Note Taking App Needed

I’m trying to find a good note taking app that utilizes the Apple Pencil and lets me manipulate the note as much as I want. I’m currently using Penultimate with Evernote, but I notice that there is a lag in terms of syncing, and find it frustrating when I’m looking for a note, but need to reopen my iPad to do the process.

It’s been great for a few years but I wish it could convert my handwriting into editable text. I find myself retyping my notes regularly.



I’m a fan of GoodNotes. I’ve used it on both the OPad Pro and new iPad and haven’t noticed any lag.


GoodNotes and Notability are going to probably be the two biggest contenders. I used goodnotes for awhile and its advantages are multiple styles of paper per notebook, a notebook style of organization, and amazing presenting views. Notability is what I switched to now that it has text recognition (searchable app wide, not just in a specific notebook), outline type organization, and it’s key feature: audio recordings synced with your note taking. I think notability is smoother and better for one off type notes, but I keep goodnotes on my iPad for presenting.


+1 in the GoodNotes camp.

My key interests for a handwriting app include smooth inking and a clutter-free note taking environment. There are many good Apps out there with many features. As mentioned, Notability’s audio recording capability is very useful, if you need it (I do not).

I’ve happily used GoodNotes for years. It, too, does handwriting to text recognition. Evernote is my “Everything Box”. After writing notes in GoodNotes I send to Evernote via the share sheet. All handwriting is fully searchable in Evernote.

There is one feature I wish the GoodNotes team would add. In NotesPlus you can delete text by striking it out with back-and-forth line. Super handy and quick with no pencil movement needed. GoodNotes (like many others) requires a trip up to the toolbar to choose the eraser. Though, after single use of the eraser, GoodNotes does automatically turn the pen back on. A nice touch, but not as workflow efficient as NotesPlus. Not a huge problem, but would be nice to improve.

I hope this helps — jay

Edit: (after re-reading your post…) In addition to embedding the recognized text as meta data that travels with the exported notes (my Evernote example above), GoodNotes also allows you to highlight handwritten text and convert on the fly to typed text.


Here’s a quick demonstration of GoodNotes and Evernote


I’m very much in the same boat, but have been impressed with just using the inbuilt drawing function directly in Evernote… (its the same engine as Penultimate, but sync’s straight away).

What I don’t like is the ‘limited canvas’… I do wish it would allow you to simply keep on writing.

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Hi all, I have gone through something similar in my thought process. I now use several apps…Notability, Paper 53, Apple notes and Nebo. Nebo is my favourite, it’s inking system is used in many other apps and even part of Google’s new handwriting recognition for education.

It’s brilliant and I recommend you check it out. It keeps things simple and concentrated on note taking with a pencil.

Does it have text recognition?

Notability. Version 8 rocks big time! Amazingly handwriting recognition (much better than goodnotes in my experience)

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Hi @munishp

Thanks for the tip re Nebo. I’m amazed that I’ve not heard of it before.

I just purchased it and very impressed with it’s capabilities. It’s exactly what I’ve been looking for.

Note: There is a review on the App Store complaining it dosen’t have iCloud sync however this must be for an older version as the current version syncs perfectly with iCloud (just need to setup a free myscript account first)

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My vote goes to Goodnotes great app and you can do just about anything with your notes in it.

Notability is what you want I think. It seems to work the best with Apple Pencil. There are other things that I like about it but I either found a work around or don’t need those features much. For example, I wanted to start a text line anywhere on the page, like in OneNote and I was mad I couldn’t; then I figured out that you could use a white sticky note with text and move it anywhere on the page. This accomplished the same thing.

The other thing I used to do for note taking with Apple Pencil was use a combo of Documents by Reedle and PDF Expert. If you create a blan PDF in Docments it works the same as note taking app. YOu can write, make comments, type etc.


I would highly recommend OneNote. Its by far the best all around solution that I have found so far.

  1. Infinite canvas that expands as you type/ink (This is a must for me)
  2. Satisfying inking (IMO) with support for custom colors
  3. A stable syncing engine
  4. apps on just about every device and a web interface
  5. A lasso tool
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I recently downloaded Goodnotes and am enjoying it. Overall, I really like using it and am getting the hang of it more an more. It’s still not perfect but I don’t think there’s a perfect solution in this area yet. As a heavy Evernote user, I wish that Penultimate worked better but it just doesn’t cut it. This is all coming from someone who does a ton of pen/pencil and paper note-taking.

My first note taking app was Penultimate and I thought it was the best thing ever. I later moved on to Notability and GoodNotes. To this day, I still use both Notability and GoodNotes for different purposes.

I use Notability primarily to display notes on a smart board using either my mac or iPad. I use GoodNotes to take notes at meetings or to keep more organized using different notebooks. I am sure you can do these things using either of the apps, but that is what I do. Good luck choosing the best app or combo of apps for your needs.

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Yes. You can write with your Apple pencil, or another stylus I would assume, as usual and then opt to convert that text to “proper” text. Nebo is the only option that works for me since handwriting recognition is not available for Swedish in Notability or GoodNotes. Or at least it wasn’t the last time I checked.

Your welcome. You should check out their calculator app. It is currently free.

To echo others, I think GoodNotes is amazing with the Apple Pencil

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I haven’t tried this with Goodnotes yet, but with Notability, you can have it automatically back up to Dropbox, which is pretty old. However, what I just learned is that you can search for your handwriting via that backup copy. So if I search for “Hebrews 11:4” it will find that in the finder, inside the document in which I have handwritten Hebrews 11:4.

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I love Notability with the Apple Pencil on my iPad. You can record lectures and it will go to the place in your notes to match the recording. The latest update that added text recognition is an absolute game changer. I have Good Notes too, but I don’t like the interface near as much and rarely if ever use GN. Notability has a simple interface that is speedy, looks nice, and gets the job done.