Noteful user guide (free)

Noteful is the app that replaced Notability in our workflow. This guide will help you get the most out of the app.


Does it have handwriting recognition?

No, Noteful does not convert your handwriting to text. It also can’t search through your handwritten notes.

Does Noteful create smaller files than GoodNotes?

Yes, Noteful creates files that are smaller than what GoodNotes creates. However, they are not as small as the ones in Notability.

Does it have a macOS app?

No, but M1 series MacBooks (and later) can use the iPad version.

Does Noteful support stickers?

No, Noteful doesn’t support stickers like we’ve become accustomed to with GoodNotes and Notability. For now, stickers are simply images that you can drag & drop into the app. There is no way to save or create them in the app.

Getting started (beginner)

Orientation & simple organisation

When you open the app, it has a left sidebar for your folders and tags, and your notebooks on the right. Noteful organises your notes with folders (at the top) and tags (below); both support an infinite number of folders-within-folders or tags-within-tags. You can choose to use just folders, tags or both.

Creating a new folder

  1. Select a folder on the left sidebar.
  2. Tap the plus icon (bottom right of the screen).
  3. Tap New Folder and name it.
  4. Tap Create to save your folder.

Creating a new notebook

Quick Create

You can quickly create a notebook in Noteful by tapping the plus icon (bottom right corner) > Quick Create. Your notebook uses the default page templates you’ve set in your settings and it easy to change anytime you want:

  1. On the homepage, tap the plus icon (bottom right of the screen).
  2. Tap the Settings icon next to Quick Create.
  3. Choose the default page templates you want for your quick notes.
  4. Tap Done to save.

New notebooks

You can customise every aspect of your new notebook, to create the exact notebook you want in Noteful.

  1. Go to the plus icon (bottom right corner) > Notebook.
  2. You can then do the following:
    • Name it
    • Add Tags (think of these as folders)
    • Pick a Paper Template and Background Color. Tap the three-dots icon to get more paper template options.
    • Choose your Paper Size: A3A5, Letter, Legal and Tabloid
    • Choose the orientation of your paper templates: Landscape or Portrait.
  3. Create your new notebook when you’re happy with it.

Importing documents

You can also import documents into the app, from Files. Noteful can import .docx and .ppt documents, which it converts to PDF first. You can also import PDF files.

  1. Go to the plus icon > Import File.
  2. Choose the document you want from different locations: iCloud Drive, On My iPad or any cloud service you’re signed into on your device (Dropbox, Google Drive, OneDrive, etc).
  3. .docx and .pptx documents will first open in a preview window > tap Import File (top right corner) to open them in the app.
  4. PDF documents just open and you have to find them in your notes.
  5. Look for your document to start working on it.

Toolbar & user interface

You can move your toolbar to different sides of your screen in Noteful.

  1. Go to the three-dots icon (right corner).
  2. Tap the first tab on the popup menu labelled View.
  3. Under Toolbar Position choose the side of the screen you want.
  4. You can also move your Tabs to the top/bottom.
  5. Turn off the Status Bar to remove your iPad’s status bar (the one that displays time, date, battery level information, etc).

Writing tools

You get the following writing tools to create notes in Noteful:

  • Pen tool: Ballpoint, fountain & brush. You can save 5 favourite sizes (below the pen tools) for easier access.
  • Highlighter tool for highlighting your notes to make information stand out.
  • Eraser tool: can erase items on your page. You can choose to erase:
    • Strokes or pixels (little sections at a time).
    • Highlighter only
    • You can also choose to NOT erase shapes (turn off Erase Shapes).


The eraser in Noteful can selectively erase the highlighter only (turn on Erase Highlight Only). It can also ignore your shapes. So if you want to erase your shapes, turn on Erase Shapes. Other options you get:

  • Turn on Erase Whole Line to erase per stroke
  • Auto-select Previous Tool

To clear everything on the page, go to the three-dots icon (on the tab bar) > Clear Page.

