Having a reliable note-taking app installed on your iPad is an essential part of staying productive when you’re on-the-go. The best iPad note-taking apps will sync your notes across all your devices and come with a host of useful features.
So if you’re looking for the best note-taking app for your iPad or iPad Pro, keep reading to find out more.
If you prefer to take your notes using handwriting rather than the on-screen keyboard, GoodNotes is a great place to begin. It’s arguably the best note-taking app for an Apple Pencil.
Using a stylus to take notes on your iPad has some notable benefits, especially for certain types of content. For example, if you need to jot down complex equations, formulas, and other scientific characters, using a keyboard is at best arduous and at worst impossible.
Important features in GoodNotes include the ability to annotate PDFs, a way to convert handwritten content into text, and note syncing with the major cloud storage providers.
Download: GoodNotes ($8)
2. Apple Notes
Sometimes the most obvious solution is the best solution. That’s arguably the case with Apple Notes.
The app comes pre-installed on iOS devices and is entirely free to use. A redesign to coincide with the release of iOS 11 in late 2017 brought several improvements; it’s now one of the best note-taking apps for iPads and iPad Pros, especially thanks to multitasking and text editing gestures.
Apple Notes has an impressive array of tools that’ll work with an Apple Pencil. It offers extensive style options, and uses iCloud to sync with all your other Apple devices seamlessly.
We’ve written about how to use Apple Notes if you would like to learn more.
Download: Apple Notes (Free)
Notability is the best note-taking app for iPad if the ability to annotate PDFs is important to you. Since it facilitates note-taking with the Apple Pencil or a stylus, Notability makes a great app for creating beautiful bullet journal spreads.
Some of the app’s most noteworthy features include:
- Convert handwritten notes into text
- Multi-note support so you can work on two notes side-by-side
- PDF annotation
- A search function that can scan both text and handwritten notes
- A powerful sketching tool that lets you use custom colors and draw shapes
- Drag-and-drop support for files, text, photos, GIFs, and web pages
As with the other apps here, Notability is compatible with iCloud so you can sync your notes across all your other iOS and macOS devices.
Finally, Notability also supports audio files. The app will sync your notes with the recording, allowing you to listen to what was said at the time you made the note. The feature is perfect for presentations and lectures.
Download: Notability ($10, in-app purchases available)
4. Notepad+ Pro
Notepad+ Pro is the most expensive app on this list—it’ll set you back $20. But it’s the best option for anyone who wants that traditional pen-and-paper feel on their iPad or iPad Pro. There are several ink pens, highlighters, and color tools, all of which aim to replicate the paper approach to note-taking.
The app is primarily geared towards people who own an Apple Pencil (or another iOS-compatible stylus), though it does support keyboard input as well.
If you need to annotate files in a variety of formats, the app is definitely worth checking out. It lets you add notes to PDF files as well as files in the Excel, Keynote, and Numbers formats.
Another of the app’s cool features is its blur tool. You can hide sensitive data on your documents with a single tap before you share it with other users.
Download: Notepad+ Pro ($20)
Another iPad note-taking app worth considering is Evernote. The app needs no introduction; it’s been one of the best note-taking apps on all major platforms for several years.
Evernote does have a free tier. You can use it to take notes, format them as you desire, record audio, and create to-do lists. More powerful features, such as version history, PDF annotation, integration with cloud providers, and multi-person collaboration require a subscription, however. The free tier is also restricted to two devices.
Two paid subscription plans are available. Premium is $8 per month, while Business costs $15 per month.
Download: Evernote (Free, subscription available)
The best note-taking apps on your iPad or iPad Pro don’t necessarily need to be the most complex. Sometimes, simple is better.
And that’s where Simplenote really shines. As the name suggests, this isn’t an app loaded with endless bells and whistles that you’ll rarely use. Instead, it focuses on letting you take great notes in a clean and straightforward way, while giving you a few nifty features to sweeten your note-taking experience.
The app doesn’t support styluses, PDF annotation, or other power-user features found in other apps. Quite simply, your list of notes shows in the left-hand panel and your content appears in the right-hand panel.
Simplenote does include note searching so you can easily recall your earlier jottings. It also supports tags.
Download: Simplenote (Free)
If an app’s design is important to you, have a look at Bear. It’s one of the most beautiful note-taking apps you’ll find for iPad and iPad Pro.
But Bear is far from an app that’s all style and no substance. Some of its best features include hashtags (so you can easily find connected content), support for the Apple Watch (allowing you to dictate audio notes when you’re on-the-go), and the ability to take notes and make drawings using an Apple Pencil.
Impressively, Bear is also compatible with Siri. You can create notes from any Siri-enabled device using nothing more than your voice. Finally, Bear offers a solid selection of export formats, including HTML, PDF, DOCX, MD, JPG, and EPUB.
Bear is free to download and use, but if you want to sync your notes between devices, you will need to buy a subscription. A plan costs $1.49 per month or $15 per year.
Download: Bear (Free, subscription available)
Other Ways to Stay Productive on an iPad
Using one of the best note-taking apps for your iPad or iPad Pro is only half the battle. You’ll need lots of other apps if you want to stay productive on your iOS device.
To learn more, check out some must-have professional apps for iPads and hidden iOS features that will make you more productive.