I’ve tried several digital note-taking apps in the past years to see which ones work well with the digital planners I sell.
Traditional note-taking methods are cumbersome and outdated.
It’s hard to keep your notes organized and easy to find. You have to carry around a bunch of notebooks, and if you make a mistake, it’s hard to erase without leaving marks.
You probably still take handwritten notes in meetings, but what do you do with them when you’re done? You can’t just leave them lying around or shove them in a drawer somewhere. They need to be filed away neatly so you can find them later.
Note-taking on the iPad is the answer!
With a note-taking application, you can take searchable, handwritten notes on your iPad or iPhone, easily erase mistakes without leaving any marks and record audio for that important meeting or discussion.
And you can add beautiful functional stickers to make your pages pretty!
Plus, all of your digital notes are automatically synced between your devices, so you can access them anywhere.
It all starts with an iPad
You need an iPad with an Apple Pencil, the best note-taking app for iPad, and a PDF planner template to hold your notes.
Want to see a preview of my digital planner?
Watch my video on the 2022 Digital Planner, the SECRET weapon to ORGANIZED Notes using the Noteshelf app.
We’ve all been there – trying to fanatically remember what happened at a meeting or what project progress was made.
Not being able to remember key details from meetings or project updates can be incredibly frustrating and can hold you back from making progress.
Work-driven digital notebooks are a smart way to capture all of your meeting notes, project details, and team members’ progress in one place so you never forget anything again. They can easily be shared with office colleagues and remote teams.
Meet Noteshelf—iPad digital note-taking simplified
Take your notes into the 21st century with Noteshelf, the best notetaking app for iPad (from my experience).
… done with the bulky paper notebooks?
… tired of the never-ending phone to-do lists?
… fed up with waiting time searching for misplaced notes?
Do you own an iPad?
Then it’s time to meet the Noteshelf app–the most fluid and friendly digital app for note-taking on the iPad. I truly believe this is the best note taking app (iPad air, iPad Pro, Mac) that you must try.
With Noteshelf you can take searchable, handwritten notes on beautifully crafted paper templates and annotate imported PDF, images, and Powerpoint documents directly on your iPad.
You’ll finally be taking lecture notes with ease and being able to record audio for the best bits of your discussions. And with the handwriting recognition feature available, you can easily convert handwriting into text to share with colleagues.
Noteshelf team has also released a useful MAC app that surpasses Apple Notes capabilities. And the ability to run on all of the Apple devices (including the apple watch) and sync perfectly between them is handy when I need to see my handwritten notes on the go.
Apart from that, Noteshelf has also released a basic Android version, which does a decent job. And no, the Android and iOS versions of the Noteshelf app DO NOT SYNC, so if you’re using an iPad and an Android phone, you can’t sync between these devices.
Why use a digital note-taking app
Digital note-taking is a new trend, yet it’s not for everyone.
It’s an excellent option if you write personal and business notes, journal daily, or, take a lot of lecture notes, and you also want to:
- stop carrying around so many heavy paper notebooks
- create beautiful handwritten notes and documents neatly organized in multiple folders
- take notes by hand (so you can remember them better), yet easily erase mistakes without leaving marks
- annotate PDFs on the go, and perfectly sync them between your Apple devices
- easily search and find your notes in each digital notebook
- share your handwritten notes with family and colleagues by sharing selected pages or the entire digital planner
- record audio while you’re taking lecture notes
- keep business notes separate and private notes organised your way
- use beautifully crafted paper templates to enrich your daily digital planning
- enjoy the variety of personal health trackers, paper templates, and notebook covers that will enable a happy note-taking experience
What CAN you do with the Noteshelf app
Whether you’re creating default digital planners or importing to annotate PDFs documents, Noteshelf is a perfect note-taking app to:
- write good notes inside a life-work digital planner
- capture your mind and feelings inside a digital bullet journal
- write essential business project notes and mark their timelines or progress
- keep clients’ work organized and easily find a client note or project brief
- take meeting notes using a simple meeting note template or a ready-to-use digital meeting planner
- create your to-do lists every day or brain-dump your mind every week (write it down or create voice notes)
- capture memories and create vacations journals
- scribble and share your notes during ZOOM calls (share your iPad screen for everyone to see)
- create a workout planner and track your fitness progress
- keep track of your meals inside a meal planner or meal diary
- take notes during lectures (and capture audio)
What you CAN’T do with the Noteshelf app
Using the Noteshelf app for digital note-taking is like writing on a paper bullet journal inside your tablet. So there are some limitations like:
✘ it does NOT sync with Google Calendar
✘ it does NOT sync with Outlook Appointments
✘ it does NOT send alerts or reminders
✘ it does NOT create links between notebook’s pages
10 Best practices when using Noteshelf on iPad
#1. I can organize personal and business notes in Categories, Groups, and Sub-Groups
Working with Categories
In Noteshelf, you can organize your good notes inside categories, move digital notebooks between categories, and erase categories with a slide of finger.
