Agenda For The iPad (2021): Best app for meeting notes


PROS

CONS

  • No highlighter
  • Yearly subscriptions to keep getting new features
  • No Markup tools for PDF previews
  • Buggy syncing between macOS and iPadOS
  • No collaboration

8/10

Rating: 8 out of 10.

Agenda is a date-based, styled-text note-taking application by Momenta BV. It incorporates note-taking and planning in one app. If you want to track your notes, this is the app you want. Unlike most note-taking apps we have reviewed, Agenda is not a handwriting note-taking app. It has text-based note-taking with limited inking capabilities.

Pricing

Agenda is available on iOS, iPadOS and macOS. It is a free app with an in-app purchase for premium features. Its subscription permanently unlocks already released (to date) premium features and all the new updates released that year while your subscription is still active. Once unlocked, you keep the features forever, even if you stop paying the subscription. This is the best subscription model we have seen on App Store. The app costs:

Screenshot showing how to create a reminder in Agenda.
Creating a new Reminder in Agenda

Orientation

Agenda has one working space that is divided into three columns; one big column in the middle and two small sidebars. The left sidebar is for navigation, while the right one is for planning. The middle and most prominent column is the main working space for note-taking. Agenda has a very minimalist approach to note-taking, but some users might not appreciate the lack of folders.

The Middle Column

Creating New Notes

You can start creating notes from two different locations on your left navigation bar, each gives you different options:

  • Overviews: On the Agenda, Today and Search All.
  • Project

Under Overviews

To create a new note from Overviews (under Today for example), tap the Plus icon on the top left corner of the middle workspace. You can then select the Project for your new note (whose default title is today’s date, which you can change by tapping Today). If you want to prep for a class/meeting/lecture, you can change the date to a future one and Assign Date. It’s best to change the date changing after you’ve finished taking your notes. Changing it moves your notes from the Today overview to the project you’ve chosen, which might be difficult to find.

Under Projects

The easiest way to create new notes is to go to the right project for it. Tap on the plus icon to create a new Untitled Note and tap the calendar icon to add a date to it. You can rename your note section and start writing.

Notes Linked To Events In Apple Calendar

You can also create notes linked to Events from your Apple Calendar. Just tap the date on the right sidebar and go to New Note Linked to Event. Agenda will extract all the information from your calendar event: title, notes, date and time. This is great for meetings and allows you to do more with Apple Calendar.

Notes Linked To Reminders in Apple Reminders

When you tap a reminder on the right sidebar, you can create New Note with Reminder. Agenda can’t extract all the information from your reminders though. Subtasks, images and priorities – all stay in Apple Reminders. Effectively, both Agenda adds more function to your Calendar and Reminders app, but it does not replace them.

Create Notes Faster

Duplicate

Instead of creating new notes, you can duplicate already existing ones. Simply tap on the Settings icon and Duplicate. It would be better if we could easily create new notes from templates we have saved in the app. 

Split

You can also Split at Insertion Point to split a note into two. In case you want to add more information to a section, this is a quick way to do that. Let’s hope they can give us a popup menu for this feature. That way, we don’t have to navigate to the end of our note-section to split them.


When you put the text cursor at the beginning of your notes, you can add the new note before the current one (Precede by New Note). When your cursor is at the end, Start New Note adds it below. You won’t be wasting time moving your notes anymore. Now you can create them exactly where you want them.

The Keyboard Toolbar

Agenda is equipped with the right tools for creating comprehensive styled-text notes. You can add the following items to your notes: 

  • Headings (H1- H4)
  • Code
  • Numbered lists
  • Unnumbered lists
  • Interactive checklists
  • Format: Bold, Italic, Underline, Strikeout
  • Superscript
  • Subscript 

Lists

Both your numbered and unnumbered lists only have one type of numbering or bullet. It makes hierarchies in the app a bit boring. Lists are better when you can easily differentiate their hierarchies; bullets and numberings play a big part in that.

Your interactive checklists can either be struck-out or dimmed. Both options help you tell apart complete tasks from incomplete ones. Which option works best really depends on your preferences.

Formatting, Subscript & Superscript

It is impressive that a simple app like this supports superscript and subscript. However, highlighting is a more basic function, which the app should certainly have. You could excuse them for it since they have tags, but highlighting still is a simpler way to make information stand out with much less effort. Tags must be well-thought and organised, highlights are simpler.

Items You Can Add To Your Notes

Hyperlinks

You can link different parts of your notes using hyperlinks. When you tap the hyperlink icon, you can link to a Recently Edited note or navigate through your projects to find a note. When you have a lot of notes, navigating through all your notes wastes time. Let’s hope in the future we will be able to search for the notes we want to link to. You can also Add Web Link, for which you can enter the Displayed Text and the link. Agenda also lets you add the following items to your notes:

  • Date
  • Time
  • Horizontal rule for organising and structuring.

