The best handwriting apps for iPad to jot down handwritten notes, sketch out ideas, and get things done that a keyboard just can't!
Looking for the best iPad apps to help you scribble out handwritten notes? The iPad paired with a stylus can make a great note-taking alternative to traditional pen and paper. From writing out math problems to sketching out a design, sometimes handwriting is just more natural and efficient than typing with a keyboard. If text editing apps don't get the job done, hand-writing note taking apps might. But what handwriting note apps for iPad are the absolute best?
Notability for iPad not only lets you take handwritten notes but lets you record audio, import documents for editing and annotating, and much more. With many different pen styles, thicknesses, and editing tools, there's something for every situation. The palm rest feature of Notability also lets you rest your palms on the edges of the screen without getting unwanted marks on the document you're working on. Zoom mode in Notability is unmatched by others and moves on its own as you write for much more accurate results. Notability is also a universal download for iPhone and iPad and contains several syncing options including Dropbox and Google Drive so your notes are always in sync across devices.
If you need a great all around note taking app that offers flexible sync options and an iPhone app all in one, check out Notability.
Penultimate comes standard with graph, lined, and plain paper choices with options to pick up additional types as in-app purchases. There's no audio option, but you can also open your sketches or notes in third party apps including Evernote, Notability, Dropbox, Box, iBooks, and more. Penultimate integrates into your existing Evernote account so all your notebooks and sketches are available to you no matter which app you launch.
If you're an Evernote user and don't need iPhone support or the ability to record audio notes, Penultimate is worth a try.
Noteshelf has a gorgeous interface that puts all the tools you need only a tap away. From the way notebooks are organized to how you access pencils and brushes, Noteshelf provides an amazing user experience. Noteshelf also has several export options including Dropbox, email, iTunes, Camera Roll, Evernote, and more. While many other note apps making you purchase additional styles of pens and papers, Noteshelf gives you a ton right off the bat that will be more than enough for the majority of users.
For a great user experience and lots of pen and paper options without any additional cost, look no further than Noteshelf.
Notes Plus manages to pack a huge punch into a user friendly and clean interface. One of the staple features of Notes Plus is the accuracy and clarity of handwritten notes, which also comes complete with protection against accidental marks by integrating a versatile palm rest. Notes Plus also supports audio notes, shapes, PDF annotation, automatic backup via Dropbox, left-handed mode, and much more.
If you want a clean interface packed with features, Notes Plus is what you want.
TopNotes Pro, like Noteshelf, is a beautifully designed notes app that lets you doodle and scribble while saving all your creations in beautiful digital shelves. You can password protect any notebook you'd like for additional protection if you'd like. TopNotes Pro also features wrist protection to help prevent accidental marks from your palm. You can also edit, annotate, and complete fillable PDFs in TopNotes Pro. To achieve even finer detail, TopNotes Pro features a magnification feature as well. Before you hand your iPad to someone else, you can enter read only mode so no edits are made unintentionally. The only down side I could find to TopNotes Pro is that it doesn't appear to support shapes.
For a great user experience combined with password protection, read only mode, and fillable PDF support, give TopNotes Pro a try.
These are our favorite apps when it comes to sketching, doodling, and jotting down handwritten notes on the iPad. If you use any of the above, let us know in the comments what made you pick it over the others. If you use something else, make sure to let us know that too!
Note: Originally published, August 2013. Updated, June 2014.