GoodNotes is the paid notes app and can surprisingly come close to the old pen and paper experience. Where you can get the added good of providing cloud computing and multimedia support. GoodNotes is a no-brainer app if you are a frequent Apple Pencil user and have money to spend. However, because it’s an excellent app ($7.99 for GoodNotes 5), it’s quite expensive. And as an iOS exclusive app, you are in luck as a Windows or Android user. Take a look at these GoodNotes alternatives: From open source note-taking apps to freemium Android solutions to those competing with the original GoodNotes on iOS, we’ve covered a whole bunch of alternatives here.
- 1 GoodNotes alternatives
- 2 Closing words: GoodNotes alternatives
for whom: iOS users looking for a paid alternative to Goodnotes
An excellent app for iOS that takes full advantage of Apple Pencil, iCloud, and iOS tasks. Sounds like GoodNotes? Well, that’s because Notability is a premium, native alternative to GoodNotes for iOS. While these free note-taking apps for iPad are great for taking notes in one tweak, they lack the close platform integration that Notability and GoodsNotes have. Like Goodnotes, Notability offers handwriting recognition along with Apple Pencil support, but it also offers some unique features like – audio recording of lectures, split screen display, etc.
iCloud support means that you don’t have to subscribe to a third-party cloud service, as you do with Metamoji or Noteledge (shown later). Multitasking support shines on the iPad: You can use up to two separate note spaces at a time. While that might sound cool, the $12 price tags (additional in-app purchases for themes) make this a tough purchase unless you’re an iPad user who takes notes frequently (for college or work, for example). example). If you take notes from time to time, your app will be better with one of the free options here.
Platform: iOS, iPadOS
- Premium iOS integration with Apple Pencil and iCloud support
- Handwriting recognition
- Too expensive for a note-taking app
for whom: Desktop users who want a basic native note-taking app
Windows does not seem like an ideal platform for hosting a handwritten notes app at first. Who plugged a drawing tablet into their computer just to take notes? But Xournal proves that there is always a solution if you look hard enough. Xournal is an open source project that runs on Windows, Linux, and OSX. Xournal has a very simple interface that is designed to look like a textured laptop.
Instead of a blank canvas, you’ll get notebook-like lines to write between. You can use the interface to change the color and thickness of written notes. The caveat is that Xournal does not support handwriting recognition, so your typed notes remain. However, you can add text fields for typing. But another drawback is that Xournal does not have cloud support. The notes you take are saved locally. You can print notes and export them to PDF, though.
Platform: Windows, Linux, Mac
- Open source and free
- It works on desktop operating systems
- No support for handwriting recognition
- There is no cloud-based access
3. Metamoji Note
for whom: Users who want a multi-platform application that will work on desktop and mobile
The main highlight feature in Metamoji Note is the extent of interoperability. This application works on Windows, Android and iOS operating systems. This means that no matter what device you’re using, you’ll be able to view and edit your handwritten notes on the go. Like Xournal, it does not support handwriting recognition. However, you can add text notes through a separate text field. You are free to adjust the color, thickness and other aspects of the handwriting width.
One area where Metamoji Note stands out is cloud sharing. Enabling cloud sync allows you to sync your Metamoji notes to a Metamoji server. You can then pick up and play any of your devices to edit those notes. Metamoji Note Lite is free and there is an optional in-app purchase if you want what they describe as “advanced cloud features.” But we found the Lite version to be more than enough.
Platform: Windows, Android, iOS
- Free to download
- Available on multiple platforms
- Cloud note sharing
- A little dribbling during the registration process
Download Metamoji Note
for whom: Android and Windows users who want an alternative to iOS exclusive note-taking apps
Fiinote is a great solution if you are not an iOS user. Cross-support between Windows and Android means you can enjoy a Metamoji-like pick-and-play experience, without Apple devices. Fiinote is technically a freemium app, but the only limitations in the free version are the lack of coding, in-app ads, and limited space for attachments. These ads are not present in the Windows version at all.
The Fiinote app on Android is unique: you will get a notebook-like interface with support for handwriting and text. You can write with your finger anywhere on the screen and the app reduces its size and intelligently aligns the text with the fonts of the notebook. You can even get handwriting recognition support: by long pressing on a handwritten item and selecting handwriting recognition the app will convert it to text. The Windows app is not powerful, lacks handwriting recognition and is generally difficult to use. However, it’s a great group overall.
Platform: Windows and Android
- Multi-platform between Windows and Android
- Handwriting recognition
- Smart Formatting and Alignment
- Windows app is not powerful
for whom: Users who want the most versatile note-taking app possible
Noteledge takes a “throw everything in the sink” approach to taking notes. While apps like Xournal are content that only gives you handwriting and text entry, Noteledge sees itself as a “multimedia” note-taking solution. What this means is that, in addition to handwritten notes, you’ll be able to add audio recordings, written text, videos, photos, and other media. While this sounds great in theory, I found the app to be difficult to use in practice, at least on Android.
The default application is in handwriting/drawing mode. There is no recognition of writing here and the handwriting is not minified, so you can easily fill in entire pages. If you want to add other content, you will need to go to the attachments tab and add them in the text box, video or something else. In my experience, Noteledge worked best as a general digging table — you could throw your doodles, audio recordings, or anything else at it and it would be saved thanks to the cloud sync features.
Platform: Windows, iOS, Mac, Android
- You can add all kinds of media to notes, as well as handwriting
- Cloud sync
- The interface does not have all the options, especially on Android phones
for whom: Android users who want a powerful note-taking solution
The last item on our list is something of a rarity: an exclusive productivity app for Android. That’s right: iOS users will have to get Squid (although of course they will get GoodNotes and Notability, among other things). Squid keeps things simple. You get a range of page control options, from blank canvas to macro and wide control among others. Then you get scribbled or on the lines. You can adjust brush color sensitivity, width, and pressure as well. Squid doesn’t have handwriting recognition support, so your scribbles are just scribbles.
Squid also has a handy PDF notation feature that allows you to import and write PDF files. While the interface is nice and easy to take notes, Squid comes with a big caveat: Many important features, like cloud storage and even adding text boxes, are locked behind a firewall. Squid costs $1 a month. It’s not much but it really gives you what Fiinote has to offer for free. The app also gives you the option to unlock the Tool Pack for $3. This allows you to add text boxes and gives you a smart eraser tool. To be honest, it felt a little cheap.
- Meticulously Designed Interface
- It’s easy to start taking notes
- Important functions are locked behind a paywall
Closing words: GoodNotes alternatives
Each of these applications has its own advantages and disadvantages. If you want a complete iOS better than GoodNotes, Notability is the default port of call. It is very expensive for what it offers. Xournal offers Windows users a no-frills blogging experience but the lack of cloud storage provision adds to the inconvenience. Squid would be great for Android users except that it locks many features behind the paywall. Fiinotes gives you everything Squid has to offer for free, with the Windows app for Fiinote. The Windows app isn’t as powerful as the Android version, though. Finally, Noteledge is what you’ll want to check out if you want a note-taking app that does it all, even though its infamous interface makes it hard to use during practice.