Goodnotes 5 ipad

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GoodNotes 5 finally gets app-wide handwriting search.

GoodNotes is one of the most popular notes app on iOS, and the Mac. and with good reason. It combines a great PDF viewer with a free form notes app, and mixes the two together. This week, GoodNotes 5 launched, an entirely new app (with upgrade pricing for users of the old app) that blows out the dust, and the olde-timey app UI in favor of a clean and organized view.

GoodNotes was always good for notes

I used GoodNotes for quite a while. I really like that you can take a PDF and add to it. A user manual can become a personal guide, complete with notes, pictures, and whole new pages. I also dig its handwriting recognition, although I never liked that handwriting search was limited to the current notebook.

I stopped using it after it kept locking up on me, and failing to sync. I also got sick of the clunky interface, which felt like I was always tapping around without actually finding anything.

GoodNotes 5

All that is fixed in GoodNotes 5. To start with, it’s a whole lot cleaner. You can organize by folders, and nest as many folders as you like. You also view everything in a list view. In fact, it looks a lot like the native iOS Files app.

GoodNotes 5 on iPad and iPhone.

Even better, you can now search across your entire collection of documents and folders, including your handwritten notes. That’s worth the upgrade right there. And speaking of upgrades, GoodNotes 5 has a nice take on it. The app costs $7.99, but it also comes in a bundle with the previous version. If you purchased GoodNotes 4, then you can buy this bundle for as little as $0, depending on how much you paid for the precious version. I paid $1 for the bundle.

A great upgrade

There’s a lot more in this release — a redesigned toolbar, and overall a much nicer look. In short, if the old version frustrated you in any way, those frustrations are probably fixed now. You may as well try it out. After all, for existing users, it will only cost you a buck or less to do it.

GoodNotes 5

Price: $7.99

Download: GoodNotes 5 from the App Store (iOS)


GoodNotes 5 Now a Universal Purchase for Mac, iPad, and iPhone

Perhaps caught in the weeds of worldwide news, Apple began offering universal purchases for Mac, iPad, and iPhone apps back on March 23. We haven’t seen too many apps jump aboard the new pricing structure just yet, but one of our favorites is making the conversion this week.

GoodNotes 5 is now a universal purchase for Mac, iPad, and iPhone. Formerly, you could purchase the universal iPad and iPhone app and purchase the accompanying Mac app for $7.99 on the Mac App Store. Now, the previously paid Mac app will be discontinued and the universal iOS app will have an additional Mac app available for download.

Because GoodNotes is at its best on the iPad, it’s likely that those who purchased the Mac app already own the iOS version. For those folks, the legacy version of GoodNotes 5 for Mac will receive one last update before being discontinued.

For those who have the iOS version of GoodNotes, you should head to the Mac App Store and give the updated app a download.

As a whole, we think the Mac app is probably best used as a reference or research sidekick tool alongside the iPad app. The move to include the Mac app alongside the iPad app makes a lot of sense.

That said, having access to all your written notes in their purest form on the Mac could be a boon for note-takers of all kind.

If you’re looking to get more out of GoodNotes and how to implement the new universal Mac app into your workflow, our full review of the app (and its competitors) and our in-depth Learn GoodNotes course have a few tips and tricks for you.

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Which is Best for Handwritten Notes? GoodNotes, Notability, or Apple Notes?

Note-taking apps are breeding like rabbits and most now support handwriting. Which one offers the best experience? Rather than simply compare features, I use each app with an Apple Pencil to take notes on a YouTube video about making chocolate brownies. Someone has to do it!

What was I looking for?

  • The experience should be as frustration-free as using a paper notebook.
  • I shouldn’t have to think about how I was taking notes.
  • It should be easy to navigate around my notes.
  • I should be able to rearrange and resize writing and drawings easily.

The results surprised me. Two apps shone and the other was painfully far behind. If it were simply down to taking handwritten notes, the weakest link, as you’ll see, would be easy to spot.

Note: I have no links with any of the app developers.

I chose a video on making chocolate brownies because I like chocolate brownies, and I knew I’d have to watch the same video quite a few times. I left a gap between note-making sessions to try to minimise bias due to familiarity with the material.

Each app ran on a 2018 iPad Pro 11”. I used an Apple Pencil 2, but no keyboard.

Taking hand-written notes with GoodNotes 5

GoodNotes 5 collects pages into notebooks, which are filed in a hierarchy of folders. The folders look a bit like the Files app, but it doesn’t seem to use the Files app.

I created a notebook with A4 pages. GoodNotes 5 has powerful template capabilities, but I chose to use a simple, narrowly ruled page in portrait mode.

GoodNotes has a loupe capability. The loupe magnifies whatever you’re drawing, writing, or typing (below).

As you write, the loupe automatically moves across the page, so you don’t have to worry about scrolling the magnified page. There are little icons on the top left of the loupe that let you take a new line and indent the position of the loupe on the page.

You don’t have to use the loupe to get a close look at the page. You can just pinch to zoom in and out.

A toolbar offers the following:

  • an icon to activate the loupe
  • a text tool to create typed text
  • an eraser
  • a highlighter
  • shapes tool
  • lasso tool for selecting parts of the page
  • an elements library
  • photo insert
  • text insert.

Taking notes

GoodNotes adheres closely to a page structure, so you literally fill a page and then move to the next.

Anything you type, draw or paste can go anywhere on the page and be moved or resized. It’s completely free-format.

This means that you don’t have to think about where you put drawings and text as you frantically scribble and draw. You can easily move stuff later.

You do this with the lasso tool. Draw around what you want to move and move it by tapping and holding in the selected area. It works intuitively.

