Is Notability Worth the Hype?

As someone who exclusively uses their iPad for their note-taking and studying  — and for Netflix, of course — I’ve tried just about every note-taking app you can think of. I was pretty set on OneNote for a while, since it was very easy to pull my notes up on my computer and everything synced easily. I always hesitated to try Notability because I wasn’t about to hand over $20 when OneNote was free and had all the features that I needed. However, a couple of weeks ago, there was a sale for the Notability app, so I decided to give it a shot. After a few weeks of using it and getting the hang of it, here is my honest review.

One of the biggest advantages of Notability has to be the search feature. Have you ever heard one of your professors say something along the lines of, “You should remember this from earlier this year”? Well, me too, and nine times out of 10, I do not remember what they are referring to. With the search feature, I am able to search that word, phrase, concept, etc. very easily and it will pull up the exact slides that have the information. This has been a real game-changer for me and saved me lots of time that I would have spent frantically searching through my old notes. 

If you’re anything like me, you love to organize your notes by color or highlighter. If you don’t already do this, I would highly recommend it. Notability has a massive selection of colors for their pens and highlighter colors and sizes; I’m talking 12 different font sizes and unlimited custom colors. Once I find a shade and size that I like, I add it to the favorites bar so that I can always have it on hand instead of searching for that same shade and size that I had before. This helps keep my notes clean and organized, too. 

One of the most unique features that Notability has is the audio recording feature. I know you’re probably thinking that you can just as easily record lectures on any device, including your phone. What’s special about this feature on Notability is that the audio recorder tracks which slide you are on as you record. For instance, if I’m having trouble with a concept, I can just go to that slide and hit the recording, and it will replay what the professor said during that exact slide. No more sitting skimming through hours of recordings just to relisten to two minutes!

Another feature that I had not seen on other apps before is the ability to dual-screen your notes. I often like to draw mind maps or flow charts of the lecture concepts in order to be able to think through them more easily, but it’s a pain to do this when I can only look at one slide set at a time. Thankfully, Notability allows you to pull up two separate slide sets without having to keep clicking back and forth. 

I wish I only had good things to say about this app, but I do have one complaint. I tend to have professors that fill entire slides with images or text, so there is little room for me to write my own notes on the slide. I wish I was able to write outside of the slide or just outside the margins in order to have some extra space, but Notability does not allow this, unfortunately. 

All in all, I would say Notability is a good investment. Once I switched over, it was quite simple to import my other electronic notes into Notability without any of the format getting messed up. If you’ve been on the fence about trying it out, I would recommend giving it a shot! There are also little in-app extension packs you can purchase that are only a couple dollars more to make note-taking even easier like math conversions, handwriting recognition, planners and stickers!