THE VISION BOARD

The Battle of the Note-taking Apps: Goodnotes vs. Notability

5 min read

Aug 19, 2021

Art by Shai Libunao


Although we’ve entered an era of online learning, note-taking is still a key study method for students. With this, digital note-taking has revived the age-old debate between the two apps: Goodnotes and Notability. 

Given that each app has its own cult following online, we’ve decided to break down the key differences between the two apps from a student perspective. While both apps fundamentally offer the same features, their overall approach differs when it comes down to note-taking itself. In a nutshell, Notability is more straightforward, while Goodnotes has more creative options. Getting a better understanding of their differences may give you more insight into which app is the one for you

Here are a few features to consider when deciding which app suits you the best: 

1. Organization and Document Management 

Goodnotes: Can be organized into folders and has outlines for your notes
Notability: Can be categorized into subjects!

Although both apps have easily navigable organization systems, each app’s file organization differs significantly. Goodnotes has the option of organizing files by date, name, or type. Notebooks are also organized into folders which can be arranged into either a grid or a list. Moreover, you can create outlines for your notebooks by selecting specific pages of your notes. These pages are compiled into a tab for outlines where you can even relabel the specific pages. ✍️

On the other hand, Notability has a simpler, more straightforward organization approach. All notes are categorized into subjects which are found on a tab to the left. The subjects can be further organized into dividers which have a drop-down feature to help you easily access these files.

2. Note-taking Experience

Goodnotes: Has more creative options for note-taking such as color options and pen sizes
Notability: Has an audio recording feature and math conversion 

The handwritten note-taking experience is amazing on either app, but there are some unique features which might catch your eye. 👀

Goodnotes allows for more creativity through its numerous pressure-sensitive pen tool sizes and colors to choose from. 🖊 Users can also mix different paper templates into one notebook. The app also has options to make your lines straight! Say goodbye to highlighting your books with a ruler. 

On the other hand, Notability allows you to add sticky notes and stickers from their selection onto your notes, giving the experience a more organic feel. One of the most standout features of Notability is its audio recording feature while taking notes. Imagine listening to an oral lecture and reviewing your notes simultaneously! Another useful feature of Notability is the math conversion, which recognizes simple, handwritten mathematical equations and converts these to text. 

When it comes to multitasking, both apps also allow for smooth note-taking experiences despite having multiple windows open at once. 📔 Notability has an in-app split view where two notebooks can be used in the same workspace however, only one window can be actively edited with the pen tool. Goodnotes allows for multiple instance usage when multitasking, thus it’s functional on both windows when multitasking. The app also allows for opening multiple notes into different tabs, similar to how tabs appear on a web browser. 

3. Storage and Backup

Goodnotes: Has larger app and file sizes
Notability: Has more storage options for backing up files!

Since both Notability and Goodnotes are primarily iOS apps, they are automatically set to backup files to your device’s iCloud. The storage features on both apps are relatively similar as they can both backup files to Dropbox, Google Drive, and OneDrive. Notability also allows backups to Box and WebDAV. 

However, when it comes to storage space, Goodnotes’ app size is larger than Notability and its files also take up more space. Files from Goodnotes can take up around 3 times more space compared to Notability, so be wary of this if you’re primarily saving files to your laptop or tablet!

In conclusion, both apps are equally great — it’s simply about finding out which app suits your needs and appeals to you and your learning style more! 

Bonus:

Despite the unique features both apps bring to the table, there is another app that could be considered the underdog of note-taking apps. Yes, we’re talking about Microsoft OneNote. Admittedly, this app contains a few features which aren’t found in both Goodnotes and Notability. First off, Microsoft OneNote is available on both Android and IOS. It already appeals to the larger mass market who comfortably uses Android in their daily work grind. Moreover, Microsoft OneNote is free to download unlike Notability and Goodnotes which come at PHP449 and PHP399 respectively. If you’re still figuring out if digital note-taking is for you, why not try out this app as well?

How do you like to take notes? Are you a Goodnotes or Notability user? Or are you looking to change up your learning approach? Why not check out these 8 ways on how to personalize learning

 

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