TOP 6 markup apps for digital note-taking

Any of these apps can host an unlimited number of digital planners and digital notebooks. Which one will you choose?

We all know it! There’s no perfect PDF markup app that can cater to everyone’s needs. Here are 6 of my favorite digital note-taking apps (also known as PDF annotations apps) to host your digital planners!

I listed some pros and cons so you can find out what is best for you and your lifestyle.

GoodNotes 5 (iOS) 

It is one of the first digital planner apps, and the best-known for taking digital notes.

Why people love it: GoodNotes provide a digital platform for easy note-taking that’s as natural as writing on paper. The app is packed with functionalities like typing, drawing, adding images, moving pages around, and more.

What they don’t like: Switching between editing and viewing mode is a bit inconvenient. Viewing mode allows you to see your notes in full view, while in the editing mode, your screen feels too cramped up with all the editing tools.

Read more about my experience with Goodnotes 5 here.

Noteshelf (iOS, Android)

It’s the only digital note-taking app that has support for Apple Watch. 

Why people love it: It provides the perfect platform in making proper and artful notes. It also has a favorites toolbar so you can easily access your favorite pens styles and colors. Use it for both digital note-talking and audio recording. It also handles bigger PDF files (more than 10 MB) better than other apps.

What they don’t like: You can’t easily copy-paste a page from an old location to a new place inside your planner — and that’s such a shame!

Read more about my experience with Noteshelf here.

Notability (iOS, Android)

Why people love it: It’s the best digital planner app with a superior audio recording feature. By far, the best app to record your lectures!

What they don’t like: Noteshelf does NOT support custom page templates! That’s crazy because you can be really creative when using custom templates for meetings, habits, crafts, and more. 

Read more about my experience with Notability here.

ZoomNotes (iOS)

It’s a versatile note-taking app that has handwriting recognition.

Why people love it: It has a lot of note-taking features you can choose from.

What they don’t like: It doesn’t have a document searching tool and vertical scrolling. It may have a lot of features, but they’re complicated to learn. The User Interface is also not the best. And as a UX/UI designer, I can’t get over this!

XODO PDF (iOS, Android)

It’s a free to use program that enables editing, annotating, signing, and filling PDF forms.

Why people love it: It’s free and it works on both iPad and Android.

What they don’t like: It needs more improvement in its functions especially on editing and duplicating documents.

Metamoji (iOS, Android)

It may be the only digital planning app that works across all major mobile platforms.

Why people love it: It’s a free all-in-one note-taking and sketching app, PDF annotating tool, and even an interactive web browser.

What they don’t like: It has no iCloud, Google Drive, or Evernote integration.

Overall, the handwriting experience can be different on each app. So, you should test them all and see which one you like. 

Just don’t get limited by my list, since any app that allows you to annotate a PDF document can handle a PDF digital planner. You just have to try a few apps here and there to find out where your handwriting is best, where the features are more to your liking, and where your preference lies.

Learn more or shop for a digital planner 

Ready to learn? 

Check out my Beginners courses to Goodnotes, Noteshelf, and Notability on how to get started with digital note-taking on your tablet.

Ready to shop?

Visit my Etsy store at Outline Planner to browse through all the available options and add-ons and download free testers ready to plug-in and play. Reach out to me, and I can help you figure out which planner will suit you best.

Find more about me on my Facebook or Instagram accounts.

What Others Had To Say (Reviews) 

Read what Outline Planner users say about their experience, and see whether paperless planners are right for you… 

“These templates were just what I was looking for to help keep my sewing projects in one place and in order! The design and layout are perfect for what I need and I LOVE them so much! Thank you so much!!!” – Nancy (May 2020)

“Can’t say enough good things about the planner and the owner. Very professional and courteous. I will be buying all my future planner needs from this shop. I’ve bought multiple planners and never left a review. Some I still really love. But they didn’t hit all the check boxes I needed to work. I purchased this last week and can already seen my productivity go up. I’ve even been able to be more creative with this very elegant design. I work in software UI design and the flow and ease of use is excellent. The UX definitely rocks like no other!” – Jennifer (April 2020)

Happy Planning!

Ralu from Outline Planner

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