This was really handy because I changed my note-taking strategy halfway into the video. I started like this:

I soon realised, however, that this was going to take up a lot of space. The video is only 8 minutes long, but I was taking many screenshots at key moments in the process. Given GoodNotes rigid page structure, I’d have created a ten-page document if I hadn’t changed tack.

This is how the 2nd page looks.

This is much neater. The screenshots are smaller, but that’s okay because I can pinch and zoom in. They don’t lose their detail in their smaller form. I can pick out key moments and zoom in to the particular one I want to look at more closely.


This was a good experience. The loupe means that I can create small, neat handwriting. All the tools were easy to find, and rearranging the pages was really intuitive and convenient. It was like having a magic notebook.

Taking hand-written notes with Notability

Notability organises notes with subjects and dividers. As with GoodNotes, notes take the form of page and Notability also offers a powerful template capability.

I chose an A4 page-size with narrowly ruled lines. Notability isn’t as strict with its page structure; you can view all the pages as one contiguous whole, which is handy.

You can mix most content freely. Photos, drawings, and writing can be as close or as far apart as you like. Better yet, you don’t need to switch to a lasso tool to move some page objects. If you insert photos, you can automatically select, resize and move them.

Weirdly, typed text has to start at the left-hand side of the page. Most of the time, that’s where you’ll usually want it to start anyway, but it seems like a needless limitation.

Notability’s toolbar is smaller than GoodNotes:

  • text tool
  • pencil/pen
  • highlighter
  • eraser
  • lasso
  • page pointer.

I took advantage of Notability’s capability to view all its pages as one:

On GoodNotes, you can do this for a page, but you can’t do it for the whole document (as far as I can tell). I found this really useful because I could easily move quickly across my notes. I didn’t need to turn pages to get where I need, or use a special menu (like GoodNotes).

Even though you can zoom in and out from the note, no detail is lost.

This is the initial image zoomed in.

Notability has no loupe capability, but you can pinch and zoom in. It still means you can create small, neat text, but you lose the auto-advance feature.

In other words, you zoom and write, but when you get to the right-hand margin, you have to manually move the page. You don’t have to do this if you use GoodNotes’s loupe.

When you move objects around on the page, guides appear when an object aligns with other objects. This enabled me to easily create a grid.


I missed GoodNotes’ loupe, but I liked being able to view everything at one go. Apart from typed text always starting at the left margin, Notability is free form.

I was pleased with the note-taking experience. Notability got out of the way, and I could concentrate on learning how to make delicious chocolate brownies.

Taking hand-written notes with Apple Notes

This app stores notes in folders, but as with the other note-taking apps, doesn’t use the Files app for storage. This means your notes live isolated from (say) a writing project, but that seems to be par for the course.

You don’t select page sizes when you create your note. That happens if you print it out, which means it’s hard to know in advance where text and drawings will end up. I guess you could pretend to print it out at a particular size to see where page boundaries fall.

Notes doesn’t have much of a toolbar. You can tap on a pen icon at the top right to invoke handwriting, but otherwise you tap and type.

Pages are divided into type content and drawings/handwriting. Each has to stay separate. You have little control over where text goes and drawings go.

Want to insert a photo or screenshot? Things get confusing. If you insert a photo/image, it’s treated like a character, which means that you can’t put a drawing tight against it. You can tap on the photo/image and annotate it, but the annotations will appear in the photo/image.

If you accidentally put so much as a dot somewhere in your note, a drawing area is created, and you can’t put text there.


Taking notes

This was painful. Previously, I’ve embedded screenshots of slides and written over them. That works well. I’ve never taken a screenshot of a video and tried to write notes beside it however. That doesn’t work at all.

When I embedded screenshots from the video, I discovered that they could either be big or small. There was no size in between. This:

And this:

Pinch and Zoom isn’t available to get closer looks at the images. You tap on an image, and it fills the screen. You certainly can’t get a view of the entire note and zoom into a bit you want to look at closely.

All that, however, is not the worst news. Left to itself, Notes will not let you zoom in so that you can write small, neat text. You have to go to the Accessibility section of settings and enable zoom.

This offers quite a few options, most of which I couldn’t make sense of. However, you can turn on full-screen zoom and activate it by double tapping with three fingers. Double tap again, and the screen goes back to normal size.

Combine the inflexible layout options, no pinch to zoom, and triple finger tapping, and you don’t get a great non-intrusive note-taking experience. It’s a skill you learn with patience and practice.


Oh boy, how can Apple be so good at hardware, but so bad at UX design? I spent a lot of time googling to find out how to zoom in to create neat handwriting. If it hadn’t been there, it would have been a deal-breaker.

As it is, Apple Notes, despite the amazing Apple Pencil, is a means of punishing yourself for something awful in a past life. Sadly, there are other things that will keep me tied to Apple Notes.

I was looking for:

  • The experience should be as frustration-free as using a paper notebook.
  • I shouldn’t have to think about how I was taking notes.
  • It should be easy to navigate around my notes.
  • I should be able to rearrange and resize writing and drawings easily.

GoodNotes was the most fluid because I really liked the loupe. You could just write without worrying about how to move down the page. Notability was a close second. Notes wouldn’t let me write where I wanted to.

GoodNotes and Notability were equally intuitive, but I had to keep googling how to do basic tasks on Notes. Zooming in should just work, but you have to rely on an iPad-wide accessibility function to do it, and it’s complicated.

Navigation was another win for the two non-Apple apps. GoodNotes provides several ways to jump around large notes, and Notability lets you zoom out and in effortlessly. You’ll spend a lot of time scrolling if you use Apple Notes to create something big.

