Should you leave MarginNote for LiquidText in 2023?

5 reasons I am leaving LiquidText for MarginNote 3

Back in 2019, out of frustration, I stopped using LiquidText and moved to MarginNote. After a number of updates in the past few years, let’s look at whether LiquidText is now worth going back to in 2023. Of the two apps, I prefer LiquidText and that is why I keep coming back to check if it has added the features we have requested.

No independent cloud backup 

We have demonstrated what happens when you don’t have a backup for your notes. Sadly, in 2023, LiquidText still does not have backup (manual or automatic) options in the app. LiquidText 5.5 integrates backing up into the syncing feature, but we still prefer an independent backup. One that allows us to backup our notes to a cloud service of our choice. 

Some cloud syncing

LiquidText finally gave us syncing across multiple devices, and they didn’t limit that to the Apple ecosystem. We were happy about the news, but syncing came at a hefty subscription price. You have to need the app to justify that; it’s honestly not for everyone.

We had a lot of hope for LiquidText when it launched its syncing feature. There were many promises, most of which were game-changing, like the ability to quickly switch between devices when taking notes. How I wish to try that!

Sadly, syncing hasn’t been the best experience in LiquidText. My iPad hasn’t synced since April 8th, 2022 (some 8 months ago). Working on two devices becomes a pipeline dream if the app takes 8 months to update the notes on just two devices. What is especially frustrating is that the iPad version of the app is the one that’s struggling to sync the most. When changing a subscription for syncing, it really must work. Perhaps we ought to try it on Windows to see if it works better there.

Less lagging

Lagging is not unique to LiquidText. Most PDF readers slow down with too many or large documents on the iPad. You still don’t get used to it, though, especially in LiquidText, where a search query can set you back a few seconds at a time.

LiquidText has, however, improved its document loading time. It now opens and closes projects in record time, which improves the general user experience in the app. Since I last attempted to use LiquidText, this has been the biggest improvement that’s made me consider using it again.

Improved organisation

LiquidText 5.5 brought one of the biggest and most needed upgrade to how the app organises our work. Multiple workspaces mean we don’t need to duplicate PDFs anymore for one subject. We can now have all the topics for one subject in one place. This means the app now saves a lot of storage on your device.

For example, for my Biology project, I have all my topics and their subtopics in one project. The infinite canvas is great, but can be overwhelming at times. I prefer creating smaller chunks of notes that are easier to digest. Moving between workspaces is fairly simple, and it’s made my notes easier to understand.

Still no bookmarking

In 2023, we still can’t bookmark our pages in LiquidText. It’s very surprising for a research app. The goal is to create links between your notes and the documents you’re reading. But that’s still not the best way to mark pages. We hope to at least see bookmarking in the app.

The subscription

LiquidText still offers a Pro version, which is a lifetime payment for most of its basic features. However, its syncing across devices is a subscription feature because the developers wanted users to be able to use the app across different platforms. It’s still difficult to justify, considering syncing for most apps is free.

Another challenge with the subscription model of LiquidText is that most of the big updates are paid for if you’re on the Pro version. Generally, it makes LiquidText expensive to use and run. Especially considering MarginNote has actually become cheaper over the years. The subscription in MarginNote is only for OCR; it is very cheap and optional, but everything else remains a one-time purchase.

Final verdict

Though we’ve seen a lot of improvements in LiquidText, they haven’t been come cheap. We also still hear a lot of crashing reports and failed syncing, which makes it very difficult for us to justify subscribing to the app if you’re an individual. Simply based on its price, it’s not for everyone. We hope our developers can iron out the issues we’ve highlighted.

The concept in LiquidText is one that I’ve been in love with since I first discovered the app. But it’s still far from perfect, and we’re keeping an eye on it. For now, we wouldn’t recommend leaving MarginNote for LiquidText just yet.

11 thoughts on “Should you leave MarginNote for LiquidText in 2023?”

