Switching from Notability to GoodNotes

Now that Notability has dropped a forceful subscription on all of us, most of us are looking for a new note-taking app. Notability shares notes with other apps in four formats: PDF, Note, Image and RTF (Rich Text Format). Of these, only one is editable (Note) and the rest can only be annotated. 

Exporting notes

Note, the editable format shares your notes in the Notability format. They can only be opened and edited in Notability. When you try to export to GoodNotes, the app doesn’t appear in the export options. 

Exporting PDF

Notability can combine handwritten and typed notes on the same page. The best way to export everything (the way it looks) is as a PDF. Your notes, however, will not be editable once in GoodNotes 5. They can only be annotated.

If your notes have audio recordings, Notability zips the PDF and audio files. GoodNotes can unzip the files. The only problem is that it doesn’t support audio files, so your recordings folder will be empty. GoodNotes doesn’t support audio files yet. You can’t export your audio recordings to GoodNotes.

Exporting multiple documents

When switching between apps, you want to send multiple documents all at once (if not all of them). On the homepage in Notability, selecting multiple documents gives you two options: delete and duplicate. You can’t export documents that way.

To export multiple documents out of Notability (without audio recordings), do the following:

  1. Tap export the export icon on the homepage
  2. Select the multiple documents you wish to export
  3. Export as PDF
  4. Tap the export icon again
  5. Open in GoodNotes 5 (not copy to GoodNotes)
  6. Import as New Document
Notability export options indicating the option to Open exported files in GoodNotes

Note: If you select copy to GoodNotes, the app will only copy one document (the first selected document only).

Notability export options showing an option to Copy to GoodNotes

When switching from Notability to GoodNotes 5, it is better to leave your notes in Notability.

Exporting images

You can opt to share your notes as images. The option to open in GoodNotes is not available for exporting images. When you copy to GoodNotes, the app will export one page (the first page). This feature is still hit-and-miss and needs to be worked on. It seems to work when exporting a few pages, two, maybe three pages. However, when you have a lot of pages, the app can’t export that many images to GoodNotes.

Exporting RTF

Rich Text Format (RTF) can only export the text and audio recordings. It does not export handwriting. You can’t export RTF files to GoodNotes. The app doesn’t appear in the export options. So if you have typed notes in Notability but want to move to GoodNotes, you’re out of luck.

It is difficult to move documents from Notability to GN5. The two apps don’t communicate with each other. They are different apps from different developers. Not surprising at all.

When switching between apps, it’s best to keep your notes in the app you’re leaving and start afresh in a new app. Don’t make a habit of jumping around from one note-taking app to another. You’ll find yourself with notes all over the place. Digital notes can get just as messy as physical ones. 

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