Anything is better than Apple Notes when it comes to rearranging what you jot and draw. You have very little control of layout. I’d say Notability is best for this by a narrow margin.

Oh, Apple, what are we to do with your UX designers? Is the trouble that you’re not listening to them, or is it the opposite? You are listening, and they’re terrible?

The winner for me is GoodNotes, but I’m going to stick with Apple Notes as my note-taking app because it can do things that Notability and GoodNotes can’t. Notes can scan and index image and file attachments. You can do a search for “horse”, and if a note has a photo embedded with a horse, Notes will find it for you.

GoodNotes can scan attachments, but it can’t recognise objects in embedded photos or even recognise text. Apple Notes can. Because of that, I’m going to develop the skill of using Apple Notes for handwritten notes. I’m not sure who else will.

GoodNotes 5 for iPad Tutorial



Transform your Mac into smart digital paper and a powerful document management system.
Use the same features from GoodNotes' iPad version on your Mac and work with your documents where you want and when you want.

* Create digital notebooks and type text with your keyboard or write and draw with the mouse/trackpad or the Apple Pencil using Sidecar on your iPad
* Import PDF and images to annotate them in GoodNotes
* Add documents from your Mac to existing GoodNotes notebooks via drag and drop

* Organize your documents in folders and create unlimited subfolders
* Mark your most important documents, pages, and folders as Favorites to access them quickly
* Create custom outlines for easier navigation through your documents
* Instant export of documents or pages as PDF via drag and drop

* Sync your latest changes to your iPad, iPhone, and other Macs using iCloud
* Prepare documents on your Mac and pick them up on another device to continuously work on them

* Move, resize, and rotate your handwriting or change colors
* Draw perfect shapes and lines with the Shapes Tool
* powerful & smart eraser tool: Choose to erase the entire stroke or only parts of it. Set it to "Erase Highlighter Only" to leave the ink intact
* Navigate through imported PDFs with existing hyperlinks

Version 5.7.38

- Some enhancements and bug fixes to Community.
- Fix some crashes on iOS 15.
- Some new texts to improve the understanding of some features.
- Fix writing lag when the library contains a lot of shared documents.

Ratings and Reviews

4.8 out of 5

38.7K Ratings

Editors’ Choice

GoodNotes 5 is a combination digital notepad and PDF markup tool. And it’s very good at both.
As a notepad, GoodNotes covers all the bases. Create notes with your keyboard or handwrite them with Apple Pencil. The app transforms your hand-drawn shapes into geometrically perfect ones. It’s also capable of recognizing your handwriting (even when you can’t) and converting it to text.

I LOVE this app, best notetaking app out there!

This is the best notetaking app ever. I'm an AP and Honors student in highschool, and I live for this app. Since doing online school this year due to the pandemic, it has changed how I take notes and turned in assignment. I love how GoodNotes is uploaded to the cloud so you can look at your notes no matter where you are or what device you are on. I like typing my science notes on my computer, and I love that I can switch over to my IPad to draw graphs and symbols whenever needed. I love using my Apple pencil to take all my other notes, its perfect for hand writing notes. I love all the different paper types and the covers you can choose from. You can also organize all of your documents into folders. My favorite thing BY FAR is that you can download pretty much ANY pdf or worksheet into GoodNotes and write directly on the document. Especially because of online school, a lot of my teachers post their worksheets on GoogleClassroom, and being able to download the documents and write directly onto it, and then I can just drag and drop the PDF from my desktop into Classroom ITS AMAZING! It saves me so much paper, and has helped me stay so organized with everything in one place. The format and interfacing is incredible, you HAVE to try this note taking app, it's incredible. I would recommend this to ANYONE and EVERYONE. Please get it for yoruself and check it out!

For the most part pretty great

I was looking for an app where I can annotate pdfs, and switch between the computer and an iPad while doing so. I love the capabilities, and the layout. I like that you can choose covers for notebooks, and that there are even so many different types of "papers" to choose from, from dotted, lined to even Cornell notes. And that you can add pages to pdfs, or can easily take photos and then export them as pdfs. Furthermore, whenever I edit a pdf on the iPad, it would automatically sync to the app on the Mac.

My main problem is with the glitches on the Mac app. Often when selecting the highlighting tool, the highlighting has to be done manually, which is difficult to do on the computer without touch screen. You can also select text and then click highlight, but I would like that capability when I am using the highlighter specifically. The option to select the text would also often not work after a while, and I would have to quit Goodnotes and open it back up again. And finally, there is also no convenient way to underline, which currently would require manually drawing lines under text. The layout of the files is also sometimes not as intuitive for me, and I would like to have the option of seeing my file folders on the side bar as well.

But other than that, I am enjoying using Goodnotes so far, and feel that the pros definitely outweigh the cons (which I hope will be improved soon with updates!)

The developer, Time Base Technology Limited, indicated that the app’s privacy practices may include handling of data as described below. For more information, see the developer’s privacy policy.

Data Not Linked to You

The following data may be collected but it is not linked to your identity:

  • Identifiers
  • Usage Data
  • Diagnostics

Privacy practices may vary, for example, based on the features you use or your age. Learn More


Time Base Technology Limited

416.6 MB


Requires iOS 12.0 or later.
Requires iPadOS 12.0 or later.
iPod touch
Requires iOS 12.0 or later.
Requires macOS 10.15 or later.

English, Dutch, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Russian, Simplified Chinese, Spanish, Thai, Traditional Chinese, Turkish

Age Rating

© 2011-2021 Time Base Technology Limited



  • Family Sharing

    With Family Sharing set up, up to six family members can use this app.

