Noteful is the app that finally replaced Notability from my workflow. That is something no other app has been able to do since I went paperless, back in 2017.
- Move toolbars
- Opacity options for shapes & images
- Audio recording
- Layers for your pages
- Nested outlines
- No zoom tool
- No handwriting conversion
- Can’t export outlines
Pricing & supported OS
Noteful is a handwriting note-taking app for the iPad and iPhone by Noteful Technologies Ltd. It costs $4.99, a one-time purchase and has a free version (with some limitations) that you can try first, before purchasing it.
Creating digital notes
It is very easy to quickly get started in Noteful. When you don’t have a lot of time on your hands, you can start taking notes with a single tap. You can determine the defaults you want for your quick notebooks; templates you frequently use of course.
When you have a bit of time on your hands, you can customise every important aspect of your new notebook. You can:
- Name it.
- Add tags. Noteful uses tags for organising your notes, which are much better than folders.
- Pick a paper template from your recently used paper templates, or go to all the templates in the app. You get different kinds of paper templates:
These can either be portrait or landscape and of any three colours: white, beige and black. You can choose a page size; A3–A5, Letter, Legal and Tabloid.
If you don’t want to use any of these templates, you can import your own. Noteful can import word documents, ppt and PDF files. All the types of documents you import are first converted to PDF. You can even import multiple documents. The app will import them as separate documents. That way, you don’t waste time importing one document at a time, when you need many.
The user interface in Noteful is minimalist. It doesn’t have too much going on, and it looks modern. Exactly what you’d expect of a note-taking app in 2022. By default, the toolbar is on the left side of your screen which works. That is why we have left it there. However, you do get an option to move it to any side of the screen you want. You can also move your tab bar to the bottom if you prefer that. For an even more minimalist look, you can turn off your iPad’s status bar.
Noteful has three types of pen tools; ballpoint, fountain and brush. Both have a size range from 0.10 – 5mm. The app allows you to save five favourite pen thicknesses. These are more than enough for most note-taking needs.
Your colours go below your tools in the app. This toolbar currently has eleven colours, and there seems to still be room for more. At least ten colours for a colour palette is usually enough. You can easily adjust any of the colours from the grid or wheel. They recently added a colour picker and Hex code. Those are all the colour picking options you need for a note-taking app. You can also add more colours to the palette and even rearrange them if you like.
Noteful uses vector ink, which does not pixelate when you zoom in. It would help to know how zoomed in we are on pages because this app has insane zooming capabilities. Displaying a percentage zoom would make our lives easier. It does indicate when you fit a page to screen, which we’ve found useful when zooming out of your pages.
The handwriting experience in Noteful is awesome. There is no lag, palm rejection is perfect.
Your highlighter has a size range from 1 – 10 mm. It has a different colour palette (which makes sense) and it goes behind your ink. Even if you layer it, it does not dim your text.
The shapes tool, under the plus icon, in Noteful works more like stickers. Just tap on the shape you want and it’s added to your notes in a single tap. You can also draw your shapes directly on the page. Noteful supports both regular and irregular shapes, which you can adjust after you’ve drawn them. You can easily resize and rotate your shapes in the app. You can also style them to choose:
- Border colour, thickness and type
- Fill colour: it can be opaque or translucent
- The opacity of the entire shape
At the moment, your shape border and fill can only be the same colour. We hope in the future we’ll be able to have different colours for them.
Your eraser tool has five fixed sizes. It can erase per stroke or pixel. The pixel eraser is not very accurate, though. It needs a bit of work. You can set it to erase the highlighter only. Noteful also has an option to erase notes around your shapes, without erasing the shapes themselves. It’s quite handy. Auto-deselect immediately switches you back to the tool you were using before the eraser. You can also clear everything on the page in one tap.
Your text goes in a text box, which disappears when you stop typing. You can:
- Change the colour of your text
- Make it bold, italic, underlined or strikeout.
- Style your text box by picking its:
- Background colour
- Text box style
- Text box border thickness
- Opacity of the text box and its text. Let’s hope in the future we’ll be able to save some favourite styles.
- Resize and rotate the text box.
The lasso tool in Noteful can pick up specific items of your pages; handwriting, highlights, text boxes, images & shapes. You can also pick any combination you like. Whatever you pick, you can:
- Take a screenshot of it, the size of the image which you can determine. You can export the image anywhere you like.
- Drag & drop the screenshot out of the app
- Resize & rotate
- Cut, Copy and Delete.
- Style works best when you select one item at a time; text alone, for example.
- Move your selection across pages
Adding items to your notes
You can’t add a lot of items to your notes in Noteful, yet. We hope that changes as we get more updates for the app.
Images are a must-have for a note-taking app. Digital notes are just not complete without diagrams, right? You can add images from Photos, take some with your camera or drag & drop them into the app from anywhere.
You can then crop your images freehand or as a rectangle. Resizing it gives your rotation options as well. You can add a frame to your image. The frames look cooler with freehand cropped images. You can also determine the colour of your frame. Noteful has opacity options for your images, which we absolutely love.
