Xodo vs. GoodNotes: Best Digital Note-Taking App

When it comes to capturing ideas, annotating documents, and organizing your thoughts, both Xodo and GoodNotes can help simplify the process for you.

As the digital landscape evolves, the need for efficient note-taking and document annotation tools becomes increasingly crucial for individuals and teams alike.

With the growing demand for remote work and collaboration, these tools offer a streamlined solution for capturing ideas, annotating documents, and sharing information seamlessly across devices.

The main difference is that Xodo specializes in versatile PDF editing and annotation features, while GoodNotes excels in advanced handwritten notes and sketching capabilities, offering users a more intuitive and natural note-taking experience.

From professionals managing project workflows to students organizing study materials, these tools empower users to stay organized, productive, and collaborative in an increasingly digital-centric world.

Xodo vs. GoodNotes: Overview Feature Comparison

This is where we compare and summarize the core features of these apps:

Annotation Tools✔️ Wide range of annotation options✔️ Advanced handwriting and sketching tools
File Compatibility✔️ Supports PDF, Word, and PowerPoint files✔️ Designed for handwritten notes and PDFs
Cloud Integration✔️ Seamlessly integrates with cloud services✔️ Syncs with iCloud for cross-device access
Customization Options✔️ Allows customization of toolbars✔️ Offers customizable paper templates
Collaboration✔️ Supports real-time collaboration❌ Limited collaboration features
Price✔️ Free to use with advanced features❌ Paid app with one-time purchase
Platform Compatibility✔️ Available on multiple platforms❌ Primarily for iOS devices

Personal Note: In my experience, Xodo’s extensive annotation tools have been invaluable for reviewing and editing PDF documents. However, GoodNotes’ seamless integration with iCloud makes it a compelling choice for users invested in the Apple ecosystem.

What is Xodo and How Does it Work?

Xodo is a versatile PDF editor and annotation tool that allows users to view, edit, and annotate PDF documents seamlessly. Users can easily open PDF files from their devices or cloud storage, and then utilize a wide range of annotation tools to highlight text, add comments, draw shapes, and more.

Xodo also offers features for merging, splitting, and rearranging PDF pages, as well as filling out forms and signing documents electronically.

Its intuitive interface and cross-platform compatibility make it a popular choice for professionals, students, and anyone needing to work with PDF documents efficiently.

Xodo Pros:

  • Wide range of annotation tools available.
  • Supports various file formats, including PDF, Word, and PowerPoint.
  • Seamlessly integrates with cloud services for easy access and collaboration.
  • Offers customizable toolbars for personalized workflows.
  • Cross-platform compatibility, available on multiple devices.

Xodo Cons:

  • Limited customization options compared to some competitors.
  • Collaborative features may not be as robust as other platforms.
  • Advanced features may require a learning curve for new users.
  • Free version may have limitations in terms of features and functionality.

What is GoodNotes?

GoodNotes is a digital note-taking app designed specifically for iOS devices, offering users a comprehensive platform for handwritten notes and sketching.

Users can create new notebooks or import existing PDF files, then use the app’s advanced handwriting and sketching tools to jot down notes, draw diagrams, and sketch illustrations.

GoodNotes also provides customizable paper templates, allowing users to personalize their note-taking experience.

With iCloud sync, users can seamlessly access and synchronize their notes across multiple devices, ensuring they have their digital notebooks wherever they go.

GoodNotes Pros:

  • Advanced handwriting and sketching tools for a natural writing experience.
  • Specialized for handwritten notes and PDFs, catering to artists, students, and professionals.
  • iCloud sync allows for seamless access and synchronization across devices.
  • Offers customizable paper templates to suit individual preferences.
  • Intuitive user interface optimized for iOS devices.

GoodNotes Cons:

  • Limited collaboration features compared to some other platforms.
  • Paid app with a one-time purchase may deter budget-conscious users.
  • May lack some advanced PDF editing capabilities found in other tools.
  • Platform limited to iOS devices, excluding users on other operating systems.

6 Key Features of Xodo that Wins Over GoodNotes:

  • Extensive Annotation Tools
  • Wide File Compatibility
  • Seamless Cloud Integration
  • Customizable Toolbars
  • Real-time Collaboration
  • Cross-platform Compatibility

6 Key Features of GoodNotes that Wins Over Xodo:

  • Advanced Handwriting and Sketching Tools
  • Specialized for Handwritten Notes and PDFs
  • iCloud Sync for Cross-device Access
  • Customizable Paper Templates
  • Optimized for iOS Devices
  • Intuitive User Interface

Use Cases for Xodo:

  1. Reviewing and annotating PDF documents
  2. Collaborative document editing and markup

What Xodo Can’t Be Used For

Xodo, may not be the ideal choice for users seeking advanced handwritten note-taking and sketching capabilities, as its primary focus is on PDF editing and annotation. Users looking for a platform specifically tailored for handwritten notes and sketching may find Xodo lacking in these specialized features.

