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10 Best Note-taking Apps for iPad (2019)

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Have you taken full advantage of your iPad? With its portability and smooth touchscreen, you can use Stylus or even your finger to quickly make a note or annotate PDF books and files. With the release of Apple Pencil, it becomes easier for us to take handwriting notes just like on a real paper. The iPad, undoubtedly, is a great device for digital note-taking. But to get an iPad is only half the battle. You got to own the right apps to serve your needs. There are lots of note-taking app alternatives in the App Store. Instead of looking here and there, why not get a list of best note-taking apps for iPad directly? To do this job, I have downloaded and tried a large number of apps for note-taking, and then selected the best ones and narrowed it down by 10. Here are my top picks. Let's check it out.

1. Notability
2. Goodnotes
3. OneNote
4. MyScript Nebo
5. Marginnote
6. PDF Expert
7. Whink
8. Noteshelf
9. Apple Notes
10. Evernote
A Summary List

Preparatory Work Before Using Note-taking Apps

Note-taking apps are especially useful for reading a textbook or reference book. Compared with ebook reader apps, the following note-taking apps are more multi-functional besides annotation. The most important and distinctive feature of these apps is the handwriting experience just like you are working with a real piece of paper.

PDF is the most widely used file format and accepted by all the following note-taking apps. However, some PDF files are protected by the passwords for security issue and some PDF eBooks are protected by DRM scheme for copyright issue. For such kind of PDF files, you have to remove password protection from PDF files or remove DRM from PDF eBooks before using these note-taking apps. Also, if you want to use these apps to take notes with your DRM-protected ebooks purchased from Kindle, Kobo or Google Play, you need to first strip the DRM and then convert the book formats to PDF. Here Epubor Ultimate Software, a powerful tool combining both DRM removal and ebook converter, is highly recommended to you to help solve this problem. All you need to do is to add your books to the software, choose the output format as PDF, and then click on the "Convert" button at the bottom. For more details about this software, you can read Epubor Ultimate User Guide.

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1. Notability

Notability is one of the best note-taking apps for handwriting and sketching. It combines handwriting, drawings, photos, gifs, typing, audio records, custom shapes in a single note. Perfectly compatible with Apple Pencil, Notability allows you to take notes like writing on papers with an actual pen. Compared to other note-taking apps, the distinctive features of this one include the support of audio recordings, A OCR search scanning both text and handwriting notes, handwriting to text conversion, and Multi-task which enables you to take notes while reading another document. Also, it's easy to import and annotate PDFs or webpages. It can be the best all-purpose App for general note-taking, I think.

Notability

Download Notability

Supported devices: iPhone, iPad, Mac

Price: $9.99

2. Goodnotes

Goodnotes, an alternative to Notability, is a note-taking app that focuses on handwriting. Thus, those who want to improve the experience of taking handwritten notes on iPad with Apple Pencil or other styluses must check out Goodnotes. Its important functions, including varied paper types and effortless document managements, distinguish it from other similar note-taking apps. Also, the global search lets you search and find any text or handwriting information from your whole library and open the document right away. This can help you always find what you wrote before. It's amazing, right?

Goodnotes

Download Goodnotes

Supported devices: iPhone, iPad

Price: $7.99

3. OneNote

Microsoft OneNote has a lot of functionality, but actually it's a good note-collection app rather than the greatest example of a handwriting note-taking app. The specialty of OneNote is that it allows you to share your notes across all of your devices with Microsoft Office. Also, it offers a special collaboration experience to let you work with your team or friends who have Microsoft accounts, which could be a big plus for lots of people. If you are an Office user, OneNote is great and it's free.

OneNote

Download OneNote

Supported devices: iPad, iPhone, Android, Mac, Windows

Price: free

4. MyScipt Nebo

MyScript Nebo, recommended by Apple many times, has been a big name in handwriting recognition. It's a good recommendation for those who like to use Apple Pencil. Less of a handwriting note-taking app, it's more like a handwriting converter which turns your handwritten notes into text, titles, paragraphs and bullet points for better organization of notes. This app also features in rich diagram creation options for professional presentations. The notes you take can be exported as Text, PDF, HTML and Word.

Myscript Nebo

Download MyScript Nebo

Supported devices: iPad, iPhone, Android, Mac, Windows

Price: $7.99

5. Marginnote

Marginnote, a brand new e-reader to better study and digest your books, integrates powerful tools for book annotation, mindmapping and flashcards to help you build up your reading notes. Compared with other note-taking apps, the biggest difference of Marginnote is its function of MindMap. It's easy for you to auto-create MindMap from excerpts or just drag PDF selection, pictures, texts to Mindmap. In this way, you can organize multi-book reading notes all in one map. Also, it seems to be the only note-taking app that allows you to annotate both PDFs and Epub files.

Marginnote

Download Marginnote

Supported devices: iPhone, iPad, Mac

Price: $6.99

6. PDF Expert

PDF Expert is an essential app for people who regularly modify or work with PDF files. This app is primarily focused on PDF editing, but it can work efficiently as a note-taking as well if you need to annotate PDFs. It boasts a variety of annotation tools like readymade "stamps", highlight options, shapes, diagrams and etc. Moreover, you can rearrange pages of your files, delete some sections, or even add new blank pages to your PDF documents. Also, you could utilize the signature function to sign your documents and set a password to protect them.

PDF Expert

Download PDF Expert

Supported devices: iPhone, iPad, Mac

Price: $9.99

7. Whink

Whink, as the most pleasing iOS note-taking app, offers a refreshingly modern UI design. It's an all-in-one app to take handwriting notes with Apple Pencil or other styluses, which makes the process like writing on a real paper. Besides basic document annotation, Whink can also record audios so that you can record your meetings, lectures or conversations while taking notes. With iCloud sync, there is no need to worry about losing your notes since all of them will be saved over the cloud. This app is a little bit cheaper than others, so it can be one of the candidates for note-taking.

Whink

Download Whink

Supported devices: iPhone, iPad

Price: $4.99

8. Noteshelf

Noteshelf, a fabulous option for both students and professionals, is another handwriting-focused note-taking app. It combines many features from Notability and Goodnotes such as a range of pens and highlighters, custom page options and audio records. Compared with its competitors, Noteshelf is able to sync with Evernote. Therefore, it might be a better choice for those who already work with Evernote and want a superior handwriting feeling.

Noteshelf

Download Noteshelf

Supported devices: iPhone, iPad, Mac

Price: $13.99

9. Apple Notes

Apple Notes, being pre-installed on every iPad and iPhone, is entirely free to use. It can be a good choice for daily note taking since it's simple, efficient and easy to open. However, there are not many features that other apps offer like OCR searching, handwriting to text conversion or different pape templates. It's true that there are many apps that can do more, but there are few that are as accessible as Apple Notes.

Apple Notes

Supported devices: iPhone, iPad, Mac

Price: free

10. Evernote

Evernote has been one of the best note-taking apps on lots of platforms for years. It's a great app to collect multiple inputs, including images, texts, recorded audios and clippings of web pages. The iOS app is free to download, but the free tier is restricted to syncing only two devices and uploads are limited to just 60MB per month. If you want to switch between more than 2 devices, you need to buy the Premium tier. The cross-platform availability, thus, becomes the biggest selling point of Evernote.

Evernote

Download Evernote

Supported devices: iPad, iPhone, Android, Mac, Windows

Price: free

A Summary List

Here is a summary list of 10 note-taking apps above. You can have a quick look at the accessible functions and features each app provides.

Name
Notability
Goodnotes
OneNote
MyScript Nebo
Marginnote
PDF Expert
Whink
Noteshelf
Apple Notes
Evernote
Price($) 9.99 7.99 free 7.99 6.99 9.99 4.99 9.99 free free
PDF Annotation v v v v v v v v × v
Handwriting/Text Recognition v v v v v × × v × v
Handwriting to text conversion v v v v × × × v × ×
Audio Recordings v × v × × v v v × v
iCloud Sync v v × v v v v v v ×
Varied Paper Types v v × v × v × v × v
Apple Pencil Support v v v v v v v v v v
Mind Map × × × × v × × × × ×
Multitask v × v v v × v v × ×
Export Formats PDF, RTF, No'te PDF, image PDF TXT, PDF, HTML, DOC PDF, Anki, DOC TXT, PDF, HTML, DOC PDF PDF, image PDF none

Conclusion

It’s obvious that with the right combination of Apple Pencil and a note-taking app, the iPad now becomes an indispensable device for those who prefer to write by hand rather than type on the keyboard. Personally, I think Notability is the best choice for most people to do note-taking on the iPad. However, different people have their own requirements and preferences. Do you have a favorite on this list or is there any better recommendation that wasn’t mentioned? Just feel free to let us know in the comments!

One last word: If you want to take notes with the DRM-protected books, make sure that the DRM is removed successfully before transferring them to these apps. Here is the best tool for you.

Download Epubor Ultimate for Free

   

author

works for Epubor and writes articles about eBooks, audiobooks, eReaders and software. She seeks the methods to enjoy eBooks and audiobooks more freely and wants to share everything new she has got with you.

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