My Digital Planning Blog

Best Digital Planners for 2023

With new year coming up, many people are aiming to become more organized and focus on their goals and are looking into digital planning. Whether you have an iPad, Android or Windows tablet or PC, there are various options that will help you focus on the goals important to you and increase productivity.

Since creating my first digital planner a few years ago, I’ve helped over 100,000 customers take their first steps into digital planning and I’m excited to help many more in future.

Best Free Digital Planner​

If you’re new to digital planning, try my free digital planner that will show you how they work and the type of functionality available in digital planners. Check out my video below where I show how to get started with digital planning and my free planner:

I also have free digital planning stickers available for you to add to your planner for note-taking or decorations.

Best Digital Planners for iPad​

Our most popular digital planner bundles work on iPads and Android tablets. There are many different choices of digital planning apps including Goodnotes, Notability and Noteshelf.

Our planner bundles work on all of the above apps and comes with video tutorials, over 50,000 stickers, 50+ templates and a money back guarantee. Some of my digital planner bundles now have over 1 million different variations to choose from. Choose from the different styles and colors available in our digital stationery shop and I show our rainbow planner below:

Best Digital Planners for Android​

Android digital planning apps are currently behind the Apple apps but more are coming out and improving over time. Check out the recent video Dan made below on digital planning on an Android tablet. I recommend Penly app, which comes with a couple of minimalistic happydownloads planners within the app and you can see Penly plan with me videos on my youtube channel.

Best Digital Planners for Windows PCs, Surface Pro, Mac and Other Devices​

For other devices, the digital planning apps are limited but fortunately OneNote works cross-platform on all devices with the OneNote app. You’ll first need to set it up on a iPad, Surface Pro or Windows PC and, once imported, you’ll be able to open the notebook on any device with OneNote installed. 

Best Digital Planners for Students and Teachers​

Digital planners are great for students and teachers. The ability of taking all your lesson or course notes in one place can really help you to organize your documents and bookmark pages you want to revisit . You can also add files to your planner so you can keep them in one place.

In my student and teacher planners, we have specific templates that help you easily take notes to track assessments, class/student info and many more layouts.

Student digital planner shop listingTeacher digital planner shop listing

Speciality planners

We have many other expansion packs for other areas including Faith, Finances, Health & Fitness, Homeschool, Mom, Me Time, Business, Work, Travel and many more available.

These provide additional specific templates that you’re able to copy and paste throughout your planner.

How to use a digital planner on iPad & Android

This is everything you need to get started with a digital planner on your iPad & Android devices. I provide a free digital planner to try out, instructions on importing your planners, app recommendations and suggestions to community resources.

Enjoy 🙂

1. What is a digital planner?

Digital planners are digital versions of paper planners, diaries and journals and can be used on tablets, computers and phones. They are best used on a touchscreen tablet with a stylus so they can be used in the same way as a regular planner but have additional functionality such as duplicating pages instantly, inserting photos and copying images.

Check out the videos which gives an example of how to use digital planners on Goodnotes and Penly.

GoodNotes plan with me:

Penly plan with me:

2. Digital or paper planner?

I discovered digital planning in 2017 and have loved it since, although I still have my beloved Filofax. Having used both digital planners and regular planners, here’s a summary of the pros and cons of digital planning:

Advantages Disadvantages
Easier to be creative by adding/copying digital stickers. Miss the feel of the planner in my hands.
Simple to undo mistakes and restart a page Some prefer writing on paper over a screen but there are paper feel screen protectors that can help with this.
Lots of different colors, styles and layouts to choose from. Bookmarking with tabs in paper planners help you flip to those pages quickly. You can though add digital bookmarks and use hyperlinks to move through digital planners.
Adding photos to your planner is straightforward to do. Worry about damaging the planner and the rings
Bring multiple planners with you anywhere you go.

3. Where can I try a free digital planner?


Before purchasing a digital planner, I strongly recommend trying a free version. There are various free versions available on the internet so you can see if digital planning is for you. Many shops do not provide refunds due to their digital nature, so trying out a free planner ensures that it works on your device.

Check out our free digital planner for Goodnotes, Penly and other PDF annotator apps:



It is best to buy from a shop which has a returns policy. I provide a 30-day money back guarantee on all products in our digital planner shop as I want all of our customers to be happy with their purchase.

4. How to learn digital planning?


There is a learning curve when starting out and it can take some time to get to grips. As digital planning involves using your tablet device, it is useful if you are comfortable with (or willing to learn) how to download files onto your device and install apps.

The best ways to learn are to:

  • find a digital planning guide (good job so far!)
  • check out video tutorials (see some below)
  • try a free planner
  • join Facebook groups (see ours here) and ask questions
  • The more comfortable you get, the more options you have to use other tools such as using cloud storage to sync between devices, using drawing apps to create decorations for your planner, cropping images and using unzip tools so you can download and collections of stickers.

    5. Which is the best digital planning app?


    The digital planning app best for you will depend on how you will use it and what functionality you need but I provide some brief recommendations below depending on your device.

    iPad: Apple currently have the best apps for digital planning. Goodnotes is my favorite digital planning app and was awarded Apple's iPad app of the year. Another popular app is Notability and there are many articles which explore differences between the two. However, these are both only available on Apple devices so if you need to use your planner cross-platform, I recommend Microsoft OneNote.

    Android tablets: Android's digital planning apps have improved a lot over the last few years and my favorite is Penly, which comes with a few of my undated happydownloads planners.

    Windows tablets: Windows doesn't currently have as many great digital planning apps but I do suggest using Microsoft OneNote on Windows tablets and works great when using devices cross-platform.

    Cross-platform: If you want to use your digital planner app across devices, OneNote is the best app to use. It is free and can be used on Apple, Android and Windows devices.


    6. What can you do in digital planning apps?


    Nearly all digital planning apps have the following standard functionality:

    • Ability to write with stylus
    • Highlighting
    • Erasing
    • Inserting text
    • Inserting pages/templates
    • Inserting photos/images
    • Reposition items
    • Copying items

    However, there is some functionality only included in certain apps:

    • Hyperlinks (limited functionality in OneNote)
    • Ability to use cross-platform (mainly OneNote)
    • Recording audio
    • Selecting multiple images (Xodo is not able to copy multiple items but not move)
    • Pulling in information from websites
    • Using GIF animations

    Its important to understand the differences so I've created a few videos which explores the functionality of each in more detail below:

    6.1 Using OneNote for digital planning

    Check out the video below which goes through the OneNote functionality, which covers:

    1. Zoom in and out of the digital planner using the page width tool or by pinching the screen.
    2. Use the navigation panel to jump to the different sections and pages within the planner.
    3. Populate the undated version of the planner.
    4. Undo or redo changes in the planner, as well as how to use the eraser tool.
    5. Use the stickers that come with the planner. To use the stickers, you need to go the stickers section, tap on text mode, select the sticker, long press and copy it, go back to where you want to paste it, long press and tap paste. You can then rotate, drag, and resize as needed.
    6. Using templates and talking through the index page of all the different template pages. You can tap on them to jump to the relevant template and then copy these pages and paste to a new section. You can do this by long pressing on the page in the navigation panel and selection Copy/Move. You can then rename the title of the duplicate page as needed.
    7. Using the divider pages to create your own tailored sections of templates.

    6.2 Using Goodnotes for digital planning

    Check out the video below and our Goodnotes digital planning guide.

    The video above shows how to use your digital planner in Goodnotes 5 and goes through:
    1. Navigating through your digital planner by swiping left and right.
    2. Using the home page hyperlinks to go to the templates you wish to use.
    3. Using the hyperlinks throughout the planner, including the tabs and weekly hyperlinks.
    4. Setting up undated planners so you’re able to use it year after year.
    5. Using divider pages so you can create certain topics and copying/pasting templates as needed.
    6. How to use the stickers pack in Goodnotes and how to copy/paste stickers as needed.
    7. Using the Goodnotes bookmark tool so you can jump to the relevant pages as needed.

