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Best Note-Taking Apps for iPad Junkies – The Ultimate 2023 Guide

Finding the right note-taking app for iPad might be a little overwhelming, so we have compiled the best list for you.

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This article is all about note taking apps for you iPad!

Do you consider yourself to be an iPad kid at heart? If so, keep reading. iPad’s have transformed the way we play games, as you well know if you’re an iPad kid, how we communicate and most importantly how we learn.

Rather than using pens and paper, we can now use note taking apps on our beloved iPads. But no one really wants to use an iPad for notes if it isn’t guaranteed to protect your data.

If you’re worried about losing your notes in the cloud, don’t. I have done all the research for you on the best note taking apps for iPads, and the best part is that they are listed below!

These apps are proven to be the best and could change the way you take notes. Embrace your inner iPad kid, ditch the pen and paper, and save a tree by using the best note taking apps for iPads!

Note: Most of these apps use your handwriting so you would either use your finger or a stylist such as an Apple Pencil, but most also give you the option to type.

 

Content:

10 Best Note Taking Apps For iPad

 

1. Notability

 

With a stellar ranking and the title of being Editors’ Choice, it is clear that Notability is one of the front runners in the iPad note taking world.

This app offers smooth and flawless writing, insane recording capabilities, and so much more.

Users love Notability because of how versatile it is. Whether you need to take notes for class, draw diagrams, record lectures, get inspired or just doodle, Notability has you covered.

Overview

  • Price: Free starter app. Notability plus is $8.99 for the first year and then $11.99 per year. 
  • Rating: 4.6/5 with 16,870 ratings/reviews. 
  • Platform: Mac, iPad, and iPhone
  • Languages: English, Danish, Dutch, French, German, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Malay, Norwegian Bokmål, Portuguese, Russian, Simplified Chinese, Spanish, Swedish, Thai, Traditional Chinese, Turkish, Ukrainian, Vietnamese.

The best of Notability:

  • Playback audio and recording capabilities – This feature is perfect for anyone who needs to record or listen to videos. Sync your voice with your notes
  • Multi-note – Work with two sets of notes side by side without having to change tabs or close one note to open the other
  • Publishing – Make your notes visible for others to see and learn from!

Notability also has two packages that you can choose from when downloading the app. Whether you want a simple, free, great starter pack or a pro package, Notability has options.

There are some large differences regarding the accessibility and tools you get to use when you pay for the pro version. Below is a chart of the differences.

What users are saying about this app:

In the Apple App Store, Notability has almost 17,000 ratings and countless reviews. Most of these reviews are extremely positive.

“I have used Notability since 2014 and have yet to come across another app that satisfies my needs like Notability.” – BlissfullySyl

“This app does pretty much everything you can think of.” CelliDonuts

Setbacks

The only reported downside of Notability is that it is less effective on Macs, but it is flawless on iPads.

So, there really aren’t any reasons why this app wouldn’t be perfect for a note taker using an iPad. 

The other main limitation of Notability is how limited the free plan is. Unless you pay for Notability plus, you won’t be able to continue to update your notes and you won’t have the ability to sync your notes to the Cloud. 

 

 

2. NoteShelf

 

If you love writing in your natural handwriting, NoteShelf is perfect for you. This app provides a brilliant, smooth writing experience that is completely customizable.

It also allows you to work with major cloud services like iCloud, Google Drive, Dropbox, and OneDrive. 

Overview

  • Price: $9.99
  • Rating: 4.5/5 with 600 ratings/reviews
  • Platform: iPad, iPhone, Apple Watch, iPod touch
  • Language: English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Simplified Chinese, Spanish, Traditional Chinese

NoteShelf has many features that draw users in, some of which include:

The best of NoteShelf:

  • Hands-free note taking – This feature is specific to NoteShelf. You can take audio notes on your Apple Watch if you have NoteShelf installed on it. Then, later, when you’re taking notes, you can listen to this recording. 
  • Handwriting recognition – You can search all of your notes in 65 different languages and even choose to have your handwriting converted into text. 
  • Multitasking made easy – Open numerous windows on NoteShelf and put notes side by side for easy organizing or studying.

What users are saying about this app:

“I genuinely think the handwriting is much better on this app than any of the others.” – Now 216

“In my experience, NoteShelf cannot be beat! Try it! You’ll love it!” – Ross J C

Setbacks:

The only negative feedback about NoteShelf is bug issues.  From all the reviews that said something about these issues, only one or two got a response from the developers of NoteShelf on how they can get in contact with the support team.

