the iPad and Apple Pencil”

  • Heather M says:

    Notability helped me go paperless this year for college. Absolutely love this app! Once they get the convert to text nailed, it will be the best note taking app by far.

  • Matt Syljuberget says:

    There is still an obvious delay 🙁

  • hippy bill says:

    A few or the free apps have a lot of annoying pop up advertisements ?

  • bruno kruel says:

    Make a video about pdf editting pls

  • expert25 says:

    Voice sounds like Forrest Gump's

  • Michelle Notherday says:

    Notability lets you categorize your notes too! I also bought Notability when it was free. Now I recommend it to all our students (all of our students, staff and faculty have iPads and we just exchanged them all for the iPad 2018 wi Pencil. In fact, I use Notability to run nearly every part of our community college. I recommend it too. 🙂

  • Jeff says:

    You need to STOP repeating the words: "YOU KNOW" (example twice at 11:34)
    We are watching your video because we DON'T know.

  • Jeff says:

    Btw, Notability has a poor star rating at the App Store.

  • lowerorchard says:

    Good insights and ideas to follow-up. Just try to reduce your “you know” use!!

  • Alfonso Vieyra says:

    is that the apple pencil 2 he is using? is it a pretty big upgrade?

  • Donna Baker says:

    The apple pencil came with the ipad Pro 9.7 inch that I had from the very beginning in 2016. I love it and use it daily.

  • 2Evan says:

    Difficult to be believe that Noteshelf-2 would not be mentioned in this video. Good thing people in the Comments Section knew about it – as 99% of note takers surely do. DefinitelyTOP-3. So many features, great updates.

  • Jenseng Tea says:

    So much gasping…

  • Spectrum says:

    LOL I thought you wrote "Do 8" as well
    I was like "Oh wow it worked!"

  • Luis Virtual Band says:

    Nebo is part of MyScript. Some time ago I purchased some MyScript apps for iPad, but MyScript discontinued (disabled) those apps, and I lost my money. No matter how good Nebo may be, I’ll not spend a penny on MyScript apps anymore!

  • Selfa Johnspn says:

    Nice one, This really is the solution to my problem

  • Lesley Dework says:

    new. To iPad pencil how long to charge?

  • Vinnie J says:

    Hmmm I wish you talked more about how these apps actually organize the notes because having multiple files makes me go nuts.

  • ALVARO Arte says:

    I’m desperately trying to find a handwritting note taking app that can sync with Evernote. I tried Penultimate but it keeps crashing on me and it hasn’t had an update in a year. I tried to save notes from goodnotes on evernote but it requires a lot of interaction, from exporting zip files from good notes to opening them and then exporting the notes in image format towards an evernote note and that’s just too much. I need somthething that can syncronize. Any idea?

  • WiL 2K says:

    I just bought my Apple pencil and I needed help on finding the best app to use with this since I am not an artist. I will be using Apple stock app and Microsoft One note because of they both are simple and easy to save in both icloud and one drive. I wish google have a writing app that evokes the Apple Pencil

  • Sabin Gurung says:

    Does apple pencil work in other tablets?

  • Carlos Gregory says:

    Dude this guy looks so happy talking about this I love it

  • Mens Rea says:

    u write too hard on screen

  • 방탄Hobi says:

    Your ‘G’ looks like an 8, that’s why the app read it wrong.

  • jajaborthe revolution says:

    Can you please tell me about the longevity of an apple pencil. I saw review of apple`s website and it was horrible. please need a fair judgement

  • Claude M. P. says:

    bought a paper pad (1.00$) a new pencil (0.10$) a new eraser (0.50$) a coffee (1.50$) TOTAL 3.10 $ so now Ipad pro 1000.00 $ debate closed get a refund.

  • Zulkhar Nain says:

    ONENOTE can export pdf

  • Joseph Petrarca IV says:

    OneNote is great for students who use multiple devices everyday. I can seamlessly stream notes between my laptop, personal iPad, school iPad, and more. All you need is One account and your set. I personally use it for notes as a student who takes intensive notes in math

  • King Breeze says:

    Great video

  • William Robinson says:

    Thanks for the Video! ?? big help!

  • James Lovering says:

    I downloaded Notability when it was free, loved it, then I tried OneNote, this is my goto now and has been for a few years.
    Given the options on all platforms and collaboration of sharing its awesome and free.

