Notes app "good enough"?

Discussion in 'iOS Apps' started by djnigelchung, Jul 16, 2018.

  1. djnigelchung macrumors member

    Jun 20, 2015
    Silicon Valley

    Looking for an app to take notes and organize them into notebooks. 90% will be typed, with 8% being handwritten diagrams 2% pictures.
    I have used evernote in the past, it only syncs with 2 devices for free.
    Notability is 15$ for me.. not sure if that's for all devices (MBP, Ipad, Iphone is what I have), or I'd have to buy two copies (IOS+OSX)

    Anyone use the notes app exclusively for note taking? What are your thoughts on it.

    I'm using it to capture notes for my engineering profession to eliminate the need for my paper notebook which I currently bring with me.
  2. thisismyusername, Jul 16, 2018
    Last edited: Jul 16, 2018

    thisismyusername macrumors 6502

    Nov 1, 2015
    It can be good enough but that's really up to you to decide. I personally only use the default Notes app for short, temporary notes (e.g. shopping lists) although it certainly can be used for a lot more than just that and is actually a really good note taking app IMO. It's really come a long way over the years. I've thought about using it as my primary note taking app but it's mainly an Apple platform solution; I know you can access them via but that site is annoyingly slow to load whereas is very fast. I'd seriously consider only using Notes if I didn't also use Windows and Linux so much.

    By far most of my notes, including ones for my engineering profession, are in Simplenote. It's about as basic as you can get, is compatible with just about every platform you'd ever care about, supports tagging, and supports markdown (which I use for almost every note). One downside is they're not encrypted on their servers so I don't keep any sensitive information in it. It also doesn't support organizing by notebooks like in Evernote; you organize them via tags which you can sort of use the same way but it's a little different.

    I'll use Notability if I want more elaborate notes that include drawings and whatnot (created with the use of the Apple Pencil) but honestly I use Simplenote much more even though it's text only. Quite frankly, I'm not sure I can even say Notability is that much better than Notes for what I do with it. I mainly use it because I already bought it.

    Like many here I suspect, I used Evernote extensively in the past and I really liked it but their pricing options kill it for me now. Their free tier sucks and I can't justify paying for that given all the other great options we have today.

    I also used Google Keep a lot but stopped since I found it better for post-it style notes and not that great for long-form notes. I switched to it after Evernote changed their free tier. I've since moved most of that stuff into Simplenote.

    I also tried OneNote and hated it. It felt like I was using MS Word and that's not exactly a good selling point. Maybe it's a good solution if you're a heavy MS Office user but I'm not.

    I stopped using a paper notebook at work about 5 years ago. I still use a good old fashioned white board a lot though.
  3. djnigelchung thread starter macrumors member

    Jun 20, 2015
    Silicon Valley
    Thank you very much for your write up. I really appreciate it. I have decided to use the built in notes app, until I find a reason for not using it (or it's not able to do something I need it to do). In that case I can copy and paste everything over into the new app of choice (will take 20-30 minutes, but I'm willing to sacrifice the time).

    Anyone else have input?
  4. lexvo macrumors 65816

    Nov 11, 2009
    The Netherlands
    The standard Apple Notes app is quite capable. It has good and fast syncing and is available for OS-X and iOS.

    I stopped using Apple Notes however. The main reason is that Apple changed the search function a few months ago. The search results are now sorted in a seemingly random order. I'd like them sorted on (descending) filename, as I have a lot of notes. Now old notes can come up on top of the search results. This maybe isn't a big problem if you don't have too many notes but I have 1300 or so and therefore I want a good search function.

