GoodNotes 4 is the paper notebook of the future [50 Essential iOS Apps #24]

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GoodNotes 4 notebook with Apple Pencil on iPad Pro
GoodNotes 4 is perfect for writing notes, regardless of the topic.
Photo: Ian Fuchs/Cult of Mac

50 Essential iOS Apps: GoodNotes 4 The iPad has become a workhorse in the last few years. Since the introduction of the iPad Pro and Apple Pencil, the transition from pen and paper to digital note-taking is more feasible than ever. GoodNotes 4 is one of the best digital note-taking and document-annotation apps available on iOS.

What is GoodNotes 4?

GoodNotes 4 is like two apps in one. One aspect is note-taking, designed to turn your iPhone or iPad into a virtual notebook for capturing handwritten thoughts. Second, it’s a powerful PDF and document markup and annotation app. If you’re familiar with the stock iOS Notes app (starting in iOS 9), this is like a souped-up version of Apple’s built-in app.

Why it’s great

One of the coolest features of GoodNotes 4 is its collection of “paper” templates for taking notes on. Whether you need grids, lines, musical staff or blank pages, the app has you covered. If there’s something more specific to your needs, custom paper templates can be added to your notebook.

The writing “zoom window” is another key feature that makes GoodNotes 4 especially useful. By automatically shrinking your writing as you go, you can fit more words on a digital page without needing to write smaller. Best of all, if you make a mistake, you can easily erase, copy or move a piece of text in a few short taps.

GoodNotes 4 cover page and annotated document on iPad Pro
GoodNotes 4 is like a digital version of the physical notebooks of the past.
Screenshots: Ian Fuchs/Cult of Mac

PDF and document annotation in GoodNotes 4 is another powerful feature. Instead of printing off documents for a meeting or presentation, you can simply take notes directly on the document, and access or share them easily.

The final killer feature of GoodNotes is optical character recognition, or OCR. By analyzing your handwriting, the app lets you quickly search for a specific word (or words) in your scrawls. This makes finding a note on a given topic, or an annotation on a specific document, as easy as typing in a word and hitting search.

Who the GoodNotes note-taking app is for

GoodNotes 4 is great for anybody who wants to take handwritten notes in the digital world. The app shines for anyone taking notes during a lecture or meeting. And it’s a godsend for people who frequently need to annotate or mark up documents.

Bottom line: GoodNotes 4 is the best notes app

GoodNotes 4 is a solid upgrade to the built-in Notes app on iOS. From customizable paper styles to powerful annotation tools and automatic OCR, GoodNotes 4 is the notebook of the future.

Price: $7.99

Download from: App Store

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