Notability Review for MacOS and iOS

Across YouTube videos and “Best Productivity App” lists, there’s been one constant over the last couple of years. Notability seems to find itself at the top of both lists on a regular basis, widely regarded as one of the Apple ecosystems best tools.

Available on iOS and MacOS, Notability is a powerful tool. To call it a replacement for pen and paper is to do it a disservice – Notability is so much more than that. On iOS, the Apple pencil makes quick additions or bursts of inspiration easy to note down, but keyboard support is included too.

The app’s general layout on either platform is clean, using a sidebar for navigation and with plenty of tools at the top of the page.

Those notes can be converted to text, exported to PDF, and shared with other devices via the cloud. You can also add anything else – be that audio in the form of a voice recording, or simply inserting a video directly into the note. Found a picture for inspiration? Why not clip it to your note.

Handwriting recognition isn’t 1:1 at all times, but Notability hits more than it misses – and feels as close to writing on paper as you can get when you’re writing on an expensive slate of glass. That may be down to my scrawl looking as though a spider has been squashed on the page. Perhaps most impressive is that this handwriting is indexed for the app’s excellent search functionality too – no more scrabbling for scribbles.

Both iOS and MacOS versions of the app have the option to interface with popular cloud services like Dropbox or Google Drive and combined with the option to import anything as a PDF could be a huge boon for those sending and receiving contracts. Users can add their signature to something to be able to post a document back immediately, for example. In fact, I wish I had Notability when exchanging contracts whilst buying my home last year.

iCloud sync also maintains any edits across all devices, including the impressive MacOS version. While the Mac version lacks the option to scribble directly into a note, it’s arguably easier to add various links and content to your notes when you have a larger screen to play with.

While the £9.99 price of Notability is likely to dissuade many (especially with a further £9.99 for the MacOS version), this is a one-time fee for each platform. Those with an Apple Pencil will find almost unlimited utility – from highlighting pieces of text in an article to send to a friend
or signing a contract without having to print it or scanning it first. Of course, you can simply doodle, too.

It seems strange to review a piece of software that acts as a pen and paper, but after using Notability it’s clear to see what it brings to the table. The price is fair for the number of options on offer, and the only downside is that it requires two purchases to be able to unlock both versions. With that said, we recommend that you do – Notability makes the simple act of making notes feel fun and useful.


Updated: Apr 27, 2019

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