 

Related: The 30 Best Note Taking Apps – The Complete 2023 Guide

 

3. Microsoft OneNote

 

The digital notebook, Microsoft OneNote, is perfect for anyone who wants a professional, digital notebook on the go.

Similarly to Notability, this note taking app was also voted Editors’ choice and is ranked #15 in productivity in the App Store.

This app may not be an Apple product, but it will definitely take your note taking abilities to the next level.

Overview

  • Price: Free 
  • Rating: 4.7/5 with almost 665,700 ratings/reviews
  • Platform: iPad, iPhone, Mac, PC, Android devices
  • Languages: English, Arabic, Catalan, Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Hebrew, Hindi, Hungarian, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Malay, Norwegian Bokmål, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Simplified Chinese, Slovak, Spanish, Swedish, Thai, Traditional Chinese, Turkish, Ukrainian, Vietnamese

 

The best of OneNote:

  • Capture anything and everything – Write memos, take pictures, or use drawing tools like Microsoft’s “Convert to Shapes” which automatically makes hand drawn shapes crisp and perfect for a brilliant handwriting experience
  • Color coding – Organize your notes any way you would like!
  • Collaboration – Share your notepad in real time on multiple devices with colleagues or friends

What users are saying about this app:

“As a writer, one never knows when an idea strikes. When it does, OneNote is there to capture lightning in a jar.” – The Rogde

Setbacks

With collaboration comes technology issues that some users wish would be fixed on OneNote. 

“It would be nice to be able to see an indicator that appears on the section and page tabs that shows who is currently editing. Perhaps an additional ‘New Changes’ alert badge on these sections and page tabs would also be great” – Enilks12.

A majority of negative reviews regarding this product are about typing shortcuts or not being able to transfer data or documents from OneNote to other Microsoft products such as Word.

The good news is that Microsoft updates OneNote based on customer reviews. The most recent update in March of 2022 fixed bug problems within the app.

Unlike other companies, Microsoft even encourages users to send feedback about the app so they can improve it!

 

4. GoodNotes 5

 

If you’re tired of Apple products but want your notes to be synced and saved within iCloud, then GoodNotes 5 is the perfect note taking app for you.

As I said above, this app allows you to sync your notes to iCloud and thus be shared between all of your devices.

This iCloud feature is among the best features of GoodNote 5 but, unsurprisingly, is not the best. 

 

Overview 

  • Price: Free
  • Rating: 4.8/5 with 53,600 ratings/reviews 
  • Platform: iPad, iPhone, iPod touch, Mac
  • Languages: English, Dutch, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Russian, Simplified Chinese, Spanish, Thai, Traditional Chinese, Turkish

 

The best of GoodNote 5:

  • Precise erasing – As tedious as this may sound, having precise erasing can be a game changer in the digital note taking world. Most apps will erase the entire word or shape that you’ve created, but not GoodNotes. This app will let you choose what you want to erase
  • Present – Simply connect to a Mac computer using airplay or an HDMI and present a lecture, notes, or project fast and easily. 
  • Paper templates – Choose from a variety of templates for covers or to take notes on (blank paper, ruled paper, Cornell paper, checklists, etc.)

 

GoodNotes has virtually everything you would want in a note taking platform.

What users are saying about this app:

“GoodNotes delivers. I use it for EVERYTHING, for work and my home life.” – Saminer

Setbacks:

There are only two reported downsides, they include that there are no colored pencil or crayon utensils among the pen, brush, highlighter, etc. utensils and that there is no audio recording that can sync your voice to your notes like Notability.

 

5. Nebo

 

 

Nebo is a newer app that has clearly done their homework. They have a bunch of new, special features that match or better their competitors.

Overview

  • Price: Free, option to pay more if you would like a fuller “productivity pack”
  • Rating: 4.6/5 with 13,300 reviews/ratings
  • Platform: iPad only to take notes
  • Language: English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Russian, Simplified Chinese, Spanish, Traditional Chinese

 

The best of Nebo:

  • Write-to-text conversion – Your chicken scratch handwriting will be turned into proper text and professional documents with Nebo’s recognition software. This software can even convert your handwriting into your choice of 66 languages. 
  • Nebo viewer – This is a separate app from Nebo; however, it allows you to view your notes, from your iPad, on your iPhone. There is no editing that can be done, Nebo viewer is a read-only app. This app is perfect for sharing your notes in the correct format without having to take screenshots on your iPad. 
  • Reuse freeform content – Copy content from your notes and paste them into other notes or apps. 

