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Essential College Note Taking Apps for iPad



The iPad is a great college companion, and with the right note taking apps it can make taking notes easier during the semester and cramming for exams less frustrating during midterms.

After trying to take notes on paper and on a laptop, I tried taking notes on the iPad. The iPad is the best way for me to take notes in college classes.

The iPad is the best note taking tool for my college experience because it is lightweight, fits on tiny college “desks” and allows me to draw formulas and symbols on the touchscreen. It also allows me to take photos of whiteboards for easy archiving.

iA Writer and Notability are the iPad note taking apps I rely on to get the most out of class, and keep track of all the notes.

iA Writer


Extra keyboard symbols.

iA Writer is a great application for taking simple text notes. The interface of the app is very clean easy to use. The app also features Dropbox synchronization which makes it easy to acces notes all of the time.

One thing that makes iA Writer even better than the simple Notes app is the amount of keyboard modifications that the app implements. Many commonly used symbols, and navigational keys are stored in the top bar of the keyboard.

iA Writer for iPad is an essential part of taking notes on the iPad and well worth the $0.99 price. There’s also an iPhone and a Mac version so users can access notes on other devices automatically.


Notability is another great note taking app offers more features than iA Writer. While iA Writer is great for plain text notes it is not optimized for equations or special diagrams. This is where Notability steps in.

Notability is great at taking notes from hand drawings, to typed text, and even audio all on the same page. Notes can be searched for key terms, which helps when it comes time to study. Users can choose paper color options and lined or graph paper.

One other area where Notability excels is that all notes can be exported and also imported into the app via Dropbox, Box, iDisk, or WebDAV.

Notability for iPad is a steal at $0.99.



  1. Marilyn Rogers (@MarilynSRogers)

    10/28/2012 at 9:56 am

    Great list. You might also give LifeTopix a try. It’s great for taking notes, tracking assignments, and making to-do lists.

  2. E.Murphy

    01/04/2013 at 7:50 am

    Try ZoomNotes – it’s the app I use the most on my ipad – perfect for note taking and is much more flexible than others I have tried (and I’ve tried most of the others).

    • Krista

      01/26/2013 at 10:44 am

      More flexible in what way(s)? I think I’ve tried most of them as well, still searching for an amazing one. Thanks in advance! :)

      • E.Murphy

        01/28/2013 at 1:43 am

        The fact that the page is ZoomNotes is a ‘guide’ rather than a boundary is the part I find most flexible. In effect this means you can draw off the edge of a page, in fact you can draw any where you like and at any level of zoom. Once you get used to this flexibility the other noting apps seem far too constrained. It also has a neat paging system which allows you to put pages within pages in a kind of nested hierarchy which is both easy and visual and I’m finding very useful for adding levels of detail to my notes. Those are the two main ones, but you’ll find a better range of pens and colours than the others too.

  3. Laura Litebulb

    01/15/2013 at 8:34 am

    I’m using NotesDeck right now – so my notes show up on all my devices instantly (iPad, Mac and iPhone). NotesDeck syncs with Evernote and Dropbox and Simplenote so all my notes from other apps are already in it.

    So much cleaner than that yellow Notes app. Much more professional. —->

  4. bodhibon

    02/03/2013 at 1:19 pm

    Any suggestions for best app to import class outline and then notes I make automatically default to a different ink color?

  5. pete

    04/01/2013 at 7:39 pm

    I use CamNote with an Infinity Binder. Automatically uploads to Google Drive, Dropbox, or Evernote.

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