  • Rebecca Anderson says:

    LOVE your hand writing!!! Lol

  • Muji Huz says:

    But you wrote Do8

  • Heyjijdaar81 says:


  • Paul Krupa says:

    This video fails to explore (except on OneNote where it demonstrates the massive white board single sheet available) going to another page on the same session. I would like to see someone taking notes for 5 minutes and actually put words on a page that convey the speakers ideas in note form. This would also mean transitioning to the next page.
    The fact that this video does not cover this leads me to believe the author does not use this or does not think this is a big part of actual note-taking.
    On OneNote, the example also did not explain how a user stays oriented when using such a large space. Yes, you zoom out and see your text get unreadable (tiny) but then where do you start your next page. Way to fast glossing over this utilization feature.
    I thought the OCR features got short time as well. I use paper notebooks and want to move to an iPad but I want to see how this paradigm has translated into the device and apps. When I review notes first I have to locate the notebook. iPad would make that easier. The OneNote setup seems the best set up for this. Once in the notebook, how do review? Can I search text (that may have been converted while I slept)? Do I have a hierarchy in my notebook like OneNote offers?
    Really, one needs a handbook or tutorial on this paradigm shift to outline best practices and conventions that are developing here. For example, how do the apps deal with the concept of a page? Charts would be nice way to illustrate how each app treats pages and actions you can do with pages. For example, this author pointed out that the massive white space feature precludes exporting the "page" as a pdf. That is important — to me and perhaps to others. But it indicates there are compromises in the implementations and practices/features incorporated in the app.
    So my next viewing is the guy describing his experience in med school with iPad note taking. Probably answers a lot of my questions posed here. 
    Thanks for the video.

  • L C says:

    Your voice sounds very much like Phil Schiller of apple.

  • Jose Angarita says:

    Nice video of the apps thanks

  • SF0311 says:

    Thanks for the video. Great info. Is there a specific APP you recommend for the new iPad Pro since it uses the Pencil 2?

  • Tom Edgar says:

    Can you add notes or mark up a jpeg file?

  • M4rcus11 YT says:

    almost all of them needs money 🙁

  • PWD says:

    Thanks Leif. Excellent video. Just subscribed.

  • Sahil Bugarith says:

    The best Note taking app in my opinion is by far Notion: Notion – https://www.notion.so/?r=c176dd0d64c542008c42abb7fe2480b6 (THAT IS AN AFFILIATE LINK) – I’ve been using notion for about a year now and the best part about it, is that it will accept most file formats and has NO UPLOAD LIMIT, so that means I can save full sized works and files, right there in the NOTE app to review later and download from anywhere.
    Seriously Peeps – Notion – Notion – https://www.notion.so/?r=c176dd0d64c542008c42abb7fe2480b6

  • Lashawna Brady says:

    Your ta liking and moving fast as tho you know whatcha talking about. Loser

  • No Name Brand says:

    You know?

  • Michael McGuire says:

    Can you use Evernote? Or will Notability upload to Evernote?

  • Michael Mcgee says:

    Cool review

  • ashok grewal says:

    Are all these apps free of cost?

  • ashok grewal says:

    Sir,suggest some nice tablets for using these apps with pencil.

  • moviemagic says:

    Actually in Notability you can zoom into your text.

  • Shahriar Nafees says:

    iPad 9.7 2017 Apple Pencil 2 how to use

  • Shar I says:

    Hold up hold up… i just spent 700 on an ipad air and 169 bucks on a fucking apple pencil.. to have to PAY for an app to use both… wtf

  • Patrick McCormack says:

    boom … boom … check this out … boom … boom … you know … boom …. boom … you know … zoom out … look at that … boom … good for you … and stuff like that … boom.

  • Brittany Storey says:

    Just to let everyone know as an ipad user who is a paperless pre-med student My favorite app is NOT good nots but is a similar app called noteshelf, writing feels better and it has all of the same features plus it uses significanly less battery life compared to good notes. (Able to use noteshelf from 9am-500pm with out my ipad dying vs goodnotes I could barely get through 9am-3 without charging it. )

  • Nicknoltiiiiiii says:

    Recording what Professor said! Spying? Privacy?

  • Lefty Ohhh says:

    Nice video! One thing though… You CAN adjust the tools in the native apple notes app!

  • King Alpha says:

    11:15–11:20 Nebo does that too!

  • Riley Taguchi says:

    Dr Phil?

  • meg_6689 says:

    When you print from any of these apps (with a hand written note) will it print in a full page. I cannot seem to get the Notes app on the ipad print out in full size. 🙂

  • Melody Lent says:

    ok my ipad 6th generation doesnt have that option in the builtin notes… to just write on it i dont know why…so i plugged in my pen maybe thats the issue but it doesnt work for me

  • Marion Torain says:

    Awesome video! So informative.

