Fridays are good for freebies and true confession time. I take notes. My requirements for new applications have changed in recent years, and especially with notes apps. These days I want a Mac app that can also work on iPhone and iPad and sync between each device automatically.
Apple’s Notes app has improved markedly since OS X El Capitan and with macOS High Sierra it’s become more of a mini-word processor with formatting options that are easy to use and sync well with iCloud between Mac, iPhone and iPad. What is missing in most note taking applications is what GoodNotes has.
What you won’t find with TextEdit or most notes apps is the option to use natural handwriting; for writing, drawing, sketching, and doodling. Some apps do that, of course, but few are as cool as GoodNotes which combines those features with digital vector ink and PDF annotations.
Digital vector ink? That’s a new one. But it’s what you might expect if you know what vector drawing tools are. Instead of writing or drawing using a bit-mapped tool, vector-based tools make crisp lines that scale up or down in size and retain their sharp detail.
GoodNotes for Mac allows you to view and edit documents and share them with GoodNotes for iPhone and iPad using iCloud sync. The app also imports PDFs and photos and you can annotate each. Tools are not cumbersome or clumsy or complex. They’re basic but useful.
- Select Tool – Highlight or strikeout selected text in PDF documents
- Edit Tool – Move, scale, and change object color
- Text Tool – Create text objects within a document
- Pen Tool – Perfect pen drawing with options
- Highlight Tool – Highlighter for drawing and PDF text highlights
- Eraser Tool – Erase lines, drawings, doodles
GoodNotes has another nifty feature for those of us who have notes management issue. Versions. Versions of edited documents are saved and can be retrieved (be careful because that can suck up plenty of iCloud storage).
Images and photos can be dragged and dropped between the Finder and GoodNotes, then synced to iPhone and iPad.
GoodNotes also handles document management and organization on the Mac. How? Drag and drop. Even add bookmarks to find a particular page within a document.
By far, though, the major differentiation in GoodNotes is the digital vector ink. It’s stunning. Clumsy, bit-mapped drawings, doodles, and annotations are a thing of the past. Even documents edited on iPhone or iPad look fabulous on Macs with Retina displays.
GoodNotes is nicely done, instantly usable with a modest learning curve, affordably priced (and macOS High Sierra and iOS 11 versions are the same price; no gouging). Using GoodNotes on an iPad Pro with Pencil is a godsend. GoodNotes claims ‘fast iCloud sync‘ but maybe that means ‘as fast as possible‘ since iCloud sync is not as fast as Dropbox and that would be a good option to have.