Best iPad note-taking apps Go digital

Best iPad note-taking apps Go digital

We all know the feeling of crumpled paper lost to overstuffed backpacks and briefcases. Thankfully, those days are over with the addition of note-taking apps for iPad. However, you can’t trust just any app to hold your most important notes for your classes or your to-do lists. So instead, it is crucial to find exactly the right app that is both trustworthy and reliable, so you never have to worry again about losing your most important papers.

The best note-taking app for iPad is Notability, thanks to its incredible versatility and generous features. To help you make the best notes and create streamlined notes, we’ve rounded up other popular apps based on pricing, reviews, features, and compatibility so you can be a master notetaker.

The best note-taking apps for iPad in 2023


Notability Best iPad note-taking app overall

Pros – Supports multiple formats and pen styles – Extra formatting tools – Free version

Cons – Paid subscription for Plus membership – Limited document sizes

More Details – Price varies per region – Available app for Mac and iPhone – Easy annotation

Notability is widely regarded as one of the best note-taking apps for iPad, thanks to a simple interface matched by powerful capability. Notes are no longer just notes when you can add different forms of multimedia, like audio and video.

It melds together several different types of note-taking apps for iPad, offering the ability to take notes, create a journal, or utilize special tools like ink and highlighter. It not only allows for note-taking but also PDF annotation, as well. It is a convenient additional feature for students and professionals who spend a lot of time reviewing and working with PDF documents.

Francois Gouelo uses Notability to help him in his role as owner of Enso Connect. “I’ve found Notability to be an invaluable tool in managing my business and helping us take our guest hosting game to the next level,” he says, adding that it has significantly streamlined his workflow. “This versatility has been a game-changer in terms of productivity.”

Templates are available to help get you started, or you can simply upload your own document or slide to begin. The app is compatible with Apple Pencil for greater convenience.

The Starter plan is free with limited note edits, but you will need to subscribe to the Plus plan if you want access to extended features.

View now at Apple App Store View now at Notability [More buying choices]


Evernote Best iPad note-taking app for businesses

Pros – Excellent for organization – Saves more than just files – Extremely efficient processing

Cons – Limited storage under the free plan – No offline access

More Details – Up to 20GB monthly uploads – 200MB max note size – Google integration

Evernote is a fully-loaded powerhouse for the serious note-taker. Create notebooks to organize your notes and add content like PDFs, sketches, and other multimedia like photos and audio. You can sync your account to your Google calendar, offering full scheduling capability beyond your note-taking abilities.

You can make to-do lists, create Tasks, and even clip your favorite sites with Evernote’s Web Clipper tool. In addition, you can scan in your own handwritten or printed notes when you use your own camera.

You have the option to sync all of your devices with the number of devices determined by your subscription plan. Also controlled by your plan is the number of monthly uploads you can make and the size of your notes.

“I’ve really come to like Evernote,” says Tina Grant, Quality Assessor for Aerospheres with 17 years in the aviation industry. “The fact that it’s a multiplatform tool really helps, as I use a Windows computer at work. This means I can take notes on my iPad, then later access them directly in my browser on the PC. The fact that there is a built-in organization system that allows you to set up categories and tags also really helps to keep things in order.”

View now at Apple App Store View now at Evernote View now at Google Play [More buying choices]

GoodNotes 5

GoodNotes Best iPad note-taking app for handwriting

Pros – Specifically for iPad – Custom pen styles and colors – Works with your personal handwriting

Cons – Must pay one-time fee after trial – Creates storage-zapping files

More Details – Free starter plan with 3 notebooks – Compatible with Dropbox and Google Drive – Easy device syncing

Like Evernote, GoodNotes also syncs across your devices for easy access, no matter where you are or what device you are using. You can adjust and change your handwriting, or you can use different colored inks with included tools, like Shape, Lasso, and Elements that allow you to import photos and diagrams. Plus, it’s perfect to use in conjunction with the Apple Pencil.

You also have the option to work with PDFs and document outlines, housing them in an unlimited number of folders and subfolders for better organization. From handwritten notes to typed ones, your notes, files, and folders are all easily searchable.

“I use GoodNotes 5 extensively for annotating listing presentations, contracts, and reports,” says Kris Lippi, a licensed real estate broker and owner of I Sold My House. “Last week, I reviewed a 50-page purchase agreement, signed key pages, and shared it with the buyer’s agent in minutes. The ability to directly draw, highlight and comment on interactive PDFs right from my iPad has been a game changer.”

There is a generous selection of covers and paper templates to add some pizzazz and style to your notes. GoodNotes 5 is compatible with a series of devices and other apps, including iCloud, Dropbox, Google Drive, and Microsoft OneDrive.

View now at Apple App Store View now at GoodNotes View now at Google Play [More buying choices]


Nebo Best iPad note-taking app for Apple Pencil

Pros – Easy conversion for handwritten notes – Can use mathematical and chemical equations – Multiple languages available

Cons – Not the simplest to use – On the pricier side

More Details – Artificial intelligence technology – 66 languages – Apple Pencil support

Nebo offers full stylus support when you have an Apple Pencil you are itching to use on your new note-taking app for iPad. It uses leading AI technology to offer the option of handwritten notes, or you can simply annotate where you see fit. Nebo works with a total of 66 languages, converting your scrappy hand-scribbled notes into lovely notes.

