04/12/2021

IOS KingMan

IOS KingMan

The 5 best note-taking apps to download on your iPad for quick and easy brainstorming

  • The best note-taking apps for the iPad let you draw, insert pictures, take audio recordings, and more.
  • Some note-taking apps can even mirror the experience of writing on paper, especially if your iPad has an Apple Pencil.
  • We’ve rounded up the five best note-taking apps: OneNote, Notability, GoodNotes, EverNote, and Whink.
  • Visit Insider’s Tech Reference library for more stories.

Using a tablet like an iPad to take notes has become increasingly popular — and the technology has rapidly evolved to meet users’ needs.

There’s no real “standard” note-taking app anymore — there are basic ones, but beyond those is a wide array of apps with bonus features that are no longer limited by what a normal pen and paper can do.

Since many of these more advanced note-taking apps cost money, it makes sense to do a little research before you commit. Here are our picks for the five best note-taking apps for the iPad, each boasting its own unique strengths.

Microsoft OneNote

OneNote is like the Microsoft version of the Apple Notes app, though users say it fits so well into Apple’s ecosystem that you’d never guess it’s not a native Apple app. It’s still a mostly basic notes app, where you can quickly scribble down what’s on your mind on a digital sheet of paper.

However, OneNote does beat out Apple Notes on a few key features — namely, Microsoft Office integration and easy collaboration features, plus a few extra pencil formatting options.

  • Cost: Free
  • App store user rating: 4.7 stars
  • Layout options: The infinite canvas allows you to endlessly scroll out to widen the frame. You can also use traditional lined “paper” if you’d prefer.
  • Organization: The app lays your notes out like a binder so they can be easily organized by topic.
  • Multimedia integration: Yes
  • Bonus features: Collaboration/sharing via Microsoft accounts, PDF annotation
OneNote lets you combine photos, text, and annotations.
Microsoft

Notability

Notability by Ginger Labs has won multiple awards, including an Editors’ Choice award on the Apple App Store — and for good reason. 

This versatile app has plenty of options to take notes your own way, including 45 different canvases to start your work on and the ability to incorporate voice recordings into your work. What users love most about it is how smooth it feels when sketching or writing by hand.

  • Cost: $8.99
  • App store user rating: 4.8 stars
  • Layout options: 9 different styles of paper, 5 paper colors, optional reference sideboard
  • Organization: Individual notes can optionally be separated with dividers, much like in a binder.
  • Multimedia integration: Yes
  • Bonus features: PDF annotation, easy drawing and sketching, voice memo recording
You can draw and design notes in the Notability app.
Notability

GoodNotes 5

GoodNotes 5, like Notability, also has an Editor’s Choice Award on the Apple App Store, and it functions quite similarly to Notability, with just a few distinct differences. It’s not quite as smooth when writing or sketching, but it does have a more robust framework for organizing things. 

GoodNotes seems to think of itself less as a single notebook or binder for multiple ideas, and more as a bookshelf for organizing different notebooks that do different things — like, for example, a day planner, a traditional notebook, a sketchbook, or a folder full of marked-up PDFs on a certain subject.

  • Cost: $7.99
  • App store user rating: 4.8 stars
  • Layout options: Limitless — GoodNotes provides several templates for you to choose from, but you can also create or upload your own.
  • Organization: Like your computer, GoodNotes organizes your notes in folders and subfolders. The app also allows you to choose different covers for each note or notebook.
  • Multimedia integration: Yes
  • Bonus features: searchable text, Presentation Mode using AirPlay or HDMI, adjustable pen sensitivity, PDF annotation, magnify text to jot notes in margins
You can get really creative with the GoodNotes 5 app.
GoodNotes 5

Evernote

Evernote is incredibly versatile, as it’s not just a note taking app, but a storage app too. With Evernote, you can upload images, external notes, and texts all to one file. Evernote also makes it convenient to include web page clippings and voice memos in your notes. In fact, several other note-taking apps allow you to export directly into Evernote — so if you use another app for another purpose, you can still integrate them easily.

More important, though, is Evernote’s easy accessibility. Because it’s run via a web browser, it can be accessed from not only your iPad, but any device that connects to the internet. 

  • Cost: The basic version is free, but only allows you to sync your notes to two devices, and has just 60MB of upload storage a month with a 25MB limit on file sizes.

    Evernote Premium, which you can sign up for in-app, is $7.99 a month, and gives you a whopping 10GB of storage per month with 200MB of uploads a month. Premium also provides syncing to unlimited devices, offline access to notes, and a host of other features.

    There’s also a business plan for workspaces that want to use Evernote to collaborate.

  • App store user rating: 4.4 stars
  • Layout options: A large selection of basic templates are available, and Premium lets you upload custom templates as well. 
  • Organization: You can create folders and subfolders, or use the comprehensive search function to find what you’re looking for.
  • Multimedia integration: Yes
  • Bonus features: Integration with other apps, web-based access, manifold uploading features, optional Premium or Business upgrade
The Evernote app has great organizational capabilities.
Evernote

Whink

Whink touts itself as the “gel pen” app — along with the standard writing tools, Whink also boasts a pen that writes just like a gel pen on the surface of the page. The gel pen comes in unlimited colors for those who like to get creative with their notes. It also has vector ink so notes don’t get grainy when you zoom in to write in the margins.

Other than that, the app is pretty bare bones — and most of its users consider that a positive. Whink is the perfect note-taking app for minimalists who still want something a little more versatile than the free apps, without having to pay for extra features.

  • Cost: $4.99
  • App store user rating: 4.1
  • Layout options: Notes can be taken on lined or unlined paper. 
  • Organization: Notes are organized into distinct notebooks with different covers.
  • Multimedia integration: Photos and audio recordings only
  • Bonus features: Multitasking ability, zoom in to write in margins, PDF markup, supports diagrams
The Whink app has a fairly minimal interface.
Whink

Deciding which app to use 

When deciding which note-taking app to use on your iPad, you should first consider what you’re using it for — that will help you choose the features that are most important to you. 

For example, if you want to use the app to take notes for a class, you may consider an app with binder or bookshelf organization style. If you’re a messy note taker, you might want an app that has some kind of infinite canvas available, so you never run out of space. If you’re an artist, you’ll likely want to base your decision on versatility of pen styles, or how smoothly the pen writes.

Ultimately, the perfect note-taking app for your needs is going to be the one that feels like it would adapt to you — not the other way around.