Notability enables users to use their iPad, iPhone or Mac to take notes or to add notes and drawings to PDF templates or notebooks. It is limited to Apple devices and is not available for PC and Android. You write on the device with an Apple Pencil (on the iPad) or 3rd party stylus (on an iPad and iPhone).
You can use the app for many functions but I use it with my digital planners. There are many free digital planners on this site that work very well with Notability or GoodNotes. Not sure which app is better for you? See GoodNotes vs Notability.
Before you start using Notability, take a moment to set your preferred settings. Go to settings and select document. Choose whether or not a date and time will be included in your notes. Select your default paper color and style (blank, lined, graph, or dot grid), and select your default note view (seamless or a single page).
Under settings -> typing, you can choose your default font, font style, size, and color, and if you want to check your spelling. You can also choose an option to tap anywhere to start typing on that line.
Functions that Notability Offers
Sync audio and handwriting together
Notability enables you to record audio and take notes together. When you playback the audio, you will see the notes during the section they were recorded. This is a significant feature for students who want to record lectures and take notes. When I studied law, I used to record lectures and take notes. However, I could never sync my notes with the audio and I had to look through pages of notes to find the relevant section. It never worked. For this function alone I would recommend Notability to students. Many other people will also find this feature helpful such as those who take notes in business meetings.
Password Protected Notes
You can create a Notability password to protect your notes within Notability. The password will automatically sync between iOS and Mac even if you don’t sync notes across devices. Notability also supports your device’s Touch ID, Face ID, and Passcode. This is very useful if you keep a private journal or have other notes that you don’t want anyone to have access to.
Notability enables you to work on multiple notes side by side. This is a useful feature when you need to compare notes.
In the bottom right corner, there are three hearts with A, B, and C inside them. You can select a favorite font for each heart and then click on it when you want to use that font. Your saved font will include the font, size, color, and style. I love this feature but I think it could be improved if the font in the heart looked like the one you selected. For example, the font I selected was pink so I think the font icon should be pink. It will remind you which font you selected for A, B, or C. You can click on each to see it but it’s a waste of time.
There is a small icon in the bottom left corner to add lists. I love the icon it adds.
With Notability, every note comes with endless scrolling until you complete a note. When you start a new note, it will be a separate file with a new title. This helps you find each topic since it is a separate note and you don’t have to look for topics within a notebook.
Backup to Google Drive, Dropbox, OneDrive Box, and WebDAV
The app uses Apple’s iCloud sync to back up your notes. You can also automatically backup your files to third-party storage systems such as Google Drive, Dropbox, OneDrive, Box, and WebDAV (unlike GoodNotes).
Since your notes are automatically saved on Apple’s iCloud, you can edit a document on your iPad and open it on your iPhone which is great. However, even though I installed Notability on my tablet and phone on the same day, I get a warning that the note created on my iPhone was created using a newer version of Notability that may not be compatible and content may not appear or could be lost. Pretty scary if it’s a document you worked on for ages.
With Notability, you can share a link that you can access from any device. This link can be shared with anyone in any browser and on any device. This is really helpful If you need to access your notes on a PC or Android device or share with others who don’t have Notability installed.
Pens with Various Strokes
Notability offers a relatively small selection of pens and colors for doodling, drawing, and writing. You can adjust the stroke (to make lines thick or thin) via pressure sensitivity as you would with a real pen (simply apply more pressure to make wider lines). For those who enjoy using many brush pens and other planner pens you might find the selection limited but for most people, it will be enough. Once you have chosen your pen style (thickness and color), you can favorite that choice. You are given a few basic color choices for your pens but you can add many more options. I like that you can save your color choices instead of finding your favorite pink each time you use the app.
Change the Theme and Color Per Page
In Notability, any change you make to the page design changes all pages. You cannot have different pages in your notebook.
Text to Speed
To change the speed of the text-to-speech function, go to settings and set text-to-speech.
Functions that Notability Charges Extra for
Convert Handwriting to Text–Extra Charge
You need to pay an additional charge to convert handwriting to text. You write with your Apple Pencil and the app will convert your writing to text.
Stickers – Additional Cost
With Notability, you can add stickers for an additional cost. You can also do this for no additional cost with the lasso selection tool. Simply download our free planner stickers or stickers from any other website and then use the lasso tool to copy and paste the stickers onto your document or planner. Adding stickers to your documents and digital planners is fun and a great way to decorate and embellish your digital planner or notes.
You can add “stickies’ to your pages. Click on this sign “+” and choose stickies. These are either textboxes or pages that could be blank, lined paper, grid, graph paper, dot grid paper, or typed text boxes. The typed stickies is basically a text box on your page but a full-paged text box. If you want to type on it then select a typing stickie. To change the paper, tap on the stickie. The paper can be any color but I never found an option to make it transparent. I wanted to add grid lines to my page but I could only add the stickie grid page and only then add content. I think there should be a transparent option or an option to send it to the back.
Math Conversion – Additional Cost
For an additional cost, Notability can recognize basic mathematical expressions, functions, symbols, and rules.
Functions that Notability Lacks
Notability enables you to create a subject or a divider to organize your files and folders. Your notes are organized into subjects and subjects are divided by dividers. You can only use these three levels to organize your notes. There is no option to use nested folders (i.e. subfolders inside the folders).
The Option to Install on Multiple Devices
You will need to purchase the app again for each system on which you install it (Mac, iPhone, and iPad). Ginger Labs recently had a sale that enabled users to install the app on a Mac, iPad, and iPhone for a single purchase. This sale is time-limited so you will want to check the details before you purchase if you plan to use multiple devices.