How to use GoodNotes for Digital Planning + Free Guide

How to Use GoodNotes for Digital Planning

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Keep reading to learn how to use GoodNotes for digital planning!

Would rather watch a video? Watch my complete walk-through below.

I absolutely love using GoodNotes for my digital planners. If you are looking for a great place to start your digital planning journey, I highly recommend it! Follow along to learn how to use GoodNotes for digital planning and learn some of the great features that come within the app!

Using a note-taking App like GoodNotes is what will take your digital planning to the next level. Getting organized and becoming productive has never been easier with an app like this one.

One of my favorite features about GoodNotes and the reason why I swear by it is because it comes with lots of easy to use tools that are very user friendly. There are many apps out there that can be pretty confusing to use and somewhat hard to learn but I promise you this isn’t one.And to make things easier for you, I’m making this blog post to help you even more. I’m also including a free guide that will walk you through all of the GoodNotes features that you can download right now if you’d like.

Free How to Use GoodNotes for Digital Planning Guide

Now to start off, yes, you have to pay for the GoodNotes app. But, believe me, you will not regret it because of all it comes with. It is a one time payment so don’t worry about having to pay monthly costs.

So, if you’re asking yourself, “Is GoodNotes worth it?” The answer is yes, yes it is. It is money well spent to have the best digital planning experience. I promise.

Keep reading to learn how to get the most out of your Digital Planner by using GoodNotes. Also, take a peek inside my own digital planner! If you need help choosing the right digital planner for you, I actually have a free option available! You can join my freebie library here and get access to a free digital planner and a free digital journal as well as other goodies like an Ultimate Guide to Digital planning and even habit trackers!

How to Use GoodNotes for Digital Planning

One of the best things you can do when trying out a new app or program is to play around with it. Test out all of its features to get a feel for it and get more comfortable with it. I encourage you to grab your iPad right now and go through this tutorial with me so we can do this together.

Something I’ve learned through digital planning with GoodNotes is that everyone uses it differently. There are some features that are very important to some that may not be as important for others.

There are also other features that almost everyone uses and loves. We’ll go through all of them together.

Remember, having fun and making this a great experience for you is what’s most important. Don’t be afraid to try new things, you may just find new ways to stay more organized and enjoy planning a whole lot more! Let’s get started!

Using a Digital Planner in GoodNotes

This post is all about how to use GoodNotes for digital planning. If you need help learning how to download your planner to GoodNotes, I have another tutorial for that which you can check out here.

I know I’ve said it a few times before but one of my favorite things about GoodNotes is all of the amazing features it comes with. Here are just a few of them:

  • Search your handwriting
  • Annotate your planners
  • Organize your planners and journals however you wish
  • Personalize your planners and journals
  • Save and reuse elements and stickers
  • Open documents side by side
  • Access your planners on the Mac or iPhone
  • Easily share your planners

Library Section in GoodNotes

When you first open up the GoodNotes app, you will see the library section where all of your documents are stored. This is where your planners, journals, and any other PDF documents you download will be saved for you. 

Below you can see that I have my 2023 planner, as well as my digital notebook, my habit trackers, and my mini planner. You can get the digital notebook, habit trackers, and the mini planners for free by joining my email list and I will send you the password to my freebie library where you can access all of them.

I will be adding more to the library as I create more free content so it’s definitely worth signing up for!

library in GoodNotes

The library section was designed to help keep you organized. You can create different folders for different things such as having a folder for all your planners and another for all your journals.

You can even use these folders to help categorize your things by quarters or years. It’s always nice to keep your old planners and look back on different times of your life. I especially like doing this with my older journals.

If you want to create a folder just follow these steps

  1. In the library area click on the + sign
  2. Choose ‘Folder’
  3. Name your new folder
  4. You can now add documents to this folder by holding down on a document and dragging and dropping it on the top of the folder.

Using GoodNotes for Your Digital Planner

Whenever you buy a digital planner or journal make sure that it contains hyperlinks. Hyperlinks act like buttons you can press to help you easily navigate your planner and make the whole experience much easier.

Note: Hyperlinks only work in ‘Read Mode.’ They will not work in ‘Writing Mode’ so make sure that Writing Mode is not on when trying to click a hyperlink. I’ve received a few comments before about the hyperlinks not working but it was due to Writing Mode being turned on.

Let’s go more into depth on what ‘Read Mode’ and ‘Write Mode’ are.