Tables

Tables offer a simple way of presenting information and are a must-have for every note-taking app. Agenda first adds a 2 x 2 table, to which you can add as many rows and columns as you need (using the three-dots icon). Dragging the edges of the table to add more rows and columns would make our lives easier.

The columns have a fixed width, which makes the table symmetrical. The cell height depends on how much information you add to it. Tap a cell to start adding text and you can make it:

  • Bold
  • Italic 
  • Underline
  • Strikeout

You can also align the text in your columns and add code, superscripts and subscripts.

Attachments

You can add attachments to your notes: audio files, videos, zip files, PDFs, images, etc. After trying a few different files, Agenda seems to support ANY FILE. You can also decide how the attachments look when you long-press them to:

  • Edit their Name
  • Choose their Display: Inline, Thumbnail, Thumbnail & Title
  • Decide Actions to take on them: Preview, Share or Copy.

The full-width display is not available for all attachments. You get it for images and small PDFs. It doesn’t display all the pages in your PDF, only the first page. You can Preview attachments in a separate window but there are no Apple Pencilkit markup tools for PDFs. In the preview window, you can export the file to other apps. Although you can attach anything in Agenda, you can only preview files with formats that are supported by the app (they aren’t many).

Star Icons

You can add star icons to mark favourite sections in your notes. These stand out when going through your notes. Since the app doesn’t have highlighting, starring can be a decent alternative. Different colours for the stars could help us colour-code our bookmarks.

Photos & Videos

You can add photos and videos from your library or take them with your camera. At first glance, it almost feels like you’re attaching a file. However, with your photos, you have the option to Annotate them when you long-press for further actions. Annotation for photos is a must-have for a note-taking app.

Since Agenda 13, we can now decide how big we want our full images to be: 25, 50, 75 or 100%. This helps you to see your full image alongside your notes. We look forward to having text wrap in the app. That way, we can add notes around our images.

Add Reminders To Apple Reminders

You can add sections of your notes to Apple Reminders using the Clock icon. You can pick a date for your reminder on the left side of the pop-up window. The down-facing arrow at the bottom right corner of that left section, has some date presets for:

  • Today
  • Tomorrow
  • Next 10 days
  • Next Week
  • Next Month
  • Next Year

You can Type Date or Range to skip navigating your calendar, no need to scroll through dates. To return to the current date, simply tap on the tiny circle icon next to your navigation arrows. You can now see dates with notes on your calendar, they are marked with dots. You can name your reminder and set the time for it. The down-facing arrow for your time lets you:

  • Change to All-Day/Timed Reminder
  • Change Time Zone

You can then choose the list to add your new reminder to; a list from your Apple Reminders. When you are happy with your options, Create your reminder without leaving Agenda and it appears on the right sidebar. In your notes, your reminder is indicated by a clock icon.

Tags 

You can tag people in your notes using the @ icon to track your co-workers for different projects, which is useful. You can also add hashtags to your notes using the # icon. Tags are useful for searching your notes because the app lets you search for hashtags or people specifically. Your tagged sections are, thus, easier to find.

Scans

You can scan documents into your projects. Agenda uses the iPadOS scanning technology to scan documents directly into the app, which has familiar features that allow you to:

  • Retake
  • Crop
  • Adjust the colour: Colour, Greyscale, Black & White and Photo
  • Rotate
  • Delete

You can preview your scan in a different window without any annotation tools. Let’s hope they can add those for us in the future.

Sketches & Handwritten Notes

You can add sketches and handwritten notes. Considering this is not primarily a handwriting note-taking app, it’s decent that the app has an option to add sketches. Agenda uses the Apple PencilKit and it works well. The lack of page customisation probably means this is not really meant for handwritten notes. This doodle feature is strictly for those things you REALLY can’t type (graphs, diagrams).

Agenda surely gives you a rich note-taking experience, for a planning app. This is very impressive and it definitely takes your planning to the next level. In Agenda, you can plan your days and take notes to keep track of your projects. Digital planning doesn’t get more fun than this!

Exporting

Once you have finished writing your notes, the Settings icon at the lower right corner lets you: 

  • Copy As: Note Text, Markdown, HTML, Plain Text or Agenda Link to paste in other apps.
  • Move To
    • Before Previous Note
    • After Next Note
    • Before First Note
    • After Last Note
    • Other Project
  • Share
  • Print
  • Add to Siri
  • Save as Template
  • Show Info
    • Statistics: Words, Characters, paragraphs
    • Created At
  • Move to Bin

Bookmarking

The dot icon in front of each topic has options to: 

  • Mark as On Agenda/ Remove from On the Agenda 
  • Mark as done
  • Pin to Top
  • Make into Footnote
  • Collapse Note
  • Other Actions that are exactly like the ones for exporting your notes.