If you are picking up where you left off, simply import a file because the app offers PDF, Word, and Powerpoint compatibility. Regardless of what you choose, you can easily transition from handwriting to text to dictation even in the same word to make transcription a breeze, no matter which method you prefer. It even has the capability to handle math equations and diagrams, available as LaTeX or image.

Nebo also offers a companion app called Nebo Viewer, which allows you to access read-only versions of your notes at any time on your iPhone. You first must make a free MyScript account and then access cloud sync before you can see your notes.

“I operate in a sphere where time is precious, and managing day-to-day operations can be a Herculean task,” explains Athina Zisi, Chief Operations Officer of Energy Casino. “This is where Nebo, with its meticulously designed features, comes in. Whether I’m jotting down notes during a high-stakes meeting or capturing action points during an operations review, Nebo handles it with aplomb.”

View now at Apple App Store View now at Nebo View now at Google Play [More buying choices]


Notes Best free iPad note-taking app

Pros – Free to use – Automatic save feature – Already built into your iPad

Cons – Rather basic features – No fancy extras

More Details – Free – Built-in scanner – Share notes with others

A handy addition to any iPad, the Notes app is Apple’s signature note-taking app with a straightforward functionality that makes it our best free note-taking app for iPads. If you own an iPad, you probably already have the Apple Notes app installed.

It is one of the easiest ways to take notes, but there are other ways to use the app than just note-taking. It can also handle other types of media, like images, checklists, and sketches.

“I freely admit to Notes being a complete lifesaver for me on more than one occasion,” shares Troy Portillo, Director of Operations of Studypool. “In business, you can have unexpected conversations and need to be able to remember pertinent information. Having Notes has helped me save very important information easily during those unexpected conversations.”

It also works with handwritten notes or scanned documents that you need to keep at the ready. You can lock your notes with passwords or use the built-in scanner to scan paper documents. With the app based on iCloud, you can access your notes on any of your Apple devices.

“It’s easy to use, easy to save, and it’s already included on your iPhone,” says Portillo. “Wins all around.”

View now at Apple App Store

What is the best note-taking app?

The best note-taking app for iPad is Notability and for several reasons. It works with the different types of media that you want to add to your notes, plus you can organize all of your notes into neat notebooks that are easy to access. Notability is also free to use, but you can upgrade for a minimal fee should you want access to the bonus features.

Below is a look at the standard features and rating of the best note-taking apps we chose:

Product Standout feature Rating
Notability All-in-one app 4.7
Evernote File storage 4.4
GoodNotes 5 Handwriting feature 4.8
Nebo Apple Pencil-compatible 4.7
Notes Free and already built-in 4.6

Which note-taking app is right for you?

It really depends on what you’re looking for and what features are most important to you. After a while, all the different iPad note-taking apps can begin to blur together, so here are some expert recommendations to help you make the right note app choice for your iPad.

Choose this note-taking app… If you want…
Notability The best overall option that supports multiple formats and pen styluses. It not only allows for note-taking but also PDF annotation, as well.
Evernote An app worthy of teams with cross-platform support with exceptional organizing tools and efficient processing. You can even sync your account to your Google calendar.
GoodNotes 5 To prefer to digitize notes in your own handwriting with custom pen styles and colors. It also syncs across your devices for easy access.
Nebo An app for advanced users with stylus capability that easily converts handwritten notes and has multiple languages available. It can even use mathematical and chemical equations.
Notes The original iPad app that offers simple, streamlined use with an automatic save feature and it’s free to use. This app is already built into your iPad.

How did we choose these note-taking apps?

There are some features we considered when searching for the best note-taking apps.

  • Interface: We looked for note apps that offer a clean, streamlined interface that is not too cluttered or distracting from your work.
  • Tools: When it comes time to write, you want to be sure that there are the right tools to help you get the job done. We looked at features like the type of writing, dictation, presentation, and editing tools available with each of the best note-taking apps.
  • Security: Security and file backup are critical when choosing the best note-taking app for iPad. Many notes contain sensitive information, so you want to be sure that your files will not be lost and are also secure from any prying eyes.
  • Cost: Budget is critical, so we considered how much each app costs and what each purchase gives you.

When choosing iPad’s best note-taking app for you, think about how you plan to use the app and which features are essential to your needs.

Why should I use a note-taking app for iPad?

Note-taking apps offer far more than you may expect. In addition to storing your notes and bright ideas, there are also many other support features, including converting handwriting to digital notes, templates to choose from, and even adding different forms of media like video and audio.

And they’re great for organizing ideas on the go. Whether you’re scribbling your own ideas or collaborating with friends or colleagues, you’ll have a central hub to access your notes easily.

What is the highest-rated note-taking app for iPad?

GoodNotes 5 receives the highest rating from the App Store on our list, earning a 4.8 average rating. However, Notability and Nebo also receive high ratings on the App Store.

Ratings were one of the main drivers in choosing the best note-taking apps. And some of the ones we offer allow you to test drive them for free.

Does iPad have a free note-taking app?

It is absolutely possible to use a free note-taking app for iPad. The best free iPad note-taking app is Apple Notes, since it comes pre-installed and could not be easier to use. However, there are other options like Microsoft OneNote, Loose Leaf, and Freeform.

Are there alternative note-taking apps worth considering?

While searching for the best note-taking apps, we came across other apps that may work for your needs. Here are a few other note-taking apps to look into: