Penultimate for iPad review

My latest productivity app this week? Penultimate for iPad. There are several competing "free hand" note taking apps on our favorite tablet device. After our recent TiPb at Work Post, I thought I would see if Penultimate tries to separate itself from other note apps on the iPad. Is being simple with just enough  of a "feature" to get the job done enough?

Penultimate starts you off with a single notebook. That notebook serves as a tutorial to show you how to use Penultimate. The example notebook is excellent as it "teaches" you everything you need to know about the app. The basic setup is this; you can have virtually unlimited notes in your notebook. You tap the bottom right corner to go to the next page and the bottom left corner to go to the previous page. You have a pen, eraser and a clear page button at the bottom as well. On the main screen you can create your own notebook, email or delete notebooks as need, you can even rename them by tapping the name located below the notebook.

Writing in Penultimate is a pure joy. As you draw or write with your fingers, the developers have given the virtual ink a very distinct look, almost like calligraphy. The ink is thick in some areas and thinner in others. If you want to adjust the thickness or color of your ink, simply tap and hold the pen icon at the bottom of the page to make your changes.

You can create new notebooks with the tap of a button located in the top left hand corner. The top right hand corner gives you additional settings. The style of paper be changed from graph to lined for example, you can reposition the tools (pen, eraser, etc.) to the top of the page and even email the entire notebook or just the page you are on via email. Penultimate converts the notebooks to PDFs for emailing.

I like Penultimate for what it does; it is a simple no-frills note taking tool. I find there to be a couple of irritations however. In landscape view, you are given a cropped view of the page and you can flick the right side of the screen to scroll towards the top and bottom. I feel there has to be a better way to implement this, or, give me completely different functionality in landscape. The other issue is that there is no way to zoom to give yourself more space; the notebook is it's real size and there is no zooming. I would have liked to have seen a pinch-zoom function that increased the size of your note area. Ah, perhaps in a future release. Regardless, Penultimate is a beautiful fun and easy note taking tool that most of use can find a  use for in our busy lives.

[$2.99- iTunes Link]


  • Simple
  • Beautiful design
  • Ink looks great
  • Animation is smooth


  • Landscape view is awkward to use
  • No pinch to zoom functionality

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Software trainer, blogger and mobile technology enthusiast living in the suburban Midwest.