ZoomNotes is a very complex note-taking application, but it can do almost anything you can imagine (in terms of creating notes). It practically has every writing tool imaginable; many types of rulers and supports an infinite whiteboard.
You can create any paper size in this application. ZoomNotes lets you pick your paper colour, lines, kind of lines (dashed, dotted, etc.) and line spacing. If you prefer creating your paper templates from scratch, this is the application for you. You can save your templates to the app’s template library.
The big paper sizes give you the ability to make insanely massive mind maps and charts. No matter what you want to create, chances are, you can do it in ZoomNotes. You just have to be willing to sit down and master the app. If you have the patience, it’s worth investing time into this app.
Noteshelf doesn’t capture your natural handwriting, but enhances it. It is perfect if you don’t like your handwriting or are just lazy to write; when you need the extra help to have decent looking notes.
Noteshelf has the best handwriting feel of any app on this list. The handwriting experience in Noteshelf is fantastic. It will make you want to keep writing notes 24seven. However, Noteshelf has a bit of a lag when writing for some users. If you’re unlucky, this bug might plague you. The developers of the app haven’t quite mastered this one yet.
Notes & Paper
This application replaced Note & Pen. Its outstanding feature is the animated page flips. If you miss physical textbooks, which you’ll probably do when you’re just starting to go paperless, this app is refreshing.
You can create PDF slide notes from your PowerPoint presentations. These are useful in lectures and meetings for annotating relevant information.
This app is great with creating many folders within folders. It has a large number of different paper templates. For each page, you can customise the colours of the page templates. It has a unique and pleasant shapes tool. You can rotate shapes and easily customise them. Adding tables in this application is super easy too. It remains one of the few apps supporting tables on this list.
If you prefer writing on plain paper, you can superimpose a grid over the paper when needed and remove it just as quickly. With the grid, you will always have the right line spacing every single time.
Notes Plus is the second most complicated note-taking app on this list. Like ZoomNotes, it has a lot of functions. The most outstanding of which is the infinite number of folders you can create in the app. You can create as many folders within folders as you like.
Notes Plus also supports OCR, a beneficial technology that converts your handwriting to text. You can project your screen using the VGA projection tool. A handy feature for doing presentations and lectures. This tool is helpful in both meetings and classrooms, especially if you’re going to scribble some information on your iPad during your presentation.
If you want to replicate your paper experience on your iPad, this is the application you ought to get. Notes Plus gives you the closest feel to writing on paper. It has a lot of resistance when writing, giving you the feeling of writing on paper.
OneNote is a Microsoft application. It is the only free note-taking app on this list. It syncs your notes via OneDrive and you can access them on any device. You can even access them online.
You have to log in though to use the app. Does anyone else dislike logging into Microsoft for anything? Their Microsoft accounts always have issues each time I try to log in.
OneNote will open and add anything you want to add to your notes: word documents, PowerPoint presentation, PDFs, audio files, etc. Before you rush off to buy a note-taking app, try this one first and see if it grows on you.
The best handwriting recognition note-taking app for those of you that prefer typed final notes. If you can’t type fast enough or your handwriting is messy, this app will work for you.
You can write your notes then convert everything to text. It is much easier to create your word documents in Nebo. Handy for those that prefer handwriting their thoughts but don’t want to type out their handwritten work. After you finish ‘penning’ your thoughts, convert everything to text with one tap.
Note Always is the most minimalist application on this list. It doesn’t even have settings for the user interface. Perfect for minimalists. It has a large variety of paper templates with ample customisation options. You can’t import external paper templates into the app. Note Always is strictly for note-taking; nothing else. You can’t use it for annotating slides or PDFs.
It is also the only application with a mobile toolbar. You can have the toolbar at the top, bottom, right or left side. You can also adjust the size of the toolbar (make it smaller or bigger), and even hide it from the screen altogether.
Writing in this app is fantastic! However, the app uses raster ink which looks a bit smudged when exporting your notes. Documents shared out of the app look like old scanned notes. When you zoom in, the ink becomes pixelated.
GoodNotes has OCR capabilities. You can search through your handwritten notes and even convert them to text. The app comes with many paper templates, and you can add custom paper templates to the app’s template library. It supports many page sizes (A7-A3). You can have many different paper templates in one notebook. It’s easy to add unique individual pages to your notes.
GoodNotes works best for those that print when writing, versus those that use cursive. Another thing to consider: GoodNotes creates big files that take up a lot of storage on your iPad.
You can record audio while taking notes. The playback syncs the audio to your notes. It is Notability’s trump card.
Notability works better for cursive handwriting. It only supports A4 paper size and adding custom page templates in Notability is exceptionally painful. Page customisation is terrible; you can’t even rotate your pages in Notability!
However, all things considered, Notability is the most stable and most functional handwriting note-taking app for your iPad.