The Hytech Lawyer’s Choice for Best iPad Hand Notetaking App Winter 2013

Even in this digital age, I frequently find the need to take old fashioned handwritten notes in meetings, interviews and fact finding situations.  While in theory, I could take notes on my laptop or type on the iPad, handwriting notes is less distracting than typing and creates less of a barrier between myself and the person(s) with whom I am interacting.  However, if I take the notes on a traditional yellow legal pad they are difficult to share with others working on the matter.  Also, these legal pads tend to accumulate in the hard copy file (if I even remember to send them there).   Sittng in the paper file these notes are inaccessible unelss I am in the office, unorganized, unsearchable, and for the most part relatively useless.

For iPad users, an alternative to the paper legal pad is the use one of the many note taking applications on the market that allow the creation and storage of electronic handwritten notes. These notes can be sent to the firm’s document management system as a PDF and can also be stored in separate folders on the iPad.  In addition, you can type in key words to allow searching (and more importantly locating) your handwritten notes.  This means your notes are organized, searchable and if you desire accessible by others working on the matter.


I have spent much “hands on” time with the top selling programs to determine which of the hand note taking applications performs the best.  UPAD ($ 4.99 ) is my clear favorite because of its life like response, intuitive design, practical foldering system, and extensive file export options.  It also has the a good selection of  “paper” and “pen” choices.

NOTE–While it is theoretically possible to use your finger to write using these Apps, as a practical matter a stylus works best.  See our prior post on stylus recommendations.

Below are a number of screen shots to give you a feel for UPAD’s interface.



UPAD has 30 “paper” choices

Choosing pen color

Pen selection menu

Minature writing






Pdf export options









Here is the detailed description for the App at the UPAD page:
“1. Handwriting

Writing in UPAD is a joy. Smooth retina ink makes your handwriting look remarkably neat, detailed and sharp. Comfortably lay your hand on our palm rest and start writing using a pen or a marker -from a choice of different colors and widths. Find your favorite paper from the template gallery –more than 30 styles. Use the zoom in window, for more comfort and pin sharp writing.

2. PDF annotation

Open PDF files directly from your email or from any other apps via the “Open In UPAD” dialogue box. Connect to iTunes File Sharing to transfer multiple files at once. UPAD lets you read and annotate PDF documents; handwrite notes, highlight texts, post-it, and reference images.

3. Easy editing

Do not worry about making a mistake. Just copy/move/cut and paste your contents to make it perfect. Page thumbnail window allows you to easily add/move/duplicate and remove pages in a notebook.

4. Share your work

Export your document to PDF or PNG format, and send e-mail or upload to cloud storage services- Dropbox, Evernote and GoogleDocs. Or just post or tweet a single page image using Twitter and Facebook.

5. Inserting Images and shapes

Bring to life your notes by adding images from the photo library or from the iPad camera. Rotate, resize, crop and frame them as needed. Insert a circle, square or line to add extra detail to your notes.

6. Get organized

Organize your documents in your own way. Make folders by subject or matter of importance and collect data into it. Set password to individual files and folders to keep them secure. Add tags to a document and find it using the search feature. Mark your favorite files and see them all in one place. Bookmark also helps you to find specific pages quickly in a document.”

In summary, UPAD is feature heavy and gets the job done.   RECOMMENDED.

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