The categories are listed in Alphabetical order, so if you want to add a particular category on top of your list, add a number before the category name: “1.Category name “.
To create a category tap the “+ New Category” > Name the Category > Create
To move a notebook to a new Category, tap and hold on the notebook thumbnail > Move (in the fly-out menu) > Select a Location > Move.
Working with Groups
Groups are similar to folders. When you create multiple groups, you basically create multiple folders. You can create groups in two ways:
- When you’re moving a notebook, just before you hit the last Move button, you can create a + New group within the chosen category.
- You can also create a group when you drag & drop a notebook’s thumbnail on another notebook’s thumbnail. To remove a group, you’ll have to move ALL the notebooks outside that group, and it will automatically delete. Pay attention that if you tap and hold a group and send it to Trash, it will delete all its contents.
Working with the slide-in menu
The flyout menu can be accessed anywhere (even when you’re inside a digital notebook). To open the fly-out menu, slide your finger from the left edge to the center of the screen.
Inside this menu you can access:
- your categories and create/trash categories
- recently opened notebooks
- pinned notebooks (this is really useful!)
- settings area
#2. I use Tags and Labeled Bookmarks to keep handwritten notes organised
Working with Tags
Tagging a page would come in handy when sorting and looking for specific information inside a notebook, like finding all notes for “John Smith Project”.
To create tags in the digital planner:
- Go to the page you want to tag and tap on the + icon on your notebook’s toolbar.
- Tap on the tags menu (3rd option from the fly-out window) and select Page tags
- After typing the tag, press Done on the keyboard to save the tag. Next time you want to tag a page with the same tag you’ll do the first two steps above, then select the previously saved tag
One other way to tag pages is from the Pages menu (the four-square-icon):
- Open Pages and locate your page to tag
- Tap and hold on the page thumbnail, then tap on tag (in the fly-out menu window)
- After typing the tag, press Done on the keyboard to save the tag
Working with Labeled Bookmarks
When it comes to bookmarking, Noteshelf does a fantastic job, allowing you to add both a title and a color to your bookmark. So if you like to keep bookmarks for different sections in your digital planner you can do so with the color codes.
Tip: If your digital planner has built-in templates like I designed inside my Outline Planner BESTSELLERS, you can Bookmark all templates with their dedicated name, and make all these bookmarks colored in red. Next time you look for them, you’ll know that the red bookmarks are the built-in templates you’re looking for.
To create bookmarks in the notebook:
- Go to the page you want to bookmark and tap on the + icon on your notebook’s toolbar.
- Tap on the Tags menu (3rd option from the fly-out window) and select Bookmarks
- Toggle the bookmark ON then, pick a color and add a name
- After typing the bookmark’s name, press Return on the keyboard to save the name
One other way to bookmark pages is from the Pages menu (the four-square-icon):
- Open Pages and locate your page to bookmark
- Tap and hold on the page thumbnail, then just Bookmark it (in the fly-out menu window)
- Toggle the bookmark ON then, pick a color and add a name
- After typing the bookmark’s name, press Return on the keyboard to save the name
To edit a bookmark:
- Open Pages and locate your bookmarked page
- Tap and hold on the page thumbnail, then just Bookmark it (in the fly-out menu window).
- Change bookmark’s color or name, then press Return on the keyboard to save the changes
#3. Performance and speed
Noteshelf is the best note-taking app for iPad when it comes to speed. It’s the fastest and most stable app for importing PDF files, saving notes, and rendering my digital planners (even if the file size exceeds 10MB).
However, I have seen some people complaining about Noteshelf being slow. So you may want to check the app updates and iPad storage status.
#4. Navigate digital planners using the hyperlinks
This is a time-saver feature, and it’s my favorite!
In the Noteshelf app, you don’t have to change the pen tool to be able to click through pages (like you do in Goodnotes), and you don’t have to click on a link-to-page preview (as it happens in Notability). You write your notes and click the links with no interruption whatsoever!!
#5. Use templates to organize daily, good notes
I put a lot of effort into creating my digital planners with tons of hyperlinks.
So, whenever someone wants to use one of the 17 templates included inside the digital notebook, I want them to be able to copy-paste those templates inside the custom-designed digital planner WITHOUT losing up the functionality of the hyperlink.
#6. Record and playback audio
Thank you, Noteshelf, for allowing me to record audio while taking my meeting notes!!
While my handwritten notes are not automatically synced with the voice notes (as happens in Notability), I still like to use it to record my meetings or Skype discussion while taking notes on my dedicated Digital Meetings Book.
