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How to Take Cute Yet Practical Notes on Your iPad: Must-Need Apps, and Some Tips and Tricks

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at U Mass Amherst chapter.

If you have hopped on the trend of getting an iPad for college, but aren’t sure how to make the most out of it, I’m here to help. It took a bit of time but I learned the ins and outs of it and was able to personalize it the way I wanted! Here are some tips, tricks, and must-need apps to get the best use out of your iPad!


GoodNotes: GoodNotes is an app that allows you full accessibility to creating notes, unlimited storage on the app, and amazing writing capabilities. This is a paid app but if you decide to invest in it, it is definitely worth it and it helps you get more used to using an Apple Pencil, allowing you to store all of your work in one app. The new update for this app also added an audio recording feature that lets you record audio and sync it to your notes, which is a convenient tool to have access to. Goodnotes also has a cool calendar and planner templates so you can make your own electronic planner the way that you want it, including templates for drawing organic chemistry structures and various other subjects.

Notability: Notability is a free app but needs a subscription to access the full version. It has the same concept as GoodNotes where you can annotate on slides, and on your notes using your Apple Pencil or free hand, and has a great way to divide your different subjects with dividers and sticky notes that you can put write on your notes. Notability also has a great storage capacity for your notes and is fast with syncing changes.

One Note: One Note is a cool app in that it allows versatility with different functions. It can be used as a notes app but also as a graphic design app with lots of features such as a write-to-type feature that converts handwritten notes to text, and a feature that converts a hand-drawn shape to a computer-accurate shape. One Note also lets you organize your notes and drawings with dividers that each have subsections. One Note also has unlimited storage and is free under your UMass student account.

Tips and tricks:

You can add widgets to your home screen by holding down one of your apps and pressing edit home screen. Then a plus sign should show up on the top left-hand corner, and you can add different widgets through that. You can also install Widgetsmith and go through the same steps, adding your own pictures to the widgets! On your iPad, you are also able to split screen with your windows by entering an app and pressing the three dots at the top of your screen in the middle. There are also some other apps such as MD Vinyl which makes a vinyl track widget for whatever music you are listening to. FlipClock is a widget app that adds an aesthetic clock to your home screen. Another helpful trick is when you are using your Apple Pencil, you can turn on a setting called scribble which turns anything you handwrite into text, this works especially well in the notes app. I also like turning on the decibel tracker. It tells you how loud your music is and if it’s within a safe range. To turn this on, go to your control center and add hearing and now whenever you play music, it tracks the decibel range too. If you go to your tips app, you will also find several tricks that can help you get the most out of your iPad!

These are some of the many apps, tips, and tricks that are helpful for anyone with an iPad! Explore and play around with the different features, and you will get to make your iPad as personalized as possible! I hope this helps you in your adventure of learning about your iPad!

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Nandini Kritam

U Mass Amherst '25

Nandini is a junior Biochemistry and Molecular Biology major, who loves writing, listening to music, photography, and drawing. She loves finding niche topics and writing about the world and her experiences!