Handwritten Notes


I recently got an IPAD Pro, and am using the stylus a fair amount with it. I like the ability to annotate with it.

One useful feature would be “handwritten notes”. This is one thing I’m using OneNote for. I keep a notebook that just has pages of handwritten notes. Say I’m planning something, and write out a diagram (my most often use case actually). I whip out the ipad pro, make my diagram. Then can go on the desktop version and save as PDF -> DevonThink.

That 2-step process would be nice to avoid. Instead, if DT To Go could give a nearly “unlimited” space to zoom and diagram, then when saved would take the boundaries of what was written on and “shrink” the canvas to fit and that’s what’s synced. If I was to edit that note, then to be presented with the unlimited canvas again so I can add to the existing diagram.

Having OCR capabilities wouldn’t be required, and that presents a huge problem (handwriting style, language, etc). But the ability to put this into a folder I can look at later and determine if worthwhile enough to do in a proper program (such as OmniGraffle or OmniOutliner).

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A freeform Note format is in discussion but nothing concrete planned. It is not a trivial thing, especially as the format has be compatible with the Desktop as well.

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nods thanks for the feedback. I think a PDF format may be the best long term. So maybe it’s as simple as if you’re editing the existing note that it creates a copy in memory, update happens, then write it back to the original file.

Just a thought. I am glad to hear it’s in discussion!

On iOS 11 I find it useful to do quick diagrams in Notes. If DEVONthink to Go is open in slide-over mode on one side of the iPad Pro, then I lasso the diagram from Notes and drag it over to a group in DEVONthink to Go and drop the image. I also am using the pencil for this.

Right now I’m experimenting with different things for handwritten notes. And DTTG already has almost everything I need.

I started with a blank PDF (created with Pages) and put it into my DT database. In DTTG, I created a new PDF page (using the Premium feature, I believe). I then deleted the blank page. I now have an empty PDF that I use as a template. Whenever I want a handwritten note, I duplicate that PDF and start writing. When I need a new page, I create it within DTTG.

Since this is just a PDF, it’s already compatible to almost every platform and relevant app. It already supports different page styles (lines, grids, blank, etc.), colors, and page formats. I believe it also satisfies many (if not most) use cases for which people want to use handwritten notes.

What I’d like to see is a way to simply create such a PDF in DTTG (just like PDF Expert allows me to do). There is already a button to create files, in which I can create Text, Media, Bookmarks, and so on. I believe adding PDFs to that mix is relatively easy (creating PDF pages is already possible, it just needs to create such a page in a new file).

Would that be possible? Or is this already possible and I just missed it?


It’s not possible currently by just clicking a button, but it’s an avenue we’ve discussed as a possibility.

Thanks a lot!

Duplicating the template file will have to do for now.

I like to use the best editor for the job.
I use Notability on my iPad. Goodnotes is also useful; it has an ocr feature
When finished, I use the share menu to save the document in Devonthink

I also use Myscript Stylus, an alternate keyboard that does the ocr conversion as I write

I’m not sure if this is what you are looking for, but I use GoodNotes for iOS for handwritten notes and I have the app’s auto-backup feature store PDF versions of the notebooks to Dropbox. I’ve set DT to index the GoodNotes Dropbox backup folder. (I separately index GoodNotes backup folders of notebooks within relevant DT databases too, keeping work notebooks separate from personal notebooks within my DT databases.) I believe GoodNotes attempts to add OCR on its own. Anyways, hope that help; works quite well for me.

So to summarize: As the PDF annotation tools are suitable for drawing and adding handwritten notes, basically what’s missing is an option to create a new, empty PDF?


At least for my needs, yes. I only need to create new, empty PDFs.

This is basically what I already suggested in this thread: DTTG for taking notes / creating board diagrams - so definitely colour me interested as well!

There is similar functionality in “PDF Expert” on the iPad. You can add a variety of different sheets (ruled, checked, dot paper etc.) in white, yellow and blueprint and it is widely used among teachers for board diagrams etc. However, a simple blank PDF would already be a good start for DTTG.

A simple solution in the form of a PDF is best in my opinion - good possibilities for further markup at the Desktop as well as easy sharing with other people.

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We are considering some potential paths on this. Thanks for the input.


searching for handwritten notes on DTTG, I bumped on this thread.

I basically am in the same situation as @TheDarkTrumpet was in Nov '17 :slight_smile:

Has there been any development in the “consideration of some potential paths”?

the simple solution of blank PDFs creation would be great.

Thanks for your time and great app development!

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I’m new to DTTG, and I ran into this issue, too. I want to use the Apple Pencil to sketch out ideas by hand every now and then, which, as discussed above, is impossible. So I created a shortcut that creates a one-page, blank PDF in the Global Inbox and then opens that file in DTTG. Not ideal perhaps, but it works. You can download the shortcut here: Shortcuts


Welcome @gmgodwin

Thanks for the suggestion… and stay tuned! :wink:

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