#7. Easy drag & drop text, photos
It’s easy to drag & drop text, and photos from other apps or web pages into Noteshelf with Multitasking, a multi-screen workflow you’ll love!
Whenever you drag & drop a text, you can place it in any location on the page (in Notability, I can’t find this option).
#8. The multi-screen workflow feature
You can now have up to 3 active sessions of Noteshelf and many more in the background! Check their video.
#9. Decent storage is required for my handwritten notes and audio recordings
The Notability app is the best in this chapter, but the Noteshelf app is quite good too!
I keep my digital planners and notebooks inside the app for 3-5 years, so keeping the storage size as decent as possible is a must.
#10. Automatic backups and faster synchronization of notes
You’ll love to hear that Noteshelf supports auto-backup with Dropbox, Google Drive, and OneDrive. Plus, you can use iCloud to keep your notes synchronized across your iPad and iPhone.
However, even if the automatic backup works, I still recommend my clients to MANUALLY backup their documents every month to be on the safe side.
More features in the Noteshelf app
- Paper customization: You can select and move multiple pages simultaneously, and you can change a page template without changing all the pages of the existing notebook.
- Easy to add images or import new documents inside an opened notebook
- Great handwriting experience – great sizes and color choices for the ink and highlighter
- The text editing feature has lots of formatting options. Just double-tap ANYWHERE on the page to start writing. For organized content, you can use headings, checkbooks, and other useful settings What I miss in Noteshelf is the ability to customize my line-height to match the paper template. If you’re in love with fancy fonts, learn how to install custom fonts on the iPad before using them inside your digital planner.
- Provide handwriting recognition – easily convert handwriting to text to share with colleagues or family
- Advanced lasso tool – This works very well! You can move the selection around the page, copy it, delete it or resize it! For the handwritten content, you can also change the pen color or convert it to text
- The eraser tool works super smooth – it can delete parts of the stroke, the entire stroke, or the highlighter, only giving me so much more flexibility when taking notes
- The search feature – Because I work with Bookmarks, Tags, and the Table of Content, I rarely need to search through my planners and digital notebooks. However, the Noteshelf team has indicated in their product description that the app can search your handwritten notes in 65 different languages! Keep in mind that search works best when you look inside one notebook at a time
- Links, email addresses are detected if written in typed text, so you can easily tap a link to open a webpage or write an email
4 Reasons NOT to LIKE Noteshelf app
- It does not sync with the Google Calendar and does not send event reminders. While it is not a big deal, it would be useful to write weekly plans and be aware of existing events without opening my calendar on another device.
- You can’t add links to pages – Being able to add a link from one particular note (like the client’s name) to another page inside your notebook (like the client’s profile page or project’s page) may be excellent. Still, the Noteshelf app has not yet implemented this feature.
- DOES NOT recognize event dates and phone numbers, so I CAN’T add events to the calendar or call a phone number. If Noteshelf would implement this, too, then I am 100% sold!
- Go Back / Go to Page buttons – I got used to these two buttons when working in Goodnotes 4 (“Go Back” no longer exists in Goodnotes 5 app either!), so I could see how massively helpful they are! If there is one NEW feature that I would like to see implemented in Noteshelf, that would be the “Go Back” Button
That’s my experience with Noteshelf so far.
Again, I mostly use it to keep all my personal and business notes separate, organized inside my carefully designed digital notebooks, while I still use some iPhone apps aside (like the Money management app).
BTW, do you want to see my digital notebooks for work?
Try my 4x BEST Digital Planners for iPad, in the Good notes app. It’s FREE. You will love them!!
Warning: it may get addictive to using my pack with 4x pdf planner template
How about you? How are you using the Noteshelf app?
NEXT: Which is Best for Handwritten Notes?
5 | GoodNotes vs Notability vs Noteshelf—Settings, Flows (coming soon)
- Traditional note-taking methods are cumbersome and outdated.
- Note-taking on the iPad is the answer!
- It all starts with an iPad
- Want to see a preview of my digital planner?
- Are you…
- Do you own an iPad?
- #1. I can organize personal and business notes in Categories, Groups, and Sub-Groups
- Working with Categories
- Working with Groups
- Working with the slide-in menu
- #2. I use Tags and Labeled Bookmarks to keep handwritten notes organised
- Working with Tags
- Working with Labeled Bookmarks
- #3. Performance and speed
- #4. Navigate digital planners using the hyperlinks
- #5. Use templates to organize daily, good notes
- #6. Record and playback audio
- #7. Easy drag & drop text, photos
- #8. The multi-screen workflow feature
- #9. Decent storage is required for my handwritten notes and audio recordings
- #10. Automatic backups and faster synchronization of notes
- NEXT: Which is Best for Handwritten Notes?
- Learn more about Digital Planners