Replace your 
notepad with iPad

EVEN THOUGH I’ve had an iPad for almost two years now, I have still been taking notes with a regular paper pad and pencil. That is until just recently. One day I said to myself: you carry your iPad with you everywhere, so why not use it to take notes with?

By (Mac talk with Magnus Nystedt)

Published: Sat 31 Mar 2012, 8:43 PM

Last updated: Tue 7 Apr 2015, 12:02 PM

The natural option would be EverNote (, which I have used for many years. It now holds what must be the digital version of my life’s story. But it does not support hand-written notes. And for me, one requirement was that I could write, like with pen on paper, on the iPad.

What I’ve found that works just as well, if not better, than pen and paper is an app called Noteshelf combined with a stylus from Targus.

Noteshelf ( is a $6 app for iPad, which can replace most other note apps you might have. In Noteshelf, you create notebooks with different kinds of paper and cover designs. You can have one for work that has lined paper and red cover, and another one for personal use with blue cover and ruled paper. If you want a notebook to be protected you can add a password to it.

Once you have a notebook, you can take notes in it. Write with your finger (or stylus) with different widths and colours, with a pen or highlighter. In fact, if I count them correctly, there are 17 different colors and 21 thicknesses for pens. For the highlighter, there are 8 colours and 41 sizes. All in all, probably way more variety than you have for your paper-based notebook.

You can also add pictures from the library or from the camera, if your iPad has one. Noteshelf doesn’t turn your handwriting into computer text, but that doesn’t seem so necessary. You can however add text and type with the iPad onscreen keyboard, but I’ve felt little need to use that functionality.

So, you could of course just write with a finger on the iPad’s screen, but that doesn’t produce the right feeling. Since I’ve been writing with a pen for most of my life, that’s what I wanted with the iPad too. After a bit of searching, I found the Targus Stylus for iPad ( for about $15 in a local electronics store (you can find it for around $10 online). It’s like a regular pen but has a soft, rubbery tip, and you can write with it on the iPad.

The Targus is a bit too wide, and I’d like the tip to be firmer, but it mimics real writing on paper well enough. After some practice I now write quite well with it, as well as draw the occasional picture.

Together, the Targus stylus and Noteshelf have changed my note taking and work processes. It has minimised my use of paper and now all my notes are digitally archived, so I can later retrieve them, if necessary.

You should try it yourself, it might just be what you need to finally enter the digital age.

Magnus Nystedt @mnystedt

More news from