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5 ipad goodnotes

Why Notability

  • Uses less storage
  • More stable
  • Better text tool
  • Has audio recording
  • Auto backup to Box and WebDAV
  • Add stickers, GIFs, sticky notes and web clips to notes


Notability is a few dollars more expensive than GoodNotes. It costs $8.99 while GoodNotes costs $7.99.  For Notability, iOS/iPadOS and macOS versions are separate purchases. For GoodNotes, all versions now fall under one universal purchase. Notability sells the handwriting recognition feature in their Notability shop, which is a must-have in 2021, bringing the total price for the app to $11.98 on the iPad. The macOS version costs $1.99. Notability now releases free and paid updates. In the long run, Notability costs more.

Both apps:

  • are a one-time purchase
  • don’t have a Windows version

Creating Digital Notes 

Notability creates new notebooks in a single tap. GoodNotes has a similar QuickNote option. You can also take more time to create new notebooks in GoodNotes, customising your cover and pagetemplates.

Notability Has Terrible Page Customisation

Notability supports one paper size: A4. It supports only four paper templates: plain, squared, lined and dotted, each with four line-spacing options (where applicable). All your paper templates in Notability are in portrait mode and you can’t rotate them. Notability supports a lot of paper colours though (15), but unfortunately, all the pages in one notebook use the same template down to the colour. You can’t have different page templates in one notebook in Notability. 

Notability has the worst paper templates options we have seen in any note-taking app. They’ve ignored this for years and we are curious to see how much longer they’ll keep getting away with it. You can’t even select multiple pages for editing in Notability. Second only to handwriting experience, paper templates are the most important feature in a note-taking app. If they can’t give us the paper templates we need, they should at least let us add custom paper templates to the app’s library. No, that my fellow humans, they have made almost impossible. Adding custom paper templates in Notability is extremely difficult.

GoodNotes Is Better With Page Customisation

GoodNotes has great paper templates options. It supports many page sizes (A7-A3, GoodNotes Standard, Letter and Tabloid) and plenty of paper templates, twenty-two in total! Your pages can either be in portrait or landscape mode. In case you change your mind about their orientation a bit later, you can select multiple pages to rotate or edit them (copy or move them around). GoodNotes supports fewer colours for your paper templates though (yellow, white and dark). That doesn’t even matter because you can save custom page templates to the app’s template library. Talk about convenience! You can also have different paper templates in one notebook; different colours, sizes, grid lines or colours. 

Page customisationNotabilityGoodNotes
Page sizesA4 onlyA7 (iPhone)-A3
GoodNotes Standard
Page orientationPortrait onlyPortrait & landscape
Page colours15White, dark & yellow
Number of paper templates422
Adding custom paper templates to the app’s library
Selectmultiple pages
Different page templates in one notebook
Page rotation

Pen Tool

Notability and GoodNotes are primarily handwritten note-taking apps. In these apps, you mostly hand-write your notes with an active stylus. Notability has four pen tools (ballpoint, fountain, dashed and dotted pens). It has twelve fixed pen sizes, 32 default colours and the ability to add 32 more custom colours to your colour palette. You also get a favourites toolbar in Notability for saving your most used pens, highlighters and erasers. It’s mobile, so you can put on any side of the screen to keep it out of the way.

GoodNotes has three pen tools: ballpoint, fountain and brush pens. It has a millimetre-pen sized system. You can choose the exact thickness you want for your pen, between 0.1-2mm. On your toolbar, however, you can only save three pen sizes and colours at a time. Notability and GoodNotes have different approaches to their pen tools but they both function.

In 2021, GoodNotes has improved its handwriting experience so much that it is better than the one in Notability. GoodNotes has added the ability to adjust pressure sensitivity for its fountain and brush pens, which makes the handwriting experience more pleasant in GoodNotes than in Notability. In GoodNotes you can also adjust the pen tip for your fountain pen, which improves how your handwriting looks in the app. The handwriting experience in Notability is also great and feels like you’re writing on paper.

Pen ToolNotabilityGoodNotes
Pen typesBallpoint, fountain, dashed & dottedBallpoint, fountain, brush
Pen size12 fixed options0.1-2mm variable, save three at a time
Pen tip sharpness
Pressure sensitivity
Colours32 defaults, add custom3 saved on toolbar, add custom
Favourites toolbar

Zoom Tool

The zoom tool in Notability is very basic. It has your writing tools on the left side of its toolbar and navigation tools on the right side. You can avoid using auto-advanceby minimising this blue section and not writing on it.

Auto-advance in GoodNotes is better than the one in Notability, once you understand how it works. In GoodNotes, the toolbar doesn’t have writing tools on it, but has margin tools instead. Then navigation tools on the right. 

Zoom Tool NotabilityGoodNotes
Pen tools on toolbar
Margin tool
Navigation tools

Text Tool

In Notability, you can type directly on the page or use text boxes. In GoodNotes, while typing, a text box appears around your text. It disappears when you stop writing. GoodNotes uses the text box approach only. We do not recommend adding text directly on the page in Notability when mixing your handwriting with text. 

Since both apps have text box options, we’ll look at that first. In Notability, you can use your Apple Pencil to draw a text box when your text tool is selected. You can also add it from the plus icon on the toolbar. In GoodNotes, you just start typing. 

In Notability, your text box can be made from Papers or Colours. In GoodNotes, you can do more with your text boxes:

  • Change Background Colour
  • Change Border Colour
  • Determine border thickness and Padding.
  • Save as Default one text box style.

Notability doesn’t have borders for your text boxes, which makes the feature feel a bit incomplete. Borders are necessary to create boxes and if you want them in Notability, you’ll probably have to draw them in. Both apps let you rotate your text boxes. It’s more cumbersome in GoodNotes because you have to rely on the lasso tool.

