Best iPad Notetaking Apps with Handwriting Support
Updated: May 17
The Apple Pencil is a versatile tool for iPad owners, and with the right notetaking app can become an intellectual power device! If you'd rather scribble with a stylus and take handwritten notes than tap away at your iPad screen keyboard, there are plenty of great apps that support drawing and writing with a stylus.
To help navigate the choices we rated apps based on 5 criteria:
Cross Platform Support
Note Organization Features
Overall Results: Winner(s): OneNote and NoteDex
Based on our analysis, the the two best notetaking app choices for iPad with handwriting support are Microsoft OneNote and NoteDex. Of these two, only NoteDex provides cross platform ink support for handwritten notes and note organization to help you manage your project ideas, notes and information.
No review of notetaking apps on iPad is complete without mentioning Apple Notes.
Mac and iOS now include the Notes app - and it's pretty great actually. It lets you type or take handwritten notes on your device. The drawing features of the Apple Notes App are solid and make it easy to, for example, sketch out ideas in your writing using the Apple Pencil. It also has good sync to Apple devices but not true cross platform sync. Apple Notes features rich text support also.
OneNote is one of the most downloaded notetaking apps on iPad. Not only does it allow for individual notetaking, but it also allows users to collaborate together across devices and platforms with sync. It has drawing support and allows you to use apple pencil to take both a quick note or long notes, with rich text support.
NoteDex is a new entrant that that provides a unque 'index card' style note-taking interface, which can support text, pictures and ink on all platforms allowing you to take impressive handwritten notes with the iPad Apple Pencil. This makes it one of the very few apps that supports ink on all devices even on the web. You can add photos and it has a drawing mode so you can make use of your digital pen to sketch diagrams. There is also extensive rich text support.
Example of NoteCard with Digital Ink on NoteDex
Unlike other apps in the Apple App Store, you can work on your notes on any device and share to anyone on any device - unlike Apple Notes etc. It is well formatted for iPad Pro and also Mac, and the cross-platform cloud sync allows you to share to Windows and Web users, as well as Android!
NoteDex also has a powerful card organizer function so you can view cards like in a storyboard or swimlane view - great for writers, planners and project managers. The kanban organizational features are powerful and not found on any other app we review here.
Notion is a popular app, and though it does not support a drawing mode through Apple Pencil, it is nevertheless an excellent keyboard notetaking app with extensive markdown and rich text support.
Google Keep is a good option for Android users as it is one of the few apps that is free and can contain text and ink. Unfortuately it lacks good support from Google, as can be seen if you read the comments section of the app. The primary goal of the app is to a create quick notes and actionable notes, rather than storing anything and everything. It does support inking with an iPad Apple pencil stylus and has some rich text support.
Notability is a nice app and has some of the apps stongest features including the ability to convert handwritten into text, multi-note support so you can work on two notes side-by-side on an iPad screen, PDF annotation, rich text support, and you can sketch diagrams, with custom colors and shapes using a digital pen like the iPad Apple Pencil.
As with the other apps here it is compatible with iCloud so you can sync your notes across all your other iOS devices such as an iPad Pro. But it is not true cross platform unlike other like NoteDex or OneNote which have true cross platform cloud storage.
Zoho is a good iOS note taking app for a cross-platform alternative to Apple Notes.
There are Zoho Notebook apps also available for Android, Mac, and Windows platforms. It is the great alternative to Apple Notes for users who do not reside within the Apple ecosystem and utilizes Zoho cloud storage.
However it does not (appear to) support cross platform inking at this time on an iPad Pro and the pencil stylus.
Choosing an app to take notes on can be a complex task, but it helps to know what your needs are. In this article we hope we have helped you to navigate the range of choices.
Based on our criteria we recommend you checkout Microsoft OneNote and NoteDex as true cross-platform note taking apps with ink support that will allow you to create great notes on an iPad Pro with Apple pencil support. NoteDex has great organizational features like tag support for cards, unlike OneNote.
In fact, OneNote and NoteDex work well together, since OneNote is better designed for 'long form' notes and NoteDex is designed for index card style / atomic notes.
All these apps are available via the Apple App Store.