In this article, I will analyse whether Notability or GoodNotes is better for the handling of PDFs based on my testing of both apps when I used them for my studies.
GoodNotes handles PDF better when compared with Notability. In terms of handling PDF, GoodNotes has more features, and is more user friendly.
In particular, I’ve found the ease of switching between PDFs to be the main reason why GoodNotes is better suited to handle PDFs.
- The Main Reason Why GoodNotes is Better Than Notability in Handling PDFs
- Ease of Accessibility When Handling PDFs (GoodNotes vs Notability)
- Ease of Editing When Handling PDFs (GoodNotes vs Notability)
- Ease of Backup When Handling PDFs (GoodNotes vs Notability)
- Ease of Creating/Exporting a PDF (GoodNotes vs Notability)
- Conclusion: Why GoodNotes is Better Than Notability For PDFs
The Main Reason Why GoodNotes is Better Than Notability in Handling PDFs
GoodNotes has tabs near the top of its user interface that allows me to navigate easily between PDFs.
This allows me to work quickly between references when I am doing up a school assignment.
By closing and rearranging tabs, GoodNotes also allows me to very quickly reprioritise what is important to me on the tabs bar.
On the contrary, Notability does not have tabs near the top of its user interface that would allow me to navigate easily between PDFs.
I would have to tap on the back button and manually reselect another PDF if I wanted to switch out between files.
This can be inconvenience as I would have to remember where each of my PDF is in the file structure.
Not to mention, it breaks my chain of thoughts when I am working every time I have to switch out a file that I am working on.
In coming up with a conclusion on which app is better for PDFs, I thought that the following 4 criteria were important:
- Ease of accessibility (Refers to how easy the PDF can be uploaded and switched between)
- Ease of editing (Refers to how user friendly it is to edit the PDF (i.e. annotating on PDFs, adding a new page of PDF))
- Ease of backup (Refers to how easy it is to backup the PDFs in each app so that the files don’t get lost)
- Ease of creating/exporting a PDF from the app
As mentioned in this section, what the ease of switching between PDFs really helps with is that it makes my PDF files easy to access when I need to work with them.
In terms of ease of accessibility, more than the ease of switching between PDFs that was already pointed out, I thought that GoodNotes was more intuitive in its user interface as well.
Ease of Accessibility When Handling PDFs (GoodNotes vs Notability)
With a big plus icon, GoodNote intuitively tells me where I need to go to upload a new PDF. No time is wasted, straight to the point.
For Notability, its icons are all hidden at the corners of the user interface.
Like GoodNotes, it has a plus icon at the top left hand corner and another plus icon at the bottom right hand corner but those plus icons doesn’t allow one to import a new PDF, rather, I would have to tap on the inbound icon at the top right hand side to import a PDF into the app – do you see what I mean when I say that the user interface is more intuitive in GoodNotes?
When combined with the ease of switching between app, I think that GoodNotes outperforms Notability in terms of ease of accessibility in handling PDFs.
Ease of Editing When Handling PDFs (GoodNotes vs Notability)
When compared with Notability, GoodNotes expands each feature until I tap on another feature; with Notability, I have to keep tap again on each feature when I want to change anything about it.
Having GoodNotes expand each feature is especially helpful as a student when I want to change the colour of my pen as I am taking notes.
Put simply, the user interface on GoodNotes is just more intuitive to me than the user interface on Notability. Because of this more intuitive interface on GoodNotes, I’ve found the ease of editing and accessibility is better on GoodNotes than on Notability.
Despite GoodNotes having so much going for it, there is an aspect I’ve found where Notability performs better than GoodNotes as it pertains to the handling of PDFs.
Ease of Backup When Handling PDFs (GoodNotes vs Notability)
Surprisingly, I’ve found that Notability does better than GoodNotes when it comes to backing up my documents.
Notability allows auto-backup on 5 cloud solutions – Dropbox, Google Drive, OneDrive, Box and WebDAV while GoodNotes only allows auto-backup on 3 cloud solutions – DropBox, Google Drive and OneDrive.
That said, with some digging, I’ve found that GoodNotes allows for manual backup while Notability does not.
However, with all things considered, I think that Notability takes the win for ease of backup as they allow for auto-backup on more cloud drive solutions.
Ease of Creating/Exporting a PDF (GoodNotes vs Notability)
In terms of creating a PDF from scratch, I found that both GoodNotes and Notability are on par as far as user experience is concerned.
In terms of exporting a PDF, I found that Notability is better than GoodNotes in that it allows me to create a password when I am exporting a PDF while GoodNotes doesn’t have this feature (I’m using the paid version of Notability). Other than that, both apps are also equal in this aspect.
With creating/exporting a PDF, Notability is marginally better than GoodNotes.
Conclusion: Why GoodNotes is Better Than Notability For PDFs
GoodNotes is better than Notability for PDFs because the features that are most often used (ie. importing a PDF, annotation tools) are significantly better.
Regardless of which app you choose to use for your PDFs/documents, here are simple 2 tips and tricks that could help with your user experience on both apps:
- Get an apple pencil or at least a good stylus to work with your documents on your iPad.
- Organise your PDFs/documents through creating groups and dividers on Notability and through creating files on GoodNotes.
Still on a quest to find the best note-taking app on iPad? This article on Notability may help – Is Notability Free Plus Other Pricing FAQs Answered.