    For this reason I switched a while ago to 1Writer on iOS and iA Writer on OS-X. These apps have fast search functions and I can sort the serach results the way I want. Another advantage is that the notes are stored as seperate text files so I can always access my notes.
  5. Tajhad macrumors member

    Apr 4, 2017
    I would say - if you are willing to pay for it - nothing beats Evernote. I used it extensively until the new pricing structure ( I wasn’t willing to have a “ subscription” model).
    Since then I have tried a number of Note apps - and like you have migrated to Apple Notes. My thoughts on it are :
    - if you do a lot of handwritten notes - then Notability.
    - short snappy, pin board style ( across all platforms) - Google Keep
    - Book type notes ; especially if you are hooked into Microsoft - OneNote
    I transferred a lot of my notes across to Apple Notes. My hope is that, whatever shortfalls I find, they will keep evolving it and get even better in time. Advantages
    - will go across all your Apple devices
    - sharing a note is easy ( I share our shopping list)
    - can lock a note ( passwords; sensitive info etc)
    - can have hyperlinks; sites etc
    - can embed pdf’s , pictures , files
    - can make folders ( easier to do folders and formatting etc on the computer - but will show across all devices)
    - can do drawings or handwritten notes ( not as good as Notability - but still usable)
    - searchable

    So I have folders for my different subjects ( Home; Work; Art; Photography; Politics etc).
    These contain notes, webclips; PDFs etc for one.
    I wouldn’t say it is the best note app - but it is fairly good, goes easily across all devices and will probably only get better.
  6. James Craner macrumors 68000

    James Craner

    Sep 13, 2002
    Bristol, UK
    I have gone paperless, and use two Apps. Most of my notes are typed and for that I use Apple Notes. I don’t use a PC and Notes will sync across to all my devices, Notebook, Desktop, Phone and iPad. I can create structured folders, embed email and Web links. I can import pictures and pdf files. if you have an iPad one area that Notes does not do so well is notes taken with the Apple Pencil. It’s fine for short notes, and works fine on the iPad, but long Apple Pencil notes don’t travel well to the Mac. They tend to get reduced in physical size, making them hard to read. for this reason, I use GoodNotes for any handwritten notes.
  7. macrumors 6502

    Jun 10, 2017
    Re: encrypted notes. Have you tried Standard Notes for End to End Encrypted notes? Its outstanding (available on mobile devices, web, and most OS's). However, at present attachments are not encrypted. Then there's Laverna (not available on mobile devices) which is E2EE and encrypts all notes and attachments using Dropbox or some other cloud service (I can't remember the name). Both are Open Source, so I believe.

    Edit: There's also "Joplin"(Open Source & available on various OS's and mobile devices - everything is in markdown), You have to manually set the E2EE and sync it with your cloud provider.
    --- Post Merged, Aug 9, 2018 ---
    I've tried all of the popular Notes Apps you can use with the Apple Pencil, and GoodNotes is my favorite. It's great to use in lectures.
  8. Pamala377, Sep 15, 2018
    Last edited: Sep 16, 2018

    Pamala377 macrumors newbie

    Sep 7, 2018
    Sounds good, did you found any good app?
  9. jamin100 macrumors 6502

    Sep 22, 2008
    I've come here searching specifically for information on Apple Notes and how people are finding it.

    I have 400+ notes that i've just imported from Evernote into Apple Notes but im not sure i'll stick with it yet.
    My work device is a W10 laptop and I need to be able to create and access notes on there but the website sucks, and is really slow for me in Chrome, firefox or IE... I also dont like that it doesnt display PDF's inline like can.

    I think these are the only 2 things holding me back at the moment :(
  10. infionloop macrumors newbie


    Dec 23, 2018
    This is really tiring, did you find any good solution?
  11. Ploki macrumors 68040

    Jan 21, 2008
    I like notes, but I only have around 130 notes.
    If Notes in this form + iPad with Pencil support was available while i was still at uni, I'd ditch notebooks in a second.

    I love how it syncs with macOS.
    Also love Numbers/Pages via iCloud drive. One thing apple seems to have done right.

    I used to use Evernote before i migrated back to Notes, I like to keep native apps for these sort of things since they seem to have the best integration.
  12. Tajhad macrumors member

    Apr 4, 2017
    I have had another look at Apple Notes. This guy’s video got me thinking again
    It is a better at note taking ( with the Apple Pencil) than I was giving it credit for. I have found the handwriting aspect better than I was using it for ( I was using Notability for handwritten notes).
    So I am going to start using it for my “planning “ notes to see how I go. These are notes I use freehand ( all over the page) and then import into Scrivener.

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11 July 16, 2018