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GoodNotes Review: Is it Worth it for advanced Note-Taking (Students, Professionals)

GoodNotes Review: Is it Worth it for advanced Note-Taking (Students, Professionals)

Welcome to our complete GoodNotes review, where we explore the ins and outs of this popular digital note-taking app designed for iOS devices.

We’ll also discuss some limitations you should be aware of, such as compatibility restrictions and slow sync times (this has improved with updates – GoodNotes 5 for example

See how closely GoodNotes compares to Notability for note-taking (side by side comparison)

So whether you’re a student, professional or simply a note-taking enthusiast, join us as we uncover the full potential of GoodNotes .In this blog post, we cover all of GoodNotes features, how much it costs, and its pros and cons, so you can make an informed decision.

Side note: GoodNotes was ranked one of our best Note Taking Apps for iPad

Key Takeaways

1 Key Takeaways 2

GoodNotes is a well known digital note-taking app built for iOS devices. It offers users a host of useful features like real-time collaboration, multiple pen styles, handwriting recognition, and integration with cloud services like iCloud.

Here are some key takeaways from our review:

  • GoodNotes thrives in the Apple ecosystem (iPad, iPhone, and Mac) and is an app that allows handwriting to text on iPad on a level that only a few apps can compete with (Such as Notability)
  • The app is Available for a one-time purchase of $8.99, GoodNotes is reasonably priced compared to other apps of similar quality.
  • In the past, one major disadvantage of GoodNotes it’s lack of Audio recordings. However, audio recording has been implemented in the newest GoodNotes update!
  • GoodNotes announced it is coming to windows in a future update. While it hasn’t been compatible for Windows or Android users, now it will be for both.
  • GoodNotes is especially popular among students due to its intuitive design and functionality, assisting them in organizing lecture notes, research materials, and study tasks.

Compared to Notability, GoodNotes is less expensive, and provides many of the same benefits. See more on this in our comparions: Notability vs GoodNotes: The Ultimate Note-Taking App Comparison

Example of Goodnotes on iPad 1

Also, The app caters excellently to the Apple ecosystem (iPad, iPhone, and Mac). It supports the import of documents, images, and scans in addition to the mentioned features.

GoodNotes Review: Comprehensive Insights

73% of survey participants in a survey conducted by MediaPeanut reported noticeable improved organization and productivity after switching to apps like GoodNotes and Notability from traditional paper methods.

The below chart below displays our survey results:

CleanShot 2023 05 18 at
Affordable one-time payment of $8.99Compatability with Android, Windows, or Chrome OS users is new and may have some bugs
Seamless user experience & exclusive featuresBuilt-in audio recording feature is new, may have some flaws compared to notability and other apps
Tailored for Apple ecosystemOccasional Inaccurate detection of words during handwriting search
Cross-device syncing through iCloudOccasional Performance issues with excessive images or data
Intuitive interface & excellent organization capabilities
Handwriting recognition feature
Integration of PDFs, PowerPoints, and eBooks
Customizable notebooks
Handwriting to text conversion (supports 17 languages)
Multitasking capabilities with iPadOS for audio recording integration
Import and annotation of PDF documents
Real-time collaboration & sharing options
Supports exporting as PDFs, images, & native

After careful analysis, we’ve recognized that GoodNotes is an outstanding app with many possibilities. From personal journaling to collaborating in work settings, this versatile tool is an essential addition for Apple device users.

Example of Goodnotes on iPad 2
Photo credit: Happydownloads (Digital planner templates for Note Taking apps)

Related: 32+ Best Remarkable 2 Templates (+ Custom & How to make your own) 2023

Let’s dive deeper into the pricing structure, compatibility, and what makes GoodNotes particularly popular among students.

Pricing Structure: GoodNotes Cost and Free Options

3 Pricing Structure GoodNotes Cost and Free Options 1

When it comes to pricing, GoodNotes is fairly affordable for the value it provides. For a one-time payment of $8.99, you can unlock access to all GoodNotes features. Unlike other subscription-based apps, GoodNotes offers long-term utility without monthly charges.

Example of Goodnotes on iPad 3 handwriting feature

Although there isn’t a free version, you can test out the app by starting with three free notebooks before opting for the full paid version. It’s important to note that while this may not be the cheapest option, the exclusive features and seamless user experience in GoodNotes make the cost worth it.

