I have noticed a lot of divergence in note-taking practices the longer I have been in the workforce. During my days as a college student, I found myself evolving from pen and notebook to Word, Word to OneNote, and finally OneNote to Notability. While I have dabbled in other note taking apps over the past couple of years, Notability is far and away my favorite app and I highly recommend downloading from the App Store whether you are a student, professional, or simply want to cut down on the amount of paper in your workflow.
To start off, I’d like to preface everything by clearly stating that my experience with Notability has been on an iPad (and I’ve gone through 3 different iPad models over the years, including the iPad Mini). Notability is only available within the iOS ecosystem of apps. Furthermore, I can’t wholeheartedly recommend the desktop version because (1) I haven’t tried it (kind of obvious – won’t recommend anything I haven’t used myself), but more importantly, (2) a lot of what I feel are the greatest benefits of the note taking app are realized using an iPad. Now, with that said…
I started using this app in one of my business classes where the professor would post all slides beforehand. I would then Notability to import the slides before the lecture. By doing so, I could take notes directly on the slides, which I found to be extremely useful and efficient. Using a stylus, I could add annotations on certain slides, add notes to diagrams, or simply emphasize certain points when typed text would be difficult, inefficient, or simply not fit. However, you can also type notes as you would in any iPad app that allows for word processing.
As an added bonus, Notability can record audio of lectures, and when the lecture is played back later, the progression of your notes follows along pace. This feature is extremely helpful when reviewing prior lectures to help better understand the context of whatever sloppy note you may have written down. As a note of caution, recording lectures may not always be permitted, so please consult with your professor or institution before doing so (I’ve never had an issue with this).
On a broader level, the interface is extremely simple and easy to use. Indexing, categorizing, and searching past notes is a breeze. If desired, adding photos (ever take a picture of something to take note of it later?) or other snippets is also very easy. Notability is a great app for condensing a lot of tasks into a nice, paper-free portfolio.
A final use that I have found to be extremely useful is to fill out PDF forms. For example, for the latest lease agreement I signed, rather than printing out the contract, filling it out with a pen, scanning in the agreement, and sending it back, I was able to import the PDF to Notability, review the agreement, sign, export to PDF and email directly from the app. I did the same thing for my gym membership. Everything is backed up to Google Drive or Drop Box, depending on your preference (I recommend Google Drive, as the Google Drive integration also assists in importing PowerPoint documents). This is probably my favorite use of Notability, and something I plan on doing in the future.
The bottom line – Notability, besides being a fantastic way to take notes and organize them for future reference, also has additional, extremely helpful uses that contribute to a simplified, paper-free workflow tailored to your everyday needs.
Download from the App Store HERE– available for both iPad and iPhone.