Take better notes with iPad

Who needs a pen and paper when you have an iPad? One of the reasons an iPad is a great companion for a class or meeting is the versatility to jot down a quick note, jot down a handwritten note, add a photo, or draw your own image. This versatility makes it a great note-taking tool, whether you’re writing equations on a whiteboard or just creating a to-do list for a project. But if you’re going to be serious about taking notes, you’re going to need some apps.


The Notes app that comes with the iPad is easy to overlook, but if you need a basic note-taking app that includes the ability to draw your own notes, add images, and do basic formatting like bold text or bulleted lists, this is it. very likely it will work. The biggest advantage of Notes is that it links notes between devices that use iCloud. You can even see your notes on iCloud.com, which means you can open your notes on your Windows PC.

Notes can also be password locked, and if you’re using an iPad that supports Touch ID, you can unlock the note with your fingerprint. And one of the best reasons to use Notes is the ability to use Siri. Just tell Siri to “Take Note” and she’ll ask you what she means.

A note

Microsoft OneNote is praised for its powerful yet easy-to-use interface. OneNote syncs with your Microsoft account or Office365 account, so your notes travel with you through your OneDrive storage.

With support for complex notes, images, pencil drawings, and even an Apple Watch app, OneNote’s versatility is unmatched. Also, it is free to use without limit.


Evernote is a cloud-based note-taking app that looks similar and easy to use as the Notes app, but with some cool features added on top of it. Evernote includes all the basic formatting options you’d expect. It also includes tools to draw a note or attach a photo.

Capture documents by scanning forms or handwritten notes. Similar to scanner apps, Evernote automatically focuses, takes the photo, and crops it so that only the document is displayed. Evernote also supports voice memos.

Access all your documents from any device that can connect to the web. Evernote can be attached to your calendar so you can link a meeting to the notes you see in it. You can also use Evernote to leave yourself more advanced reminders than the Reminders app that comes with iPad is capable of creating.

Penultimate and Paper

What if you need to get heavy on handwritten notes? Penultimate may be the last handwriting app on the iPad. It’s powered by Evernote, which means notes you write with Penultimate will sync with your account and appear in the Evernote app. It also has a ton of formats, including graph paper, dotted paper, pre-formatted shopping and to-do lists, and even a game of hangman. Penultimate can also search through your handwritten notes and recognize words, which is really cool. Unfortunately, it won’t convert that writing to text.

If you don’t use Evernote, Paper combines some of the basic features of Evernote with a world-class sketching tool. Paper is at its best when drawing is combined with handwritten notes, and it really goes hand in hand with the Apple stylus. Paper supports typed notes and does basic formatting, but this side of the app offers fewer features than the built-in Notes app. If you don’t need all of Evernote’s advanced features and mostly need to outline your notes, paper may be the way to go.


Notability may be the best note-taking app on the App Store. It doesn’t have some of Evernote’s to-do-related features, like linking to your calendar, but if your primary feature is advanced note-taking, Notability is your best bet.

Notability allows precise annotation of images, shapes, or web clips with handwritten notes. A magnification feature lets you write something in a magnified view and have it appear in a smaller area of ​​the note, which is great if you’re using your index finger instead of a stylus.

Save your notes to popular cloud services like Dropbox or Google Drive, or let iCloud sync your notes across your devices.

Hand writing text with Notes Plus

One thing we haven’t covered is converting your handwritten notes into digital text. Skip Evernote and Notability and aim for Notes Plus if you value this transcript.

Notes Plus is a very good tool for taking notes, even if you don’t take handwriting capabilities into account. It offers a built-in browser that allows you to search for images on Google and then drag and drop them into your note, back up your notes to a cloud-based service like Dropbox, and export your notes to PDF or other formats.

If you don’t need the handwriting-to-text feature, you might be better off with one of the free alternatives, but if you don’t mind spending a bit of money and think you might want to turn your doodles into readable text, Notes Plus is a good option. option.

To keyboard or Not to keyboard

Combining an iPad with a keyboard can be like turning it into a laptop. Using a keyboard is a personal decision and will depend on how quickly you can type with the on-screen keyboard, but if you’re typing with a keyboard, you might want to do it with Apple’s Magic Keyboard, or if you have an iPad Pro, one of the new Smart Keyboards, as these keyboards support many of the special shortcut keys including command-c for copy and command-v for paste. When combined with the virtual touchpad, it’s really like turning your iPad into a laptop. If you end up with a non-Apple keyboard, make sure it supports those special shortcut keys.

Don’t forget voice dictation!

iPad is capable of voice dictation almost anywhere the on-screen keyboard appears. A microphone button on the keyboard activates voice dictation mode, which means you can use your voice to take notes in almost any app, including most of the apps on this list. This tool is different from a voice memo, which actually leaves a sound file with your voice memo in it. Voice dictation takes the words you say and converts them into digital text.

Learn more about iPad’s voice dictation feature.