App of the Week: Noteshelf


Noteshelf (Ramki)




An excellent app for iPad fence-sitters contemplating a move to digital note taking.

Learning Curve

Intuitive and very easy to use

Rating (5 star scale)

5 stars



I have a lot of apps. That is not surprising because as anyone knows, few apps are capable of doing everything they promise much less doing everything well. So, given the number of note-taking apps I already own, why am I still looking for that perfect note-taking app? Well, I have a confession to make: my penmanship is not the best but, at least, I can read it and what I am really after is an app that makes my handwriting on the iPad look and feel like what I write using pen/pencil and paper. That, more than anything else, has been the biggest impediment to me making the switch to total electronic note-taking.

Oh, a few of the apps I already use do a great job of note-taking and some even have a conversion tool; however, Noteshelf’s intuitive feel, the natural free flowing ink, and the very normal feel to writing is truly remarkable! What can you do with Noteshelf? Frankly, just about anything you can do with traditional pen and note pad. But best of all, writing in Noteshelf feels very much like writing on paper. My electronic notes look like my usual scribble or chicken scratches on paper and that is really important to me. The “no difference” feel and look is what sets Noteshelf apart from other note-taking apps. Other notable features include: the bookshelf look for all my many note pads; the self-adjusting wrist protection for my palm (a feature that automatically adjusts as you write), and a simple but functional toolbar that provides access to all of the app’s features.

Noteshelf, like other similar apps, has a close-up writing mode that allows you to write in a larger format on the bottom half of the screen but have your notes appear in a normal size. There is also a guide that tracks your writing from left to right and down the page as well. Noteshelf allows you to adjust the thickness of the line or text and moving from page to page is a cinch. You can use a keyboard to enter text into Noteshelf, but I really prefer to use the app more for note taking and creating the occasional drawing, because what I am after is an app that simply allows me to make notes anytime, anyplace, and provide a look and feel of the pen and paper that I have been using for so many years!

Noteshelf does not claim to be all things, but it is a functional replacement for traditional note taking. It’s an electronic substitute that saves you the trouble of having to look for pen and paper whether you need to take a lot of notes, jot down a to-do list, draw and label a diagram, or simply make entries into a diary. Up until Noteshelf I was uncertain that I could ever ditch my attachment to pen and paper. Now I know I really can and I will be able to do it without feeling like I am missing anything.

Some of Noteshelf competition include: Penultimate ($0.99); Notes Plus ($4.99 a more comprehensive package that I use alongside Noteshelf); and Notebook for iPad ($8.99). I really do not have anything to complain regarding Noteshelf’s ability to do what I expect of it because it gives me the feel of writing on paper and providing a look to my scribbles similar to what would normally be created using a traditional pen and paper.

Dave Yearwood is an associate professor and chair of the technology department at the University of North Dakota.

Noteshelf notetaking app