    6.3 Using Notability for digital planning

    Check out the video below:

    6.4 Using Xodo for digital planning

    Check out the video below. Xodo has less functionality and has a few more bugs than the other apps but it is still a decent free digital planning app:

    7. How to choose your planner?

    Before purchasing any planner, have a think about what type of planner you want to use.

    a. Purpose of your planner

    Make sure you have thought about the purpose of your planner. The type of planner you need will depend on how you plan to use it and how often.

  • Are you using it for a specific purpose? If so, there are niche planners that will provide more targeted schedules.
  • Are you after a more practical planner? Then make sure you select one with more space to write.
  • Are you wanting to use it on different devices (e.g. iPad, PC and Android devices)? If so, perhaps consider a OneNote planner which works cross-platform.
  • b. Landscape or portrait

    If you prefer writing your planner more like a physical notepad, consider whether you would prefer a portrait planner.

    c. Dated or undated

    If you are new to digital planner, I would strongly recommend a dated planner. The dates are pre-populated so it saves you time setting it up and you can focus on the more fun aspects.

    Undated version have the benefit of being able to use year after year but take more time to populate.

    d. Templates

    Having the right templates for you can make a big difference on how useful the planner is for you. We have different planners for so they have more relevant pages:

  • Students
  • Teachers
  • Moms
  • Work
  • Self-employed
  • Faith-related
  • Health-related
  • e. Pre-cropped stickers

    Make sure when you purchase any stickers that they are pre-cropped, have transparent backgrounds and can be imported into your app. It can make a big difference to how your planner looks.

    Other items to consider:
  • Single or double page spreads
  • Vertical or horizontal weekly spreads
  • Monday or Sunday start
  • Hyperlinks or navigation panels
  • Planner color and design
  • Paper color
  • Covers

  • 8. Importing your planner

    The import process will depend on your device and the file format you are provided. Check out our importing guides for our planners.

    8.1 Importing into OneNote

    Check out our OneNote importing guide.

    8.2 Importing into Goodnotes

    Check out our Goodnotes importing guide.

    8.3 Importing into Notability

    Check out our video on how to import into Notability.

    8.4 Importing into Xodo

    Check out our video on how to import into Xodo.


    9. Customizing your planner


    My favourite part of digital planning is decorating and customizing it! There are so many choices when deciding how you want to set it up and working out what will work best for you. Consider the following items:

  • Choosing your templates and pages
  • Inserting stickers and images
  • Creating sections
  • Setting your cover
  • Making your own decorations
  • I'll be expanding on this section shortly to provide digital planning tips.

    See some of the spreads sent to us by our customers below:

    Digital planner stickers

    10. Where can I find planner inspiration?


    The best place to find examples of planner spreads are in Facebook groups. You can see what others have made and ask questions from other users. We have our own Happydownloads Facebook planning group here if you would like to join.

    Pinterest and Instagram are also great places to see what others have made.


    11. Where can I find planner freebies?


    We have hundreds of free digital planner stickers and overlays. Just sign-up to our newsletter at the bottom of this screen for the password.

    You can also have a look at digital planning hashtags and boards on Pinterest to find freebies from other creators.


    12. How can I write nearly on my tablet?


    We have a free writing tool PNG for neater handwriting, which can help when writing on plain paper, in our freebies vault.


    13. How to sync digital planners


    Digital planner apps will usually allow syncing between devices, so you can use different devices to make changes. I love OneNote for this as changes are almost immediate and you can share your notebook with others to contribute changes through OneDrive.

    GoodNotes and Notability use iCloud storage to enable syncing between devices. It takes slightly longer to sync changes but still sufficient in nearly all situations.

    Xodo syncing also is possible by saving your file on cloud storage. You can access the file from other devices but I do have a warning! I have encountered bugs where changes either take a long time to save or do not save at all. I recommend saving a different version of the file on your Cloud device when you do not want any risk of losing the changes you have made.

