Goodnotes: my favorite note taking/presentating app

Discussion in 'iPad Apps' started by MrPeripatetic, Aug 10, 2012.

  1. MrPeripatetic, Aug 10, 2012
    Last edited: Aug 10, 2012

    MrPeripatetic macrumors member

    Nov 5, 2009
    Over the last few months, several people have asked for recommendations for good note taking apps. I'd like to suggest one that I haven't seen discussed too often: Goodnotes.

    I use Goodnotes primarily as a lecture note presenting electronic whiteboard. It works very well for that purpose. I am constantly using and testing note presenting apps, and I intend on continuing that this semester using the Airshow feature of 2Screens. We will see how that works. So far, Goodnotes has the others beat.

    I've been searching for THE note taking/presenting app, which I would depend upon exclusively (so my lecture notes are not sprawled across several apps). In prior semesters, in addition to Goodnotes, I have used Noteshelf, Notes Plus, Upad, Note Taker HD, DocAS, Remarks, Penultimate, Notability and neu.Notes+. While some of these excel in certain areas, I find each has enough deficiencies that none have claimed title. Goodnotes, on the other hand, is the app I keep coming back to. It's not perfect, but it's getting pretty close. With its most recent updates, I will likely be relying on it solely, unless some of the others offer some significant revisions.

    Here are some the things I like about Goodnotes:

    - it's fast
    - stable
    - dependable (haven't lost any work)
    - fairly intuitive UI
    - good inking (with the recent addition of a fountain pen option)
    - shapes
    - excellent zoom mode
    - add/move text
    - copy/paste/move ink lasso tool
    - allows PDF markups and importing of images without becoming too sluggish
    - very good VGA display out mode

    While some of the other aforementioned apps have these features (and often many more features than Goodnotes), my experience is that on the whole Goodnotes executes most of these better than the rest. With most of the other apps, I find myself getting bogged down and distracted while lecturing, trying to make things work in the app. In Goodnotes, however, I can DO my presenting without having to think too much about HOW to do it with the app. Thus, I find the overall experience of using Goodnotes a positive one.

    Most of the improvements it needs, I understand, are being added by the developer:

    - sub-folders
    - more pen sizes
    - more pen colors
    - auto load Dropbox/Box support
  2. robdam1001 macrumors 6502a

    Sep 23, 2008
    Looks a lot like Remarks. Does Goodnotes have audio recording capability?
  3. MrPeripatetic thread starter macrumors member

    Nov 5, 2009
    More accurate to say that Remarks looks like Goodnotes, since Goodnotes predates it. But, in any event, I don't think they look too similar. They certainly do not perform similarly.

    Goodnotes does not have audio recording. So, if that's needed, you should look elsewhere (and not remarks IMO; there are better choices, such as Notes Plus). Don't know if it's planned.

    Was looking forward to Remarks, but it falls flat on several fronts:

    - sluggish
    - clumsy UI
    - terrible zoom mode
    - no ink cut/copy/move
    - no VGA out

    In my experience, Goodnotes is better than Remarks in every respect save audio recording.
  4. robdam1001 macrumors 6502a

    Sep 23, 2008

    Everyone is different, that's for sure. Notes Plus failed me. I've settled on Remarks for the time being after using Notability for ~ 6 months.
  5. hchavarria macrumors 6502

    Oct 8, 2008
    What happened to Notability that caused you to leave it? I myself was using Noteshelf, left it for Ghostwriter Notes due to features, left ghostwriter notes do to lack of updates seems like it was abandoned at this point. Went to Goodnotes it didn't have copy/paste on lasso at that time and went to Notability. Now i'm between Notability and Goodnotes. Also tried Penultimate for its Goodnotes integration but lack of zoom mode was a killer for me.
  6. MrPeripatetic thread starter macrumors member

    Nov 5, 2009
    Notes Plus failed me early on and I haven't given it a serious look since. Now that they've released their 3.05 version, I plan on trying Note Plus again this semester. I'm somewhat hopeful, since among other things (including, generally making it faster and more stable), they finally added VGA display out. I'll see how it goes. While lecturing I need an app that doesn't lag. It must be responsive. The previous incarnation of Notes Plus wasn't.

