Best note taking app for iPad

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Best note taking app for iPad with Apple Pencil.

Do you love taking notes on paper, yet want these notes to be digitally stored on your mobile phones? We would love this too.

Gone are the days when hand written notes were digitized with the help of software and applications. While this may have worked for few, truth be told, these applications were not consistent.

After experimenting with numerous applications, we are finally eager to share our consolidated list of best note taking app for iPad with Apple Pencil. This post gives you a comprehensive, in-depth rundown of the best iPad notes app including the highlights, upsides and downsides.


Notability: Best note taking app
Notability App
The first application we are going to talk about is Notability. Not only this app has most features required to take the notes, but is an awesome application which feels just right. So what makes Notability the best note taking app for iPad, let us review the features in details. Audio Recording: The most unique and awesome feature that makes Notability the number one application for taking notes is the audio recording feature. With this feature you can record the on-going seminar or lecture while you are taking the notes. The audio gets synchronized with your writing speed, so if you replay the audio, the text in discussion will get highlighted to assist you with the topic. This unique feature of audio synchronization is not present in any other application making it the top best application for taking notes. Magnifier Tool: The problem we generally face while using an iPad is particularly while writing. Adding texts in between the lines that have relatively smaller space gets difficult; with magnifier tool this problem gets fixed. A special window opens up after you open a magnifier tool which assists you in adding quick notes between the lines. Multi-Tasking: The third best feature is the split screen to bring up reference material from browser or to check your previous notes. You can also change the screen size manually as per your need. What’s more? You can actually drag and drop images, notes, and gifs from your reference document to your draft, not something that you can do it on paper! There is also a document scanning feature to directly scan and add the document in your notes, inbuilt software that supports power point presentation, and advanced multitasking features that enables you to work on two notes simultaneously.


Noteshelf: Best note taking app
Noteshelf App
Among the top best note taking app for iPad, Noteshelf is our second best recommendation. Let us analyse the features that makes it worth. Pressure Sensitivity: The app has a pressure sensitivity adjustment feature that lets you increase or decrease the sensitivity as per your writing style. Voice Recorder: Like all good note taking applications, Noteshelf has a voice recording feature that lets you record your notes and play it back later while you are revising. Noteshelf has an Apple Watch application that records voice directly from apple watch and transfers the data to iPad. Writing Options: Noteshelf provides 3 pen options with 8 different sizes, and 2 highlighters with 6 sizes to choose from. Language Recognition: The most unique feature that makes it really useful application is the ability to understand more than 65 languages. Noteshelf can recognize any language from your hand written notes, with future updates this ability is likely to improve. You can share your notes on iCloud, Google Drive, OneDrive, and Evernote. There are few downsides with this application:
  • User interface is not good compared with Notability.
  • Finding your own saved document is difficult.
  • The size of selected text can be adjusted, but the selection cannot be rotated.
  • Not much of the content can be selected at once; there is a limit to the amount of content selected and copied at once.

GoodNotes 5

Goodnotes5: Best note taking app
Goodnotes 5 App
GoodNotes 5 has combined all the good features of Notability and Microsoft OneNote. The most important feature that makes it our top 3 note taking app is the accessibility to tools. You are provided an easy access to all the tools required while writing. Number of clicks has been reduced considerably making it all the more efficient while taking notes. Another important feature of GoodNotes 5 is you can import templates for your page cover or choose from pre-existing ones. You can create special folders for your file that helps in sorting and in turn increasing the user experience. Yet another wonderful feature is the highlighter that goes under the text to highlight a phrase and does not blur the notes by its strong colors. The only downside to this application is the Magnifier tool. Although it is a pretty decent tool that serves the purpose, yet not as good as Notability.

Comparison of GoodNotes vs. Notability vs. Noteshelf

Best free note taking app for college students

If you are in school or college you know the importance of taking notes. Doing it by using apps makes it little easier. You do no really need to purchase the latest models of iPad to be in the game since Apple iPad Pro, iPad, Air, or mini all support Apple Pencil. Thus any good application will allow you to take hand written notes, sketch, plan your day, organize and study directly from your iPad. Let us take a look at the best free note taking app for iPad along with their pros and cons.

  1. Apple Notes
  2. Penultimate
  3. Microsoft OneNote
  4. Evernote
  5. Google Keep

Apple Notes

Apple Notes is a minimalist note taking app for anyone to take notes without wasting a lot of time. The unique features include its synchronization with SIRI. You can activate SIRI and ask her to take a note of what you are saying. The voice automatically gets translated into text and is saved in your apple notes application.

Apple Notes provide an amazing writing experience and is one of the best among the free note taking app available in iStore. There is a zero lag while writing giving it a more natural feel. The highlighter has 5 fixed sizes and does not overlay the text.

You can convert your text into a tabular form and vice versa, same can be exported without the format getting distorted.

Apple Notes consists of a single pen tool with 5 different sizes. There are 5 default colors available to choose from and are changeable. It has two paper templates to choose from, the toolbar with in the app can be moved as per your comfort and can also be minimized.

You can pin your important notes, to put them on the top of the list. Private notes can be locked with password.


  • There is no zoom-in and zoom-out tool to edit text in detail.
  • It comes with a single font
  • Options of Bullets and Numbered lists are limited.
  • Cannot mix hand written notes with text. The blocks are separate for both and there is no way we can add notes to the text.