GoodNotes Device Compatibility

4 GoodNotes Device Compatibility 2

When discussing device compatibility, GoodNotes is tailored exclusively for the Apple ecosystem — iPad, iPhone, and Mac. Unfortunately, this also means that it’s not available for Android, Windows, or Chrome OS users. However, it does offer seamless cross-device syncing through iCloud.

See our post on the Top note taking apps that work on Android .

As a result, users who have multiple Apple devices can benefit greatly from using GoodNotes to maintain their note-taking and organization process across every platform. From annotating PDFs to scribbling lecture notes, the creators of GoodNotes have ensured that Apple users enjoy a tailored experience through the app.

Evaluating GoodNotes for Students Lectures and College Use

5 Evaluating GoodNotes for Students Lectures and College Use 3

GoodNotes stands out as an invaluable tool for students attending college or university lectures. Its intuitive interface and excellent organizational capabilities allow students to easily store, access, and annotate lecture notes. The handwriting recognition feature also makes searching for content within handwritten notes simple, which streamlines the revision process.

You can see our full tutorial on GoodNotes app and how to get the most of it.

The app’s ability to integrate PDFs, PowerPoints, or eBooks adds another layer of convenience, as students can have all their course materials in one place. GoodNotes also offers customizable notebooks, which allows for better organization and personalization.

While improvements, like integrating voice recording, are desired, the app’s overall features make it a solid choice for students looking to take control of their note-taking processes in a digital age.

Features of GoodNotes (Advantages)

6 Features of GoodNotes 2

GoodNotes is a well-rounded note-taking app with an extensive list of features catering to various users’ needs, from students to professionals. In today’s fast-paced digital world, these features directly enhance productivity, efficiency, and organization.

Let’s check out all the advantages of GoodNotes through it’s features.

Handwriting to Text Conversion
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One remarkable feature is GoodNotes’ ability to convert handwriting into text. This powerful text recognition technology recognizes even the most illegible handwriting and supports 17 languages, making it incredibly practical for diverse users.

The conversion is simple: users can write their notes using an Apple Pencil or a stylus and convert the text with just a few taps. This feature comes in handy when wanting to transform handwritten notes into well-structured documents or share them in a readable format with others. Moreover, the app doesn’t discard the original handwriting, allowing users to switch back if they choose.

Audio Recording
8 Audio Recording 2

While GoodNotes does not currently offer built-in audio recording, users can still benefit from audio integration thanks to the multitasking capabilities on iPadOS. By running another app, such as Voice Memos or Notability, alongside GoodNotes, users can easily record lectures or meetings while taking notes simultaneously.

This workaround provides an opportunity to create comprehensive records and facilitates the review process when revisiting the material later – Combining both visual and auditory learning styles, this approach enriches the user experience.

Related: How to use Notability on iPad, Mac, and iPhone

PDF Annotations and Management
9 PDF Annotations and Management 2

GoodNotes really does shine in its ability to import and annotate PDF documents, making it the perfect solution for students, researchers, and professionals… mostly for those who handle digital documents daily (example, digital planners)

Imported PDFs can be annotated using various tools, including pens, highlighters, shapes, and text boxes, giving users the freedom to express themselves and comprehend the material at hand better.

Also see: 10 Best Tablets for Reading PDF files

I found that managing PDF documents is made simple through features like customizable bookmarks, in-document hyperlinks, and the ability to create outlines. Additionally, users can easily export annotated PDFs as either editable GoodNotes files or flattened PDFs to share with others or maintain a digital archive.

Collaborative Features and Sharing
10 Collaborative Features and Sharing 2

The app offers real-time collaboration, enabling users to edit and comment on documents simultaneously. Invite team members or classmates to view, edit, or leave feedback on documents through a shared link – working together made simple and efficient.

The live collaboration feature updates in real-time, keeping users in-sync as they brainstorm and review material. GoodNotes also supports export options like PDFs, images, and native GoodNotes files, permitting users to share notes with others regardless of their hardware or software setup. The combination of these collaborative features encourages effective communication and streamlined workflows within teams.

Related: 15 Best E-ink Tablets For Reading, Note Taking

Ultimately, GoodNotes showcases a robust set of features that empower users to work smarter, not harder. From handwriting to text conversion to seamless PDF management and real-time collaboration capabilities, the app delivers a comprehensive solution for note-taking in the modern age.

Additional Features

GoodNotes offers a myriad of additional features beyond the basic note-taking functions. Real-time collaboration allows you and other users to seamlessly work on documents simultaneously, enabling you to comment and make changes with ease.

