Digital Planner for iPad: Tools & Steps to Take Notes on iPad in 2023

Are you ready to start with your first digital planner for iPad? Get ready to discover the best tools and steps to take notes on iPad. So let’s start creating your first digital notebook for iPad.

Don’t want to read it all? Here’s the summary: if you own an iPad and an Apple Pencil you can write handwritten, searchable notes on the go by following the steps:
1) Install a notes app: Noteshelf, Notability or Goodnotes
2) Buy and Download a PDF planner templates (see instructions to get started)
3) Import a PDF template to the notes app

A Digital Planner is like paper planning inside the iPad. However, the digital planner are not apps, they are PDF templates that:

  • works magically on iPad (can be opened on the iPhone or Mac too)
  • ONLY works inside an notes app (like Noteshelf, Goodnotes 5, Notability app)
  • Does NOT send notifications or reminders
  • Does NOT sync with Google Calendar
  • Does NOT sync with Outlook Calendar
  • Check if digital planning is for you, or let’s get started with the tutorial…

Why use a digital planner for iPad

If digital planning is for you, you’ll NEVER go back to your paper notebook. You can…

  • take notes and easily erase mistakes
  • search through notes with ease
  • write endless pages without worrying that you’ll be out of pages

And you can use the iPad as a daily plannermeeting book, or project book every day.

Tip: try an iPad digital note-taking template free, BEFORE paying for one.

You may feel the urge to jump a few steps ahead to search the whole internet and buy your first … or second … or third digital companion, to later get overwhelmed by all the time and money you’ve spent. Just wait for a sec… I’ll share free PDF templates and bestsellers demos that you can use and test if digital planning is for you before buying your favorite planner.

What is a digital planner for iPad?

A digital planner for iPad is a PDF file that you must import into a note-taking app to transform into your mighty paperless planner.

No worries, it may seem scary, but it isn’t! Plus, I’m here to show you all the steps.

Digital planning tools

The note-taking apps I recommend

5 Steps to paperless notes

In short, the steps to take notes on iPad are:

Step 1: Grab an iPad with a compatible Apple Pencil

The very first thing you need to get started is an iPad that supports iOS13+. I previously used a 2018 iPad generation with 1st gen Apple Pencil and it worked fine! Now I use this 11-inch iPad Pro (2021) with the Apple Pencil 2nd generation and I LOVE IT!! I also recommend a Paperlike screen protector to improve the handwriting experience.

daily planner for ipad-pdf-printable-goodnotes-planner
Photo: UNDATED Daily Planner (in dark mode)

Step 2: Install a Notes app from Appstore

For my Outline Planner template to work, you will need to import it inside a notes app. And you’ll soon find there are quite a few of them on the market.

But I highly recommend you to go to AppStore and download the Noteshelf app, one of the best apps to take notes on iPad, along with Notability and Goodnotes 5. The TOP 3 note-taking apps that I recommend are:

  1. Goodnotes 5 (best if you’d like to use stickers to decorate your pages; yet I find that with digital planners, goodnotes 5 interrupts the planning flow)
  2. Noteshelf (MY FAVORITE ONE – super easy to get started with, packed with a lot of amazing features, and supports large size files)
  3. Notability (students’ favorite – best if you like to audio-record lectures or discussions).

Read this article to see my detailed comparison on using a digital planner for iPad in Goodnotes vs. Notability vs. Noteshelf.

wine tasting journal-goodnotes planner-best good notes templates (6)
Photo: Wine Tasting Journal

Step 3: Choose a digital planner PDF template to use?

Download a PDF planner template on your iPad and import it to Noteshelf or other note-taking app. I’m confident that you’ll use them to create a cozy home of dreams, thoughts, and daily notes.

To prevent digital planner lag, I highly encourage you to test my premium digital planners, professionally built to have low size and vector based layouts.

Step 4: Import a digital planner inside the notes app

Once the note-taking app is on your iPad, and after you have downloaded the Outline Planner PDF template in the location “On My iPad / Downloads” folder, then go and open the note-taking app and import the planner from the Downloads folder using the add new function:
– in Goodnotes tap: New+ > Import
– in Noteshelf tap: + > Import Document
– in Notability tap: Import > Files

Step 5: Customize your planner

Using a digital planner, YOU CAN keep all your hand notes inside, organized in categories or sections. You can search through notes, erase mistakes, move notes around pages, and SO MUCH more. You can also easily share your notes with friends in the form of a PDF or images. Is so easy and fun!

Also read 5 Best iPad Accessories In 2024: From Keyboard To Earbuds to boost your digital planning experience.

Buy a Digital Planner ⭐

Happy with what you’ve tried so far? Now you’re ready to invest in your best digital planner to use every year. These are the best digital planners I’d suggest to start with:

People also asked…

Are digital planners worth it?

If you’re taking a lot of notes at work, and want to ditch the bulky paper planner, then Yes! Absolutely. They’re super easy to use and make it simple to organize your life.

Here are just a few reasons that a digital planner will change your life:

  • You can easily erase mistakes or move text around the page (like moving a task from 9am to 1pm)
  • Search through your notes with ease
  • Write endless notes without running out of pages

And, since you are an avid note-taker, to make your experience a joy I recommend installing a paperlike screen protector too. So discover the 7 BEST ipad paperlike screen protector brands in 2024.

Are digital planners reusable?

The answer is yes, and no.

Undated planners can be reused every year. You can keep the original clean and import it to your app whenever you need to start fresh. It is excellent because it means you don’t have to buy a new one yearly!

A few of my UNDATED Bestselling digital planners are the Project Planner and the People Planner.

If your planner has dates on the pages (like an agenda), then it should be replaced each year since the dates change. My bestselling dated planners are the Outline Planner and the Meeting Planner.

digital notebook for students-goodnotes notebook with tabs (1)
Photo: 6-Tab Work Books

How do I make my own digital notebook?

If you can’t find a template to fit your daily schedule, you can design one using premium tools like Adobe InDesign or Adobe Illustrator. Using Canva or Powerpoint may be a promising approach for people with less technical skills.

Perfecting a great digital notebook may take weeks or months of work, so if you don’t want to spend all the summer designing your notebook, buy a digital template instead.

More about Digital Planners for iPad

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