Notability and a Stylus Make Paperless Notes Easy

Handwriting's on iPad with Notability

By Geri L. Dreiling, Esq.

I prefer to have my notes in electronic form rather than on paper but there are times I feel like writing rather than typing. Notability is an easy-to-use iPad app I’ve been testing in a variety of settings for a few months that allows me to jot down handwritten notes.

My field tests included client meetings where I’ve pulled out my iPad and taken notes with my Boxwave stylus. When I spent an afternoon observing Probate Commissioner Pat Connaghan as part of my research for the post, “iPad Use on the Bench,” I penned my observations using Notability. And I used Notability to scribble last-minutes comments I didn’t want to forget before speaking at two recent technology-related CLEs.

The Notability app offers several advantages:

  • Hand write or type notes
  • Append a recorded message
  • Organize notes by subject
  • Email, upload and save as a PDF

As an added bonus, Notability is currently selling on iTunes for 99 cents. (Affiliate link)

Note taking Options

Notability allows the user to choose between handwritten and typed notes. To take notes by hand, just tap the pencil with your stylus.

Handwriting pencil tool in Notability

To set the thickness of your stylus marks, press the pencil icon again with your stylus and a menu appears. Notability offers 12 tip widths and several ink colors.

Choose pencil color Select handwriting thickness in iPad

To change the background color, press on the paper icon along the top.

iPad background paper colors

To erase your writing, tap the eraser and then swipe your stylus over the mark. Unlike a pencil eraser, you don’t have to meticulously cover each mark on the screen in order to make it disappear.

Eraser tool in Notability

Do you want to highlight specific passages in your notes? Just tap the highlighter.

Marker tool to highlight notes

Record a Message

If you like to add recorded messages to your notes, Notability offers the capability. Simply press on the microphone and a recorded message is appended to the note. Unfortunately, it won’t transcribe the message.

Mic icon to record voice notes

Organize Notes by Subject

Notability contains a library which allows you to file your notes by subject.

Organize handwritten docs

Upload, Email or Open in New Application

With Notability, you can upload your note to Dropbox, email it or open it in several different PDF readers. On my iPad, that means iBooks, iAnnotate, DocsToGo and even in my Kindle app.

Export writing on iPad Open in menu for Notability

Notes Without the Paper Fuss

Notability has become an important app in my paperless toolbox. Of course, it isn’t the only handwriting app but at just 99 cents it is one of the most affordable ones.

Do you use Notability? Let us know what you think of it. If you prefer a different note taking app, let us know which one you like and why in the comments section below.