The advanced handwriting recognition feature in GoodNotes supports 17 languages, allowing the app to understand and search your handwritten right notes just like typed text—a lifesaver for those messy writers.

Also see: 10 Best Tablets for Writers (Professional Writing)

Another fantastic feature is the ability to import various file types, such as PDFs, PowerPoints, and eBooks. You can also annotate on these imports, making it an excellent tool for students studying from digital textbooks.

The presentation mode is perfect for those moments when you’re giving a presentation or teaching a class, with three different modes to display your content as needed. Lastly, GoodNotes grants access to a seemingly endless selection of paper designs, templates, and customizing options, allowing users to truly personalize their note-taking experience.

Drawbacks of GoodNotes

Despite its many great features and capabilities, GoodNotes does come with its drawbacks. Perhaps the most significant limitation is that GoodNotes is available only for Apple devices, restricting many potential users who work with Windows or Android devices.

Given the high demand for cross-platform compatibility, this exclusive availability on Apple devices puts a damper on GoodNotes’ potential market reach.

Related: Kindle Scribe Review: How does it measure up for Note taking & Sketching?

Additionally, GoodNotes is known to struggle with the accurate detection of words when searching handwriting, specifically when dealing with more challenging scribbles.

Another issue users have reported is that the app tends to slow down when they add an excessive amount of images or data. These performance issues can hinder the user experience and overall satisfaction with the app.

Mastering GoodNotes: Usage Tips and Tricks

To make the most out of GoodNotes, experiment with its advanced features, and optimize your note-taking process. First, be sure to bookmark frequently used templates and pages for quick retrieval. Use the vast range of paper designs and templates available to you, catering to various tasks such as organizing, studying, or sketching.

Utilize the app’s robust organizational system through its infinite folder hierarchy, tailored precisely to your individual needs. Remember, the more you customize your workspace, the more efficient and enjoyable your note-taking sessions will be.

Lastly, explore the community of GoodNotes users on social media through hashtags like #goodnotes or #goodnotescommunity. This will give you access to a wealth of inspiration and practical tips from other users, further enhancing your experience with this powerful app.

Filling Colors and Shapes in GoodNotes

GoodNotes provides an easy-to-use platform for filling colors and shapes in your notes. First, select the shape tool from the toolbar and begin by drawing your desired shape. Once drawn, you can adjust the size, thickness, and shape style as needed. To fill the shape with color, simply select a color and adjust the opacity before releasing the shape tool.

Additionally, GoodNotes offers various options to fill shapes with gradients or patterns as well, allowing for a more aesthetic, creative touch to your notes. Experiment with these different fill styles to make your note-taking even more engaging and visually appealing.

Typing in GoodNotes

For those who prefer typed notes over handwriting, GoodNotes offers extensive support for typing text. To start, select the text tool from the toolbar and click on the desired location on the page where you want to add text. A text box will appear, allowing you to fully customize the text within it.

GoodNotes offers various font styles, sizes, alignments, and colors for your text, ensuring that your notes look as polished and professional as possible. If you want to add new font to Goodnotes, see our tutorial on how to do so.

Additionally, the app supports web links and formatting options such as bold, italic, underline, and strike-through. Make use of these formatting and customization features to create engaging, easily readable notes that cater to your personal preferences and style.

Changing Folder Colors in GoodNotes

Customizing your digital space not only makes it more attractive but also easier to navigate. In GoodNotes, changing folder colors is a simple task that can help with organization and productivity. To start, you just need to open the main screen of the app, and find the folder you’d like to customize.

Tap on the three dots at the corner of the folder, then select “change folder color” from the drop-down menu. You’ll then be presented with a variety of colors to choose from, allowing you to match your personal preferences or even coordinate with different subjects or projects.

Beyond aesthetics, assigning specific colors to different folders can also help you quickly identify and access the content you need. For example, you might use a warm color for work-related folders and a cool color for personal files. This visual cue can make it easier to navigate through your content, even when you have a large number of files stored in the app. So, don’t hesitate to take advantage of this simple customization feature in GoodNotes—it can be just what you need to achieve better organization and a more personalized user experience.

Adding and Deleting Pages in GoodNotes

When you’re working with digital note-taking apps like GoodNotes, flexibility is essential. Being able to easily add and delete pages allows you to adapt and expand your notes as required. In GoodNotes, adding a new page to an existing notebook is both simple and versatile. First, open your notebook and tap on the four squares icon in the top-right corner. This will give you an overview of your notebook’s pages. Next, tap the plus icon at the bottom-right of the screen. You can then choose between adding a blank page, selecting a different paper template, or even importing a file to insert into your notebook. Once you’ve selected your desired option, the new page will be added to your notebook for immediate use!

