Help working out new note taking workflow?

Question time!

I am working on a system revamp to handle some changes coming down the pipe in my life. And I’m stuck.

I’m trying to figure out what should go where in my note taking stack, and how to handle making sure items are in the fewest places possible.

The one issue I’ve always had is what to do with handwritten vs. typed notes. Most apps are really good at dealing with one over the other (I.e. GoodNotes = awesome for handwritten notes as Apple Notes = great for typed). I’m trying to figure out what makes sense to put different places in light of this.

Here’s my mindmap of ideas on it:

What I’m currently looking at is —

  • Discourse for long term reference, project notes
  • Ulysses for writing, digital commonplace, some notes
  • Drafts for capture & action, some static storage
  • GoodNotes for anything handwritten

My plan is to semi-regularly export my GoodNotes notebooks to PDF just so they are accessible elsewhere. Though I don’t know where those should land yet.

However, I hate feeling like I have to choose between handwriting and typing, and I feel like I’m forced to because it’s not easy to keep handwritten and typed notes together.

So, what I’m asking is:

  • Do you see any alternatives here (other than Evernote)?
  • Are there any holes in this?

Thanks all!

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You should definitely check Notability. Perfect tool for handwriting and typed notes (in my modest opinion much better than goodnotes)

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I own GoodNotes and Notability. I can’t think of one feature in GoodNotes that isn’t offered (or implemented more effectively) in Notability.


I’m going to add Notability to my list to check out.

As I’ve been thinking about it, I wonder if my file system (vs an app) will simply become the permanent repository for certain types of content, or at least an archive of such.


I find there are a few things about GoodNotes that I prefer to Notability:

  1. Templates/Custom Papers
    This wouldn’t be a big deal for me if Notability had a grid paper, but it doesn’t and because that’s what I typically use, it makes new note creation a nightmare for me!

  2. Tabbed view for rapid switch & copy-paste workflows

I also know that GoodNotes 5 is on the horizon and they’re working on a number of things that will push it out ahead of Notability again. The only question is when!

You can use GoodNotes or Notability for typewritten notes as well (including on the mac), but I far prefer other options for typewritten notes in markdown for me.

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If you are in the note in Notability, you can click on the wrench in the upper right hand then click on Paper, in there I see four different types of grid paper.

To set the default to grid paper, go to Settings > Document, then in the right-hand side at the bottom is Default Note Paper where you can select grid paper. Every new note from that point forward is grid lined.

Thank you for the reply!

Unfortunately I should have specified “dot grid”, as in the dot grid found in Baron Fig and Bullet Journal notebooks. In my experience, what I think you are calling “grid” paper is called “graph” paper, not what I wanted.

Getting dot grid (or any paper style not in their predefined list) requires a work around where you import that paper and then for every new notebook duplicate the previously imported document.

GoodNotes allows you to have full on templates for forms and different paper styles, colors, even PDFs with links. Not available today at all with notability.

I see Notability’s strengths being infinite paper (if you want it), voice recording with note taking playback (if you take notes of someone else speaking) and the split screen view (new feature that is really cool!). I also like that I can rotate handwriting in notability that you cannot do in GoodNotes.

So what distinguishes between Discourse and Ulysses? Why not have those types of notes/documents all in one or the other?
I think Goodnotes (or Notability) is good for handwritten ones, especially if you have a workflow that routinely exports them into a format where they can be placed with your other notes, and Drafts for those quick, off-the-cuff or mobile notes, but I feel like Discourse and Ulysses are being used for pretty similar purposes?

What’s really actually interesting is how much this has changed in the last 3 months.

Currently I’m heavily evaluating options for research/file solutions (basically DevonTHINK or Evernote). Right now I’ve heavily simplified. Apple Notes for everything except major writing projects. Those go in Ulysses. There’s a natural separation between reference apps and note taking apps that I haven’t really considered heavily before until now.