What users are saying about this app:

“This is, hands down, the best app to use if you want to convert your handwriting into typed format.” – Theblast99

“Overall, this is a great app and the above issues are very mild annoyances that are very tolerable.” – 0verwatch36O

The developers of Nebo reply to every review they receive, whether it is positive or negative! If this doesn’t tell you that a company cares, I’m not sure what will.

Now, you’re probably thinking that the responses are all super generic, but you’re wrong again. The Nebo developers will respond personally to every review, even signed with the responder’s name.

Setbacks

Most of Nebo’s negative reviews are about lag or various gestures or abbreviations. This means that some of the app’s abbreviations may not be working or that they aren’t working as smoothly as they could be.

Also, this app lacks template designs and its freeform handwriting falls short of other handwriting note taking apps.

 

 

6. Evernote

 

With a stellar recommendation from the New York Times, it is clear why Evernote is one of the best note-taking apps for iPads.

Evernote allows you to organize your ideas and your workspace just how you like it.  Evernote is a solid note taking app. It has been around since 2008 and has made many updates to its features throughout the years.

Overview 

  • Price: Free, $7.99, $9.99 or $14.99 (all per month)
  • Rating: 4.4/5 with 38,300 review/ratings
  • Platform: iPad, iPhone, Mac, iPod touch
  • Languages: English, Arabic, Czech, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, French, German, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Malay, Norwegian Bokmål, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Simplified Chinese, Spanish, Swedish, Thai, Traditional Chinese, Turkish, Ukrainian, Vietnamese

 

The best of Evernote:

  • Sync to Google Calendar – Create a bridge between your notes and your busy schedule
  • Sync across any device – Like Apple Notes, the ability to automatically sync your notes and notebooks across any of your devices
  • Relevant information – Evernote will automatically and instantly put your most popular/relevant notes on the Home dashboard

What users are saying about this app:

“I am loving Evernote now more than ever. My productivity has increased, and my peace of mind has doubled.” – dlw2112

“Use Evernote as the place you put everything” – The New York Times

When you search Evernote on Apple you will come across a lot of negative reviews. Most of these reviews are from at least 3 years ago, so don’t let them scare you off.

Evernote has made many updates that users, old and new, love. Evernote makes consistent updates to their app frequently. Whether this be improving the speed or fixing various bugs.

Setbacks

The biggest setback of Evernote is that you need to pay for the best of this app.

“While I use this app every day and find it far superior to others I’ve used, IT IS TOO EXPENSIVE.” – firelance80

The free version doesn’t allow for larger note sizes or for more than two devices to be synced.

It also has limited collaboration tools unless you are willing to pay $7.99, $9.99 or $14.99 per month.

 

7. Apple Notes

Out of all the apps listed, Apple Notes is by far the most accessible note taking app because it is already downloaded on every Apple product upon purchase.

All you need to do to use the app is go on your iPhone, iPad, or Mac. 

Besides its easy accessibility, Apple Note has plenty of standout features.

 

Overview

  • Price: Free on all apple devices.  
  • Rating: 3.5/5 with 1,700 ratings/reviews. 
  • Platform: Apple Products (iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Mac)
  • Language: English, Arabic, Catalan, Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Hebrew, Hindi, Hungarian, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Malay, Norwegian Bokmål, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Simplified Chinese, Slovak, Spanish, Swedish, Thai, Traditional Chinese, Turkish, Ukrainian, Vietnamese

 

The best of Apple Notes:

  • Checklist – Elevate your organization
  • Scan and paste documents – The perfect tool without a printer or a USB, all you need is the camera on your device 
  • iCloud – Since Apple Notes is an Apple product it is automatically synced with your iCloud account. So, anytime you take a note, whether it be on your iPhone, iPad or any other apple product, it will automatically show up in your notes on your other devices

What users are saying about this app:

“Quick notes on the iPad.” – appleSoftware

“This is just pure awesomeness.” – Serenity Burden

“I love Apple Notes. It’s an extremely useful app to have already installed on your phone. Whenever I need to write something down, I simply pull out my phone and go in my notes.”