Likewise, deleting unwanted or unnecessary pages is just as easy. In the same overview screen, tap on ‘Edit’ in the top-right corner, and select the pages you wish to remove. Finally, tap the trash icon to delete the selected pages. Keep in mind that deletions are permanent, so be sure to double-check before confirming the action. By mastering these simple features, you can ensure your GoodNotes experience remains not only streamlined but also perfectly tailored to your needs.

Converting Handwriting to Text in GoodNotes: OCR

One of the most powerful features of GoodNotes is its Optical Character Recognition (OCR) capability, which allows you to convert your handwriting into typed text. This can be incredibly useful for tasks like organizing notes, sharing information, or even exporting content to other applications.

To use this feature, first write your notes using the Apple Pencil or a similar stylus. Once you’ve finished, tap on the lasso tool and select the handwritten text you’d like to convert. After selecting the text, tap ‘convert’ in the toolbar and wait for GoodNotes to work its magic. Note that you may need to correct minor errors, which is common with OCR technology.

Side note: Looking for an alternate stylus? See our post on Zagg Pro Vs Apple Pencil Vs Adonit Note+ Vs Adonit Pixel, which covers the three main options that work well on iPad with note taking apps.

After converting your handwriting, you can utilize multiple options for your newly transformed typed text. You might choose to replace your original handwriting, save the converted text in a new text box, or even copy and paste it into other applications.

This level of versatility ensures that you can get the most out of your handwritten notes, whether you’re sharing them with colleagues or using them as a basis for further work. So don’t hesitate to take advantage of GoodNotes’ powerful OCR capabilities—it’s definitely one of the app’s standout features!

My Personal Experience with GoodNotes

Chart Survey and my experience with GoodNotes App

I’ve encountered various note-taking and productivity apps, but my experience with GoodNotes stands out for several reasons.

Initially, what drew me to the app was its compatibility with the iPad and Apple Pencil, which allows for seamless handwriting and drawing.

I quickly found that GoodNotes excelled as a digital notepad, offering a smooth writing experience with an impressive range of customization options. From changing pen styles and colors to creating custom templates, I could easily tailor the app to my preferences.

I appreciated the convenience of having all my notes well-organized in one place, as well as the app’s powerful search function. Being able to search within handwritten text proved to be a game-changer, streamlining the process of locating specific content in my notes. Furthermore, the OCR capabilities were invaluable when it came to editing and sharing my notes, both with myself and others.

Overall, GoodNotes has become an indispensable tool, allowing me to go paperless without sacrificing the experience of writing by hand. I would highly recommend it to anyone seeking an efficient and customizable solution for digital note-taking!

GoodNotes as an Alternative to Drawing Apps

While GoodNotes is primarily known as a note-taking app, it also has some capabilities as a drawing app—though it’s important to acknowledge that it’s not a full-blown drawing platform like Procreate or Adobe Fresco. Nonetheless, its compatibility with the Apple Pencil and wide selection of pen tools, colors, and brush sizes make it a viable option for basic sketching and illustration.

Using GoodNotes for drawing is particularly useful for those who might not require highly advanced artistic tools and are looking for an all-in-one application incorporating both note-taking and drawing. Beginners can use GoodNotes to get acquainted with digital drawing before transitioning to more specialized software. Additionally, GoodNotes is perfect for creating quick visual aids to accompany written notes, conceptual drafts, or simple doodles to pass the time.

Also see: Supernote A5X A6X Review: How Good Is It For Note

Does GoodNotes drain the battery of iPad?

When it comes to battery usage on your iPad, any app can potentially play a part in draining the battery, but some are more significant than others. GoodNotes, being a feature-rich app used for taking notes, creating diagrams, and drawing, certainly requires a bit of juice to keep it running smoothly.

However, the impact on your iPad’s battery life is not so significant that it should be a cause for concern.

The combination of hardware, software, and usage patterns determine the battery life of any device. So, the impact of GoodNotes on your iPad’s battery may vary depending on your specific device model, the amount of usage, and the types of tasks you perform within the app. In general, though, GoodNotes has been praised for being well-optimized and not being too power-hungry.

If you’re using memory hogging apps on iPhone. see our post on How to Fix iPhone Battery Draining Overnight.

