Taking Class Notes on a MBP

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by jsf721, Jan 24, 2012.

  1. jsf721 macrumors 6502

    Dec 27, 2011
    Li, NY
    My son is taking some college classes and I will be giving him my MBP. Since I got he iPad2 I dont use it too much.

    I need to get him a program for taking and organizing notes. I guess Word or Pages will do. I have both on there but if there was a better program I would love to get it for him. He is a great kid and works so hard to get his grades.

    I am open to suggestions. If you guys think the iPad2 is better for notes, please tell me. I just can't see typing on that touch key board for a whole lecture.

  2. that1guyy macrumors 6502

    Nov 11, 2011
    I suggest getting Evernote. Its free and fantastic for taking and organizing notes.

  3. TechStooge macrumors member

    Jan 16, 2012
  4. AppleFanatic10 macrumors 68030


    Nov 2, 2010
    Encino, CA
    I've tried to write notes on a iPad, didn't like typing that much on a touch screen. Luckily they have keyboards for the iPad so maybe you can just give him a keyboard, and he can use the notes app on the iPad? But really, I think that using a laptop to write notes would be the best way to go.
  5. iHeartMyMBP macrumors newbie

    Jan 24, 2012
    Giving him the MBP is a good idea. I honestly think Stickies is great for me so far when just taking small notes on writing a paper, but it can get a bit chaotic when using it for a whole lecture, so checking out Evernote is a good idea.

    Honestly, I used TextEdit on my netbook running OS X(I just bought a MBP last week) for all of last semester and it worked out just fine for me. I also maintain a pretty darn good GPA so I know what it's like to work for those grades. ;)
  6. Trentolol macrumors member


    Feb 1, 2011
    Right here
    I like Pages, its a pretty simple program that gets the job done well. And it's not that expensive.

    For organization, I would recommend making a folder for each class, then inside that have "Note", "Papers".
    Its worked for me.
  7. Ztormie macrumors regular

    Oct 30, 2009

    Did you guys even read the post? He's giving his son his MBP, not an iPad 2.
  8. gtessier00 macrumors newbie

    Jan 25, 2012
    I personally am a student, I'm currently doing a master in finances, and I'll give you my advice about which program to use.

    Page is really good, the problem is if your son works on team projects and edit a project on the macbook, it may change all the corpse (format) of the project. I was working on a 60 pages project on a PC with my teammates and when I edited something on my MBP via Pages, it took ALL my financial formulas and turned them into images, which made them unusable after that. It also changed a lot of things like number paging and presentation page. If your son is the only person working on his stuff, then Pages may be a good option.

    HOWEVER, you should invest in a copy of Microsoft Office. It works great, it's PC compatible and can be used to create long, long works, not only little notes. I switched from Pages to Word and I must say it works great.
  9. roofz macrumors regular

    Jan 23, 2012
    Southern California
    I'm currently studying to complete the Economics and Accounting double major.
    You should definitely give your son the macbook pro, and install a copy of office for mac 2011 on it so that he could take notes and use all the typical microsoft programs that students use nowadays.

    I see people trying to use ipads in class but it just doesn't work out very well. They struggle to keep up with the professor. Some may argue with me on this, but the fact of the matter is that you can not type as fast on an ipad as you can on a keyboard.

    If you go to any university lecture hall you will see more than 50% of the students typing on macbook pros
  10. tyrell456 macrumors member

    Dec 28, 2011
    Salt Lake City, Utah
    I've found the best program to take notes in on OS X is Growly Notes - it's essentially a knock-off of the Windows-only Microsoft OneNote. It works great, has a fast startup, and uses very little resources.
  11. gtessier00 macrumors newbie

    Jan 25, 2012
    That's right. iPad 2 is unusable to take notes in class. Unless you're in high school, maybe! But in university, you won't be able to follow the teacher fast enough with an iPad. MBP ftw.
  12. robgendreau macrumors 68040

    Jul 13, 2008
    I'd also take a look at audio note applications; there are several good ones for both laptops and iPads. These allow you to record the audio while annotating it with typed notes or handwriting, or drawing. The audio is time-stamped and sync'ed to the notes so you have a much more complete record of the lecture.

    And if you're schmoozing with your honey during the boring parts you can annotate it later.

    Some, especially the iPad ones, are more freeform than others. I've used Transcrivia and Pear Note on the Mac a lot at work. But you can use MS Word to do this as well. A decent mic helps a LOT.

  13. TDCanada macrumors newbie

    Oct 6, 2011
    I really like Microsoft office in notebook layout, when you convert back to regular layout it organizes everything to print out the notes neatly.

  14. Carterxx macrumors member

    Jul 17, 2010

    holycrap. I will have to be doing that now.
  15. dyn macrumors 68030

    Aug 8, 2009
    Ditch the entire idea. Computers are still not suited for this task. Tablets might be because you can draw on them but due to things like the inputlag and everything ending up huuuuuuge this isn't a very good solution. Even in 2012 good old pen & paper beats modern technology at this. It is much faster because it so quick switching between writing and drawing. It also does not annoy teachers like notebooks do (number one reason why these are banned from classrooms and meetings: people hide behind the screen making it very unpersonal).

    The only thing that you could do is use it to store the notes and other relevant information such as websites, snippets, etc. There are many apps that are used for writing essays, thesis, etc. that are able to do this. However, this can also become quite a hassle. Doing it the old way can be much easier and faster yet again.