“The sheer amount of words that it holds is incredible. Though that comes with lagging”-Alligator96

Setbacks:

Users have had issues with apple notes. Some of which include deletion of notes, slowed processing speeds or not being able to recover notes after they have been deleted.

It can also be difficult to transfer your notes from your iPhone to Mac and there are very few customizable features in the app, especially compared to extensive features in other apps.

Apple Notes is the most basic of note taking apps.

 

Related: 26 Easy Tips for Taking Online Classes

 

8. Whink

 

Unlike other apps, Whink combines every aspect of your life, even texting through iMessage.

Now I know you are probably looking for a great app to take notes on your iPad, however, Whink offers this cool feature that most other note taking apps don’t.

The reason Whink is able to do this is because of the sharing capabilities they provide using iCloud.

So, if you need a great app to take notes on and a way to send personal, handwritten messages over text, Whink may be the perfect app for you.

Outside of the cool iMessage feature, Whink has also many great features.

 

Overview

  • Price: $4.99, one time purchase
  • Rating: 4.2/5 with 105 reviews/ratings
  • Platform: iPhone, iPad, iPad touch, Mac
  • Language: English, Japanese, Simplified Chinese, Traditional Chinese

 

The best of Whink:

  • Audio Recordings – Insert recordings into your notes/PDF’s, arrange your audio/voice notes, and record lectures, presentations, or meetings while you take notes and play them back at anytime
  • Post-its – Add post-it notes to your notes just like you could do in a physical notebook. Quickly search your notes by adding tags or post-its. 
  • Backup and share your notes – You will never lose your notes with quick and easy backup using iCloud. Open your notes in other apps using Whink’s Open-in feature.

What users are saying about this app:

“All the good stuff, none of the dumb stuff.” – alpalorama

“One of the most aesthetically pleasing apps I have.” – Sammy Duck

Setbacks:

Most of the negative reviews left for Whink are at least three years old, thus they are not extremely relevant considering the app, like others, goes through updates frequently.

Also, there were only a total of ten reviews left for the app, most of which are positive.

 

Overall, the app is pretty basic and good for people who don’t want to pay for anything super fancy.

 

9. LiquidText

Unlike other iPad apps, LiquidText is more of a research tool.

More specifically, this app is the perfect way to organize your research and annotate PDF’s.

Also, LiquidText updates their app very frequently. They even show you what parts of the app have been updated in the app store before you purchase the app. 

LiquidText has some unique research software that puts this app in front of other note taking apps.

 

Overview 

  • Price: Free, unless you want to upgrade (prices vary)
  • Rating: 3.8/5 with 321 reviews/ratings
  • Platform: iPad and Mac
  • Language: English

 

The best of LiquidText

  • Unified workspaces – Ability to add multiple documents to the same workspace.
  • Visually connect ideas – Draw lines/connections in between multiple notes and documents to create visual hyperlinks
  • Universal document reader – LiquidText supports various types of documents. Therefore, you can import virtually any type of document into the app, whether this be PDF, Web Pages, PowerPoint, etc.

 

What users are saying about this app:

“All you need for deep research projects.” – Macworld, Jackie Dove

 

Setbacks:

Many users claim to love the concept of this app, however, not the way it is executed. The major downside of this app is how easily data and notes can be lost within these large workspaces.

Also, this app is extremely specific for users who are geared towards looking at or performing research. If you aren’t doing research, there are much better note taking apps for you.

 

 

10. Notion

 

“This app has taken over my life as I spend a big part of my day working in Notion.” – Hextered

Notion is perfect for someone who wants to build a personal workspace, perhaps for a job or a class.

With Notion you are able to craft the database, dashboard, website, or overall system that you need for your line of work. 

Notion has many very unique features that other note taking apps don’t have or use, some of which include:

 

The best of Notion

  • Never hit a storage limit – With Notion you can add as much content as you would like
  • Say goodbye to messy folders – Notion allows you to nestle pages or information into other pages (if you would like)
  • Publish a website – With a couple clicks you can turn any of your work into a website using the app

 

What users are saying about this app:

“This app has taken over my life as I spend a big part of my day working in Notion.” – Hextered

 

Setbacks: 

Notion doesn’t have many if any negative reviews that are relevant to note besides possible bug issues.

