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Note-taking with the iPad Pro


Photo by Lauren Mancke

I’m a huge fan of Bear on iOS and macOS for my notes and draft thoughts (I’m not the only one), but there is still a place for written (hand or digital) notes, particularly at work.

Pondering Seth Clifford’s post on note-taking, as a lawyer it’s very easy to drown in notes, Post-Its, marked-up documents and scribbles throughout the working day…let alone slide decks, printed legal documents, articles to read etc.

Reminders go into Fantastical (which syncs with iOS Reminders), next steps for a project go into Trello, thoughts and responses on articles and legal documents are included on the original and scanned/archived. I’ve never been a Moleskin or ‘formal notebook’ person and my handwriting can often be slow, so an Apple Pencil and GoodNotes, combined with the apps above for shorter notes, has removed a huge amount of paper detritus from my workspace whilst also providing me with searchable, exportable PDFs of my notes.

For pure sketching (I’m no artist, so by this I mean charts & diagrams) I’ve been dipping into Paper but am yet to figure out a decent workflow; I often end up using LucidChart for anything more than a few lines.

When attending presentations and conferences, there are invariably PDF versions of slide decks available in advance so it easy to open these in an Apple Pencil-supported app (I use GoodNotes but looking at alternatives) and annotate directly onto the slides. For anything I might sketch out initially on paper (corporate structure charts,  cash flows, project plans etc) or notes written to me by someone else, a quick snap with the iPad Pro’s camera and I can augment it with additional annotations and comments, archive it to DevonThinkPro or even send it on to colleagues. The very act of writing and the memory-triggering that contributes, but on a digital document which can be easily transported, archived and distributed, is really the best of both worlds.

NB Our corporate email on iOS is provided via Good for Enterprise, which does actually offer a pretty decent annotation app with Apple Pencil support, iAnnotate. However it’s a silo’d set of applications with limited export functions (for good security and confidentiality reasons).

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