GoodNotes 4 - Notes & PDF

App review by
Stacy Zeiger, Common Sense Media
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Solid digital note-taking app helps kids get organized.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this app.

Educational Value

Kids can learn how to take and organize their notes using multiple tools such as highlighting, color-coding, and the ability to add shapes and other images. GoodNotes also gives them ways to organize their notes, allowing them to create notebooks labeled with specific subjects or topics. Using the notebook covers to the note-taking templates, kids can customize their notes in a variety of ways, making them fit their needs. They can even use their fingers or a stylus to take notes in their own handwriting, helping them personalize and take ownership over their notes and the learning process. The variety of features makes GoodNotes a solid addition to a teen's bank of study resources. 

Ease of Play

In addition to a fairly intuitive design, short user guides pop up to help users complete basic tasks and guide them to an online tutorial for additional help. However, some features, such as typing with a keyboard, are hard to find.

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Icons allow users to copy content from or upload content to sources such as box Dropbox, Google Drive, iTunes, and SkyDrive.

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What parents need to know

Parents need to know that GoodNotes offers lots of features designed to make note-taking easier for kids and grown-ups. Older kids and teens can choose from multiple templates, including lined paper and graphing squares, draw perfect shapes with the shape-recognition tool, and create multiple notebooks full of notes. They can organize them using various fonts, colors, and other handy tools. With so many options, young note-takers will have an easy time accessing and organizing their notes, making study time simpler. Note: Some kids accustomed to using a keyboard function may be frustrated with the "handwriting"-only style.

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What's it about?

Instead of using actual notebooks, users of GOODNOTES will take and organize their notes in digital notebooks. Although they may look like traditional composition notebooks on the outside, they're definitely not limited to the lined sheets of paper. Instead, note-takers can fill the notebooks with graph paper, lined paper, blank paper, and even their own templates, allowing them to take notes on whatever background they desire. As they take notes, not only can they write in their own text or draw images, they also can highlight, add images, or even search their notes to find specific information.

Is it any good?

GoodNotes has a fairly intuitive design, which makes it easy for note-takers to jump right in and start taking notes without too much instruction. Although it comes with multiple features designed to make the process easier and more effective, it focuses on having users write notes using their own handwriting rather than typing text. For those without a stylus or who have sloppy handwriting, this could prove to be a frustration, particularly when the handwriting tool attempts to correct the handwriting and creates more illegible text. Fortunately, developers have included an option to type with a text box, although it may take users some time to learn how to use it.

With a stylus, good finger control, and discovery of the text-box feature, however, note-takers will appreciate the ability to organize their notes into clearly labeled notebooks and quickly flip through all the pages in a notebook using the thumbnail feature. They'll also have the ability to mark up PDF documents and save the notes they've made on them. The ability to share pages through multiple cloud sources also makes it easy for note-takers to share their notes or easily access them whenever they need them.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about why note-taking can be important. Ask your kids if they retain information best when they hear it, see it, or write it down themselves. What does taking good notes mean to your kid?

  • Show your kids how you keep organized, whether it's through to-do lists, spreadsheets, or notes scribbled on napkins. Ask them why it's good to have your own system for keeping your life in order.

App details

For kids who love writing

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