iPad pro digital note taking with GoodNotes

For a while now I have been using Apple’s notes App with all it’s limitations. I started using Goodnotes again because syncing was getting really buggy in the Notes app and I now own a iPad pro with an Apple Pencil . After revisiting it for a while I realized how good of an app GoodNotes actually is. I have been using the GoodNotes app on and off for the last couple of years. I started to use it because I really wanted to get into digital note taking. Starting off with a dumb stylus and later a bluetooth enabled stylus I had given up. It simply didn’t work well enough, actually it just sucked.

GoodNotes wasn’t the one to blame for this though. It was just that the iPad wasn’t designed for taking handwritten notes. No matter how hard some stylus makers tried it just was a bad experience. Then Apple pencil happened. This must have been the holy grale for all drawing and note taking apps on the iPad.

Actually it just sucked


One of the crucial features for me is syncing and with GoodNotes it works very well. I have my syncing setup with dropbox but it is my understanding that in this version (4.11.11) iCloud syncing is Fixed as well.

I also have the GoodNotes app on my iPhone and can look through my notes even when I don’t have my iPad at hand.

Just a month ago (6–7–2017) I also started using the Mac App to be able to look through my notes when working on app development. I love It when I jot something on my iPad and see it Appear on my Computer screen seconds later. This way of working does really help with on the fly wireframing my design and jotting down some notes over or next to them. It always seems a little magical to see those notes appear screen of my MacBook Pro.

I still use Notes but as I said I’m experiencing sync problems with the Apple Notes App. I use Notes to quickly note things on my Macbook pro or on my iPhone.

Types of Paper

One thing that I find crucial when making hand written notes is the use of different types of paper. This is something the Notes App lacks. With GoodNotes you can choose between lines, squared and even musical notes paper. This simply makes things a lot easier taking certain kinds of notes.

Object drawing

A really nice feature of GoodNotes is the ability to draw objects. If you touch the objects button it becomes really easy to draw straight lines, circles and triangles. You can also use it with the marker tool to markup over your texts in straight lines.

Lasso tool

Cut And paste

Another great thing about digital note taking is the ability to move things around. In GoodNotes you use the lasso tool to draw around the object or text you would like to select and then you can move it to any place you like.

Other features

The lasso tool provides a lot of other features as well. Once you tap your selection you get a range of possibilities which include:

  • Screenshot
  • Sizing
  • Color
  • Convert to text
  • Copy

I like the color and sizing feature very much but the big one here is the ability to convert your written notes to text. Actually the very text you are reading now was for 95% written text!

Zoom in

Another great tool in GoodNotes is the zoom in tool. This tool makes it easy to write smaller text. Also it automatically moves along with you when you write. It really helps putting much more text on the page or you can zoom in on an object and easily put text next to it.

“The Apple Pencil makes it almost perfect”

Pdf and images

Very usable is the ability to load in images and pdf documents. After inserting them you can easily draw over them to redact or add arrows, lines or mark up some text.


GoodNotes is my go to note taking app. At least for this moment in time. I have been using it on and off for a couple of years now. I started seriously using it with the Jot Script bluetooth pen. After a while I stopped using it, because even after replacing the pen twice it did not work half of the time. It is only after buying my iPad pro 9.7 inch with the Apple pencil I revisited GoodNotes. The pencil really makes this already great note taking app into an almost perfect one. But as we are on the brink of iOS 11 which includes an updated Apple notes app it remains to be seen if GoodNotes can keep it’s throne.

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