When I received my iPad Pro 9.7” a few months ago, the first thing I did was run out and buy an Apple Pencil. It seriously hurt to shell out that $100 but, I have to say, that was one of the best purchasing decisions I made in a long time. While the fine precision and pressure-sensitive technology is great for art, I mostly use it for taking notes. Not all note taking apps are made equal, though, and few can convert handwriting to text as well as GoodNotes 4!
GoodNotes 4 — The Best Note Taking App for iPad Pro & Apple Pencil
At first, I tried taking notes in the free Notes app. While this app does support the Apple Pencil, it is so bare bones and klunky. I downloaded several free apps but it was a pain to use them. For a while, I was using a paid app we already had called PDF Expert (costs $9.99). This program allows you to highlight, type text, add signatures, annotate PDFs freely, and more. But, I still wasn’t able to take notes in a way that felt natural to me. PDF Expert is great for editing documents and scribbling things here and there. But, for straight note taking, the functionality was lacking.
After reading several online reviews and getting a recommendation from one of my sisters, I decided to try out GoodNotes 4. This app is $7.99 in the App Store and I have to tell you that it is worth every penny. As far as I’m concerned, this is as close to writing with paper and pen as you can get using digital media. Create notebooks with colorful covers, choose from different paper types (lined grid, wide ruled, blank, music sheets, etc.), and organize notebooks into category folders. You can write, draw, type, highlight, underline, circle, and add graphic elements to any PDF file.
How to Use GoodNotes 4 to Convert Handwriting to Text
Since GoodNotes uses an advanced OCR technology (Optical Character Recognition), you can even search through handwritten notes. Using that same technology, it can also convert handwriting to text. Yes, you read that right. Even if you have terribly messy scribble-scrabble like mine, the app can identify the characters and turn it into digital text. This gives you the best of both worlds — handwritten notes vs typed text.
It seems to be about 95% accurate. GoodNotes even adds little arrow symbols when I draw them in my notes. I can then use that text to use in posts on my blog or social media. It’s super simple to do this too. Here’s a quick tutorial of how to convert handwriting to text using GoodNotes 4. In the demonstration, I am using an iPad Pro 9.7” and an Apple Pencil. For reference, I will also include the steps below.
- Write notes on your iPad Pro using the Apple Pencil.
- Use lasso tool to draw around the text.
- Tap inside lasso and select “Convert.”
- When a box with the converted text pops up, tap the share icon (box with an up arrow on it).
- Tap “Copy.”
- Paste the converted text in your desired page or app. If you want to use the text on your Macbook, you can simply “paste” it if the account is synced with your tablet. Or, you can Air Drop the copied text in place of step 5.
- Do a quick check for accuracy and fix any words or punctuation that did not translate well.
- Tap anywhere outside lasso to deselect text.
GoodNotes 4 has many other features but I am not familiar with them yet. But, since the app allows me to easily take notes, organize them, search them, and to convert handwriting to text, it’s already an invaluable tool for me. GoodNote 4 is the best note taking app in my opinion. It has brought my fondness of the iPad Pro and Apple Pencil to another level. I hope the app continues to get better here on out!