In Notability, you can save three favourite text formats. These preset your font, its style (bold, italic or underline), size and colour. For example, you can save presets for headings, paragraphs and emphasis. When typing notes during a meeting or lecture, you don’t have time to customise your text. Tapping on a favourite changes your text format immediately. GoodNotes only offers you three saved colour templates and one text box style, which is clearly not enough. In Notability you can create: 

  • interactive checklists 
  • unnumbered lists 
  • numbered lists

The interactive list tool in Notability is one of the best on the market. Notability checks off, dims and strikes out your completed tasks, making them easier to differentiate from incomplete tasks. Notability has an indentation tool to help with your lists, while GoodNotes does not. Both apps can align your text, but text alignment works better in GoodNotes than in Notability. GoodNotes has also added the ability to adjust line spacing for your text under your text alignment tool.

You can access the notes in your currently opened folder from within Notability’s workspace when using the text tool. This has nothing to do with the text tool, but it’s a useful feature to have. You can even customise the tools on your keyboard toolbar.

Notability has the superior text tool. Even after putting so much effort on the text tool, GoodNotes still lags behind on this feature, but they are headed in the right direction.

Text ToolNotabilityGoodNotes
Text input optionsKeyboard, ScribbleKeyboard, Scribble
Text box customisation★★★★★★★★
Text box rotation
Support for custom fonts
Save favourite text formats
Interactive lists
Lists (numbered & unnumbered)
Indentation tool
Text alignment★★★★★★★★
Line Spacing
Customise the tools on the keyboard toolbar


For both apps, the highlighter goes to the back of your ink. Notability still has the option to bring the highlighter to the front for users that prefer that. You have to do this for each notebook though since the app doesn’t have a universal setting for it at the moment. In both apps, the highlighter tool has customisation options that are similar to those you get for your pen tool.


The eraser in both apps can erase per stroke &pixel. They can both selectively erase the highlighter only. Notability has twelve fixed sizes for your eraser, while GoodNotes only has three. GoodNotes can auto-deselect the eraser when you finish using it. After erasing something, the app automatically switches back to the tool you were using before. Notability doesn’t have this feature. A lot of users love the auto-deselect feature. 

Per pixel/stroke
Eraser sizes123
Erase highlighter Only

Lasso Tool

Notability has two types of lasso tools in the app: freehand and rectangular. The freehand lasso tool lets you move items on the page. You can resize and rotate your selection simultaneously using the two-finger gesture.

The rectangular lasso tool lets you resize and rotate your selection independently. You can do one or the other at a time. The lasso tool can change the thickness of your notes. It only picks up your handwriting though. You can’t select everything on your page in Notability, which is fine since you don’t need the lasso tool to select text boxes and images. Just tap on them. However, if you ever want to move everything on your page at once, you can’t do that in Notability. The lasso tool in Notability can duplicate your content.

In GoodNotes, you can take ascreenshot of your selection for exporting out of the app. You can selectively pick your Handwriting, Text Boxes, Images or everything. The lasso tool in GoodNotes can’t move objects across pages of the same notebook though. If you want to move items to the next page, you have to cut & paste.

In both apps, you can resize, cut, copy, delete, change the colour of your selected notes. You can also drag & drop items out of the apps.

Lasso ToolNotabilityGoodNotes
Resize section, cut, copy, delete, change colour, rotate
Change pen thickness
Select handwriting only
Select text box onlyTap on text
Select images onlyTap image
Select everything (handwriting, text boxes and images)
Take a screenshot of selection
Convert to text
Drag & drop
Move selection across pages in the same notebook

Adding Things To Your Notes

For both apps, you can add images, scans, and import documents. In Notability, you can also add audio recordings, GIFs, sticky notes, stickers,weblinks and web clips. In iPadOS, both apps support scanning documents into your notes and searching through them. 

Items You Can Add:NotabilityGoodNotes
Import PDFs
Audio recordings
Sticky notes
Web clips

Scanning Documents

When you scan a document in Notability, you can insert it to your notes as a scan or an image. Images will take up a smaller section of your page and thus will create smaller documents. If you’re concerned about saving space, you can save the scan as a photo. You can search through your scans.

GoodNotes uses the same iPadOS scanning tool, but it only saves scans as PDFs. You can search your documents only if you do not rotate them. Avoid rotating your scans in the app. 

Shapes tool

Notability and GoodNotes can both draw regular, irregular shapes, arrows and curved lines. Both apps can auto-fill your shapes and your shape border can have a different colour from its fill. In GoodNotes, however, your circle border and fill are the same. The auto-fill in GoodNotes is translucent, while the one in Notability can be opaque (if you use the pen tool) and translucent (when you use the highlighter). For both apps, you can’t adjust the auto-fill opacity

In Notability, you can adjust the thickness of your shapes border and its shape after you’ve already drawn it. This works most effectively for irregular shapes, it allows you to completely change them.

Both apps support snap to other strokes for automatically snapping edges of your shapes together. In GoodNotes, the app recognises the shape as one stroke when you use multiple strokes to draw your shape once it’s completed . In Notability, the strokes are treated as individuals, even though they snap to each other. GoodNotes has a dedicated shapes icon, but it also works the same way Notability does: long pressing to transform the shape.

Notability’s shapes and lines snap to the grids on your paper templates. It makes up for a pleasant shape drawing experience, which you don’t get in GoodNotes. 

