High-tier note-taking apps don’t come alongside fairly often. For years Evernote was king, then Apple Notes gained new life in 2015, and since that point apps like Bear and Agenda have made compelling entries to the notes market. Noto, a latest debut throughout iPhone, iPad, and Mac, is the primary new note-taker in two years that I’ve been completely impressed by.

Noto jogs my memory quite a lot of Notion, however within the type of a local app fairly than an internet wrapper. It provides a clear, elegant design and a various array of instruments so you’ll be able to combine and match completely different content material sorts inside every notice. But it surely additionally integrates with key system applied sciences like drag and drop, multiwindow, iCloud sync, and extra.

It’s these twin strengths of Noto’s fashionable integrations and versatile toolset that make the app compelling. Just a few minor drawbacks apart, it’s some of the highly effective and exquisite note-taking apps out there on Apple’s platforms.

Fashionable End and Options

I can’t consider a single different notes app that appears nearly as good as Noto. Look isn’t every part, however it certain is necessary, and Noto nails the look of what I take into account a contemporary interface. It’s clear, elegant, and vastly superior to Apple Notes’ textured pocket book fashion. And simply look what occurs when including notes to folders.

Animations and auto-playing video in Noto.


Replay

Eschewing the usual system copy & paste menu, Noto has its personal comparable pop-up that matches higher with the design aesthetic of the remainder of the app. It nonetheless, nonetheless, feels very iOS-native in its resemblance to the brand new Reduce-Copy-Paste overlays Apple launched final 12 months. Noto’s customized menus look good, although I do miss getting access to the Look Up possibility that’s a part of Apple’s commonplace menu.

Noto's cut-copy-paste menu (left) and iOS 13's new system overlay (right).

Noto doesn’t simply look fashionable, it additionally actually is fashionable in the case of adopting key system performance. Many main iOS and iPadOS options are supported by Noto, overlaying the bases higher than most different note-taking apps.

Multiwindow, Break up View, Slide Over. All the important thing tenets of iPad multitasking are supported by Noto. The app adjusts nicely to completely different views, trying nice irrespective of how a lot display house you give it. Multiwindow works nicely, and whilst you sadly can’t open new home windows by merely dragging and dropping a notice, there’s an Open in New Window possibility within the pop-up menu whenever you long-press a notice, and that works simply as nicely.

Multiwindow with Noto.

iPhone, iPad, and Mac with iCloud sync. It’s onerous to launch a brand new app throughout a number of platforms in a short while interval, however particularly for a note-taking app it’s essential to have entry to your knowledge irrespective of which system you’re utilizing. Noto’s Mac app makes use of Mac Catalyst, protecting it in lock-step with the iPad model, and all platforms sync knowledge routinely due to iCloud sync.

Drag and drop. On each iPad and iPhone, Noto makes use of Apple’s native drag and drop framework for a pair completely different functions. Within the notice record, you’ll be able to drop notes into folders to maneuver them or drop them on the backside of the display to delete them. Within notes, grabbing the left aspect of a paragraph lets you transfer the entire paragraph directly utilizing drag and drop (and with the help of haptic suggestions on iPhone). My favourite use of that is rearranging gadgets in a bulleted record or guidelines.

Keyboard shortcuts. Though full navigation of the app through a keyboard isn’t attainable, Noto does supply keyboard shortcuts for each kind of textual content styling out there, making it straightforward to format textual content to your liking.

Darkish mode. iOS 13’s darkish mode is supported, and on iPhone it gives true black backgrounds on your notes, which is particularly good on OLED shows.

Left to right: Noto's grid view, iCloud collaboration, and share extension.

iCloud collaboration. An underutilized characteristic amongst fashionable apps, you’ll be able to share a notice with different customers through iCloud’s native collaboration characteristic. Like in Apple Notes and iWork, this allows two or extra folks to make adjustments to shared paperwork that replace near-instantly.

Share extension. A great share extension is a should for including content material to notes. With Noto’s extension, you’ll be able to both save the shared content material to a brand new notice or append it to an present one, however what I actually love is that the app’s full set of textual content styling controls can be found within the extension, so you’ll be able to flip textual content into lists, titles, or subtitles, make it daring, italics, highlighted, and extra – all of this will even be completed utilizing Noto’s commonplace keyboard shortcuts.

Versatile Modifying Instruments

I at the moment have over 1,400 notes saved in Apple Notes, and one of many causes I’ve caught with Notes for thus lengthy is that it accommodates so many choices for styling textual content and saving different kinds of content material, akin to wealthy hyperlinks, PDF paperwork, and extra. However regardless of its wealth of choices, I’ve nonetheless felt restricted at occasions by what’s absent from Notes.

Noto provides a equally wealthy array of choices for styling and storing completely different content material, and in a number of key methods it truly surpasses Notes’ flexibility. With out turning into in any respect cluttered, it provides probably the most various toolset I’ve seen for a notes app.

Noto supports an impressive set of text styles and content types.

For starters, Noto matches practically all of the choices present in Apple Notes level for level. You’ll be able to daring, italicize, underline, and strikethrough textual content; there are titles and subtitles; you’ll be able to create bulleted and numbered lists, plus checklists; tables, images and movies, doc scans, and drawings are all choices in Noto. The one issues lacking in comparison with Notes are a monospace font, dashed lists, and markup of photos and paperwork.

Noto greater than makes up for these absences, nonetheless, with its distinctive additions.

Highlighting. One in all my favourite Noto choices is highlighting, which adjustments each the textual content colour and its background colour to assist your textual content stand out. When a portion of textual content is highlighted, the popup menu that normally accommodates copy/paste or choose/choose all choices provides a colour picker so you’ll be able to customise the spotlight colour. Eight default choices can be found plus there’s a colour slider to allow much more customization.

