App review by Stacy Zeiger, Common Sense Education | Updated December 2013
GoodNotes 4
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GoodNotes 4

Handy tool helps kids create, organize, and annotate their notes

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Subjects & Skills
English Language Arts, Communication & Collaboration, Creativity, Character & SEL
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Pros: Includes multiple note-taking features and allows kids to organize notes into different notebooks and notebooks into categories.

Cons: Design makes it difficult to see all notebooks at once, and some features, such as typing with a keyboard, prove difficult to find.

Bottom Line: Kids can learn how to take and organize their notes using multiple tools such as highlighting, color-coding, and the ability to add in shapes and other images.

Some students like taking notes in a notebook and carrying it around with them, but for those who have trouble taking and organizing notes, you can suggest GoodNotes. Since everything is stored digitally, students won't lose their notes and will have access to their notebooks when they really need them. Teachers who do regular notebook checks may also opt to use GoodNotes and have students regularly share notes using cloud storage for a quick check.

You may want to use GoodNotes to share your own notes with students. After creating a page of notes or a notebook full of notes, you can have students import them into their own notebooks. Once imported, students can personalize the notes by highlighting, adding images, or taking out information they already know.

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GoodNotes 4 lets students create a digital notebook, and then fill it with pages upon pages of digital notes. Rather than being limited to a blank page or lined page, kids can customize the background with different styles of lined paper, graphing paper, and even custom images. GoodNotes lets kids use their own handwriting to take notes, although students may want a stylus to improve the process. A keyboard feature is also available, though a bit difficult to find. Aside from writing in notes, students can also change up the colors of the text, highlight the text, draw perfect images using the shape recognition tool, and even insert images from other sources. Students can mark up PDF documents and images that they open within the app. Once finished, students can upload notes to multiple cloud storage accounts or reorder their notes within the notebook. Students can keep a notebook for each subject area, each unit, or whatever number of notebooks best suits their needs.

Rather than keeping track of multiple notebooks, students can store their notebooks digitally. The notebooks found in GoodNotes even look like traditional composition books on the outside, although students can update them to feature unique covers and change the style of the interior pages to fit their needs. For visual learners and those who don't like to write a lot, the way students take notes within the notebooks can help them get important details down without thinking they have to write a lot of text. Instead, they're encouraged to include short text boxes of information, add pictures, and highlight important information, giving them pages of notes that are easy to skim and review when it comes time to take a test or write a paper.

Overall Rating


Keeping organized notes may not appeal to students, but they'll appreciate it once they start using all of the features.


Multiple features allow kids to take notes they will actually find useful, organize those notes, and quickly access what they need.


A comprehensive user guide helps note-takers explore the many different features; unfortunately, it's based on static text and images, rather than more dynamic support as kids take their own notes.

Common Sense reviewer
Stacy Zeiger Homeschooling parent

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