The 6 Best Note-Taking Apps For Your iPad in 2021

The 6 Best Note-Taking Apps For Your iPad

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In this blog, we are going to look at the best note-taking apps for iPad users. You might be wondering what is the best note-taking app for students. Or maybe you simply need to know what note-taking app is best for organizing your notes. 

Or maybe you just want to to learn more about popular note-taking apps such as notability, nebo, goodnotes or evernote, or even compare two specific apps, such as goodnotes vs nebo. 

Either way, you will most likely find what you are looking for in this post. Which app is best for note-taking? Let's find out!


#1 Notability - The Best Overall Note-Taking App

#2 GoodNotes 5 - The Best Looking Note-Taking App for Free

#3 Apple Notes - The Best Free Note-Taking App 

#4 Nebo - The Best Up-and-Coming Note-Taking App

#5 OneNote - Best App for Collaboration

#6 Evernote - Your Personal Secretary

Honorable mentions


The best note-taking apps are good at helping you take clean, effective notes, help you with organizing your notes, and make keeping track of your schedule easier.



Keeping these three aspects in mind, we have compiled a list of the best note-taking apps. We made sure that there was at least one fitting app for as many demographics as possible: the best note-taking app for students, for artists, and for professionals.

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In this blog, you will find the right note-taking app for you. Can't find your perfect app in the list below? Maybe you will find it in our "Honorable Mentions" section, which I like to call the “Parents-In-Law” section: some really like their parents-in-law, and others... don't.

Fresh Off The Boat Word GIF by ABC Network



The best Note-Taking Apps for iPad:

#1 Notability - The Best Note-Taking App for Students

Have you ever sat in class, and completely dozed off - daydreams and all? Has this ever cost you 30 minutes of that precious accounting lesson you wanted to attend? No? Well, this never happened to me either, of course... But, with the app Notability, daydreaming would never be a problem in the first place! Notability is an iPad note taking app with audio recording! With its audio recording feature, it lets you easily transform any spoken word into an audio file. You can listen to this file whenever you want. And if you take a note while recording, Notability will remember when you wrote it down! While listening to the recording, you will exactly know when you wrote something down.

 Proud Oh Yeah GIF by Sky

Another popular feature of Notability is handwriting-to-text conversion. This way you can take notes by hand (which is better for remembering!), and convert them to text later on. If you're a fan of writing handwritten notes, be sure to check out our pen tips to get more control while writing!

Sadly, not all of Notability's functions are free. You will have to pay to create and choose from stickers, convert handwriting to text, and support of mathematical conversions.

For many note-takers, it is important that a note-taking app is easily accessible and easy to use. Notability offers just that. Notability provides you with a tutorial that explains all gestures that you can use. Notability also lets you include audio, written notes, drawings, typed text, images, and PDFs into the same document!

In this video you can get a first impression of Notability's renowned audio recording feature, which I found on the Ohio State University Youtube:

Price: 9.99€

Download Here App Store



#2 GoodNotes 5 - The Note-Taking App for anyone

Similar to Notability, GoodNotes 5 comes with a lot of interesting features. To start, GoodNotes 5 has a large variety of pen types along with sliders. Basic tools like the pen, a highlighter, an eraser, a lasso, and a shape tool are also included in the package. Unlike Notability, GoodNotes 5 does not offer audio recordings. So, you better wake up and write your notes down, before you fail that accounting course.

Im Late Oh No GIF by Film Riot

A somewhat time-consuming feature of GoodNotes 5 is its text conversions feature. Instead of letting you paste the text into your notes, you have to copy and paste the text manually from a conversion box 1.

To give you an idea of how the word recognition and text conversion work, here is a brief explanatory video:

A great feature, however, is the multiple window feature GoodNotes 5 offers. This feature lets you work on different tabs simultaneously while using a split-screen.

A new, great addition to GoodNotes features is flashcards. You can use these as traditional flashcards to have a better learning experience. Whether you want to use it for your study, for leisure, or for work, just know YOU CAN.

Tonight Show Yes GIF by The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon

Does GoodNotes have audio recording

Unlike Notability, GoodNotes does not have audio recording. This is one of the reasons why some people prefer Notability over GoodNotes. However, if you really want to use GoodNotes for features that Notability does not have, but need to record audio, you could always use a separate app for audio recording. 

Price: € 8,99

Download Here App Store



#3 Apple Notes - The Best Free Note-Taking App

It’s a bird it’s a plane! No, it’s just plain. But sometimes that is all you need in life. Like Apple’s own note-taking application, Apple Notes. It is free and easy to use. But it wouldn’t quite do justice to this underestimated organizational tool. There are a lot of things this app cannot do, but let’s talk about the things you can do first.

If you are an Apple user, there is no need for me to explain the concept of Apple Notes to you. It is free and pre-installed on every iPad there is. Yet it brings along some very interesting values that not a lot of people were aware of. Apple Notes comes with handwriting recognition, search- and inline scanning2, annotation support3, multitasking, and text editing gestures.