Lasso tool

  1. Tap the lasso tool to start using it.
  2. To determine what it picks up, tap it once (if already selected) or double-tap (if you have another tool selected). The lasso tool in Noteful can pick up only the:
    • Handwriting
    • Highlights
    • Text boxes
    • Images & Shapes
    • Any combination you like

It doesn’t matter what shape you pick up, both the freehand and rigid lasso tools have similar options:

  • Take Screenshot of the selection. You can determine its image size (icon next to Cancel) and then export it out of the app.
    Shortcut: long-press > drag the selection to another app. Note, that this only works with notes you have added to the page, not with text in PDFs. You can, however, take screenshots of text in PDFs > long-press till it lifts off the page > drag to share/export to another app.
  • Cut, Copy & Delete
  • Resize (& rotate)
  • Style to change some properties for your selection. It works better when you choose to style one type of content at a time (e.g, handwriting/text only, etc.)

Add items to your notes (intermediate)

Under the plus icon, you can add shapes, audio recordings, tags, images and text boxes to your notes.


  1. To activate shapes support in the app, go to the pen tool > three-bar icon (bottom of popup window) >
  2. Turn on Draw and hold
  3. Adjust the Delay (we recommend setting it between 0.7 – 1.0s). It determines how long you have to long-press to transform the shapes you draw in the app.
    The best way to add shapes to your notes is by drawing them with your Apple Pencil > keep pressing it against the screen (long-press) until the shape transforms. It takes a few milliseconds, depending on your Delay setting.

Noteful has an alternative way to add shapes: plus icon > Shape > pick a shape from the options. This limits you to the shapes in the popup window.

Editing your shapes

Tap the edges of your shape to:

  • Adjust its edges
  • Copy, Cut or Delete
  • Resize, only then can you rotate.
  • Style to change the:
    • Border Colour
    • Border Size
    • Style of the shape (its fill-opacity and border edge types)
    • Opacity of the whole shape

Note: you can also add some shape presets under the plus icon > Shape > pick a shape to add to your notes.

Audio recording

  1. Go to the microphone icon on your toolbar > tap Record to start recording your audio.
  2. Start taking notes while recording, to sync the audio to your handwritten notes. Note: sync only works with handwriting only, Noteful does not sync to text.
  3. Tap the microphone icon again to stop recording. When you have recordings in your notebook, the icon indicates the number of recordings you have.

Audio playback

  1. Tap the microphone icon to view your audio recordings.
  2. Tap the audio recording you want to listen to and it will start playing. A timeline for the audio appears next to your tab bar.
  3. To skip through the audio, tap a section of your notes.
  4. You can change the audio playback speed by tapping the three-dots icon at the end of your recording’s timeline. You can also rewind or fast-forward 10s at a time using the icons on either side of the play icon.
  5. To rename the audio, tap the microphone icon > three-dots icon of the recording you want to edit > Rename. You can also:
    • Delete
    • Export the one audio
    • Export All the audio recordings for that notebook.


  1. Go to the plus icon > Tags.
  2. Choose a tag from your list or start typing to create a new one > + New tag. You can also use this section to search your tags.
  3. Once you have chosen your tag, tap Done to close the popup window.

Editing your tags

  1. Tap your tag > Edit Tags
  2. Go to Manage Tags (bottom of popup windows) to rename your tags (pen icon) or delete them.
  3. On the homepage, go to the three-dots icon of any notebook > Edit Tags to access the same window.

It helps to think of tags as folders if that is what you’re used to. Add a forward-slash (/) to create subfolders when organising your notes. Noteful supports an infinite number of ‘folders within folders’ and they are much easier to create than in other note-taking apps.


  1. Go to the plus icon
  2. Tap Take a Picture to add a photo from your iPad camera.
  3. Tap Image to add photos from your Photos library. You can add multiple images at once.

NB: you can split view your screen with Photos (or any app) to drag & drop and image into Noteful.

Editing your images

  1. Tap on the image to bring a popup menu with options to: Cut, Copy, Resize, Style, Crop, Delete or Move to Layer.
  2. Tap Style to add a frame & choose a colour for it. You can also adjust the Opacity of your image.
  3. Tap Crop to crop your image as a Rectangle or Freehand if you want to cut out all the edges yourself > tap Done to save the changes.


Noteful doesn’t have a lot of settings. On the homepage, go to the app icon (top left corner) > look for settings to customise your preferences for:

  • Cloud Sync
  • Auto-Backup
  • Gestures

What’s still missing?

These are some of the critical features still missing in Noteful

  1. Handwriting recognition: you can’t convert your handwriting to text or search through your handwritten notes.
  2. Zoom tool
  3. macOS version: you can only access the app on the M1 series MacBooks only.
  4. Collaboration: you can’t collaborate on your documents with others.
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