No matter what you are looking to download on your iPad, you’re sure to be overwhelmed by a dizzying number of options in the app store.
This is one of the many reasons why finding a decent note-taking app is much harder than you might think. Sifting through features offered by each app is no mean feat.
Since I would rather you be productive than spend countless hours making your pick, I tried out multiple apps and painstakingly reviewed every one of them.
So here are my top 8 note-taking apps for iPad in 2022. Free & paid. You’re welcome — I hope this helps you make the right choice!
1. Apple Notes
This is the default notes app in the Apple ecosystem. With a simple interface, ubiquitous availability, and great affordability, it is one of the best note-taking apps out there. It comes with a writing pencil, a highlighter, an eraser, a lasso selector, and a ruler.
There are some great features built into it that truly elevate the note-taking experience. One such feature is handwriting to text conversion which was recently introduced through the scribble update. The search function is pretty good at identifying handwriting if you are looking for something specific.
Apple Notes comes with loads of options in paper type, sharing, privacy, and more in the options menu. But what has helped Apple Notes one up every other note-taking app is the ability to take quick notes. If you have an iPad Pro, you can simply grab the pencil and tap the screen once to start jotting down a note.
In terms of organization, you can group your notes in a single layer that is folders. For those who dislike complicated workflows, this can be a refreshing experience.
- Limited organization options
- You cannot have handwritten notes with text-based notes together. They exist in silos
- Lack of audio recording and templates within the app
- Does not support PDFs, images, and other formats
- Strictly restricted to the Apple ecosystem
2. Google Keep
The free note-taking app from Google provides the best cross-platform experience there is.
It aims to mimic a visual experience similar to a scrapbook or a bulletin board by presenting all the notes in a scrolling list on the home screen. The app allows you to capture checklists, handwritten notes, audio recordings, sketches, and images from your device. These can all be combined in a single note.
You can label, pin, and color notes and by keeping super simple formatting options such as these, Google Keep does a great job in keeping the users hooked to its simplicity and speed.
Overall, Google Keep is an ultra-simple note-taking and list-making app perfect for those who want to scribble ideas, lists, and thoughts in a hurry.
- It has been adapted for the iPad rather than being built for it
- Not the best option for long-form writing and organization
An obvious contender in the list, Evernote needs zero introductions. With its ability to capture a wide range of digital information simply with great organizational features, Evernote is undoubtedly the reigning note-taking app out there.
Evernote lets you take notes in a variety of formats - text, pictures, audio and video recordings, annotated Web page clippings, and more. These notes can be organized into notebooks and managed using tags and shortcuts. From checklists to external files, there are many templates available within the app to cater to your specific needs. You can add configurable reminders to notes, as well as share them with other users via e-mail.
Another great plus? Evernote's Web Clipper extension lets you save web pages with one click and annotate them with highlights and visual callouts. Using your smartphone's camera, the app can scan and digitize everything from documents to business cards in a snap.
Evernote automatically synchronizes all the notes across multiple devices, providing access from any phone, tablet, or PC.
- Its free tier is limited to only two devices
- For more customization options such as offline access to notes/notebooks and PDF annotations, you would have to upgrade to its paid version
The note-taking juggernaut, Microsoft’s OneNote, is too big to be off any list such as this.
While it took me some time to get used to writing on OneNote, I have grown to actually like it. Best for keyboard-based notetaking, I was surprised to see its handwriting component work beautifully.
Coming to its outstanding features, you can zoom in and out of all your notes which gives a sense of spreading out and expanding the paper as much as you like to fit in more and go deeper into details. Note organization goes a step further from Apple Notes too. You can have multiple notebooks each with its own chapters and sections within. Another quirky little feature that users like is how a handwritten title on a note appears as the title on the left menu which helps the whole thing come together nicely.
It is super easy to integrate OneNote with other commonly used Microsoft products such as OneDrive, Word, Excel, etc. All in all, this is a note-taking app with excellent cross-platform support that does not present many reasons to be disliked.
- If I have to nitpick, OneNote comes with the ability to record sounds but you cannot write at the same time
1. GoodNotes 5
Where GoodNotes succeeds, and that too exceedingly well, is by making its note-taking experience feel like a real writing experience.