Added to that, it smoothly works together with Apple Pencils. It is one of the most simplistic apps there is right now. Perfect for anyone who wants to put down their notes without a lot of gimmicks or organizational tools!

Surprised Cat GIF

Apple Notes is definitely not the most versatile application there is. Although it comes with a great assortment of features, there are some limitations that this free app brings with it.


Price: Free/Pre-Installed

No Download needed.

Website (Apple)


#4 Nebo - The Best Up-and-Coming Note-Taking App

Now that we have discussed the main players in note-taking apps, let's talk about the underdogs lingering in the shadows.

Nebo is one of those underdogs. Although being released in the same year as Notability, Nebo couldn’t keep up with all the features that Notability and GoodNotes offered. However, Nebo is still partly free, while Notability and GoodNotes are both paid apps

Pia Love GIF by Australian Survivor

Nebo or Notability? Nebo or Goodnotes? Why do some people prefer Nebo over these two popular apps? One thing that makes Nebo particularly stand out, is its interactive diagrams. If you like to keep everything organized and clean, we would recommend trying it out.

Another great thing about Nebo is the picture annotation feature. The picture stays in the same position and moves dynamically when you change it.

It also has a beginner-friendly tutorial. This tutorial explains the gestures that you will have to know to effectively use the app.

Here is a little teaser of Nebo's unique and innovative "interactive ink" with which even the worst handwriting can be recognized through artificial intelligence:

Everything around this app was tailored to work with this interactive ink. So Nebo recognizes handwriting using a neural network4 according to the language settings.

And it lets you convert your handwriting to text, it auto-corrects illegible handwriting and facilitates text editing through having intuitive editing tools.

Dobre Malltelevize GIF by MALL.TV

To its own disadvantage, Nebo users cannot use more than one language while converting notes. For Nebo, it is hard to recognize more than one language at the same time. It also does not recognize text in pictures, as it does not rely on optical character recognition(OCR)5 but on digital signals.

Nebo is pretty helpful when it comes to note-taking, but you cannot use Nebo as a mere standalone version. Its final formatting must be done by either docs or a different program.

Is Nebo worth it?

It depends. Nebo definitely has many great features, such as interactive diagrams and picture annotation, and is very easy to use. The fact that it is pretty much free is also a big plus for many. However, there are some downsides to Nebo, such as recognizing multiple languages while converting notes. Luckily, it is easy to test out Nebo to see if it fits your note-taking style without spending a dime!


Price: Free with in-app purchases

Download Here App Store



#5 Microsoft OneNote - The Best Note-Taking App for Collaborations

Compared to Nebo, OneNote uses adequate Optical Character Recognition. On the other hand, OneNote’s text editing is a bit less intuitive and practical than Nebo’s. One reason for it being less intuitive is that the application does not offer a tutorial anymore, except for the desktop version.

OneNote facilitates collaboration with other Microsoft applications or exclusively through OneNote. 

Apart from OneNote being an eligible standalone version, there is other reasons why one would think that OneNote offers more and better features than Nebo. 

First of all, with Microsoft being the parent company, you would expect OneNote to be a full-fledged, premium and always up-to-date application. This is normally true. But even though Microsoft is the parent company, the features are often flawed, buggy and, unfortunately, too far off from Microsoft's reputation.

Therefore, we have ruled that MyScript's Nebo is slightly outperforming Microsoft's OneNote, even though it offers more features and the free version is better. You get a clean contextual packaged experience when buying Nebo's full version, whereas OneNote has shown performance issues and conversion issues.

Hasan Minhaj Netflix GIF by Patriot Act

The reason why we are comparing Nebo and OneNote in the first place is because their functions and their UI(User Interface) are quite similar. Therefore, Nebo as well as OneNote, might be a good alternative if you are having troubles with either one of these applications. 


Price: Free with subscription plans.

Download Here App Store



#6 Evernote - The Best Note-Taking App for Organizing

Evernote has very simple note-taking functionalities. It is, however, great for managing your tasks and organizing your notes. The free version is attractive to a certain degree but only offers a limited amount of features.

Evernote does provide a recording function, but it is limited to text documents only.  Also, if you want to annotate documents inside a note you will have to get the full-fledged version for which you can pay from 4.99€ a month to 59.99€ annually. 

All in all, Evernote does not provide you the best tools, the most convenient ways of note-taking in general nor the same contextual packaged experience as Notability or GoodNotes. But that's not to say that it does not have interesting value propositions!

It is extremely useful for your document organization. Can be used as a storage for old documents, a task manager or as a life logger.

Another big advantage is that you can collaborate with your friends or colleagues on the same document, being an adequate alternative for google docs.

Awesome All In GIF by Studio Flox

Added to that, Evernote provides a feature that distinguishes it from any other candidate on our list. The “print to Evernote” feature, makes Evernote the organizational oasis that it is. Letting users print or rather copy their documents from the majority of applications used for taking notes or drawing. Whether it is a Word document, or another application, with a mere button it easily transfers your sketches, university notes, invoices, etc. to Evernote, where you can then organize them.

