How to Take Handwritten Notes on iPad using the Apple Pencil

There are times when our brains flock with ideas when we go about our lives. An idea can hit you anytime and you can almost certainly forget about it. Jotting down those sporadic ideas on a paper is time-consuming if you don’t know where you’ve kept your notepad. But who needs a notepad anyway! Thanks to Apple’s iPads, people are able to multitask being productive. iPads are seen as perfect notepad replacements but where’s the fun in typing a long list of to-dos or a checklist you’ve got to finish by the end of the day. You can easily draw a sketch or write notes on your iPad in tandem with the Apple Pencil, which has been refined plenty this year.

The default Notes app is quite okay to get work done but since there aren’t many options on the market that puts the features of the Apple Pencil to good use, we will guide you on how to take handwritten notes on iPad.

How to Take Handwritten Notes on iPad using the Apple Pencil

Among the list, some apps are premium, requiring you to purchase the app wholly while some are free.

1. Notability app – $9.99

How to Take Handwritten Notes on iPad using the Apple Pencil

Notability tops this list and there’s a reason to it. While all the other apps are all-rounders, juggle the ‘cross-platform’ tag, Notability by GingerLabs is tailor-made to be used on an Apple iPad and the Pencil, to an extent. You can annotate, doodle, draw, write or do just about anything on this stupendous app. The app earns some brownie points by letting users annotate on PDFs. Creators will enjoy this to the core as you get functionalities like adding media, web clips, importing or exporting the notes. You can even select the color of the paper, which is dead-white on the other apps. You can also download the Mac version of Notability which can be accessed wherever you go. To jot down notes on what feels like a real notepad, the steep $9.99 is worth every penny.

2. Microsoft OneNote

How to Take Handwritten Notes on iPad using the Apple Pencil

This freebie should be your next stop if, for some reason, you don’t like Notability. Microsoft OneNote lets you open all your doors of creativity by unleashing a bunch of features, which we consider a fusion of the best features from all the apps. Got a checklist? Check. Organized notebooks? Check. Media uploads? Check. Handwritten notes in tandem typed notes? Heck yes. What more could you wish for? And did I mention it’s free? Probably I did, but I want to stress enough that the features you get on the other apps charge you basically for all the free ones OneNote offers. Additional features include web clipping and organizing notes into folders. Go for this app if you have a lot of ideas to jot down.

3. GoodNotes

GoodNotes is an excellent app that aims for your handwriting. The app feels veteran in managing your handwritten notes, which can be converted to text in no time. This is an ideal app for mathematicians to jot down complex math formulas. You can annotate PDFs, sync with iCloud, Google Drive, Dropbox, Box, etc. You get a huge collection of paper types and if you aren’t content with the repository, GoodNotes lets you upload some custom templates. Of course, the app supports handwritten notes so Apple Pencil is a great tool for the app. It does support third-party styluses. If you are the one who takes tonnes of notes which aren’t organized, the built-in handwriting search recognition is on point so you don’t have to worry about not finding a random note.

4. MyScript Nebo – $7.99

How to Take Handwritten Notes on iPad using the Apple Pencil

This app is dedicated to all the messy people out there. If scribbling left and right is your thing, then you will feel right at home using MyScript Nebo. The app gives you a solid handwriting-to-text conversion. This is an exclusively designed app for iPad Pro and of course, the Apple Pencil and boy does it do the job well. The conversion feels so smooth that your notion of apps that convert handwriting to text takes longer is shattered (for good, we hope!) You can use the pens in multiple colors which has great precision. Other features like adding media, equations, diagrams in tandem handwritten notes, is just fabulous. The ‘doodled’ notebooks can be exported in the form of text, HTML, PDF, or even a Word document. And yes, MyScript Nebo syncs perfectly well with iCloud, Google Drive, and Dropbox.

5. Evernote

How to Take Handwritten Notes on iPad using the Apple Pencil

Evernote is the jack of all trades in the world of note-taking apps. Although a free version would suffice most of the users, those looking for extra features like offline and live chat support, and a generous 10GB monthly media upload limit, or annotating PDFs, you can opt for the premium version ($7.99/$14.99 per month). Evernote, like OneNote, is available on large platforms, which can be accessed anywhere, anytime. You can sketch, make a to-do list, make a proper report or just write down notes – the app is ready to handle whatever you throw at it. Do all of this and still get the notes you are looking for, thanks to its adept search option. The free version is a bit dross compared to the competition so we say if you can afford it, go for the premium version.

6. Paper

All thanks to Apple Pencil, Papers have flourished since its genesis. Don’t think of it as a sketching app, it’s more than meets the eye. You can create eye-pleasing designs as well as indulge in handwritten notes. There are a lot of tools to explore and the Pen segment boasts of an enormous collection. You can use a lined and a graph paper for deep and serious articles. It feels like the Apple Pencil was just curated for Paper or vice versa. People looking for a basic app that eludes all the advanced features that OneNote or Notability offers, your search ends here, Columbus!

7. Penultimate

How to Take Handwritten Notes on iPad using the Apple Pencil

Penultimate – A twist in the name which amalgamates ‘Pen’ and ‘Ultimate’ is a sign that the app is more than a note-taking medium. Created by Evernote, it’s the best app for taking handwritten notes with an Apple Pencil. All the standard Evernote features take a jump here with some supplementary features that will make the wonky nerd inside you cheer with joy. You get the usual graph paper, dotted paper format alongside to-do and shopping lists which are preformatted. You can take handwritten notes using the Apple Pencil but keep in mind that it won’t convert it to text.

Put your new and shiny iPad and Apple Pencil to use and experiment with the outlined apps mentioned above. We suggest trying the free ones first so if aren’t happy with them, you get a reason to buy the premium apps. Which app made your list? What are the features you settled for? Tell us your opinions in the comments section below.


Saurabh Jadhav
I am an ambivert, an avid reader, a movie buff, a tea connoisseur, and a staunch fan of Priyanka Chopra Jonas. I like to give my insights through words, which come naturally to me. They also help me to express the myriads of emotions I go through. When not working, I'm either watching the latest tech videos or flipping through pages.