    I have also tried using Notability but it possesses two major showstoppers for me:

    - no VGA display out
    - terrible shape insertion (you have to create the shapes on another screen; it's really awful)

    Gingerlabs (the maker of Notability) claims to be working on both. Might be a decent app if they rectify these concerns.
  7. GerritV macrumors 65816

    May 11, 2012
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts on GoodNotes. Looking at it's list of features, Notes Plus comes to mind.
    I'm a happy Remarks user myself, but would certainly like the copy/paste/move functions to come in soon.

    Can't help but wonder why many note taking apps almost automatically go for that wooden bookshelf UI :rolleyes:
  8. Taustin Powers macrumors regular

    Apr 5, 2005
    Currently testing a few note taking apps.

    Notability and Remarks are a no-go because of how the zoom window advances in handwriting mode. I just couldn't write fluidly that way, waiting for it to advance, then keep writing...

    GoodNotes and Notes Plus definitely have the upper hand here!

    Now between those two...I prefer the overall feel of GoodNotes, and their shape recognition rocks. (How could Notes Plus botch this so badly? It won't recognize any shapes unless they are HUGE, even after adjusting the settings! Worthless!) However, it is tough to argue with the handwriting recognition in Notes Plus. The MyScript engine is really impressive, and it's a very useful feature!

    Right now I am tending to using Notes Plus for note-taking, typed and hand-written, and probably resorting to Grafio for diagrams. Been playing around with the Lite version, and it's really awesome. Shape recognition, flexibility, UI, can't beat it!

    If/when GoodNotes incorporates handwriting recognition, I'll probably have to reconsider on the note-taking front!
  9. robdam1001 macrumors 6502a

    Sep 23, 2008
    I *think* with Notability and Remarks, you have the option of turning off auto advance. Not 100% on this, however.
  10. hchavarria macrumors 6502

    Oct 8, 2008
    I just purchased Notes Plus and I'm really like the hand recognition ability. Will need to do further testing between My current setup and this.
  11. mrdee0 macrumors newbie

    Mar 15, 2012
    I have used noteshelf for over a year or so and its been great especially after the retina update. The ink engine is fast and smooth. The organisation of notebooks with customization covers is nice.

    However I recently went back to explore other notepad apps to see what had changed since I reviewed them from way back.

    I can now say that Goodnotes has improved a lot. It used to feel very laggy but they have improved things there and now the engine is very similar to noteshelf.

    One thing that has now swayed me to Goodnotes is the 'page'. Noteshelf feels to me now to be a small sized notebook in that I have only 24 lines to write on. Goodnotes has way more lines and looks like an A4 page. I have always written physical notes on A4 size pages so Goodnotes offers an exact replica of this. With Noteshelf it always felt like I had limited space to write notes and made it feel like an A5 paper in terms of a physical counterpart.

    I like the pages overview in Goodnotes, the one in Noteshelf just doesn't feel right with my brain- and I feel some lag in my brain as it tries to get a quick overview. I think this maybe because Noteshelf displays it all in one column, from top to bottom which requires scrolling down. Goodnotes does it over three columns, left to right, very much like laying out a book. My brain gets this straightaway.

    The other thing I like about Goodnotes is the pdf backup sync. I know I can now access pdf replica's of my notes on any computer. With Noteshelf I had to sync/send one page at a time. Its such a boring task I haven't bothered to do any synching/backup.

    So I am now in the process in rewriting my notes from Noteshelf and I will be removing it once I am done.

    Hope this helps people. At the end of the day you need to try them out if you have the funds and see what suits you and what functions you will need. I think the inking engines have come a long way since a year ago. I'm excited to see what the future will bring -especially as new ipads come out!

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