Marking your notes as On the Agenda adds them to the Overviews on the top left sidebar for easier access. It bookmarks notes you are currently working on, stuff that’s “on the agenda“. Another way to bookmark your notes is to pin them to the top of the project. You can also move a note to the footnote section if you never want to see it again. 

Navigating Your Project

Agenda automatically creates an outline for your project from your section/block headings. You can access it when you tap the name of your project at the very top of your workspace. Then you can Sort with Earliest Date first or vice versa. You can also navigate to different projects by tapping subcategories and categories. The top of your workspace shows the exact organisation level of your notes.

You can collapse your blocks to see only the headings of your sections/blocks. When they are collapsed, you essentially have another outline. For a minimalist look, expand only the sections you’re currently working on. It keeps the whole project in perspective.

When you tap on your title’s navigation, you can now drag down your notes’ outline to bring up a search bar for quicker navigation. This is especially useful when you have a lot of notes in the app. It will save you a lot of time. 

The Left Sidebar

The left sidebar is your navigation bar. Starting from the very top, under Overviews:

  • On the Agenda shows notes that you have bookmarked for easier access, regardless of their date.
  • Today shows all the notes you created today and those scheduled for today.
  • Search All searches through all your notes. Smart Overviews are saved search results that bookmark your most commonly searched terms.
  • Bin keeps all your deleted notes, in case you want to recover them. Agenda keeps your notes in the recycle bin until you permanently delete them.
  • The bottom arrows on the right navigate through your history in the app— the sort of navigation you find in a web browser. 
  • The plus icon on the left lets you add a New Project or New Category

Organisation

Agenda organises your notes into categories, subcategories and projects. You can collapse your categories and subcategories for a minimalist look and expand them at will. Agenda allows you to have subcategories within subcategories. Projects contain your dated note sections

  • Categories
    • Subcategories
      • Projects
        • Note-sections

Categories & Subcategories

The three-dots icon on the side of each category lets you:

  • Create New Project in Category
  • Edit category
    • Add Name
    • Choose Colour
    • Delete Category
  • Add Subcategory
  • Delete Category

Projects

The three-dots icon on your projects let you:

  • Rename
  • Copy As as Rich Text, Markdown, HTML, Plain Text or an Agenda Link to paste in other apps.
  • Share your notes in multiple formats: RTF, PDF, Markdown, Plain Text, Agenda Link or Agenda file.
  • Print (we highly disapprove)
  • Add to Siri for creating Siri Shortcuts. 
  • Archive Project when completed. At the bottom of each category, you get to see the number of archived projects. 
  • Show info on the project: last edited, showing editing devices, created at and file size. 
  • Move to Bin

The Right Sidebar

The right sidebar is the planning part of Agenda. It tracks all the date-related information in the app. It has sections for your Apple Calendar & Apple Reminders, Recently Edited and Related notes.

Calendar Events

Calendar events contain information from your selected calendars in Apple Calendar. You can create and edit them without leaving the app. The Plus icon on the top left corner lets you create a New Event or a Quick Reminder.

New Event

On the left of the popup window, you can pick a date for your event. You can then:

  • Add Event Title
  • Pick the time when your event Starts and Ends. The down-facing arrow lets you Change to All-Day/Timed Event or Change Time Zone. Below the arrow, the app will tell you how long your event will last.
  • Choose a calendar for your new event
  • Add Location
  • Add URL
  • Set alert before the event.

Adding Notes

When you tap on an event, you can do the following:

  • Link to Selected Note to add all the event details to the notes selected in your project.
  • Create New Note Linked to Event
  • Quick Reschedule to:
    • 15 or 30 minutes from now
    • 1 or 2 hours from now
    • For Tomorrow
    • For Next Week
    • For Next Month
    • A Day Later
    • A Week Later
  • Edit to change anything about your event
  • Show in Calendar to go to Apple Calendar.

Note-Linked Events

Events with notes linked to them have a notes icon on the right. When you tap on such an event, you can:

  • Go to Linked Notes
  • Link to Selected Note
  • New Note Linked to Event
  • Quick Reschedule
  • Edit
  • Unlink Note to remove the link between the note and that event.
  • Show in Calendar

Apple Reminders

Agenda only displays reminders with deadlines (regardless of what list they are in), not all your reminders.

