The iPad's big screen makes it an excellent device for writing everything from notes to essays to novels. But if you've already decided Apple's Notes isn't right for you, you're probably already looking for a new place to capture your best ideas before they flutter away and disappear.
That's why we've collected our favorites, which cover a wide range of options, from titans such as Microsoft's Word and Apple's Pages, to lesser-known and super-simple options such as Bear, Ulysses and Byword. We've even found an option made for aspiring scriptwriters.
Since the iPad isn't the only device you'll want to write on, we'll note which apps can sync your documents, and where those documents can go, as well as which apps allow you to publish straight to a blog. Many of these writing apps also support the Markdown writing syntax, which is a way to write in plain text, which can then be converted to other formats, including HTML.
iA Writer is one of the better writing apps to offer a minimalist interface, as it doesn't come at the expense of giving users plenty of useful features. My favoriteis likely the Typewriter mode, where your cursor sits in the middle of the screen, which is easier on my neck than at the bottom of the screen.Its Focus Mode, which fades sentences and paragraphs that you're not editing into the background, may also prove useful. .99 Syncs with:iOS, macOS ($19.99), Android Exports to: HTML, Markdown support, PDF, Word Publishes to: Medium, Wordpress
One of the newestoptions for writing on the iPad, Bear is a flexible mix of a note-taking and writing apps. Not only can I write an essay on it, but itincludes support fordrawing, image insertion and even to-do-style check boxes. So while this means it bears a lot in common with Apple's own pre-loaded Notes app, it looks a hell of a lot nicer, with its default white, black and red design. And unlike Notes, Bearoffers a very usable three-column interface so you can see your nested folders (created byusing the # symbol), lists of documents and thenote you're currently editing. If you're worried abouta monthly cost for an app,I would say it's worth it, ascontinued support of Bear — and apps like it, such as Ulysses and Microsoft Word — means that the developers can continue to add new features andmake sure the app stays stableover theyear as Apple updatesiOS. Price: Free; $1.49 per month for Bear Pro subscription includes 1 week free trial. $14.99 yearly payment includes 1 month free trial. Syncs with:iPhone app, macOS app via Bear Pro Exports to: PDF, HTML, RTF, DOCX, JPG,Markdown support
Those writing on the largest scale, working on a screenplay or plotting the next great American novel, will likely want touse Scrivener. Not only does it offer an interface that replicates a grid of notecards — which reminds me of working on my thesis in college — but it organizes work in projects, with drafts, rather than as a simplelist of notes. If thatsounds like a lot to understand, you're right: it even comes with a tutorial, which you'll want to peruse before diving in. .99 Syncs with:iOS (free), macOS ($44.99), Android Exports to: HTML, Markdown Support, PDF, Script via Final Draft, Word
Ulysseslooks to offer the best of both Scrivener and Bear, asit offers project-based organization, tons of export options and lightweight text editing. You also getto assignword count goals, if you're having trouble reaching your own standards for productivity. The only downside is thatits free versionexpires after 14 days.Its $4.99 per month cost makes more sense when you realize it includes its apps for the Mac andthe iPhone. Price:Free 14-day trial before $4.99 per month or $39.99 per year Syncs with: iOS, macOS Exports to:ePub, HTML, PDF, RTF, TXT,Word Publishes to:Medium,Wordpress
The extremely-customizable Editorialis the writing app for those scribes who can also code.So while it doesn't have many default tools for exporting, sharing and publishing, its devoted users are always cooking up tools. .99 Syncs with:iOS via Dropbox Exports to:HTML
Say you're not a novelist, but you blog a lot?The bare-bones Byword is the right option for you, as it includes publishing to Medium, WordPress, Tumblr, Blogger and Evernote. Not only does it support iCloud sync, but also Dropbox, so you can use its notes in conjunction with other applicationsthat sync to Dropbox. .99 Syncs with:Dropbox, iOS, macOS ($10.99) Exports to: HTML, Markdown, PDF,RTF Publishes to:Blogger, Evernote, Medium, Tumblr, WordPress
If you want a more familiar interface, built for everything from formal projects to personal you'll want to rock with Microsoft Word. Aside from itsSwiss Army Knife set of features, Word's natural support for DOCX files means greater collaboration with others who already rely on it, on top of Word's real-time collaborationfor group editing. The only downside, though, is that iPad Pro owners will need to shell out the highest monthly subscription price we've seen for anyof these apps. Of course, though, subscription pricing helps ensure an app stays alive and developers continually update it. Price: Free for regular iPads, but on an iPad Pro, you'll need an Office 365 subscription (starts at $6.99 per month). Sync to Android, iOS,macOS and PCs via OneDrive. Export .DOCX, PDF
Pages is Apple's alternative to Word, and it'spretty capable as an alternative. Not only can it save files in the .docx version accepted by Word, as well as PDFs, but since Apple made it, you can lock Pages documents under the protection of your iPad's Touch ID sensor. Just like Word, Pages also supports live, real-time collaboration on a document. Price: Free Syncswith:iOS, macOS andiCloud.com Exports to:Word,PDF
Word's hip, younger sibling, OneNote is better for those looking for a digital notebook. Not only can you add images, but you can annotate themby hand. Just like Word, OneNote syncs everywhere, but it's less formal, and meant for the development and idea collecting process. Worried about your scribbling looking less than formal? Its "Convert to Shapes" mode willturn your handwritten input into crisp shapes. Also includes audio recording, so you can add voice memos to your notes. Unfortunately, it can't export to any option from the iPad. Price: Free Syncto Android,iOS, Macs and PCs viaOneDrive.
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