Using Your Digital Planner in ‘Read Mode’ and ‘Write Mode’

GoodNotes has two main modes: Read and Write.

When you first open up GoodNotes, you will see that it starts off in ‘Read Mode’.

To switch from ‘Read Mode’ to ‘Write Mode’, click on the drawing tool located in the top right corner of the toolbar. This will make a blue toolbar pop up. This toolbar gives you the ability to do lots of different things with your pen.

Read Write Mode in GoodNotes

To switch back to “read” mode, you’ll click back on the tool.

When you are on ‘Read Mode’ all your hyperlinks will work and your pencil will not work to write. You can still use your pencil to scroll and click but you will use this mainly when navigating and reading your planner.

By switching to ‘Write Mode’, you are able to actually use your pencil to annotate throughout your planner. Now you’re ready to start planning!


I briefly mentioned hyperlinks but I wanted to make this a point. When purchasing a digital planner make sure they contain hyperlinks as that will make a world of a difference for you.

These hyperlinks make things easier for you because it’s like a click of a button where you can easily go from one page to another and easily navigate throughout your planner. There’s no need to scroll throughout your entire planner to get to the page you want because it’s easily accessible to you by using the hyperlinks.

Don’t forget that hyperlinks will only work when using your digital planner in ‘Read Mode’. Otherwise you will be drawing dots while trying to click the links.

Pro tip: If you really want to access a link while in ‘Writing Mode’ use this hack. Long press a hyperlink for a few seconds and you will see a little pop up asking if you’d like to “Open Link’ or ‘Add Comment’.

Hyperlinks in GoodNotes

GoodNotes Topbar Menu

Now let me show you all the features you get access to when using GoodNotes for digital planning.


QuickView allows you to quickly go through the pages to find the page you are looking for. Hopefully you won’t need to use this feature as much if you have hyperlinks but it does come in handy when you have a document that isn’t hyperlinked.

When you open up QuickView, you will see 3 options at the top. Thumbnails, Favorites, and Outlines.

Quickview in GoodNotes

The Thumbnails tab is where you can quickly skim through the pages to find the one you are looking for. Simply click on the thumbnail of the page to be taken directly to it.

Favorites will take you to any page you have marked as a favorite. I will show you how to do this in just a bit.

Outlines can act like an index if you have marked your page as an outline. Again, I will show you how to do this in a bit.


Next is your Search feature. This is pretty self-explanatory but what makes this feature awesome is that you can actually search your own handwriting. I love this feature when looking for something I specifically wrote.

Search in GoodNotes


Favorites in GoodNotes

This little bookmark icon is used to mark any page within your planner as a favorite. You can then go back into QuickView and quickly find all the pages you’ve bookmarked under the ‘Favorites’ tab.


Share in GoodNotes

The share tab allows you to export your documents or print them. There is also a ‘Share Link to Collaborate’. GoodNotes allows you to create shareable links to your documents that gives anyone access so that you can edit them together. This is a really cool feature if you like to share your planner with family members.


Undo Redo in GoodNotes

The undo and redo option gives you the ability to quickly undo a mistake or redo something you accidentally undid. You can think of undo as a quick eraser tool. Click it as many times as you want to go back and forth to the step you desire.

Add Page

Add Page in GoodNotes

The Add Page feature is one that I use often when I want to add one of my inserts into a certain area of my planner. I simply copy the page and then insert it right where I want it. You also have the option to add a page from a Template, Image, Document, Photo, or simply by Importing a document.

Read and Write Mode

Read Write Mode in GoodNotes

By now, you probably already know what this feature does. This icon starts out on Read Mode but you can click it again to go to Write Mode and have your Write Mode menu pop up.


More in GoodNotes

If you click on the three little dots you will see a menu pop up that gives you more options.

By clicking this, you get the option to Copy a Page, Rotate a Page, Add a Page to the Outline, Change the Template, Go to a certain Page, Clear the Page, and Move Page to Trash.

You will also see a ‘Settings’ section where you can change your Scrolling Direction, customize your Stylus and Palm Rejection, and Edit your Document.

GoodNotes Writing Mode Menu

Once you turn Writing Mode “on,” you will see another menu pop up.

Let me go through what these are.


Zoom in GoodNotes

This is a feature I frequently use. I use this to make my writing neater than it would normally be if I wasn’t using it. 

Simply click the Zoom icon and you can place the rectangle on any specific area that you’d like so you can then write in the bottom portion of your screen.

Once you are done using the Zoom tool, simply click on the icon again and you will be taken back to your original view.

