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Which note-taking app is the best?

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macrumors newbie
Original poster
Nov 22, 2015
Hi, I am in college, and I am looking for a good note-taking app for my classes. Math, english, pre-med, etc. I have a bluetooth stylus (wacom intuos) and would really like an app that supports all its functions (palm rejection, shortcut functionality, etc.)

According to their site, their styluses are supported in the following writing apps:

GoodNotes $8
Notes Plus $7
Noteshelf $7
Notability - does not support any styluses at all, but I added in here because I heard it's exceptionally great.

All these apps cost $$$, and I need advice on which is the best app, before I pull out more money from my wallet. I don't want any app that has for storage fees like Evernote or Penultimate.

If you have used more than one of these apps, in your opinion, which one do you think is the best? Give a brief or long reason why. I am looking for an app that is stable, fast, lots of features, has graph/line paper, slick sexy interface
Last edited:


macrumors 65816
Nov 11, 2009
The Netherlands
This depends very much on your personal preferences. My favourites are:
  • Noteshelf for handwritten notes. With Goodnotes as close second. I think Noteshelf has the best handwriting experience (very fluid) and its palm rejection is very good. Further it has a lot of options for pens and paper.
  • Notability for typed notes. I think its typed tekst options are the best of the bunch, and yet text entry is very straightforward. Also the integration with drawings and images is very good. And it has a lot of export and cloud options. Handwriting is OK in Notability but Noteshelf and Goodnotes are better for handwriting.
If you have time, all of these apps are on discount at times. I bought Noteshelf for $2.


macrumors 68020
May 11, 2012
My personal favorite, by a stretch, is GoodNotes:

+ handwriting is vectorized, it stays crisp when zooming/exporting...
+ great palm rejection that "simply works"
+ I'm constantly amazed by it's Search function
+ clean interface, easy to use
+ easy import / export of many file types
- no pencil tool

My second choice would be NoteShelf:

+ great toolset (I really love it's pencil)
+ writing experience is very smooth - but actually too smooth with my Lynktec Apex stylus
+ nice interface (small traces of skeuomorphism left, like shelves and tools)
- no automatic backup

Notes Plus

+ the best fountain pen writing ever
- not very responsive, lagging while writing
- complex interface


+ I like the filing system (no shelves, no books, just a clean list)
- I personally find the writing experience poor, somewhat artificial when compared to most others



macrumors regular
Oct 27, 2013
NOTE: ADDED 4/24/16

New updates to most of the note-taking apps, widespread availability of Apple's Pencil and introduction of the iPad Pro 9.7 changes everything. Most, if not all, of the above-mentioned apps have been updated in a major way to support Apple Pencil. I have personal experience with Notes, Notability and OneNote. All would work well for classroom note-taking and organizing. My favorites are Notability and OneNote. I have seen recent favorable reviews of GoodNotes as well.
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