Shapes ToolNotabilityGoodNotes
Regular shapes
Irregular shapes
Curved lines
Auto-fill similar to border colour
Auto-fill different from border colourExcept for circles
Adjust auto-fill opacity
Adjust shape after drawing
Duplicate shapes
Snap to other strokes★★★★★★★★★
Snap to page lines & grid
Adjust border thickness


Both apps support PNG photos (photos without a background). You can drag & drop images into the apps or add them using the photos icon (both apps can add multiple images). You can crop your images. In GoodNotes, you can crop them with freehand too.  For both apps, you can rotate and resize your photos. In GoodNotes you do both simultaneous, but in Notability, you can do one at a time. In Notability, you can add captions, wrap text around your images and round their corners. You can also stretch or shrink your images in GoodNotes. 

Freehand cropping
Resize & Rotate
Drag & drop
Add captions
Wrap text around photos
Round Corners


Both apps have vertical and horizontal scrolling. Vertical scrolling in Notability is seamless. Pages are like one continuous canvas separated by a thin horizontal line. Your handwriting can overlap across pages, giving you a ‘continuous’ canvas to write on. Vertical scrolling in GoodNotes is not seamless. A small gap separates the pages in your notebook, so your handwriting can’t overlap across pages.

Horizontal scrolling for both apps displays one page at a time. Notability automatically adds a new page when you start writing on the last page in your notebook, while in GoodNotes, you have to add the pages yourself (using gestures or the plus icon on the toolbar).

Vertical & horizontal
Vertical Seamless
Automatically add new pages


Notability has in-app split view for opening two different notebooks side by side using the Note Switcher. Both notebooks share the same workspace. Your tools, thus, can only work in one view at a time (the active window). You can activate a window by tapping it before writing. Notability’s Note Switcher only shows the ten most recently opened notebooks in your app. However, you can search all your notebooks in the app (universal search) on the Note Switcher and open any result you want. You can also create new notebooks within the workspace without leaving your current notebook and you can decide to open it on the right or left.

GoodNotes supports multiple instances. You can open the app twice side by side and each instance is a fully functional app so you can open the same notebook twice. Both windows are always active and you can access all the documents in the app from any instance (you have to go the homepage). You can also open more notebooks in slide over and multiple tabs in each instance. GoodNotes can open more documents at any given time than Notability.

TypeNote-switcherMultiple instances
Maximum number of notes open at once2More than 2
Open same note twice
Number of active windows per session1Both instances
Access to other notebooks10 most recently openedAll notebooks in the app
Slide over windows
Multiple tabs
Create new app from within workspace
Universal search within workspace

PDF Annotation 

All note-taking apps can annotate your PDFs because they have decent PDF reading tools (pens, highlighters and text boxes). That alone, however, is not enough to make them good PDF readers.

Of the two apps, GoodNotes is a better PDF annotating app. It recognises PDFoutlines, which are contents pages. The last thing you want for a digital workflow is navigating through every page in a document one by one. Contents pages let you skip to the exact part of the PDF you need, which saves a lot of time. Notability doesn’t recognise these. 

Hyperlinks are another way to ease navigating a PDF. Both GoodNotes and Notability recognise hyperlinks and they can automatically deactivate them when you’re using your Apple Pencil.

You can create outlines (custom contents pages) for your PDFs and notebooks in GoodNotes. If you create huge notebooks to have all your information in one place, a simple navigation system is necessary. Otherwise, you’re better off just creating small documents, which comes with organisation problems of its own. 

For both apps, you can bookmark pages in your PDFs. In Notability, this is one of two ways to simplify your PDF navigation, because you can choose to view only your bookmarked pages. You also have the option to view your annotated pagesonly, which is very handy. 

You can export password-protected PDFs out of Notability. Useful when you have sensitive information you don’t want falling in the wrong hands. Like those secrets that are better off kept in your head, but you just feel the urge to write them down anyway. And of course, you must share them with your best friend. So you password-protect them. 

PDF AnnotationNotabilityGoodNotes
Recognise hyperlinks
Deactivate hyperlinks when using the Apple Pencil
Create outlines
View annotated pages only
Password-protect exports


Optical Character Recognition, OCR, in these two note-taking apps has two parts. It has handwriting recognition & conversion and text character recognition (found in PDF readers).

Notability converts your handwriting to twenty-three languages. Text replaces your handwritten section in one tap. GoodNotes supports seventeen languages. After converting your text, you must copy & paste it in your notes, then delete your handwritten section. GoodNotes needs to make this a one-step process.

You can search through your handwriting. Both apps highlight the searched terms in your documents making them easy to find. GoodNotes will organise your search results according to notes and outlines. Outline results are handy for searching through page titles. 

The other aspect of OCR for these note-taking apps is searching through scanned documents. Both will search through documents you scan directly into the apps, but Notability also searches through imported scans. It can also search through text in your images.

Convert handwriting to text
Supported languages2317
Replace handwriting in one tap
Search through handwriting
Search through imported scans
Search text on images
Organisation of search results

Dark Mode 

Both apps have false dark mode that only converts the user interface and not the pages or ink in the app. 

Presentation Mode

Presentation mode lets you present your notes without the distracting user interface of the app. In Notability, your screen goes into Dark Mode, giving you a helpful contrast. The dark mode parts represent everything your audience can’t see, that is, your user interface.

You have a laser pointer for pointing at what you are talking about. Notability has four colours for it (red, blue, green and yellow). You can use it to draw items during your presentation when a pointer is not enough. You can display parts of your pages or full single pages. The Note Switcher allows you to open notes side by side. You can decide which notes you present and use the other ones for your reference only. 