  1. Hi 🙋🏻‍♂️ there…I have only tested margin notes 3 in trial mode and it’s very stable but it’s down side is it’s complicated user interface.
    On the other hand LiquidText user interface is simple and awesome. But it’s very BUGGY. It always crashes. When you make 20 plus pages ink notes in the workspace canvas and you have 10-15 books in the project, then the inking will be very laggy, eraser will not work, search function is completely broken etc. So it becomes literally unusable. The developers of the LiquidText are very nice people. They are trying their best but there is something fundamentally wrong that they can’t seem to rectify…After few months, I’ve stopped using LiquidText and switched over to GoodNotes for pdf annotations and notes.So the idea 💡 of LiquidText is great but it doesn’t work with big project’s containing pdf textbooks and after 20-30 pages ink notes in the workspace, the inking becomes horribly slow and eraser doesn’t work. Search in multiple documents and for tags is completely broken.literally unusable.
    May be in future, if GoodNotes doesn’t do well (at the time being I am reading,annotating big pdf textbooks without any issue!) then I may go towards margin note…Margin notes developers must work to simplify user interface to make it more user friendly. NOTE: hardware info: I have iPad 6 (2018) WiFi only model with 128gb ssd. I use it Apple Pencil 1.Thanks and regards.

    1. Yeah, LiquidText is a painful app because of all the bugs it’s had for years now. And MarginNote is very complex.

  2. LiquidText appears to be one of, if not the only iOS- and Windows-compatible PDF annotation / note-taking tools I’ve found. Are there others I’m missing? I’d be happy to bounce over to another program/app, because LiquidText is not great with customer interaction or providing accurate timelines on feature updates, even when their plans slip (e.g. sync feature promised for Sept 2020).

  3. Hey there –

    Really appreciate this. Nearly 2 years later, do you still use Margin Notes 3 as your dedicated PDF reader? Are there any other epub compatible note apps you recommend?

    1. Hello,
      I dropped out of med school so studying hasn’t been a part of my routine. I do hope try to study every chance I get, and for that, MarginNote is still my go-to app. If you don’t really want all the features in MarginNote but just want to read your ePub books, FBReader is a good option.

  4. Sorry to hear you dropped out, you seemed to be doing so well but I hope it’s for the better. Since I’m just starting school assuming I get in at 53 years old I decided to go paperless. After downloading LiquidText and MarginNote I think the clear winner is MarginNote since LiquidText crashes the last 3 text books (only one, first attempt at dragging a quote out in both of them) I’ve tried. MarginNote has come through sparklingly and I don’t find it too complicated.

    The downside to MarginNote in my opinion is its rigidity. A mind map should be freely arrangeable and I do have iThoughts for that (and MN exports to iThoughts with links even). Still, I wish MN had freely movable mind map objects.

    Great channel by the way, it helped steer me in the right direction. Thank you.

    1. I am glad you find our content useful. 🙂
      MarginNote is very rigid, that is true. Never thought of it before.
      I dropped out after I found my passion so it’s cool. While I have always loved studying and learning new things, I had never imagined myself working in the medical field, so no hard feelings on my end. Let’s hope you get into your program. What do you want to study?

      1. I’m a former UX researcher, I got into photography which is my passion, and now I’m going to study international business management. I’ve always had a distaste for management but now that I’m studying it I realise it’s all about personal growth. I love humanity and people and I hope that I will be able to lead and teach others as they grow.

        I’m a lifelong learner myself. I have Atlas.ti on my computer just because I love to study things in detail. Since I just discovered Marginnote and Liquidtext I realised that they are less than something like Atlas.ti but more usable in a way that allow for faster connections to be made.

        I’m curious what your passions are but that is just me wanting to learn about people. As a former UX person I’m fascinated with how people learn things and grow.

        1. I am very passionate about understanding how things work. It was why I chose to study medicine in the first place. But really, it doesn’t matter what it is, I always want to know why it works and why it doesn’t. Even with people. And now that curiosity has been channelled to apps and it’s become my biggest passion. And every time I get an opportunity to talk to people… I think that sums me up. Probably oversimplified.
          I will check out Atlas.ti to see how it compares to MarginNote and LiquidText.

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