Noteshelf for iPad is a Must-Have App

Noteshelf is an app designed to take written notes on an iPad, but it is so much more than that. It is so perfectly designed, so ingenious, so intuitive that it has to be considered one of the quintessential iPad apps. It’s a must-have tool and gets a 4.5/5 rating.

Noteshelf gets its name from the idea that you create notebooks, and they reside on a bookshelf in a style similar to iBooks.


A design similar to iBooks.

The creation of a notebook is via the New button the the Bookshelf/Noteshelf. Here is where you select the title of the notebook, the cover and and the design of the paper. For example, graph paper, legal paper, etc.


The text on the upper left is editable, the name of the new notebook.

From there you have a toolbar at the top with pens, erasers, a text tool, a camera and photo manager, and multiplelevels of undo. At this level, the app is a delight to use and would get a high rating. But there’s more, and the more part is ridiculously cool.

  • You can tag a page then search for pages that have that tag.
  • You can immediately send a page to email, Twitter or Facebook.
  • You can make the document read-only.
  • You can set a wrist protection area so you can rest your wrist on the display.
  • You can lock the orientation.
  • You can lock a document with a passcode.
  • There’s a zoom mode for fine detail.
  • You can export as PNG or PDF, selected pages, to email, iTunes, Dropbox, Evernote, iPad Album, or print. (Printing worked perfectly with Printopia from ecamm.)
  • Template pages can be added to the notebook, such as calendar pages, music scores, meeting notes, etc.
  • A store where you can buy custom papers, covers and shelf themes.

The are two kinds of pens: 1) a fine pen with a palette of colors and 2) a highlighter pen. The highlighter does just what you’d expect, and you have a rainbow of colors to chose from.


Pen selection (also shows tool bar at the top)

One feature I especially liked was camera integration. You can set up a photo, just like the camera app, then import the image immediately into the page. You can then draw directly on the photo with pen or highlighter.


Real time photo prep. Press the button to take a photo.

The screen shot below shows how I’ve inserted a snapshot of our cat, written some notes, added text, added a smiley, then highlighted the text with a green highlight pen. I could have drawn on the photo too. The photo is resizable.


My first page of legal pads notes, a photo, text, highlights, and a Smiley.

The design and execution of this app takes your breath away. There are no missing features, no half way measures. For example, you can swipe through page like a novel in iBooks, or you can touch the page number to bring up a Page View. Each page is numbered and dated.


Different pages can have different themes.


The first time you launch the app, a notebook opens that beautifully explains each function of the app. This document is a work of art and a labor of love in itself. I was very much impressed. After you close that notebook, it resides on the shelf, always available for reference.


The notebook as documentation is fabulous, has 17 pages.


When exporting a legal pad document to email, I noticed that upon email composition, the background yellow color had changed to white. This happend in both PNG and PDF mode, and it didn’t matter how I exported it. For example the background color was also lost when exporting to an iPad photo album.

System Requirements

Noteshelf requires an iPad and iOS 4.0 or later. Camera usage requires an iPad 2 or 3. No stylus is needed, but some may prefer one with this app.

A Final Note

This app is dizzyingly great and created great enthusiasm for me. It brilliantly exploits the iPad’s capabilities, and there’s nothing to make you think, “if only it had such and such feature.” The key to an app like this is transparency, flexibility, intuitiveness and the ability to export work in many ways and in different formats. It has it all.

I will be adding this app to the list of essential apps for the educator. There is nothing that I didn’t like, and the execution is almost flawless.

Product: Noteshelf v5.0


List Price: US$5.99



Excellent design. Intuitive. First-rate documentation. Lots of ways to export work. Tag and search function. Wrist protection. Zoom for detail.


None noted.