Developed by Evernote, Penultimate is a basic note taking application for iPad with minimalistic tools to support writing. There are not many options like covers or templates and is simply made for writing things down. A really good magnification tool is provided with a smooth scroll from left to right while you are writing. The speed of this scroll can be increased or decreased as per your writing speed. Not many free applications provide features like this. Another feature worth mentioning is the “Optical character recognition” which assists user to search handwritten notes by typing in few keywords related to topic. You can also transfer your handwritten notes to Evernote automatically by synching your Evernote account with Penultimate.

Microsoft OneNote

When it comes to note taking software there are lot of different options to choose from. A lot of users prefer pencil or stylus while few prefer to type it in. Microsoft OneNote offers best of both Worlds. It allows user to easily switch between keyboard and stylus. The basic features include text editing tools, audio recording tool, and image scanner. Unlike many note taking applications, Microsoft OneNote is Non-Linear. There is no edge of the page and you can type wherever you want, and not just necessarily on the line. Believe it or not, its optical character recognition can read the text present in the image. So even if your search keyword is not available in your hand written notes, you will get the results as long as it is shown on the image. Another amazing feature to use is the Class Notebook feature, where you can distribute a document to a group of people and review their work. Downsides:
  • Custom tags are not available and vary from device to device; the tag present in Mac may not be available in iPad.
  • Password protection tool only protects sections and not individual pages.


Evernote is a very powerful yet minimalistic editor. This application is free as well as paid. The paid application lets you synchronize the data on more than two devices. Besides, paid version offers more in terms of note taking abilities like annotate PDF’s, presentations, monthly upload, and note size. Yet for basic note taking, the free version of Evernote goes a long way. Let us take a look at some of the features of Evernote free note taking app: Evernote has all the basic editing tools required for taking notes, preparing checklist and adding tasks. The transcribe tools recognizes the voice and converts the content into text. The files and folders are organized systematically making them easy to locate. Custom Tag option helps to organize notes independently. The related topics can be searched later with the help of tags. Downsides:
  • It does not support much customization with colors and file management making it shear displeasure for users.
  • Complex tables and info graphics are not very well supported.
  • Premium version with all the tools is expensive.

Google Keep

Developed by Google, Google keep is a free Note taking application with features like list creation and task management. This application can be accessed from your iPad or mobile phone and can also be accessed from desktop through your Google accounts. Unlike all the applications discussed before, Google Keep is not exactly a dedicated application for college students. This application is generally used for cataloguing information and keeping ideas together on the go. It includes basic editing tools required for taking notes, creating sketch and reading a document. You have 4 paper templates (Square, Dots, Rules and Plain) to choose from, 2 pen tools with 8 fixed sizes and 28 colors. The writing experience is great with no time lag. The width of the page is fixed, while the page can extend indefinitely downwards. The application will record and transcribe your audio content into text. Even the hand written notes are converted into texts, pretty impressive for a free application. Downsides:
  • Multiple strokes of highlighter will bury the text beneath.
  • Lasso tool provided is rectangular, unlike other applications where free hand tool is provided.
  • Does not have a built in scanner, you can capture images from camera and add these to your notes.

Best free note taking app for iPad

Being a college student one of the first things you look forward is choosing a good note taking app. App store is filled with overwhelming list of applications, we have personally tried and tested whole bunch of applications before coming to the results. These applications are free to use and have all the basic editing tools that are required in your day to day activities. So let us take a look at the best free note taking app for college students and review them as per their functionality.

  1. Notebook
  2. Nebo
  3. MetaMoji Note


Among the top free note taking app for college students, Notebook app by ZOHO is ranked number one. This application has many features including custom background templates and cover pages, tags, drawing tools and checklists. You can record voice memos, which can be transcribed as text or saved as an audio file.  Moreover these voice memos are text searchable as well. Your private notes can be protected by password. You also have an option to export the file with a password protection. This app has a really simple interface making it very easy to understand.


Nebo is a great application that has pencil gestures to speed up your workflow. What makes this app worth mentioning here is its ability to recognize multiple different languages (highest in free apps). It has a single pen tool with 6 different sizes to choose from. There is a custom color tool available to pick your desired font color. Handwriting recognizing tool allows you to see the transcription of your handwriting. Moreover it provides auto recommendation based on your content. There is a Math insert tool that helps you apply formulas and diagrams Words can be deleted by striking them, not many free apps have this feature.

MetaMoji Note

MetaMoji Note (Paid Application) is a classic application with a standard layout, yet includes a wide range of notebook covers and paper styles to choose from. Custom templates can also be imported from your iPad. The writing is smooth and comes with a magnifier tool (zoom box) to provide a better writing experience. You can create folders, add web links, and insert text from Lasso tool Downsides:
  • Split screen is not very stable
  • Files cannot be imported from Google drive


Although we agree that there is a significantly different feel when it comes to writing on iPad as compared with actual notebook. But owing to advancement in technologies, the need to store digital data is a prerequisite.

Writing, editing and sharing the data is now easier thanks to advanced note taking applications, which have in turn made life simpler.

Tip: The most efficient way to improve your writing skills on an iPad is by using screen protector.

We hope that this article has made you clear which note taking application is best among the enormous list of applications available in apple store. Good Luck.

Also Read: Best Online Jobs for College Students


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