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Wanderling Reborn

GoodNotes creates **searchable** handwritten PDFs !

Idea

This may be something that's been known to everyone for ever, but it came as a total surprise for me.

I long knew that GoodNotes had some of the best handwriting recognition out there. 

What I didn't realize was that when you export your note as PDF, your handwriting will be searchable in that PDF, and can be copied as text. (It seems GoodNotes automatically OCR's your text in the PDF it generates, and it's doing it right there on your device). 

Combine this with the fact that GoodNotes is the only handwriting recognition program out of many I tried that accurately recognizes >>90% of my - admittedly terrible - hurried chicken scratch. 

Spreading the joy...

(I don't think the people behind GoodNotes do a very good job promoting their own app, to me this is a major feature that no other similar app - that I know of - has, and it needs to be at the top of their web page, not hidden somewhere in description).

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2 hours ago, Wanderling Reborn said:

What I didn't realize was that when you export your note as PDF, your handwriting will be searchable in that PDF, and can be copied as text. (It seems GoodNotes automatically OCR's your text in the PDF it generates, and it's doing it right there on your device). 

Thanks for the post on GoodNotes.  I'm a fan of using alternate editors in Evernote

 Handwriting OCR feature is a nice feature.  Is there an option to review and correct the errors (I have terrible handwriting)

I'm currently using Notability on my iPad.  No OCR, but it has good integration with Evernote via the share menu.  Can you comment on the GoodNotes > Evernote integration?

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2 hours ago, DTLow said:

Thanks for the post on GoodNotes.  I'm a fan of using alternate editors in Evernote

 Handwriting OCR feature is a nice feature.  Is there an option to review and correct the errors (I have terrible handwriting)

I'm currently using Notability on my iPad.  No OCR, but it has good integration with Evernote via the share menu.  Can you comment on the GoodNotes > Evernote integration?

You can correct handwriting when exporting it manually. I don't think there's a way to correct it when exporting a PDF automatically. I'd say I get well over 90% accuracy with a decent stylus, and my handwriting is terrible. I seem to be one of the few people left who still write in cursive, plus English is not my native language and my handwriting is probably affected by this (different learned strokes). So if it works for me, it should work for anyone :) 

I only still have Evernote free which I am not even using, just keep it around so I could use this forum (lots of good data organization info here that is more or less universal) so no comments there - I think you need a paid membership to search through PDF files ?  I can however find text in my handwritten PDFs when searching in GDrive. So it probably works the same way. Basically, as I understand it, the OCR text in PDF is handled by a special layer, so the result should be the same as with a typed PDF that has that OCR layer embedded. 

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GoodNotes is amazing, especially with the iPad Pro and Apple Pencil. I easily get 90% recognition with Japanese / Chinese. My English handwriting (native speaker, but poor handwriting) is a little less effective. The OCR works in the background. You can also select some handwritten stuff, have that converted to text, and paste that somewhere. Wow. There's no particular integration with Evernote, as far as I know (don't use it that way), but it is easy to "open" notes in Evernote, where the OCR is still readable (of course). I've got a blog post about the app -- my poor handwriting is clearly shown there :)

http://www.christopher-mayo.com/?p=2922

One cool thing that Evernote has, and no one else seems to have, is the ability to recognize text from multiple languages at once. I have a blog post on that as well. 

http://www.christopher-mayo.com/?p=876

Unfortunately, Evernote's handwriting support... could use some improvement... and Molekine notebooks (mentioned in blog post) have been abandoned since I wrote that. 

 

 

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Actually, importing to Evernote should be as simple as saving any PDF. And it can be automated via IFTTT (you can set it to monitor the GoodNotes PDF backup directory in Dropbox or GDrive, and auto upload to EN).

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3 hours ago, Wanderling Reborn said:

Actually, importing to Evernote should be as simple as saving any PDF. And it can be automated via IFTTT (you can set it to monitor the GoodNotes PDF backup directory in Dropbox or GDrive, and auto upload to EN).

Good idea, but one thing to check, though, would be the OCR. I think it only gets supplied when exporting. In other words, while as a backup file, it hasn't yet been OCR'd.