These issues are addressed and fixed with every update that the app goes through, so it is not something to pay much attention to or worry about.

 

Overview

  • Price: Free
  • Rating: 4/5 with 2,100 ratings/reviews
  • Platform: iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Mac
  • Language: English, French, Japanese, Korean

 

How do you Choose the Right Note Taking App for you?

Before I continue, I want to say that all of the apps above are great options; there isn’t a bad app listed.

However, choosing the right app that you trust to take care of your precious notes and organize your ideas is important. If you can’t decide based on the descriptions above, then consider looking at the price or platforms that the app is available on besides iPad.

All the apps above have their prices and platforms listed. Now, when you look at the price, more expensive doesn’t always mean better and if the app is free, it doesn’t mean that app is cheap. It depends on what you want.

The first step in choosing what app you want is deciding why you need it, whether this is for everyday life, work, research, etc. You need to decide what you need the app for first.

 

What is the best app to use with an Apple Pencil?

While most of the note taking apps above are great to use with Apple Pencil, the best app to use with an Apple Pencil is Notability because of the app’s easy navigation.

Notability has some of the smoothest writing out of all iPad note taking apps and the most writing tips to choose from (such as pen, pencil, chalk, etc.).

The app also allows you to choose between standard writing and calligraphy writing, this addition, again, enhances the writing experience for the user especially with an Apple Pencil.

 

Related: 30 Highest Paying Apps to Make Money – The 2022 Ultimate Guide

 

Other Cool Apps for College Students to Download on iPad

An iPad is not only for taking notes, but also used to hold/use other apps. Below are some great apps to add to your home screen:

 

  • Amazon – We all know what Amazon is, a great place to shop. Adding this app to your iPad will allow you to take your shopping with you wherever you go. Also, if you have an Amazon Student Prime account you can watch Amazon Prime on the go on your iPad. Amazon is a free app, but if you want to experience the benefits of Prime, consider starting a subscription. 

 

  • Google Calendar – If you struggle with being organized, download this app on your iPad right now! You can sync your class, personal and work schedule all into one calendar and you can connect with others and view their Google Calendars to see when they are available for meetings. Google Calendar is a fantastic tool that isn’t talked about nearly as much as it should be. You can even color code all your events! Google Calendar is free in the app store. 

 

  • Quizlet – If you are in a class with a lot of multiple-choice tests, this app will save your grade. Quizlet is an online flashcard app. Not only can you make your own set of flashcards, but you can also search, view, and use other people’s flashcard sets. In both high school, and college, this app has saved my grade and my friends’ grades. Quizlet is free in the app store. 

 

  • Forest – Struggling with procrastination or constantly scrolling through tic tok? Consider downloading Forest. This app was voted the best app in 2018 and 2019 in the App Store and for good reason. Forest will help you focus on your studies in the cutest way possible. Every time you use the app and stay focused, you plant a tree and build a forest on your phone. Soon enough you will have a completely personalized forest of your own. Forest is available for purchase in the app store for $3.99. 

 

  • Canva – This app is perfect for editing pictures, videos and creating graphic designs. If you don’t have any experience designing, no worries. Canva makes it extremely easy to use and navigate editing. The app even provides thousands of templates for you to utilize when designing. Canva is free in the app store. 

 

  • Duolingo – If you want to learn a new language or simply get ahead of your language class, download Duolingo. This app allows you to learn over 35 languages through quick, daily learning checks. You can practice listening, speaking, writing, reading and vocabulary on the app. Duolingo is free in the app store. 

 

  • Headspace – Learn to practice mindfulness with Headspace. This app helps you learn to manage stress, relax, meditate, and even sleep. As college students we know how important getting sleep is. So, learn how to live a healthier lifestyle and learn how to become more mindful with Headspace. The app is free in the app store but there are in app subscriptions that can be purchased for $12.99 per month. 

 

  • Google Translate – Whether you are in a language class or traveling the world. Google Translate is a great app to have. With this app you can take pictures of menus and translate them into any language of your choice, you can type directly into the app for translations or just try to learn a new language. Google translate is free in the app store.     

 

Still not sure what is the best note taking app for your iPad?

No worries! Watch video below for more information.

 

That’s a wrap. This article was all about Best Note-Taking Apps for iPad Junkies. 

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