The 5 best free note-taking apps for iPad

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Looking for a free note-taking app for your iPad? Here are the best free note-taking apps for iPad right now.

An iPad paired with an Apple Pencil is a powerful duo for digital note taking. The App Store is full of great software for handwritten notes, but it comes at a price.

There are also plenty of apps out there that will give you a taste of their potential for free, but keep key features locked down until you pay a higher price.

However, we have collected a few apps for handwritten notes which are completely free. No timed trials, distracting ads, or in-app purchases are necessary.

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1. Microsoft OneNote

Microsoft OneNote

Microsoft OneNote is the classic notepad app available from Microsoft. It’s free and packed with useful productivity features. It’s a choice you can’t go wrong with, especially if you’re already using other Microsoft apps.

In this app, your notes are organized in the sidebar by notebooks, sections and pages. You can also create sub-notebooks and sub-pages, making it easy to stay organized. Switching between pages is also simple with the handy sidebar.

You can add text, insert files, draw, change paper styles, record audio, and more. It comes with a pressure sensitive pen and a highlighter pen, which you can completely customize the colors for. There are even glitter options for the pens.

One of our favorite underrated benefits of taking notes with OneNote is the ability to save an unlimited number of favorite pens and highlighters in the toolbar. It also lets you choose from six stylus orientations to better suit your writing style.

OneNote integrates all types of content (text, drawings, PDF, etc.) on a single page. And it does it well. Your notes also sync across devices, making it easy to switch from writing notes on your iPad to typing them on your computer.

With all the features of this app, it will meet the productivity needs of most people. It’s also a great app for students who want to annotate PDFs and want to take a good combination of typed and handwritten notes.

To download : Microsoft OneNote (free)

2. CollaNote

CollaNote: Note taking & PDF
CollaNote: Note taking & PDF

This app offers a lot of free note taking features which is hard to believe. CollaNote is one of the best free alternatives to popular digital note-taking apps like Goodnotes and Notability.

CollaNote comes with a classic set of pen, pencil, highlighter, lasso, and eraser. Colors are fully customizable, and you can add pen color and thickness combinations to your favorites for easy switching.

Plus, there are a few other handy tools like a laser pointer, adjustable ruler, stickers, and even voice notes that sync with the time you started writing. There are dozens of designs to choose from, ranging from paper types to cute pages for the digital bullet journal.

The biggest advantage of CollaNote is its ability to make it easier to collaborate on notes with other users. You can even create public documents that serve as “rooms”. If you collaborate on a note with others, you can merge everyone’s notes, saving you time when taking notes.

The only downside to CollaNote is that its text tool is not as easy to use. Adding text takes you to a separate screen to type all your text first, or by default, write it with your Apple Pencil.

Once you’re done, it will appear on the grade page for you to adjust. It’s not the smoothest process, but the rest of the app’s features make up for it. This is the ultimate choice if you want most of your notes to be handwritten and need more productivity features.

To download : CollaNote (free)

3. Zoho Notebook

Notebook - Take Notes, Sync
Notebook - Take Notes, Sync

Notebook is a great app if you want to mix typed notes with a hand drawn diagram or an occasional handwritten note. You have full customization for the colors of a pencil, pen and highlighter. In fact, the pencil tool offers one of the most realistic pencil experiences on a digital app.

Some cool features include the ability to lock specific notes and set a password so you can open them. You can also scan documents and annotate them directly. Note that the notebook document scanner is very similar to taking a photo.

The only real downside to Notebook is that handwritten notes are completely separate from other types of notes, even when they’re both on the same page. This makes this app really useful when you only want to write notes by hand or when you just need to insert a hand drawn diagram every now and then on a page of text notes.

To download : Notebook – Take notes, sync (free)

4. Loose sheets

Loose Leaf
Loose Leaf

Loose Leaf is a hidden gem of an app, and it works exactly as the name suggests. There are no notebooks, only piles of sketches and loose-leaf notes. The app is designed to really feel like you’re working on loose pieces of paper.

The iPad has a lot of features that require two-finger gestures, like closing stacks of loose sheets, flipping pages, and deleting notes, especially when the device already has so many gestures. Once you get the hang of it, the movements will become second nature.

The pen and marker tools are completely pressure sensitive without any manual means of adjusting the thickness. Unfortunately, you only have five primary color choices, but it could be more than enough depending on your needs.

Some unique features of this app are the Scissors tool instead of the Lasso tool and an asymmetry tool to mirror your designs. It also comes with some useful page styles including a blank sheet music and a blank to-do list.

It is the perfect choice if you are looking for a simple app for sketching out ideas.

To download : Loose sheets (free)

5. Apple notes

Last but not the least is Apple Notes. This default note-taking app is full of hidden features, so don’t underestimate its features. With this note taking app, you can take and handwrite notes, sync them across multiple devices, and even use the Apple pencil to handwrite.

The Notes app has all the basic tools like pen, highlighter, pencil, and eraser available through markup. It also comes with a lasso tool and adjustable ruler, as well as the ability to customize your own colors.

It also has an auto-collapse option, which moves the toolbar out of view when you start to write. You can even change the style of the paper from a few different options.

Another useful feature of Notes is the ability to scan documents. You can even use your phone’s camera to do it and immediately add it to the note on your iPad. Documents scanned on a note are kept as attachments, so you won’t be able to mark them with the pen, but it is still convenient to have your information in one place.

READ ALSO: The 10 best word processing apps for your iPad

Choose the app that’s right for you

Now you know that there are a few completely free options for taking good digital notes without any surprises. Download one or all five and try it out to see how they meet your productivity needs.

Whether you are taking notes for the class, drawing ideas, or doing digital journaling, a good app for handwritten notes is exactly what you need.

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