Andrew: So, what we were originally going to do what we thought were the top five or six note-taking apps for the iPad, both for the Pro and the base model. we’re gonna talk a little bit later.
Harry: Yeah, so right away I immediately thought that Notability had, not only the most features, but it just felt really good to use as well.
Andrew: Before this app I used Noteshelf. and I think Noteshelf is a fantastic app and it’s definitely one of the top three that I would recommend if you weren’t gonna go with Notability. but when we were doing the research, you brought up Notability, I checked it out, and it is kind of hands-down the best app.
Harry: Oh yeah, definitely.
Andrew: So, what we’re gonna do in this article is break down five kind of advanced note-taking tips for the iPad and we’re gonna use Notability as the example app here. But I do wanna note that for most of these tips you can do either the same thing or something very similar in other apps out there. But real quick, lightning run here what will be your top three recommendations for apps for people who are not gonna use Notability?
Harry: All right, so if you’re not using Notability, like Andrew said, use Noteshelf, that’s a good one. You can also go with GoodNotes 5, which is another app that I use intensively and as well as just the built in Apple Notes app because that you can still write and also type notes.
Andrew: And it’s the only one there that’s free, so that’s worth noting.
Harry: Yes, keep in mind, a lot of these, or actually all of them, that we’re recommending is paid.
Andrew: Yeah, but let’s get into these tips starting with the first one, which is going to be to use the magnifier tool. Now the problem I have with writing on an iPad and I guess I have a couple of problems. Because honestly writing on notebook paper feels amazing, but one of the big problems is that I don’t wanna have to constantly pinch-and-zoom to be able to write within these lines here, and I’m not going to be able to write legible text here. So, a lot of these apps solve this problem by giving you a magnifier tool.
And in Notability, you can just come down here, if you have the pencil tool active, click here and you get this little window where you can just create notes. So, I’ll just go over here and why don’t I make a list of groceries not to buy later. And one of the things I really like about this app is, there’s this little blue area on the right and once your pencil goes into it it’s actually gonna move the magnifier, either to the right, or it’s going to go to the next line if you’re already at the right. And it’s adjustable, so if you wanna have it here instead of here you could do that. So, I’m gonna go there, or you can just hit one of these buttons to go over or down if you want to manually.
I haven’t figured out how to make this like multi-column thing work so it’s a little bit of a pain but you know, let’s just go with porcupine needles. So, I mean already this is like, again it’s not as good as writing on paper for me, but this is kind of a nice experience and I think with some of the other tips we’re gonna talk about, the slight trade-off in convenience might be worth it for some people.
Harry: Yeah, definitely, I mean again, it’s not gonna replace paper but a lot of these features actually adds on to the fact that you’re using an iPad as opposed to paper. So, we’re gonna move on to the second tip which is being able to do audio recordings as you’re writing your notes and have the audio match the notes that you are writing. So up here on top.
Andrew: This is like my favorite feature. This is the game changing feature, specifically with Notability.
Harry: Which is amazing, so we’re gonna go ahead and click this little microphone up top.
And it’s gonna start audio recording everything that I’m saying or if, for example, as if your teacher was saying if you got permission in class to do so. So, we’re gonna go and just go ahead and start writing, so let’s say we write a list of things you do wanna buy at a store.
Andrew: I’m gonna keep going with my list of things that I don’t wanna buy.
Harry: Yeah go ahead.
Andrew: Because I don’t know like I also don’t wanna buy like poison, or I don’t know, like maybe like Kenny Loggins box sets. All right, so we’re recording. Here’s the thing about Notability, because Noteshelf can record and attach to notes as well and with any app, you could just record a voice note in the background and then just look at it later. But with Notability, once you’re done recording your recording is actually synced with the speed at which you took your notes.
So if you go in here and you replay, it’s going to show, “all right, now class I’m gonna give you a list…” a little overlay and let me take this volume down just a little bit. But it’s gonna show a, kind of like, a grayed-out version of what you took. And then if you tap on the text, it will skip to the audio that was happening at the time you wrote that, which is pretty amazing.
Because now you don’t have to scrub through like half an hour or an hour of lecture material, you can just be like, “all right, I can’t remember “what the professor said at this point”, or maybe, they were talking too fast. Like I probably am right now, and you only got a little bit of it written down.
Well, you can go back in time essentially and see what they were saying, and then you could fill out your notes even more completely, which is kind of a game-changer.