You can record audio while taking handwritten notes in Noteful. We hope the feature will also extend to text in the future. Most users prefer syncing their audio to handwritten notes, which the app has covered. Your recordings are organised according to the date and time when recording them. You can rename or delete them. You can also export out of the app.
During your playback, you can rewind or fast forward 10 seconds at a time. You can now skip through the audio by tapping sections of your notes. You can speed up your playback or slow it down.
You can tag your pages in Noteful. When the tag you want is not there, you can easily create a new one. The app adds your tag to the page, which you can edit anytime. We hope in the future we could play around with our tag colours. For those of us that like staying organised, colour coded tags could help.
The awesome thing about tags in Noteful is that they are universal, you access them for all the notebooks in your app. They are an easier way to bookmark pages you want to quickly access from the home page. You can place your tag anywhere on the page, somewhere you can spot it while scrolling through your notes.
Layers offer a smart way of creating digital notes that we haven’t yet explored before. It might seem difficult at first, but once you understand it, it’s an excellent way to create notes, especially study notes you wish to revise.
You can name your layers, so you know what each layer contains. You can easily delete all the information on a layer for the entire notebook or just the page you’re on. It’s good to have both options. You can delete the layer, which deletes everything on that layer and lastly, Noteful can merge your layers. When you don’t want to see the information on a specific layer, you can hide it. Let us know what you’ll be using layers for in your notes.
- Multitasking: Noteful supports multiple instances. You can, therefore, open the same notebook twice. You can open multiple tabs, which opens even more documents at a time. Multiple instances and tabs are the ultimate multitasking combo.
- Scribble could be a workaround for those that need handwriting conversion in the app. At the moment, Noteful does not support handwriting conversion, but Scribble can fill that gap.
- Dark mode: like most note-taking apps on the market, Noteful does not support dark mode. Your best shot at it would be to use the app’s dark paper. That means, your paper and ink stay the same when switching between different modes.
- Gestures: Noteful has unique gestures that you can choose to turn off in the app’s settings. You can tap with two fingers to undo, tap not swipe. Then tap with three fingers to redo. These override the default three-finger swipes for iPadOS. If you’re used to those, then you can ignore this. The single taps are better though, they are easier to use and offer a better user experience.
You can view all the pages of your document. In Noteful, you can adjust the thumbnail of each document using the zooming gesture. Zooming out fits more pages on one screen, making it easier to scroll through them. Zooming in allows you to see the details of your pages, in case you’re looking for something. You can then:
- Insert a new page from any template
- Copy a page for pasting
- Rotate your page. Noteful has proper page rotation which rotates your ink as well as your page.
- Tag a page
- Extract a page to create a new notebook, which creates a copy of the page in that new notebook.
You can select multiple pages to copy, rotate, tag, delete, extract or share. You can also rearrange your pages in this window.
Noteful can recognise document outlines in your PDFs. The app also lets you create your own outlines for your document, even if it means adding to an already existing one. Another cool feature in Noteful is that you can nest your outlines. A lot of you guys have asked us about an app that can nest your outlines, perhaps it’s worth switching from GoodNotes. Let us know; if you need to nest your outlines, is it worth changing your note-taking app? Do tell!
Unfortunately, at the moment, Noteful does not export your documents with their outlines. So if exporting outlines is a big part of your work, you might want to wait a little bit.
You can bookmark your pages with a single tap. Noteful then gives you an option to Rename your bookmarks or delete them. You can rearrange your bookmarks if you like.
Under the three dots icon, you can change the Paper template for the currently opened page. Noteful, therefore, support different page templates in a single notebook. You also have the option to change all the pages in your notebook.
You can search your notes in Noteful (just text). The app displays your search results (and their pages) on a popup sidebar. You can then scroll through to see what you’re looking for.
You can skip to specific pages in your document if you know the page number. Pinning pages makes them easier to access on the homepage. You won’t be wasting time scrolling or navigating your document to find pages in the app. Simply pin it and pick up where you left off when you return.
Draw with Touch lets you draw with your finger, meaning you can use passive styluses in the app.
The app’s homepage displays your tags/folders on the left sidebar. For those that prefer the folders feel, you can create hierarchies by dragging and dropping your folders into other folders. It’s easier to understand how your folders are related to each other. Your pinned notebooks and pages are at the very top.
Universal search in the app is currently limited to your notebook titles. We hope in the future we’ll be able to search through the contents of our documents as well. Your notebooks can display as lists or thumbnails and you can sort them by date or name.
Selecting multiple documents gives you options to share, duplicate, edit the tags or delete them. Noteful is a minimalist app with very few settings. You can turn on iCloud sync and auto backup. A note-taking app needs both. At the moment you’re limited to using Google Drive only. We hope to see other popular cloud services in the future. For your backup, you can choose to include/exclude some tags and your backup can either be the Noteful format or PDF.
Noteful is an amazing note-taking app for the iPad, one we don’t hesitate to recommend. Our team loves it, and we prefer it to Notability or GoodNotes. Let us know if this is an app you can fit into your workflow and don’t hesitate to share any of your experiences with the app.