Block quotes. One other of my favourite options, block quotes allow you to name particular consideration to a given paragraph in your notice. I repeatedly save quotes inside numerous notes, mixing and matching them with different content material sorts, so the block quote fashion is an ideal addition for me.

Headings. Despite the fact that Noto is a wealthy textual content editor and doesn’t assist Markdown,1 you’ll be able to nonetheless use H1-H6 headings to fashion your textual content along with the title and subtitle headings I’ve already talked about. That makes eight complete heading ranges in comparison with Apple Notes’ three.

Photograph and video captions. A small, however very good enhancement is the flexibility so as to add a caption to any saved images or movies inside your notes.

Math and code blocks. Although I don’t count on to ever use these myself, there are devoted content material blocks you’ll be able to add for math equations or code snippets. Just like the block quote possibility, these assist completely different content material sorts stand out in your notice and elegance embedded textual content in thematic vogue.

Apart from these extra choices, which make for extra various content material group, Noto provides two different chief styling benefits over Apple Notes.

First, the app has a improbable means of dealing with hyperlinks. Everytime you add a hyperlink to Noto, whether or not it’s by way of the extension or by merely pasting in a URL, the app routinely converts that hyperlink to a wealthy hyperlink with preview. You’ll be able to at all times long-press the preview and use the Convert Hyperlink to Textual content possibility if that’s what you need, however for me personally, the overwhelming majority of the time I desire a wealthy hyperlink in my notice fairly than an unpleasant URL.

Rich links for apps, webpages, and tweets.

Noto makes use of Apple’s native APIs for this performance, which surprisingly Apple Notes solely helps in restricted vogue. For those who share a hyperlink to Notes through the share extension, it should grow to be a wealthy hyperlink, however pasting a hyperlink right into a notice produces a unique outcome. Notes additionally falls flat in the case of sure kinds of hyperlinks, akin to tweets. In Noto you see a full preview that features the physique of the tweet, whereas Notes solely shows a really small excerpt from the tweet.

Wealthy hyperlinks have lengthy been one of many Apple Notes options I’ve valued most, and I’ve jumped by way of hoops at occasions to show hyperlinks in my notes into wealthy hyperlinks. With Noto, there’s no hoop-jumping required, and the wealthy hyperlink impact is constant throughout key content material sorts like tweets, YouTube movies, and extra. Each notes app must undertake these APIs.

Second, a serious power Noto carries over Notes is that its numerous content material sorts are much more versatile than what’s present in Apple’s app.

In Apple Notes, if a phrase or sentence is stylized as a heading, for instance, it could possibly’t additionally belong to a listing or a desk; it’s restricted to the heading designation. In Noto there aren’t any such restrictions: every of the varied styling choices could be mixed collectively as you want, so you possibly can have a phrase that’s set as a title, and is highlighted, a part of a guidelines, and extra.

The place I’ve discovered this most helpful is in tables. In Apple Notes, tables are restricted to textual content that carries a couple of fundamental kinds. You’ll be able to’t have heading textual content inside tables, as an example. In Noto these limitations don’t exist. Greater than that, tables can embody non-text content material sorts as nicely. You’ll be able to add photos to tables, or movies, wealthy hyperlinks, block quotes, lists, or every other content material kind you’d like. Tables in Noto are much more highly effective than what Apple Notes provides.

Tables can contain any type of content and text styling.

Shortcomings

Noto checks the packing containers of most options present in Apple Notes and different in style note-taking apps. For instance, you’ll be able to pin notes, lock them, and make the most of quite a lot of export choices together with HTML, Markdown, PDF, and JPG, every that includes a number of fashion choices. There’s additionally a phrase rely out there in every notice, one thing Apple’s app sorely lacks.

However there are some key shortcomings in Noto too that give its opponents a bonus.

No Shortcuts assist. There’s zero Shortcuts integration within the app. Which means, amongst different issues, attempting to import your notes from a separate app or service might be a painful handbook affair.

Keyboard points. Though Noto does supply some stable keyboard shortcuts, the app oddly fails to assist a couple of extraordinarily fundamental shortcuts which are widespread in virtually all different apps. The one which hurts most is that at the moment, Command-Left/Proper Arrow doesn’t take you to the beginning or finish of the present line, nor does including Shift make the total line chosen. As an alternative, Command in Noto works much like Possibility by navigating the cursor a single phrase at a time. I hope this can be a bug that might be resolved quickly. Different keyboard issues I’ve encountered embody being unable to reverse indent through the keyboard, and being unable to navigate between cells in a desk other than contact.

No type choices. This one was a giant shock to me: you’ll be able to’t regulate how notes are sorted in Noto, so other than utilizing the pinning characteristic, notes will at all times be sorted primarily based on after they had been final edited.


I’ve been a cheerful, devoted Apple Notes person for years now. I really like a lot of what Apple’s completed with the app, and particularly admire how repeatedly it’s improved. But regardless of my historical past with Notes, Noto has made a really compelling case for a change.

Noto’s stunning, fashionable interface, key system integrations, and distinctive enhancing options immediately propel it to my record of the highest notes apps for Apple customers. Its versatility is tough to beat, and the app’s so younger that I can’t wait to see what the long run holds for it.

I’m undecided on how a lot I’ll be utilizing Noto over Notes sooner or later, however contemplating how deeply locked into Notes I’ve been for thus lengthy, the mere indisputable fact that I’m contemplating a change is excessive reward for Noto’s strengths. Whether or not you’re sad together with your present notes app or not, Noto is nicely value giving a strive.

Noto is offered on the iPhone and iPad App Retailer and the Mac App Retailer. You’ll be able to obtain and use it free, however options like attachments and export require a Professional unlock.


  1. Although you can export notes to Markdown. ↩︎