    Moral of the story: stick to plain old pen & paper because it simply works. If you must use technology than use something like the iPad and/or an app for organising notes and other information. Doesn't mean the MBP is useless, you can use it for creating documents, presentations, looking up stuff on the web, etc. In regard of being compatible with the rest I think Microsoft Office for Mac would be the better office suite (the other will work too).
  16. shyam09 macrumors 68020


    Oct 31, 2010
    here is my collection of thoughts :)

    I think that the laptop use would depend on the class.
    Fo me, I don't take my laptop out when I am in math [duh] but a friend during HS [we both took AP CALC] took notes on his computer. Sure he played games most of the time, but still, he took notes on his computer via Word. But old fashioned pen/pencil and paper is the way to go!

    On the other side, not all classes are math classes, and we have history classes, or even econ classes [both of which i am currently enrolled in :p] and I use only my computer to take notes in those classes.

    As for the program. I have used Word, Evernote, and Pear Note, and in my honest opinion, I love Word 2011.

    My first computer notes in college started with Word 2011, and just one semester later, I tried to use Evernote and PearNote for my econ class, and I hated it so much. So I went back to Word for all my classes.

    Some things about Word that are pretty awesome is [as mentioned above] the "Note" style built into Word. This is what I started out with when typing notes and it's very useful.
    I do wish it had better organizational skills, but oh well, you can get everything :p
    Also, Word has a "Full-Screen" mode too which basically makes your document full screen so you can just look at that one document without being distracted [i get easily distracted]

    Another great program I would like to mention is "Skitch"
    This app's use depends on which class your child is taking, but I use this a lot for my Econ Class. It's easy, awesome, and one hell of an app! [It's pretty much drawing]. Best of All- It's Free!!!! [i think, last time i checked it was..]

    So that's my 2c :)

    Oh and evernote has sync capabilities, but I dont have any other device where I can sync the notes to, so I see no use for me.
    In the end, the best thing to do is let your kid choose which app is the one for him.

    Definitely consider buying Office 2011 if you haven't. :)
  17. AppleFanatic10 macrumors 68030


    Nov 2, 2010
    Encino, CA
    Did YOU read the post? He said he's open for suggestions, and he also mentioned the iPad 2.
  18. iforbes macrumors 6502

    Dec 21, 2011
    This is a well thought out and informative post...however, I would not recommend buying Office as most Colleges and Universities give out Office for free or at a greatly reduced price.
  19. jsf721 thread starter macrumors 6502

    Dec 27, 2011
    Li, NY
    Thank you all for your input. I really appreciate the time you took to write the suggestions and personal experiences. I plan on going the laptop route and I already have Pages, NUmbers, Word and Excell on there. I will have him chek out the Evernote, text edit and one or 2 on the web and let him decide.

    I need to figure out how to organize the folders so I can show him. Want to get him a good start. He also feels thaty for math a pen and paper is the only way. I was thinking of a neat desk scanner and then he can scan the pages in as PDF and searchable documents. This was he has everything in 1 place.

    Need ot get an online back up unless that is what iclould does so if he looses it or it gets damaged he can re create the notes on the new device.

    Again, thanks!
  20. Freyqq macrumors 601

    Dec 13, 2004

    Microsoft Onenote is the best though...shame there isn't a mac version.


    depends on the subject. For social sciences, typing notes is a HUGE advantage. For math or engineering, perhaps pen and paper would be better.
  21. Pentad macrumors 6502a


    Nov 26, 2003
    I really like Office 2011 and since your son is a student have him check the campus bookstore for Office. Most colleges sell Office 2011 for $25 or $30. The university that I teach at has a plethora of Windows and Mac software ranging from $10 to $50.

    Office 2011 is $20 for all students and faculty.

    Just a thought!
  22. dyn macrumors 68030

    Aug 8, 2009
    Yep but there are alternatives for Mac like Evernote

    I don't think it depends on the subject but more on what the teacher is going to explain. It is very common to draw things, use graphs or tables. It is the varying content that makes it difficult for computers to keep up. If it is solely text than only you need is a text editor and being able to touch type.

    From what I see with studies that are largely notebook-oriented (meaning that most classes require the use of the notebook) the notebook is only used for the practical classes. The theoretical classes are pen & paper only because of speed and the changing content (text, diagrams, drawings, graphs, formulas/equations, other figures).

    I've also tried it myself (as well as some of my classmates) but it simply doesn't work because you can't keep up (hence: after a couple of minutes notebooks were replaced with good old pen & paper). There are other problems as well. The screen actually gets in your way if you want to see what is being written on the whiteboard or what is shown via a beamer or overhead projector. The other thing is that you are more busy with the computer itself than what the teacher is telling. It results in having to ask others what has been told. If you want to pay attention, again, pen & paper is the best thing. Computers distract way to much. However, some people are able to work with these so once again it comes down to: YMMV. One could simply try if it works, if not, the computer is not unusable because you can use it for the assignments.

    Btw, as Pentad points out: there are educational software licenses that are much cheaper than the normal ones. Some schools/universities even have a campus wide license allowing students and personnel to use the software for free. Be sure to check out these things, they'll save you money.
  23. mrbuzz1 macrumors newbie

    Jan 26, 2012
    I second Growly Notes which is the closest to OneNote.

    Here are a couple more - Circus Ponies Notebook (good but expensive) & Alfons Schmid Notebooks (at the moment only available for Ipad & Iphone but Desktop version coming very soon). You can write your notes in any text editor + you can use Markup and then sync to say an iphone with Dropbox and you've always got your notebooks with you to refer to.
  24. IGotBush macrumors member

    Oct 14, 2011
    While people have listed other programs for taking notes, I'm going to suggest your son use Microsoft office Power point. Its very simple and if he's fast at the keyboard with tabs and shift tabs, then he'll have no problem using it.

    What you do is open a new blank power point, and simply change the view slider on that side from Slides to Outlines. Then type in that box, then when the time comes he can just print the outline and not that slides.

    View my attachment to see

    Attached Files:

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