Okay, so tip number three, and I’m gonna use my hand that’s not holding Apple Pencil,
Andrew: There’re three fingers, yeah. Tip number three is to use the split-screen, multitasking features in the iPad to bring up reference material that may be in a browser or in a different app.
So, in this case, I’m just going to, I guess, close. So, in this case, I’m just going to bring up Safari at the left of my notes. I’m gonna change the screen size a little bit and now if I am, say researching this article about how to, you know, create a great study space I can do that over here and I can easily take notes over here, but that’s not the coolest part.
The coolest part is that you can actually bring in text and images from whatever other apps you are using. So, if I wanna bring in this image here, I can just hold it and then drag it in and there it is. And if I wanna crop it I could, I could go to a crop, I can, you know, maybe cut it down a little bit. I could add a caption or I can just move it around and I’m good to go. I could also highlight actual text content.
So, let’s just take a couple of paragraphs here, do the exact same thing, hold that down and drag it, then it becomes plain text. And now, this isn’t gonna work with your handwriting, but with images you can actually move them around and do text wrapping so you can kind of format your notes the way you want, which is not something you can do on paper. Now one thing I liked about Notability in particular that I didn’t find in other apps was the ability to actually bring in GIFs.
Some other apps would let you do pictures but they wouldn’t let you do GIFs and you know, sometimes you just wanna bring in like a Thanos GIF into your notes. That’s very important, right?
Harry: And then all that for a drop of clout.
Andrew: All that for a drop of clout. More importantly, though, I think, is the ability to scan in documents. Now I was thinking I was gonna have to use something like Scanbot and then import documents myself like manually, but there’s actually a document scanning feature. So, if you get a handout in class or you just have a piece of paper that you wanna put in your notes you can easily open this and you can just create a document scan.
Harry: And with that, we’re gonna go into tip number four of which is being able to drag from the left side of your note. And right here you can see all the notes that you already have that were previously made and you can go ahead and click-and-drag the notes. Now you have multitasking of being able to go from one note to the other simply by clicking, writing on one, click on the other one and do the exact same thing.
Andrew: Something that I really like about that is in Notability, and this is something that is in Noteshelf and some other apps as well. You can import PowerPoint presentations; you can import PDFs. So, if you have reference material, if you have slides from your lecture that have been given to you ahead of time, you could easily bring in, say a PowerPoint presentation, have that on the left and now you have the ability to mark up and highlight anything you want in your PowerPoint presentation.
You can follow along in class, but you can also write in your actual note document and follow along with your slides, which is pretty sweet. Another thing that you can do is use this little scissor tool here and you can highlight pieces of the PowerPoint presentation or really anything you want, copy it, and bring it over into your regular notes. And from there you can add annotations, captions, you could put plain text next to it, do kind of whatever you want. And that brings us to our last tip, which is to do.
Harry: All of it, do it all.
Andrew: All of it at the same time, which is a little bit easier on the Pro, I’m not gonna lie.
Harry: Yeah, it really is.
Andrew: But you can indeed do an audio recording, open up the magnifier, have two things open at the same time and still use iPad-level multitasking. So, let’s say you had a really important piece of reference material that was in Safari. You also had class slides that you were referencing and you still wanted to take notes, and you still wanted that audio recording, you can do all those at the exact same time, which is kind of awesome, I’m not gonna lie.
Harry: Yeah, and again, I’m following along and I’m using the smaller 7th Gen iPad that isn’t as big as his, but I’m still able to keep up with his. So, the idea is you can do so much with this app regardless if you’re using older hardware and still keep up the pace with everyone else.
Andrew: So, let’s talk about the differences between the base model and the Pro. Obviously, the Pro is a bigger screen. So, it’s more screen real estate, it’s gonna be easier to write on, but you’re gonna have to spend a lot more money to get the Pro.
And I’ll put that in the description down below. But yeah, what are the main differences besides just the screen space?
Harry: I mean, so in reality what you’re gonna be paying for is on this one as opposed to this one, is you’re getting an OLED display on here. On the base model, you’re also getting a processor that is three years old. So, imagine having an iPhone 7 processor on this tablet. It’s not horrible. New iPad Pro 2020 got Apple A12Z Bionic Processor — it's much faster
So, keep in mind that no matter what though, Apple really has a good reputation of having processors that last a long time and never once using this did, I feel like a hiccup there slowed me down.
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