Notability vs. Goodnotes Review

I thought I’d weigh in on 2 popular journaling apps. From what I know these are the top 2 annotation/journaling apps out there for the iPad at the moment. I wanted to give you a list of pros and cons of each and then weigh in on which one I prefer to use. But first, let’s talk about what I use these apps for so the pros and cons will make a bit of sense. 
 
I’ve been experimenting with my work flow for a few years now. I’ve tried using everything. From to do lists, notes, and calendar apps native to my iPhone to paper planners. I’ve tried carrying around a notebook. After much trial and error I’ve found that for me a combination of apps and a planner works best for me, but more on my workflow later. In April I tested out turning my bullet journal into a digital one and I’ve never looked back. Journaling apps like Notability and Goodnotes are great for taking your planner or bullet journal digital.
 
I have to admit that I felt like I was betraying the stationery world a little bit by taking my planner digital. Don’t get me wrong, I love paper. I mean love. But a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do. I’m almost embarrassed to admit that I actually prefer my digital bullet journal to my paper planner!
 
When I first converted over to a digital planner I used Notability. I had purchased it in the past (it costs $5.99) so I decided to give it a try.
 
 
A few pros to Notability:
  • Great UI, easy to figure out.
  • Ease of writing. My penmanship doesn’t look butchered like it normally does on digital screens.
  • Pen options. I like that I can change the stroke of my pen and highlighter with a couple of taps.
  • Eraser tool. It’s a smart eraser so if I erase part of a shape or letter it’ll erase the whole thing.
  • Handwriting is searchable. I don’t use this feature, but I imagine a lot of people will find it useful.
  • Side-by-side notes. This is pretty cool, might play around with it to see if this will alleviate my need for a landscape mode. More to come on this feature.
 
A few cons to Notability: 
  • Ease of moving images. Every month I have a memories page in my planner and while it’s easy to add images into the notebook it’s really hard to move it. Maybe I just couldn’t figure it out lol!
  • Landscape mode. This was the biggest con for me. I like to use the app in landscape mode but the actual “paper” itself can’t be rotated to landscape. My planner templates that I designed are all in landscape mode so they feel a little small and have a lot of extra paper room at the bottom that I feel goes to waste. 
Notability’s cons were enough for me to try Goodnotes (it costs $7.99).
 
 
A few pros about Goodnotes:
  • Good UI, easy to figure out.
  • Smart drawing. Makes it easy to draw circles and straight lines.
  • Different papers. I like that I can add different paper types to 1 notebook. I can import a template, use grid paper, lined, or blank. I noticed in Notability it’s 1 type of paper for 1 notebook.
  • Landscape. Freakin. Mode. HECK YES! If I import a landscape page, it imports as landscape! Also, the papers that are available in Goodnotes are by default portrait but I can easily rotate the paper to landscape in a few taps.
  • Ease of importing templates from Procreate. I like that I can import files directly from Procreate and it’s formatted the way I intended it without much effort.
 
A few cons about Goodnotes:
  • For some reason I don’t like the pen UI on Goodnotes compared to Notability. I like that Notability has more colors to choose from, not just shades of the same color. I also like that the pen size is visual on Notability vs. a slider on Goodnotes. I guess that’s just a preference thing.
  • As a lefty, I notice that when I write in Goodnotes it’s kinda glitchy when I drag my hand toward the top left corner. It’s rare that it happens, not a deal breaker, but I use the app so much that I do notice it and it gets a little annoying.
  • Pricier than Notability. But only by $2.
 
After using both for quite some time my current fave is Goodnotes. The biggest deal breaker for me was the lack of landscape papers on Notability. I do have to try, though, the side my side notes feature in Notability to see if that’s a good alternative. I just couldn’t convince myself to be ok with portrait planner pages. If it weren’t for that I think i’d use Notability. So Notability, if you’re reading this get on that landscape mode!
 
xoxo,

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