    Check out the video below for syncing on OneNote, Goodnotes and Notability:


    I hope you have found this digital planning guide for beginners helpful. Please feel free to reach out and let me know if there is anything specific you want like to see added.

    Check out our planners and stickers in our digital planner shop. We do offer a 30-day money back guarantee and aim to make all out customers happy.

    Happy planning!

    How to write neatly on an iPad – My top 10 tips!

    Hi everyone!

    Here's my top 10 tips on how to write neatly on an iPad:
    1. Use a matte or paper feel screen protector
    2. Get an Apple pencil cover to give you better control
    3. Insert lined or grid paper (FREE insert) to help guide your writing
    4. Try writing on black colored paper
    5. Try different zoom levels to find what suits your writing
    6. Slow down speedy! Try writing slower.
    7. Take a screenshot and practice tracing over specific fonts
    8. Change pen settings so you can try writing with different pen styles and widths
    9. Use some handwriting practice worksheets
    10. Cheat! Use the scribble handwriting to text feature
    I show in the video above my best tips for how to write neatly on the iPad. I'll also be sharing some freebies that will work on an iPad as well as Android tablets. My handwriting isn't all that neat but I find that these tips definitely do help me:

    Tip 1 - Use a matte or paper feel screen protector



    Using a paper feel screen protector will give the screen a less smooth surface and will help you to control your writing better and it is also great for drawing. The downside is the screen can look a little bit less clear and will be rougher to the touch but I think that benefits outweigh the downsides.

    I've actually just purchased a bunch of screen protectors so I'll be doing a separate video to review them but a popular option is Paperlike.

    Tip 2 - Get a grip! Use a Apple pencil cover to give you better control



    I also recommend getting a grip for your Apple pencil. This is just a rubber cover that goes over your apple pencil that can help you to get a better grip when you're writing.

    Tip 3 - Use lined or grid paper/inserts to help guide your writing



    Where you can, write on lined or grid paper. However if you need to write on a page that doesn't have lines i have some freebies in my freebies vault that will help with that so I've made these overlays in a variety of different formats.

    This one is lined so you can just put it onto your page as an overlay and then you can also resize it to be narrower or wider and then you can just zoom in and write on it.

    Once you're done writing you can just tap on that overlay and delete it. I've also made a grid overlay a dotted version and the same overlays for black paper as well. I’ve previously made these paper widgets which basically works like a sticky note:



    You can just place these on your page, resize them to fit and then you can just write over the top of them.

    Tip 4 - Try writing on black colored paper



    You can also try writing on black paper as I personally think this makes your handwriting look neater as helps the writing stand out.

    Tip 5 - Try different zoom levels to find what suits your writing



    If you're having trouble with your handwriting, I suggest zooming in and in goodnotes it's very easy to do this. You can just bring up this second screen and you can zoom in or out and then just write onto this second zoomed in screen.

    Tip 6 - Slow down speedy! Try writing slower.

    Try writing slightly slowly as often this will help you gain more control over the stylus you're using, which will help you write more smoothly.

    Tip 7 - Take a screenshot and practice tracing over specific fonts



    If you find someone's handwriting or a font that you really like the look of, there's an easy way to practice writing that style. You can just swipe your pencil from the left screen on your iPad to take a screenshot (or do this manually for other devices) and then tap on full page and then you can share this into good notes as a pdf. Then you can just trace the handwriting with a different pen for practice.

    Tip 8 - Change pen settings so you can try writing with different pen styles and widths



    My next tip is to play with the pen settings and find one that works for you. I personally prefer to write with a ball pen. This is a mono line which means that the stroke size is all the same width, whereas if you pick something like the fountain pen or the brush pen these can be pressure sensitive so i personally find these harder to write neatly with.

    Also play with different pen thicknesses. I personally prefer somewhere around the 0.5 millimeter mark. If you're using an app like GoodNotes, you can go into settings and play with the stylus and palm rejection settings.



