Taking notes on an iPad
July 11, 2011 9:50 PM   Subscribe

What type of options are out there for taking hand-written notes on an iPad? I'm especially interested in any programs that convert your writing into typing.

I attend many conferences and dinners where I bring a notebook and pen to take notes, typing them into a computer afterwards to keep for my records.

I hope that an iPad and stylus can be more effective. While I'm sure there are many programs where I can just hand-write notes, are there any that can accurately convert handwriting into actual text so it can be saved in a Word doc? Please let me know any experiences you've had with using your iPad to take notes.

(and while I know I can simply type my notes on the iPad at the meetings, that doesn't offer the speed and ease of writing with a pen/stylus.)

posted by rastapasta to Technology (8 answers total) 27 users marked this as a favorite
I went through a bunch about two months ago, and ended up very happy with Writepad:

I bought a $20 stylus - I wish I'd gotten one with a better way to attach to the case or the iPad. I have it attached to my bag which means I don't lose it, but it's still a bit annoying. The tip is like a soft rubber and feels huge, not pointy like a pen, but I can write in pretty tiny text clearly.

There are several apps that do handwriting recognition. Download them all and test them because the interfaces vary widely.

I liked Writepad because it allowed for palm-rest, the handwriting recognition is decent, the little shorthand signs are useful and easy to remember, and in experimenting, it was the one I ended up being able to write a page of text in at the same speed as on paper, but then could email or export it easily. It also seems to be actively developed.

The only downside? When you delete text, it doesn't make the tiny Newton cloud!
posted by viggorlijah at 10:25 PM on July 11, 2011

I use my iPad for painting & drawing but don't find it very useful for taking notes. It doesn't repond "crisply" enough to follow my scrawl.

I've tried a bunch of stylii and the best by far is the 3M Smart Pen. It has a narrower "nib" than the others, it slides smoothly on the glass screen and it's more touch sensitive. It all adds up to MUCH less hand fatigue. It also has a clip.
posted by bonobothegreat at 11:41 PM on July 11, 2011 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks for the responses so far.

One thing I forgot to add: is there a way to have the app (or documents it creates) password protected so others using my iPad can't access that stuff?
posted by rastapasta at 6:08 AM on July 12, 2011

A big shout out to an app called Note Taker HD.
It has some seriously innovative features, but the most important for me is that it has a sort of sub-frame that allows you to write in giant scrawl (as I tend to do on my iPad, even with a stylus) and it is shrunken down for you onto the page. It's a very easy way to write notes or annotate PDFs.
posted by raygan at 7:13 PM on July 12, 2011

Response by poster: "Shrunken down"into " text" that can be edited with a keyboard in a word processor? Or just shrunken down so it makes it easy for you to write in a big space, but the notes remain an image?
posted by rastapasta at 7:36 PM on July 12, 2011

You can email the notes from NoteTaker (which I have used, and it is a clever app) into evernote (won't OCR, but will make it text searchable) or OneNote which will OCR the text. Those are workarounds though.

Handwriting -> text is kinda tricky.
posted by stratastar at 9:55 PM on July 12, 2011

I checked my ipad's Writepad, and it doesn't have password protection. A workaround would be to email or export your files to another app that does have password protection. The OCR recognition for Writepad is decent enough for me writing in slightly messy print that as long as I write in print, it recognises and converts correctly as fast as I can handwrite in the same print on paper. It also learns your writing style, which helped for my peculiar fs.
posted by viggorlijah at 10:49 PM on July 12, 2011

posted by madred at 5:45 PM on July 19, 2011 [1 favorite]

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