The Random Thoughts of a Geek heading for Banbury
The Random Thoughts of a Geek heading for Banbury

Note taking on the iPad in 2020…

Likes and Dislikes
Demo Datasheet
Demo Data sheet

One of the things I use my iPad mini and Apple Pencil is taking notes on components from the data sheets.

I also have a iPad keyboard case that allows me to use my iPad as a very small laptop, or have the screen propped up for use as a presentation device at work for logging into Microsoft teams.

The application that I use most often for note taking is GoodNotes, For work notes I use Microsoft OneNote, but that is mostly under duress.

I have a few complaints about GoodNotes, and functions that I would like to see included.

I use GoodNotes on my iPhone to a far lesser extent, mostly in that case to read notes rather than edit, or write notes.

Likes and Dislikes
Likes and Dislikes

GoodNote Likes:

  • The text entry system (the small window that auto advances and carriage returns as you get the the end of the line).
  • The ease of use on the iPad
  • Free Form entry on the pages
  • Easy to move selections around on the page
  • The top toolbar for changing tools.
  • Palm rejection and the ability to move the ‘wrist rest part of the screen).

GoodNote Dislikes / Things to Fix / Things to Improve:

GoodNote Desktop App
GoodNote Desktop App
  • Better desktop app
  • Better keyboard / typed text input.
  • The ability to insert Audio, Video, PDF or any other file as an attachment.
  • Audio recording while taking notes
  • unlimited page size, for things like mind-maps
  • Bookmarks and hyperlink support
  • Ability to order pages in a hierarchy (like One Note)
  • Headers on pages
  • Markdown support for typed text
  • Syncing between devices by Files App / WebDav / etc (I use Next Cloud for syncing data between devices).

I do Like GoodNotes, and with a few additions it would be even better, It’s what I use for writing Lab-books and making notes. I know a lot of the BuJo1 community use it, and it has good support for annotating PDFs.

Tamarisk uses GoodNotes for all her university notes, and her BuJo.

Other Applications


Nebo is about £6.


  • OCR of handwriting
  • Cross platform

Less Good

  • Page layout is not as pretty, or free-form
  • no desktop app


Noto is ‘free’, but you will need to unlock Noto Pro to enable all features including:

  • Attachments
  • Export


  • All kinds of Markdown support
  • All kinds of attachments supported (in-app purchase required)
  • Preview of pages
  • Folder support

Less Good

  • No desktop app
  • Unknown cost, all endpoints need in-app purchase

Notes HD

Notes HD, this looks like it could be good if it gets an update, however it looks to be a bit of a dead duck


  • Bookmarking
  • Hand writing input (Not as good as GoodNote)

Less Good

  • No Desktop app in the UK store
  • Deprecated – no update since 2018


Microsoft OneNote is not bad, its what I use at work for keeping track of work stuff, It is great for dealing with lots of project data.


  • Inline of all types of attachment
  • You can import PDFs (I assume MS office documents as well) page by page.
  • Multiple workbooks
  • Hierarchical sorting of notebooks, pages and sections.
  • Cross Platform apps
  • Text support

Less Good

  • Made by Microsoft
  • Uses OneDrive for syncing (no local storage on mac).
  • Handwriting / Pen support sucks


Evernote is progressively getting worse value for money, it is subscription based if you want to do anything.


  • All kinds of attachment support
  • Cross Platform

Less Good

  • Poor layout control
  • Expensive
  1. BuJo – Bullet Journal

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