    Under writing posture section, you can pick the one that most closely mimics your actual writing posture. Also under palm rejection sensitivity, there is high, medium and low so you can try these different options too. Different apps have different writing engines, which are worth trying to see if you have preference for a particular app.

    Tip 9 - Use some handwriting practice worksheets



    My next tip is to practice. The more you practice at anything, the better you will get at it and the same applies for handwriting. You can buy handwriting worksheets and instead of printing them out you can just use an annotation app like Goodnotes. It's really easy to practice your handwriting in these by tracing over the letters and if you find yourself messing up on a particular letter then practicing those letters will definitely help you to get better at them.

    I suggest finding a handwriting worksheet where the handwriting looks nice to you and you can use this to practice i've also made these practice handwriting overlays that you can place into any blank page and use this to practice your handwriting writing neatly on the ipad takes practice

    Tip 10 - Cheat! Use the scribble handwriting to text feature



    If after going through the above tips you still want that perfect neat handwritten look here's a quick way to cheat (shhh!) for the iPad. In settings, under Apple pencil, make sure you have scribble turned on and then inside an app like GoodNotes you can just put down a text box and then write with your Apple pencil. You'll just want to make sure that you have some neat handwriting fonts installed in your ipad.



    I hope you like these tips!

    Rina

    Cute iPad Keyboards for Digital Planning

    Hi everyone!

    I recently bought some cute iPad keyboards for digital planning. They are Bluetooth so also work on other devices so today I’m just going to go through each of them and share with you my thoughts.

    This first one is the Logitech K380:

    Logitech K380 keyboard

    I purchased this from AliExpress and I’m going to share with you the link to that below but you can get a very similar one to this from Amazon and I will share the link to that as well. I think the one on AliExpress has the pink and the white keys whereas on Amazon it's just the pink version. I was debating between the two but I went with this one in the end just because of the cute bunny and the cartoon on the edge.

    I found this keyboard really easy to type on. The spacing of the letters was just perfect. I could type really fast and I felt it was very comfortable for me to type. It was easy to switch on and the reviews also mentioned that the battery life is very good, although I have yet to use it that much so I cannot comment on that.

    Based on the design being really cute and the ease of use I definitely would recommend this one, so here is the AliExpress listing of the Logitech keyboard that I purchased:
    AliExpress link
    Amazon link - different design (please note this is an affiliate link. I get a small commission with each purchase)

    I did not find this design on amazon as they only had this pink one which is why I decided to purchase it on AliExpress.

    The next one I’m going to unbox came from AliExpress as well but you can also get this on Amazon:

    Ajazz keyboard

    The main reason I use AliExpress over Amazon is just because of the price difference. Sometimes I recommend checking it out and then you can see which price is better for you.

    This one I purchased purely because of the appearance of it. It looks really cute and the design is really nice. I like the edging around it as well and I do like the typewriter look. I’ve got my eye on some other typewriter keyboards actually but those are a lot more pricey so I think that for the price this one is a really good typewriter style keyboard and I did find this keyboard easy to type with as well. However, possibly due to the height of the keycaps and the spacing, I found myself making slightly more errors than with the other keyboards so I would say that this definitely wins on the looks front but due to functionality I would probably dock off one point for that, but it is really satisfying to type on it. It does feel a bit more springy so a bit more like a typewriter. If you want to type really fast, I probably would go with one of the other ones.

    Here is the AliExpress listing:
    AliExpress link

    They also had other colours as well which look really nice and I chose AliExpress just because of the price but you can also get this one on amazon as well and they also do have different colours including this purple.

    This is the other keyboard that I purchased also from AliExpress:

    AliExpress keyboard

    So the best thing about this keyboard in my opinion is that it's rechargeable so you can just plug your charger into there and then you don't have to use batteries with the other one and on the looks front I do prefer the other ones though because you can see the white letters. I feel like they don't stand out that well on the pink keys but overall, it does still look cute so I’m glad I purchased this.