New Reminder

The plus icon on the top right corner of the right sidebar has an option to create a Quick Reminder. On the left side of the popup window, you can pick a date for your new reminder and:

  • Add Reminder Title
  • Pick a time
  • On the down-facing arrow:
    • Change to All-Day Reminder
    • Change Time Zone
  • Pick a list for your reminder

Adding Notes

Tapping on a reminder gives you options to:

  • Add to Selected Note
  • New Note with Reminder
  • Mark as Completed
  • Quick Reschedule to as early as 5 minutes.
  • Edit
  • Show in Reminders

Note-Linked Reminders

Tapping a reminder linked to some notes gives you the following options:

  • Go to Note
  • Marks as Completed
  • Quick Reschedule
  • Edit
  • Show in Reminders

More Notes

Under your reminders, you can access your Recently Edited and Related notes. Related notes contain similar traits, like tags and people. The app has a massive database of How-tos, which you can access without leaving the app.

iPadOS Support

  • Agenda does not have multiple instances. It could be handy when you want to compare projects.
  • You can use Scribble to take notes in Agenda.
  • Agenda looks beautiful in dark mode.
  • Agenda has Relevant Notes widgets that come in three sizes. You can choose to see:
    • All
    • On the Agenda
    • Today
    • Upcoming

Searching

You can filter your notes to focus on those Marked as Done only or ones not yet done. You can also quickly navigate through your dated notes and Agenda lets you search for tags and people. Your notes are easier to find when they are tagged.

Whatever you search for, in Agenda, you can save the results as smart overviews to easily find the results from your sidebar. Smart overviews are useful when you have items you’re always searching for. You can create them for upcoming meetings, your schedule for the next 10 days/next week or even for all the projects you’re working on with someone you’ve tagged.

Settings

General

You can turn on options to determine how your app behaves to different actions:

  • Add Empty Note to New Project
  • Mark New Notes as On the Agenda
  • Assign New Note to Today
  • Only Draw with Apple Pencil
  • Sync Notes Between Devices via iCloud or Dropbox. Agenda has a very defective syncing engine. If you’re unlucky to get plagued by this common bug, you can potentially fail to sync your notes between your Mac and iPad (in the worst case scenario). As of this writing, I have been waiting three days for the app to sync.

Appearance

Determine how your app looks by customising your:

  • Interface Appearance: System, Light, Dark and Black.
  • Accent Colour
  • Notes Text Size
  • Line Spacing
  • Tags, People, Attachments: Prominent or Subdued. Prominent makes your tags stand out in the text and subdued is more toned-down.
  • Unordered Lists: Dashed or Bulleted.
  • Ticked Items: Default, Strikethrough, Greyed Out.

You have a Note Preview at the bottom of your settings to see in real-time how all the changes look. That way you can better customise your app’s appearance without going back and forth.

Calendar

Events

  • Shown Calendars lets you pick the calendars you want to display from your Apple Calendar.
  • First day of the Week
  • Show Dates as Relative to Today
  • Import Event Notes

Reminders

  • Shown Lists lets you pick the lists you want to display from Apple Reminders.
  • Create All-Day Reminders by Default

Account

You can sign in to the account with your Apple ID or email. If you don’t have an account, you can create one.

Who Should Buy This Application?

Agenda is excellent for planning and note-taking. It’s great for anyone who wants to take dated, styled-text notes and chronologically track them. Its minimalist approach ensures that every note you create in the application looks uniform. For one who doesn’t support subscriptions, I believe this one is reasonable. You pay for new updates and keep the ones you already have for a lifetime. The seamless integration with Apple Calendar and Apple Reminders makes Agenda a very powerful planning app.

Updates

Comments · 1

  1. Hello,
    I would like to point out that there is a big mistake in the description of the economic model of Agenda which can make a huge difference for many people refusing to pay a subscription for an app : this is NOT a subscription ! : buying the app unlock all the premium features (and all features added in the following year) permanently and FOREVER. You do not need to pay again to keep these premium features, you can keep the app like that all your life without paying again.
    In fact their economic model is very similar to the old classical system in which you buy the app and can use it as long as you wish until the day you feel that the added features of newer versions are interesting and then you can buy, if you want, the new version.
    Bottom line : there is no subscription at all with this app and thus you need to correct this in the description, in particular by removing the sentence “while your subscription is still active” which suggest that premium features that were bought are removed if you don’t want to pay again. You can check their website where the developpers explain this very clearly.

    Apart from that, I would like to thank you for this website and the associated youtube channel. I am a researcher currently trying various app to replace Findings, a fantastic Electronic Lab Notebook for which, sadly, development has been arrested due to poor sales and Agenda is one of the app that I am considering for this role.

Any thoughts? Do tell, do tell!