Managing your device settings can also help improve battery life while using GoodNotes. Lowering screen brightness, disabling background app refresh, and closing irrelevant apps are all good practices to keep your device running efficiently.

Can you make templates using GoodNotes?

GoodNotes comes with an impressive range of built-in templates to cater to various preferences and requirements. The app offers templates like lined paper, graph paper, checklists, and more to improve your note-taking experience. But the real power of GoodNotes shines when you explore the possibility of creating your custom templates.

By designing your templates, you can tailor them to your workflow, making your note-taking and organization more efficient. You can start by creating a template in your preferred design app (such as Adobe Illustrator, Canva, or even Microsoft Word) and exporting it as a PDF. Once you have your custom PDF template ready, import it to GoodNotes by selecting “New” and then choosing “Import” in the app.

See the 13 Best Goodnotes Templates for Students and digital planners (Free and Paid).

After importing your custom template, navigate to “Settings,” choose “Notebook Templates,” and then add your imported PDF file to the template library. Now your custom-created template will be available for use in any new notebook you create. This way, GoodNotes empowers you to personalize your note-taking experience and stay organized with ease.

What devices does GoodNotes work on?

GoodNotes is primarily an iOS app, designed to work seamlessly on Apple devices like the iPad, iPhone, and Mac computers. It’s optimized for use with Apple Pencil on the iPad, making it an incredibly popular choice for digital note-takers in the Apple ecosystem. The app is not available on Android, Windows, or ChromeOS platforms.

The developers of GoodNotes put effort into ensuring that the app has excellent iCloud sync capabilities, which means that your notes, documents, and other media files will automatically sync across all your Apple devices. However, this also means that the app is restricted to the Apple environment, making it a no-go for users with other platforms or mixed-device setups.

Keep in mind that a similar app, called NoteShelf is compatible across many devices. View our Review of the note taking app NoteShelf or see our side by side Comparison of NoteShelf vs GoodNotes.

Why would you want to use Goodnotes over Apple Notes?

As an iPad or iPhone user, you already have access to Apple’s inbuilt Notes app, which provides a decent note-taking experience. But what makes GoodNotes stand out from Apple Notes and other alternatives? GoodNotes offers several advanced features and customization options, which makes it a more powerful, versatile, and user-centric choice.

One of the most significant advantages of GoodNotes over Apple Notes is the handwriting recognition, making searching through handwritten notes easy and convenient.

Related: Goodnotes vs NoteLedge: Which works best for Note-taking?

GoodNotes also excels in annotation capabilities, allowing users to import PDFs, PowerPoint presentations, Word Documents, and images and then write, draw, or annotate directly on them.

Where GoodNotes further outperforms Apple Notes is with its robust organizational features, customizable templates, a wide range of tools like digital pens and highlighters, and unlimited folder hierarchy. The app consistently evolves with user feedback, introducing new features and improvements regularly. In conclusion, GoodNotes is an excellent option for users looking for a complete, premium note-taking experience with strong annotation and organization features, above what Apple Notes offers.

Can you use GoodNotes on a laptop

Yes, you can use GoodNotes on your MacBook or Mac desktop – provided it runs on macOS. Having a Mac version of GoodNotes allows laptop and desktop users to view, edit, and take notes seamlessly across Apple devices. It even supports real-time synchronization using iCloud, ensuring your notes and documents are up-to-date and accessible on your iPad, iPhone, and Mac.

However, it’s essential to note that GoodNotes on a MacBook or Mac desktop provides a slightly different user experience compared to the iPad version, which is designed to work seamlessly with Apple Pencil. Due to hardware limitations, you won’t be able to use the Apple Pencil or take advantage of palm rejection and pressure sensitivity on a laptop… but you could (in theory) use a Use Your Phone as a Drawing Tablet, though I haven’t tested this on GoodNotes yet.

You might need to rely on mouse, trackpad, or third-party styluses to simulate the note-taking experience.

Nevertheless, having GoodNotes on your Mac offers the advantage of consistency and synchronization, allowing you to edit and review notes made on your iPad or iPhone while working on your laptop. It amplifies the overall productivity and organization capabilities of the app, making it accessible across your devices.

About the author:

Photo of Paul Michael, Founder of MediaPeanut

Paul Michael

Paul Michael is a media and technology expert whose research reveals how technology and media are being used in the world today. He has expertise on computers, the internet, streaming, Roku, electronics, and education. He also enjoys graphic design & digital art. Paul has his Bachelors of Arts and Science(s) from Rutgers University-New Brunswick, NJ