Use Cases for GoodNotes:

  • Taking handwritten notes in lectures or meetings
  • Sketching and brainstorming ideas

What GoodNotes Can’t Be Used For

GoodNotes, may not be suitable for users requiring extensive PDF editing and annotation functionalities, as its main strength lies in handwritten notes and sketching, rather than comprehensive PDF management.

Xodo vs. GoodNotes: Pricing Summary

Here’s a breakdown of the pricing for Xodo and GoodNotes:

Pricing PlanXodoGoodNotes
CostFree with advanced features availablePaid app with one-time purchase required
Free TrialN/AN/A
Basic PlanN/AN/A
Subscription PlanN/AN/A
Additional CostsN/AN/A

Factors to Consider When Choosing Between Xodo and GoodNotes

Some factors to keep in mind when choosing a digital note-taking app:

  1. Annotation Needs: Consider the specific annotation features required for your workflow. If you primarily work with PDF documents and need extensive annotation tools such as highlighting, commenting, and drawing shapes, Xodo may be the better choice. However, if handwritten notes and sketching are essential for your tasks, GoodNotes offers advanced handwriting and sketching tools tailored for a more natural note-taking experience.
  2. Platform Compatibility: Evaluate the compatibility of each tool with your devices and operating systems. Xodo is available on multiple platforms, including Windows, macOS, Android, and iOS, offering flexibility and accessibility across various devices. In contrast, GoodNotes is exclusively designed for iOS devices, limiting its compatibility to Apple users. Consider your preferred devices and ensure the tool aligns with your platform requirements.
  3. Handwriting Preference: Consider your preference for handwriting versus typing notes. GoodNotes is specifically designed for users who prefer handwritten notes and sketching, providing advanced tools and paper templates optimized for handwritten input. Xodo, while offering annotation capabilities, may not provide the same level of customization and natural writing experience as GoodNotes. Determine whether handwriting is a priority for your note-taking workflow.
  4. Collaboration Requirements: Assess your collaboration needs and the tools’ capabilities for sharing and collaborating on documents. Xodo offers some collaborative features, such as real-time collaboration and cloud integration, enabling multiple users to work on documents simultaneously. However, GoodNotes may have limited collaboration features compared to Xodo, making it less suitable for collaborative work environments. Consider the level of collaboration required for your projects and choose the tool that best meets your needs.
  5. Budget Constraints: Evaluate the pricing structure of each tool and consider your budget constraints. Xodo offers a free version with advanced features available at no cost, making it an attractive option for budget-conscious users. In contrast, GoodNotes is a paid app with a one-time purchase required, which may deter users looking for free or more affordable options. Consider your budget limitations and weigh the value offered by each tool against its cost to make an informed decision.


Get answers to some of the common questions about digital note-taking:

  1. Is Xodo available on iOS devices?
    • Yes, Xodo is available on iOS devices, along with other platforms such as Windows, macOS, and Android. Its cross-platform compatibility ensures users can access and annotate PDF documents seamlessly across various devices.
  2. Can I import custom paper templates into GoodNotes?
    • Yes, GoodNotes allows users to import custom paper templates to personalize their note-taking experience. Users can create or download paper templates from various sources and import them into GoodNotes for use in their digital notebooks.
  3. Does Xodo support real-time collaboration?
    • Yes, Xodo supports real-time collaboration, enabling multiple users to work on documents simultaneously. This feature is particularly useful for teams collaborating on projects or reviewing documents together in real-time.
  4. Can I export my notes from GoodNotes to PDF?
    • Yes, GoodNotes allows users to export their handwritten notes and annotations to PDF format. This feature enables users to share their notes with others or archive them for future reference in a universally compatible format.
  5. What are the differences between Xodo’s free and paid versions?
    • Xodo’s free version offers basic PDF editing and annotation features, while the paid version includes advanced features such as cloud integration, advanced annotation tools, and ad-free experience. Users can choose the version that best suits their needs and upgrade to the paid version for additional features.

Is Xodo Better Than GoodNotes? Takeaway

In summary, the choice between Xodo and GoodNotes depends on your specific note-taking and document annotation needs.

Xodo stands out with its versatile PDF editing features and robust annotation tools, catering to professionals and students alike.

However, it may lack specialized handwriting and sketching capabilities found in GoodNotes.

GoodNotes, fills this gap by offering advanced handwriting and sketching tools, providing users with a more intuitive and natural note-taking experience.

GoodNotes’ emphasis on handwritten notes and sketching makes it a preferred choice for users seeking a more traditional pen-and-paper feel in their digital note-taking journey.