  • mysfit22 says:

    I would like to take notes in Traditional Chinese writing, do you have any recommendations? Thanks.

  • Summer Chan says:

    Nebo does that too you know, when you scratch the text and it’s erased

  • Shad._ 230 says:

    Anyone else came her the perfect writing app for school
    Ok it’s just me

  • Bella Lile says:


  • StudyGoat Music says:

    Are you Danish??

  • Pura Vida’ Rick says:

    Is there an app for drawing electrical drawings ? I am starting solar projects for my teardrop trailer & need to update my changes as I add or delete things like power supplies, panels etc

  • gghostrrider says:

    In notes double tap the pencil and it changes the width of the ink/ pencil

  • miamints says:

    very helpful thank you!

  • Karby C says:

    Haven’t been able to convert handwritten notes to text in OneNote?

  • Whole Food Plant-Based Man says:

    I have always had Noteability. It was the Free App of the Week.

  • Ambika Nair says:

    You left out Noteshelf 2 which is really good note taking app.

  • Jun Ren Ong says:

    I use OneNote on a daily basics, from class to class. I really wanna try Notability, but I use OneNote due to its integration with Microsoft Office, like I can share my work on Excel into One Note, and most importantly, I use it due to that (a) its free, and (2) I can actually view my work on my personal Windows Laptop with the same app, as your work automatically backup onto the cloud when you are done each time. It has given me flexibility to navigate between a full Windows version and the version on iOS.

  • Dave Boreland says:

    Good video however…..Saying "you know" continuously gets annoying particularly when the basic concept is that your audience "doesn't know" and has tuned in to learn. Also "Boom" is ok if you are a teenager or smoking dope but adults should probably avoid it. Other than that I found it very informative and helpful.

  • Rafay Shams says:

    Which iPad are you using? Sorry I can't tell by just looking at it? Is the air 3? Or the iPad 6?

  • ArunMozhi S says:

    Oh, really, all your excitement comes from 1st generation pencil and 6th generation iPad? Boom, I have the same combo too! I am happy finally with what I have. Thanks.

  • ArunMozhi S says:

    You really cover a wide range! Good for you…☺️

  • LSG Admin says:

    What type of ipad are you using with the pen on this video

  • Shri Kant Jugtawat says:

    Let’s get it out of the way

    Leif looks very creepy.
    Even his voice gives me chills!

  • Kipacus says:

    What is the best app to use if I wanna replace a notebook? Say if I have 4 pages of notes on Tuesday, is there any way to create a digital notebook? Also do any of these apps offer cloud storage so I dont lose my notes if something happens to my ipad?

  • Akhtar Chaudhry says:

    Helle, thanks for the presentation. I understand that the pencil dose not work with iPhone7. Is it correct?

  • Raul Gamero says:

    great info, thank you.

  • Meghan M says:

    Does one note work with the first generation Apple Pencil

  • Manganese Dreams says:

    I’m an Apple fan, iPhone and iPad, but I prefer PC and windows for my laptop etc. I use one note because it syncs across devices and I can type notes on my laptop and see them on my iPads. And write on my iPad and see them on my laptop

  • Karen Koutsoumbaris says:

    Do you have to have an iPad Pro
    I have iPad 6th generation

  • Leana Patel says:

    We have to same iPad 😀

  • Arantza de la Llosa says:

    Thank you very much for your great video. What abaout Noteshelf??

  • 3000agape says:

    Does Microsoft OneNote for iOS support handwriting recognition? I’m not sure that I saw that in this video.

  • Doodle Fondue says:

    There is no best app! There's only an app that suits your need the best

  • Jay G says:

    3:06 dog is black(X)
    dawg is black(O)

  • Eagle Media says:

    Which iPad version are you using in this video?

  • Jhonny Garcia says:

    Which would you recommend for typing some notes n handwriting other. Or combination of both? Thanks in advance

  • Dan Friedman says:

    You're really big on foreplay. But you never come!

  • Beyblade Boy says:

    Njiiice video

  • Not Me Not Me says:

    The Do8 is black.

  • K K says:

    Can you please suggest me regarding digital writing for my YouTube channel , explaining medical concepts. Not sure about ipad vs wacom….which one would you advice. Kindly reply.thank you

  • gagandeep singh says:

    Watch this before using notability https://youtu.be/eq4HoMjbSnc

  • dan_tiz_pal says:

    pen and paper, you suck.

  • Positive Vibes says:

    That was definitely an 8

  • Sulabh Jain says:

    Flexcil is the better one.

  • Malin Anne says:

    Can you use the Apple Pencil on an iPad mini 3?

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