A powerhouse for notetakers everywhere globally, the GoodNotes app comes with everything you need to take notes, write music, or mark up PDFs.
I love picking a notebook cover design whenever I am creating a new book, swiping between different notebooks in landscape mode, and having pages with their defined start and end. All these little features add up eventually to give you the physical writing experience that nerds like me absolutely love.
You can also have two instances of the app open side-by-side. There’s also tab browsing if you have more than one notebook open at a time. You can convert handwritten notes to text and mark PDFs with their array of intelligent drawing tools which is excellent.
The best part? You need to just make a one-time payment. There are no hidden charges for extra features.
Price: $7.99 one-time purchase
- It does not handle organization overly well as compared to its contemporaries. Notebooks can’t be divided into sections and chapters
- No audio recording function which is quite a letdown for students around the world who would want to take notes as their lecture gets recorded
- There is a Mac app but none exists for Windows
Coming to easily the most popular paid note-taking app in the world, Notability is all about providing the most delightful writing experience. It nails the feeling of writing better than any other app that I tried. The tuning with the Apple Pencil is amazing - ultra-responsive and easy to manage.
Notability does an excellent job of emulating the doodling and illustrating experience, while also allowing you to resize and move your drawings.
The layout and organization of notes on Notability are easy to get a hang of and it puts import and editing of PDFs at your fingertips.
With its “Share” extension, you can import entire websites in PDF format. You can even have your animated note play along with your audio files.
It also has an infinite scroll sort of feature that might be helpful to those who wish to expand on a topic. The playback feature that comes with Notability allows you to play an audio note backward so that you can exactly see what you were writing when you were writing it to make sense of your flow of thought.
It is definitely the most feature-packed app on our entire list and it’s no wonder it’s always been at the forefront for taking notes on the iPad for so long.
Price: $14.99 / year
- It comes with the highest price tag compared to all the rest of the apps
- It comes with a store to buy extras from. Given its high price tag, any extras could have been a part of the one-time purchase and not be kept behind a paywall
- No iCloud syncing or backups on the free plan creates some risk for notetakers who don’t upgrade
Noteshelf, though not as popular now, is still a superb option.
It has many of the features that I love, including the option to annotate PDFs and multitask with the iPad’s split-screen. You can also record voice notes to go with your handwritten notes, which is perfect for rehashing a lecture or a meeting later.
One of its unique features is handwriting recognition in 65 different languages. If you are learning a new language, I cannot think of a better tool.
Finally, Noteshelf lets you export your notes to iCloud, Dropbox, Google Drive, OneDrive, and Evernote. For serious Evernote users, this option to export from Noteshelf becomes doubly important.
Apple Watch users will also benefit from the app’s ability to record voice notes using the Noteshelf Apple Watch app.
- It is pretty expensive for its features
- Does not come with audio recording capabilities
- Strictly developed for the Apple ecosystem
When you think about Apple products, you think of simplicity and style. Bear took this philosophy and churned out probably the most well-adjusted app for note-taking on the iPad.
It lets you create notes and then sync them across all Apple devices via iCloud. You can add tags, images, and other files including drawings on the iPad or iPhone.
Bear is a great markdown editor, especially great for people who have not used one before.
The way to organize notes in Bear is perhaps the most innovative of them all. You can link the notes to one another to create a body of work and use hashtags to organize them the way you want.
The app comes with native Apple Pencil support in the text editor and the drawing mode turns the screen into a whiteboard for you to scribble endlessly on.
To sync your notes across all devices, password protect your notes, encrypt for security, and protect sensitive notes using Face/Touch ID, you would need to upgrade to the Pro version.
Price: $14.99 / year
- Bear is focused more on keyboard typing than the Apple Pencil
- The Pro version of Bear is a purposely stripped-down app best for those who want a minimalistic app to get the job done. There’s no formatting panel, just support for Markdown
Stay productive on the iPad
This wraps the notetaking odyssey I embarked on for the article. Hope you found what you were looking for. And if you did, check out OSlash - the fastest way to navigate to all your apps and important notes. So that along with making kickass notes, you also save time navigating to all of them instantaneously.