Pen Tool

Pen Tool in GoodNotes

Now, this is a must-use tool for all digital planner lovers. I love all that this tool allows you to do. Back in my paper-planning days I would spend so much money buying all kinds of different pens, highlighters, markers, you name it.

So instead of having to look through my stash, now, with just one click, I can turn my pencil into a highlighter or pen. I can also change the tip size as well as customize the color to exactly what I want. This little tool will save you a lot of time and money!

How To Use the Pen Tool in GoodNotes

If you double-click the pen tool you will see more options pop up. You can change the pen style from here and go from using a fountain pen, to a ball pen, to a brush pen. 

Under this, you will see a settings section where you can customize your settings even more. You will also see an option to disconnect your Apple Pencil if you have one connected to your iPad.

You can change the color and size of your pen by clicking on the icons to the right.

You will see three color selections. This lets you set three colors that you use the most which will make it easy for you to switch back and forth. You can change the color by clicking on the colors and changing them. You can also set presets which are a set of colors that you use the most often.

To the right of the colors you will see three lines. These lines allow you to switch the thickness of your pen depending on what your preference is. You can also change what is already preset by double clicking the icon and adjusting the slider tool to what you prefer.

Once you have chosen your preference, GoodNotes will remember and will save that preference for you until you change it.

Pro Tip: If you are drawing a line and it isn’t as straight as you’d like it to be. Simply draw a line and hold at the end of the stroke. This will create a perfectly straight line.


Eraser in GoodNotes

Next we have the eraser tool. You can double click this tool to change the eraser style from precision, to standard, to stroke.

If you have highlighted some parts of your planner that also have notes you’ve written, you can choose the “Erase Highlighter Only” option which will erase only the highlighted portions and not the notes you’ve written with your pen.


Highlighter in GoodNotes

The highlighter tool acts similarly to the pen tool except as a highlighter of course. You can double click the icon and you will see an option come up to draw in a straight line.

I always have this option “on” just to make my highlights look neater.

Just like with the pen tool, to the right you will see the 3 preset color options as well as 3 different sized circles. You can easily change the preset colors as well as the preset thickness by clicking on each option. 


Shapes in GoodNotes

The shapes tool is one that I don’t frequently use but I’ve seen how other planners use this feature to make boxes for their weekly or monthly spreads.

You can use this tool to make a shape you draw much more neat. Once you have drawn the shape you want, you can tap on it again to adjust the size further.


Lasso in GoodNotes

This is another tool you will probably use quite a bit. It gives you the ability to select text, elements, and images and cut, copy, delete, resize, change color, take screenshot, add element, or convert what you have selected. This is quite an awesome tool to use and makes digital planning on GoodNotes so much more worth it.

One of my favorite ways to use this tool is to convert my own writing into text.

This is one of the tools I recommend you experiment with because you can do so much with it. Don’t let it overwhelm you, I guarantee it will be one of your favorite tools after some getting used to.


Elements in GoodNotes

The Elements tool makes it super easy to reuse graphics and text within GoodNotes. You will see that there are already some elements that you can use.

Pro tip: You can add your own element by lassoing any text or graphics and adding them to your collections.


Images in GoodNotes

If you’re someone that loves to add photos to your planners and journals, the images feature makes it super easy! I love adding photos to the vision board section of my planner so I really love how easy it is to add them in.

You can easily move the image around and adjust the size. Simply click the double arrow in the bottom right corner to resize and move it around by holding your pencil on your image and dragging it to your desired spot.


Type Text in GoodNotes

While some people prefer to write on their planner using their pencil, others may prefer to type out their text. There is no right or wrong. This is all about your preference and what you feel the most comfortable with.

Once you click on the type tool you have the option to change the font, font size, alignment of the text, text color, and the text box style. You also have the option to save your text styling as a default for new text boxes.

If you want to delete your text simply tap the text box and click delete. You will also be given the option to cut, copy, delete, and edit your text. You can also add a comment which works great for when you are sharing your planners.

Laser Pointer

Laser Pointer in GoodNotes

The last icon on your menu is a laser pointer. You won’t really need to use this option when you are digitally planning. This laser pointer lets you draw attention to some parts of your notes when/if presenting them.

You can use either a dot or a trail which disappears a few seconds after you lift your Apple Pencil off the screen.

I hope this post was helpful in giving you a better understanding on how to use GoodNotes for digital planning but feel free to leave a comment with any questions you may have!

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