GoodNotes has similar options. Your screen doesn’t change dramatically as in Notability though. You only have a red laser pointer. It also points and draws. You can present parts of your pages or full single pages. In split view, you can choose which window you show your audience and you can switch between them very easily. One split view will be for your presentation, while the other one is for your reference just like in Notability.  

Both apps have the option to display everything you see as a presenter (including your user interface). It defeats the purpose of doing a presentation in the first place, especially because the laser pointers only work on the pages, not the apps’ user interfaces. 

Presentation ModeNotabilityGoodNotes
Hide user interface
Laser pointerRed, blue, green, yellowRed
Reference window


Both apps have added collaboration capabilities, but the one in GoodNotes is more superior. GoodNotes first added collaboration without real-time syncing. We had to wait for 15-30s for changes to update. They have released real-time syncing but are rolling it out slowly to their users.

Both apps create links that you can share, giving anyone with that link access to your notes. Both apps need to add the ability to add individuals via email and give us more control over the permissions we give to the people we collaborate with.

GoodNotes’ collaboration is within the app and it, therefore, works amongst GoodNotes users only. You can all work on a document together and you can mark new changes as seen to keep track of your collaboration.

Notability’s collaboration is more complex and incomplete. Users are required to create a Notability account to be able to share links with other people. Creating a link in Notability takes a long time; you have to wait for it for a few seconds. Let’s hope they can speed this up. The link you share in Notability opens online as a web app with no annotation tools. Your friends can only read your notes (even though they don’t use Notability), but can’t interact with them. At the moment, you can only share up to 10 notes at a time.

CollaborationNotability GoodNotes
Invite via email
Share a link of your notebook
Create an account to share link
Highlight changed made
Receive notifications when someone changes your document
Collaborate on folders
Limit on number of notes you can share10Unlimited

Special Features 

Special features make an app stand out amongst others in the same category. These are unique features that define an app in most cases.

  • GoodNotes has a two-finger selection gesture for quickly selecting and deselecting multiple documents on the homepage.
  • The audio recording tool remains Notability’s trump card. It is an excellent feature for note-taking. The audio files are very small, taking up negligible storage on your iPad.
  • Notability can lock folders and supports Face/Touch ID depending on the device you are using. 
  • GoodNotes can create outlines to ease navigation through your notes. You can then export them with hyperlinks.
  • Notability has a Notability shop for in-app purchases of various digital products.
  • GoodNotes has an experimental feature for flashcards.

Exporting Options

Notability exports four formats: PDF, Note, Images (Jpeg or PNG) and RTF. PDF is the best way to share read-only notes out of any note-taking app. That’s what we are going to focus on. You can:

  • Choose specific pages to export
  • Keep paper background
  • Attach audio recordings 
  • Password-protect
  • Add a margin 
  • Preview the PDF
  • Export active hyperlinks

A margin gives you extra space around your notes and more room for annotating later. Notability does not zip images when you export them out of the app. GoodNotes exports PDFs, Images and GoodNotes formats. You can: 

  • Choose specific pages for exporting.
  • Keep page background 
  • Exclude annotations
  • Export active hyperlinks

The ability to exclude annotations is useful when you want to share the original documents you imported into the app. You don’t have to worry about removing all your annotations before exporting. Super useful! GoodNotes has the option to export images as zip files or as individual images. Both apps can export PDFs with active hyperlinks.

Exporting OptionsNotabilityGoodNotes
FormatsPDF, Images (jpeg/png), Note, RTFPDF, Images, GoodNotes 
Select specific pages
Page background
Attach audio recordings
Password-protect PDF
Add margin around PDF
Exclude annotations
Export hyperlinks
Zip images
Individual images

GoodNotes 5 creates and exports hyperlinked PDFs. 

User Interface

Even though they come as an in-app purchase, the themes in Notability offer options to customise your user interface. The themes are beautiful. That, plus the minimalist user interface in the app, makes Notability a better-looking app. It looks cleaner and less cluttered. GoodNotes doesn’t have any themes. It’s two toolbars and tabs that make the app somewhat chunky.

App Size & Storage Consumption

GoodNotes is a bigger app that creates bigger files than Notability, so if you are worried about space on your iPad, it’s best to go with Notability.

Storage ConsumptionNotabilityGoodNotes
App size205.2 MB297.3 MB
No. of documents37920
Documents & data166 MB531.8 MB


GoodNotes remains the better app for organising your notes. It supports folders within folders, giving you an infinite number of organisational levels. You can also bookmark your favourites and filter them to view your documents, pages or folders only.

Notability has a two-level folder system (dividers and subjects). A divider contains multiple subject folders. The subject folder then contains individual notes. You haven’t much control on how you organise your notes in Notability. 

You can also see your shared documents that you are collaborating on. Notability has a folder for Shared Notes. In GoodNotes, you have a Shared tab at the bottom of the screen. You can filter to see documents:

  • Owned by Anyone
  • Owned by Me
  • Owned by Others
  • With Unseen Changes

Universal Search

Both apps support universal search. You can search all your documents (including handwritten notes) on the homepage. GoodNotes organises your searched documents into titles, PDFs, outlines, typed notes and written notes. Notability organises your search results into title and content matches only. Notability can search through specific folders, which GoodNotes cannot.

Universal SearchNotabilityGoodNotes
Search through handwriting
Organise search resultsTitle and content matchesTitles, PDFs, outlines, typed notes, handwritten notes
Search specific folder


Auto Backup

Notability backups up to Dropbox, GoogleDrive, OneDrive, Box and WebDAV. You can decide which subjects to backup and in what format. Note is Notability’s native format and therefore the best way to backup your notes. 