And, unfortunately, GoodNotes lumps multiple files into a zipped folder for some reason when it exports, so you either export one file at a time or unpack them in your computer. 

I've never found it terribly onerous getting things into Evernote, though. A couple of taps, and it is in there. I suppose, if you generate dozens of files a day in GoodNotes, it might not be so great. 

By the way, the other day my iPad lost consciousness for good, and I had to get it exchanged for a new one. All of my backed up stuff was there, and it was only a minor hiccup thanks to the GoodNotes backup feature.

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8 hours ago, GrumpyMonkey said:

Good idea, but one thing to check, though, would be the OCR. I think it only gets supplied when exporting. In other words, while as a backup file, it hasn't yet been OCR'd.

No, it OCRs every PDF, whether exported manually or saved as a backup. If you set Goodnotes to automatically back up all files to cloud storage in PDF format, the resulting PDFs have OCR. I don't ever export a note unless I need to email it to someone. I just know where to find a PDF version of it. In a way, it works just like Evernote / Onenote / Keep - you write something down and you can find it in the cloud without any additional work on your part.  Another benefit is that if you need to add to that note and you don't have your iPad / iPhone nearby, you can always just open it in a PDF viewer and add a typed comment. 

Quote

And, unfortunately, GoodNotes lumps multiple files into a zipped folder for some reason when it exports, so you either export one file at a time or unpack them in your computer. 

OK, I understand now ! You are using manual backup, that's why you're getting this. The best way to use it is to set up auto backup, this way every note you take gets saved automatically as an individual unzipped PDF file with OCR. (Correction: each time you make a change to a notebook, it will be saved as an individual PDF with OCR; individual pages have to be exported manually).

Quote

I've never found it terribly onerous getting things into Evernote, though. A couple of taps, and it is in there. I suppose, if you generate dozens of files a day in GoodNotes, it might not be so great.

By the way, the other day my iPad lost consciousness for good, and I had to get it exchanged for a new one. All of my backed up stuff was there, and it was only a minor hiccup thanks to the GoodNotes backup feature.

If I have to generate dozens of notes, and I am at my desk, I just use Word. For project planning, I really like using a mind mapping tool, then once I am done with it I export the data to a common file format. I don't really care what tool I use to generate a particular note, as long as they are all easy to find and are saved in a common format I can use on any device.

My biggest gripe with GoodNotes is the entire notebook approach. It's great for someone maintaining class lectures, but I much prefer individual single notes, like Notability.  I wrote to the developers a week ago and was told they are working on releasing a new version which will support a quick single note creation. For now, I just set up 3 notebooks and clean them up periodically.

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6 hours ago, Wanderling Reborn said:

No, it OCRs every PDF, whether exported manually or saved as a backup. If you set Goodnotes to automatically back up all files to cloud storage in PDF format, the resulting PDFs have OCR. I don't ever export a note unless I need to email it to someone. I just know where to find a PDF version of it. In a way, it works just like Evernote / Onenote / Keep - you write something down and you can find it in the cloud without any additional work on your part.  Another benefit is that if you need to add to that note and you don't have your iPad / iPhone nearby, you can always just open it in a PDF viewer and add a typed comment. 

OK, I understand now ! You are using manual backup, that's why you're getting this. The best way to use it is to set up auto backup, this way every note you take gets saved automatically as an individual unzipped PDF file with OCR. (Correction: each time you make a change to a notebook, it will be saved as an individual PDF with OCR; individual pages have to be exported manually).

If I have to generate dozens of notes, and I am at my desk, I just use Word. For project planning, I really like using a mind mapping tool, then once I am done with it I export the data to a common file format. I don't really care what tool I use to generate a particular note, as long as they are all easy to find and are saved in a common format I can use on any device.

My biggest gripe with GoodNotes is the entire notebook approach. It's great for someone maintaining class lectures, but I much prefer individual single notes, like Notability.  I wrote to the developers a week ago and was told they are working on releasing a new version which will support a quick single note creation. For now, I just set up 3 notebooks and clean them up periodically.

The OCR is working now. I must have been doing something wrong (manual backups?). It looks like your solution will work fine to get stuff into Evernote. That's great to know. Thanks!

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