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My Top 10 Favorite iPad Apps for Capturing Ideas, Writing, Drawing and More!

I’ve had a TON of questions here lately about what apps I’ve been using on my iPad Pro to do all of my fun new drawing and note taking.

I’ve also been having a lot of late nights recently geeking out over a new ideas I keep having and playing with the possibilities of it all, spent time fleshing the ideas and then sectioned them out into a more solid framework.

All done through several apps on the iPad Pro.

In fact, I’ve gone completely digital with all of my note taking, idea generating and planning endeavors.

With all these questions coming my way I realized that you would probably love these apps as much as I do so I decided to put together a list here for you to let you know what are my 10 ten favorite note taking, artistic and idea apps are.

All of these apps are tested using the iPad Pro and Apple Pencil. You can use a regular iPad and stylus, but to me the Apple Pencil is a complete game changer because it has the hard tip, which makes it feel like a real pen and the iPad Pro has the pressure sensitivity which makes writing that much more realistic.

1. GoodNotes – A Note Taking App ($6.99-$9.99)

Out of all of the note taking apps out there, GoodNotes trumps them all. That means if you don’t go any further down this list, you’ll still be happy as a clam in chowder with this one. Here’s why:

  • Create unlimited notebooks
  • Handwriting and text options
  • Organize by categories
  • Two finger page swiping inside the notebooks <—this is a big deal!
  • Import PDFs and WRITE. ON. THEM. <—another big deal!
  • Perfect hand vs. pencil recognition (meaning you can put your hand on the screen and write normally without it thinking you’re trying to draw there and leave marks or prevent you from drawing)
  • Search Handwriting feature. OMG! It can read your handwriting!
  • It’s super fast to make notes on.

This is the app that personally made the iPad Pro worth buying and keeping. Besides my favorite drawing app – Procreate. More on that in #6.

Sidenote: You might see a lot of info out on the interwebs about Notability being the best note taking app. It’s good, but in my personal opinion, not as good as GoodNotes. The perfect hand/pencil recognition and handwriting searchability are the two features that make it for me. Also the way that you can swipe through the page in GoodNotes feels more natural vs. Notability. The only think Notability has over GoodNotes is the voice recorder which is cool, but I wouldn’t personally use.

2. MindNode – A Mind Mapping App ($9.99)

When it comes to getting ideas down on paper, mind mapping can be a fast and simple way to dump out ideas and then organize them in a more logical order. I love mind mapping. I do it all the time with ideas, especially if I’m fleshing out a course or organizing a business product flow.

However, when transitioning from the computer to the iPad, mind mapping all of a sudden became a royal pain and not as intuitive to use as it is on a normal computer. So, I went on the hunt for a mind mapping app that could work with ease and flow.

That’s exactly what I found with MindNode.

3. Connected Mind – Another Mindmapping App (Free)

I love mindmapping. I’m adding this second mindmapping app for good reason, because if you want a more natural and fluid way to work with a mindmap, then you’ll definitely want to check out Connected Mind.

The real reason why is because you can draw your lines however you want them to be!

I have found this to be a bit easier to let the ideas flow in this way.

I’ve been jumping back and forth between Connected Mind and MindNode and give these both to you to see if you prefer one over the other.

Side Note: Connected Mind also has a Google Chrome Extension so you can play with a web version as well.

4. IdeaBoost – A Fun Sticky Note App ($3.99)

IdeaBoost is an app that uses sticky notes. STICKY NOTES! I could stop here because sticky notes are the all encompassing meca of creative office supplies. And to have them digitized…the possibilities become endless.

I love this app because it’s simple and intuitive to use, which means creating sticky notes, drawing out an idea and moving them around is easy! I’ve long been in search of digital sticky notes that actually makes sense to use. Because let’s face it, most try and fall short.

Why do most fall short?

Because YOU CAN’T WRITE ON THEM!

Okay, some you can, but the ones with a decent layout you can’t. Ugh. Instead of trying to find an app that wants to replicate a messy wall covered in random sticky notes, I prefer IdeaBoost. It gives the flexibility of being able to write on the notes (my favorite) or type on them. They are all found on a clean whiteboard that can be changed to have different background frameworks so your ideas can become more organized instead of a chaotic mess. Or create your own framework by drawing directly on the whiteboard.

That means this app is a two-fer! It’s both a whiteboard and a sticky note app. The ultimate for having fun with ideas.

As a side note, I don’t use this in the traditional sticky note kind of way. For quickly capturing random notes, to-do’s and ideas I use Google Keep.

5. Card Flow – An Index Card App (Free)

Some people work better by mapping things out on index cards. I personally love to map out my speeches on index cards. Along with storyboards and sometimes classes or presentations that I’m doing. Index cards make it easy. Card Flow digitizes them to make it even easier.

Because let’s face it…index cards can get a little out of control.

6. Procreate ($5.99)

Let’s get real here…this app is straight up better than Adobe’s own Photoshop app. SERIOUSLY!

It’s by far the best art app I’ve seen. And not just because you can draw in great detail. Noooooooo…I love it for something much better than that…

I love it because I can do A-W-E-S-O-M-E hand lettering with it. Squeeeeee!

Check out this awesome hand lettering tutorial from the chicks over at Rad and Happy. It’s mesmerizing!

7. Adobe Sketch (Free)

Adobe Sketch has a lot of the same elements as Procreate does, however it does have one thing that is far superior…

It’s watercolor capabilities!

They are super realistic and bleeds like real watercolor paints do. You can blend the colors, water them down, bleed them together, blowdry them into place…all the things!

Check out this mesmerizing process to see what I’m talking about:

8. Concepts (Free – $8.99)

If you are looking for a drawing app that has more of a technical side for things like architecture drawing, product concepts, landscape design, floor plans, and any other kind of drawing you can imagine.

I personally love the color wheel picker and that you can make the page sizes specific sizes. Some of the other drawing apps have specific sizes, but this one actually lets you make your images bigger, so when it comes to making realistic sizes, this one is the one I go to. It’s like what you can do in Photoshop.

The reason I found this app is because I was looking for one that would let me make a large image size to create a full front and back book cover design with. I needed the specific size and all the other art apps wouldn’t let me make the image size that big.

In order to be able to export your images out into better quality images, you’ll need to upgrade to the pro version. If you are needing this for work concepts, it’s worth it.

9. Scrivener ($19.99)

My favoritest of favoritest writing apps has finally made its debut on iPad. FINALLY! And the people over at Literatures and Latte have not disappointed with their IOS version of Scrivener.

I have written several books – including putting together 3 compilation books – inside of Scrivener. It’s my go-to app for writing. Yes, it’s way better than Word or Pages. Especially because it’s made to help organize the entire process into something that makes sense.

Writing finally makes sense with Scrivener.

And now they have an app for the iPad (and iPhone!) that delivers a cleaner version of the original, which I have very much appreciated.

For months I was debating downloading the Ulysses app – a simpler writing app – because I like the cleanliness of it, but then the Scrivener app was finally released and it’s just as clean as Ulysses yet has the features of Scrivener that I was going to miss with Ulysses. Plus Scrivener was cheaper! So, now you know who won that debate and I’m one happy camper…I mean writer.

10. Canva (Free)

And last but not least we have Canva. I design almost all of my graphics inside of Canva. Now I can do it from anywhere with the iPad, without having to break out the laptop. The interface is a seamless transition from desktop to tablet, making it incredibly intuitive to use.

It’s easy. It’s free. It’s perfect.

Did you discover a new app you now love? Want to share your favorites? Let me know what they are in the comments below.

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