GoodNotes only backups up to Dropbox, GoogleDrive and OneDrive. You can decide which folders/notes to backup by including/excluding specific words/phrases in the names of your documents. GoodNotes is the native format for the app, therefore the best way to backup your notes.  GoodNotes also lets you backup in two formats: GoodNotes and PDF. There’s an advantage to having both. 

In GoodNotes, you can see the documents queueing for backup and you can pause or cancel your backups

Auto BackupNotabilityGoodNotes
Google Drive
Native formatNoteGoodNotes
Native + PDF
Backup specific folders
Backup specific files
View backup queue
Pause/cancel backup

Both Apps Can:

  • Sync via iCloud
  • Move the toolbar to the bottom

The battle between Notability and GoodNotes is a never-ending one. Which app do you prefer for your digital note-taking?


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There are a lot of misconceptions about technology that prevent most people from getting the most out of them. I strongly believe that technology can help us achieve so much more than paper. I decided to dedicate my life to educating people about digital tools that can help them do more with their technology.

GoodNotes 5 for iPad Tutorial


Transform your iPad into smart digital paper. Take handwritten notes in digital notebooks, on imported PDF, PowerPoint, and Word documents, or on images and photos. All notes are searchable and you'll never have to worry about losing or misplacing them again. GoodNotes is one of the top paid iPad apps worldwide and is frequently featured on the App Store, making it a must-have for your iPad.

* Fluent, precise, and completely natural writing experience thanks to GoodNotes pioneering vector ink engine
* Write with the Apple Pencil, Logitech Crayon, or with many capacitive styluses and even your finger
* Select and customize your pen color, thickness, and style (fountain pen, ballpoint, brush pen)
* Easily switch between pen, highlighter, and eraser

* Everything is indexed: Search your handwritten notes, typed text, PDF text, document outlines, folder titles, and document titles
* Convert your handwriting to text to share it with other apps or add it to the page as a text box to continue typing with your keyboard

* All your notes with you at all times thanks to iCloud Sync

* open GoodNotes in multiple windows to view two documents or two pages side by side
* use tabs to quickly switch between open documents

* Move, resize, and rotate your handwriting or change colors
* Draw perfect shapes and lines with the Shapes Tool
* unlimited undo & redo including gesture control for faster corrections
* powerful & smart eraser tool: Choose to erase the entire stroke or only parts of it. Set it to "Erase Highlighter Only" to leave the ink intact
* Pinch to zoom and write more precisely
* Navigate through imported PDFs with existing hyperlinks

* Choose from a large set of beautiful covers and paper templates: Essentials, writing paper, Cornell paper, dark paper, checklists, planners, and more
* Import any PDF or image as a custom template for more customization

* import PDF, PowerPoint, Word, images, photos and more to annotate them right on your iPad
* export documents and share them with others for a fully digital workflow
* scan your paper documents and recognize the text

* Organize your documents in folders and create unlimited subfolders
* Mark your most important documents, pages, and folders as Favorites to access them quickly
* Create custom outlines for easier navigation through your documents

* Keep your audience focused on what's important: Presentation mode lets you hide all distractions on an external screen when you connect your device via HDMI or AirPlay
* Use all of GoodNotes' tools, including the Laser Pointer on the iPad, while your audience only sees the page and the content
* GoodNotes empowers you to give more engaging presentations, lectures, and lessons. You can move around freely and interact with the audience while adding new information to the digital whiteboard for everyone to see

Visit our website at for more information, or follow us on Twitter and Instagram as @goodnotesapp.

...MoreDownload the app

What's New

- Some enhancements and bug fixes to Community.
- Fix some crashes on iOS 15.
- Some new texts to improve the understanding of some features.
- Fix writing lag when the library contains a lot of shared documents.

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  • Cracker/Uploader: zachary
    Date: 2021-10-11 10:44 Version:5.7.38  For iOS 14 For iOS 13 For iOS 12 
  • Cracker/Uploader: zachary
    Date: 2021-10-11 10:44 Version:5.7.38  For iOS 14 For iOS 13 For iOS 12 
  • Cracker/Uploader: user_hidden-ICPDA
    Date: 2021-10-11 13:31 Version:5.7.38  For iOS 14 For iOS 13 For iOS 12 
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Free Download GoodNotes 5 5.7.38 for iPhone and iPad

About GoodNotes 5: Transform your iPad into smart digital paper. Take handwritten notes in digital notebooks, on imported PDF, PowerPoint, and Word documents, or on ... Read More >

All the apps & games here are for HOME or PERSONAL use ONLY. If any app infringes your copyright, please contact us, We'll delete it any way.

What's New in GoodNotes 5 v5.7.38

  1. - Some enhancements and bug fixes to Community.
  2. - Fix some crashes on iOS 15.
  3. - Some new texts to improve the understanding of some features.
  4. - Fix writing lag when the library contains a lot of shared documents.

Old Versions

  1. GoodNotes 5 5.7.36 (Updated: October 4, 2021)
  2. GoodNotes 5 5.7.34 (Updated: September 27, 2021)
  3. GoodNotes 5 5.7.32 (Updated: September 22, 2021)
  4. GoodNotes 5 5.7.31 (Updated: September 19, 2021)
  5. GoodNotes 5 5.7.29 (Updated: September 8, 2021)
  6. GoodNotes 5 5.7.27 (Updated: September 1, 2021)
  7. GoodNotes 5 5.7.24 (Updated: August 25, 2021)
  8. GoodNotes 5 5.7.22 (Updated: August 15, 2021)
  9. GoodNotes 5 5.7.20 (Updated: August 9, 2021)
  10. GoodNotes 5 5.7.18 (Updated: August 1, 2021)
  11. More Version History >

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