    I found the typing on this one very comfortable as well and considering this was much cheaper than the Logitech. I think this is pretty good value and it's also rechargeable. If you don't have to look down at the keys all the time and you kind of know where your keys are, I think that the pale letters on the pink keycaps will not bother you, so I do think that this was a good buy. I’m glad I have it in my collection and this is the AliExpress listing of that rechargeable keyboard:

    AliExpress link

    They also have a battery version one so if you go down in the description you can go to the battery version one which I think is slightly cheaper, but I prefer to get rechargeable where possible.

    This is the last keyboard I got this one on Amazon:

    Omoton keyboard

    I purchased this a while ago, so I don't have an unboxing but this one was the cheapest out of all of them and I think the price for this is just amazing because it works really well, and I also got it in a set that comes with this mouse.

    I do think that this types pretty well so I’ve had this keyboard for a while now and I haven't run out of batteries yet. It is very easy to connect and to use and I find the keys very comfortable to type with and the price of this is also amazing. I trolled through a lot of Amazon listings and I couldn't find many other keyboards that were as highly reviewed and as cheap as this one so I think that this is definitely a good buy if you're looking for a reasonably priced option that works well. This is the amazon listing I purchased the pink one but you can also get different colours as well:

    Amazon link (please note this is an affiliate link. I get a small commission with each purchase)

    You can see it's got tons of reviews and the feedback was pretty good, so I definitely think that this was a good purchase. You can also get a version that comes with the mouse as well.

    I am really happy with all of my purchases because when it comes to typing I did not find any of them lacking when compared to the apple keyboard. I also like the design as well and especially considering that some of them are really affordable I am definitely happy to have them in my collection.

    So here is an overview of all the keyboards:

    All keyboards

    You can see the Logitech is actually really small which is amazing because it types really well and the Ajazz keyboard is actually the biggest and I would say it types the least well but looks the prettiest in my opinion. You can see these other two are fairly similar in size and design.

    Hope you find the keyboard reviews helpful!

    Rina

    How to decorate a digital planner

    In this article, I’m going to show you 4 easy ways you can decorate a digital planner on an iPad or Android device. Watch the video above where I talk through each of these tips in more detail.

    Tip 1 – Add color using a drawing app such as Procreate or Infinite Painter

    Turn your white planner layouts to color using drawing apps like Procreate (iOS) or Infinite Painter (Android).

    1. Take a screenshot of your planner page
    2. Paste the screenshot in Procreate (or Infinite Painter)
    3. Make another layer
    4. Draw boxes around where you want color and fill them in
    5. Turn down the transparency of the whole layer so that you can still see the planner writing underneath
    6. Save as a PNG and use in your planner!

    Tip 2 – Use color blocking or other free digital planner stickers

    You can also use individual color block stickers to decorate your planner. Simply drag the edges of the color block until they fit whatever area you’d like to “color in”. You can grab lots of freebie color stickers from our freebies vault.

    Tip 3 – Use an overlay sticker

    An overlay sticker is a sticker that goes over the entire page, and is great for when you can’t be bothered to decorate with individual stickers. You can grab some from our freebies vault but it’s also easy to make your own in Procreate (iOS) or Infinite Painter (Android).

    1. Take a screenshot of your planner page
    2. Paste the screenshot in Procreate or Infinite Painter
    3. Make another layer
    4. Draw your shape/doodle and color it in
    5. Make a new layer and draw a new doodle (so that each layer has one item)
    6. Rearrange the doodles to your liking
    7. Merge all the doodle layers and save as a PNG to use in your planner

    Tip 4 – Make your own stickers from web images using Magic Eraser (iOS) or Background Eraser (Android)

    You can use any clipart from the web and make these into planner stickers (make sure you’re using for personal use only, as web images will be subject to copyright). Simply save the image, bring it into Magic Eraser app, and tap the white background to remove it. You can toggle the tolerance threshold to remove more or less of the white background. Finally just save it as a PNG and you can use it in your planner.