Here is an example of how Evernote can be used to improve ones own organization:

Price: Free with in-app purchases.

Download Here App Store


GoodNotes 5, Nebo, or Notability?

The most frequently used apps within our community seem to be GoodNotes, Nebo, and Notability. For those who are not sure which of these three apps to choose, even after reading this blog post, we have made an overview for you. This overview compares popular features of the note taking apps. Is there anything you want to compare which we haven't added yet? Let us know in the comments!

GoodNotes 5 vs Nebo vs Notability
Pricing Audio recording Difficulty Image support Handwritten text conversion Amount of screens at the same time
Notability Paid app Yes Easy to use Supports images Yes, but only one language at a time One screen
Nebo Mostly free No Easy to use Supports images, and offers annotation Yes, for English and one more language One screen
GoodNotes 5 Paid app No Easy to use Supports images
Yes, but only one language at a time
Various tabs


I hope you've found the best note-taking app for your iPad! If you want to add some extra comfort to your note-taking experience, check out our products. Happy note-taking!


Honorable Mentions

So you still haven't found the right note-taking app for you? Some of our choices might be a little too pricey, especially because a large part of our audience/customers are students. On the other hand, some of you might be looking for very specific applications.

No matter what the reason is you did not find the right note-taking app for you, we might have something else to check out for you. In the honorable mentions section we showcase applications that just barely failed to make it to the top 6. However, these apps do offer some great value for people that are looking for free apps or more specific features.

maybe im looking for something i cant have GIF by The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon


Noteshelf is a novice amongst the note-taking apps. Noteshelf has some interesting features. Apart from letting you easily take notes, markup PSD’s, add photos, draw perfect shapes, add covers & templates, password-protect your notebooks, publish your files to Evernote, tag pages and recognize your handwriting, it also is compatible with Apple Watches for audio recordings.

Price: 10.99€

Download Here App Store



    Notebook, the free allrounder

    Notebook is a promising note-taking app. It offers a lot of values for being a completely cost-free sketching and note-taking app. Actually, it comprises the functionality of a set of different applications. It acts as a Note Taker, Word Processor, Markdown Editor6, HMTL to Markdown Converter, Task Manager, File Organizer, Clipboard Manager7, PDF Converter and Reader, eBook Creator, Document Converter, Audio Recorder, and much more.

    Price: Free | No in-app purchases

    Download Here App Store


    Penultimate (Evernote’s)

    Penultimate is an application acquired by the Evernote organization. It is a simple note-taking app without any gimmicks. Apart from its tight integration with Evernote as the main feature this application provides, it lets you markup images and share your notes with your friends and colleagues.

    Price: Free with in-app purchases

    Download Here App Store



      Simple Notes

      Simple Notes is a free app with interesting features. It gives you the ability to add tags to your notes so you can find them quicker, enables more organized teamwork through providing shared to-do lists, backs up your notes and work with every change you make, and supports markdowns.

      Price: Free / 8.99€

      Download Here App Store



      Glossary/Technical Terms/Technical Terms explained/What is this?

      1. Conversion Box - A square/rectangular box in which your handwriting automatically gets transformed into text. 

      2. Search- and Inline Scanning - Enables a user to quickly find any notes(handwritten or in images even) with the help of this scanning technique.

      3. Annotation Support - Provides smart annotations that are shareable, editable, and hideable. Practical when working on shared documents to communicate. 

      4. Neural Network - Extremely unique word recognition technique. Solely used by Nebo. For detailed information: 

      5. Optical Character Recognition - The process by which an electronic device or artificial intelligence recognizes printed or written letters or numbers. (Cambridge)

      6. Markdown Editor - Markdown is a set of rules to style and format a plain text and also a tool to convert these rules into perfectly formatted HTML. Users appreciate its flexibility and simplicity. (

      7. Clipboard Manager - A feature which broadens the functionality of any operating system's clipboard and caching functions. Enables users to save more than one piece of data in their cache for flexible usage. 



      This article was written by Collaborations Manager and Content Marketer, Marvin Rusch.


      For the Gifs we used and

      If someone wants access to the gifs we used, just click on the gif you want to look at and it will open up the source's website.

      Looking for more friction, less wear, and less noise with your apple pencil? Check out Pen Tips.


      • Marvin

        Hey Jim, I think of Notes Plus 5 as at most an honorable mention. It might promise to work like GoodNotes4, Nebo, and Notability together, but none of these functions are working as great as in the respective applications. It offers a worse Nebo, Notability, and GoodNotes experience in a paid application. While it might provide the right functions for some note-takers, it surely doesn’t cut it for people who are used to the other apps’ unique functions.
        Thank you for the great question. – Marvin

      • Musha

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      • Jim Sieyes

        What do you think of Notes Plus5?

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