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Popular note-taking and annotation app GoodNotes has received a major update this week. Rather than update the existing GoodNotes 4 application, GoodNotes developers have released a completely new version of the app: GoodNotes 5, which is available for free to existing GoodNotes 4 users.

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GoodNotes 5 includes a handful of new features. First off, there’s a completely new folder system which allows you to create unlimited levels of folders and subfolders in the app to organize all of your notes.

There’s also a new “global search” feature, which allows you to search handwritten notes, typed text, notebook titles, and PDF files all at once.

GoodNotes 5 includes numerous interface enhancements, as well. There’s a new favorites view for quickly finding important documents, while the toolbar has been completely rebuilt with easier access to writing tools. The overall design of the app is “fresh and modern,” the changelog touts.

One of my favorite new features is “QuickNotes.” This allows you to instantly start a new document as soon as you launch the app. This is incredibly useful for quickly jotting things down. Apple Pencil double-tap gesture support is also still great.

In terms of handwriting notes, GoodNotes 5 includes an improved ink algorithm. Details here are sparse, but in my testing, it definitely seems as if writing with the Apple Pencil is even more natural and paper-like. The update also brings a new Brush Pen style, as well as handwriting rotation support.

Upon opening GoodNotes 5 for the first time, you’ll be asked if you want to transfer your documents from GoodNotes 4 to the new app. The process was pretty painless and took very little time for me.

Here’s the full changelog with everything that’s new in GoodNotes 5:

  • New folder system: Create unlimited levels of folders and subfolders
  • Text & handwriting search across all documents
  • Flexible scrolling directions: Horizontal or vertical scrolling
  • Favorites view: Shortcuts to important pages, documents, or folders.
  • QuickNotes: The fastest way to start taking notes
  • Optionally display documents as lists instead of thumbnails
  • Improved ink algorithm: More precise and natural writing experience
  • New pen style: Brush Pen for artistic sketches and notes
  • Improved Shapes tool: Color fill shapes and make lines snap
  • Rebuilt toolbar: Faster access to all tools and settings
  • Handwriting rotation: rotate handwriting and sketches with the Lasso Tool
  • Better rich text editing & more fonts: Use various colors, font sizes, and styles in a single text box
  • Flexible image resizing
  • Smarter eraser: Optionally, only erase highlighting strokes
  • More covers and paper templates
  • Fresh & modern design, increased stability & performance, and a lot more

GoodNotes 5 is available on the App Store for $7.99. If you purchased GoodNotes 4, you can use this bundle to upgrade to GoodNotes 5 for $7.99 minus the cost you paid for GoodNotes 4. If you paid full price for GoodNotes 4, your upgrade is free. If you got it on sale, your upgrade is $7.99 minus the amount you paid.

If you previously bought GoodNotes 4, you can buy this bundle using “Complete My Bundle” to get the price you paid for GoodNotes 4 as a credit to the bundle price. If you downloaded GoodNotes 4 for less than the full price, you can use “Complete My Bundle” and only pay the price difference to get GoodNotes 5.


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