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The 7 best handwriting apps for iPad and iPad Pro

Lucy Hattersley | March 3, 2016
The iPad Pro and Apple Pencil make note-taking a joy. Discover the best handwriting apps for iPads

Best handwriting apps for iPad

iPads are terrific note-taking devices, but ever since the launch of theiPad Pro and the Apple Pencil, the idea of handwriting on an iPad has gone to another level. But what is the best handwriting app for the iPad?

There are lots of different apps out there that let you write by hand on an iPad, and each has different abilities and advantages: from proper integration with iOS, to converting your handwriting to a typed letter.

In this feature we're going to look at the best handwriting apps for iOS.

The best place to start is Notes. Open the Notes app and tap on the drawing icon (the squiggle icon in the bottom-right). The screen vanishes and you're left with a blank page and a selection of drawing tools at the bottom. We'll look at Notes' handwriting capabilities in the next slide.

Using Notes for handwriting

Apple's Notes app is a great starting point for handwriting on the iPad Pro. The default drawing tool is a pen, and you get a horizontal sheet of paper to draw on. One nice touch is the slight paper grain on each note (you can see this in more detail by pinching to zoom).

Notes is an easy app to use, but it has limitations and they quickly become apparent. The drawing tools are limited, and there's only one type of pen. You only get a single sheet to draw on, and can't expand it. You can't change the sheet of paper to lined or graph paper.

So while Notes is easy to use, there are plenty of excellent alternatives to check out.


Paper is one of our favourite iPad Pro apps. Originally designed to work with FiftyThree's Pencil, the app has taken a wider lease of life since the Apple Pencil arrived.

Paper shares some of Notes' limitations: you can't expand the single sheet of notepaper, for instance. Even worse, it doesn't work in Split View mode so you can't take notes alongside another app.

But it has a much nicer selection of drawing tools, including a stylus that is much slicker to write with than the regular pen. You can also pick any colour you want, and create documents with lined and graph paper.

Paper is the one app here we'd want alongside Notes.

Price: Free

Download: App Store


Penultimate has the advantage of being integrated with Evernote, an effective Notes replacement all of its own. You can connect Penultimate with Evernote and create handwritten notes that are searchable within Evernote itself. This search ability is perhaps the most powerful aspect of Penultimate.


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