You just bought a shiny new iPad. Or you already had one and are looking to use it as a creative device.
Those who first thought about giving your writing career or hobby a start on your iPad have made the right call.
Apple’s iPad is more than just a consumption device.
The inclusion of the M1 chip in the 2021 iPad Pro models proves that Apple wants to put them on our desks.
The first thing you need to start writing on your iPad is a quiet place, a keyboard (more on that later), and an app that meets your needs.
This article will help you with the latter one.
Many writers might think about the usual suspects, such as Google Docs or Microsoft Word, but there are far better apps that will enhance your writing productivity.
A quick trawl on the App Store will reveal a multifarious app that will help you create and edit anything you have in mind. But I will save your time and list the 15 best apps for writing on iPad.
What you’ll need to type on the iPad
Before we get to the apps, here’s a quick list of what you need.
- A quiet place to write.
- Robust iPad stand.
- Apple’s Smart Folio Keyboard ($179-$199), Magic Keyboard ($299-$349), or Logitech’s ComboTouch iPad keyboard ($150-$200). Both of them come with a trackpad.
- An application of your choice.
A keyboard is a must-have to jot down your thoughts seamlessly.
Best Apps for Writing on iPad
All the following apps can become the tools to get yourself writing.
Be it a full-fledged app or a minimal tool, you can write to your heart’s content.
I have included free, freemium, and paid apps, so you need to set a budget. Most writing apps are free but work on a subscription model; some are totally free, while some require you to spend money upfront.
No matter which app you end up with, you will enjoy your writing schedule.
1. iA Writer
If Pages seem too much, give iA Writer to write without distraction.
The main selling point of this app is the lack of tools that might scare off your creativity.
You can simply open the app and start writing. That’s it, and it needs little customization to get started.
And when it does, oh boy, you’ll prefer no other app.
iA Writer’s spotlight feature is the focus mode that highlights the sentence or paragraph. I have also enabled the Typewriter scrolling, which will scroll down as you write.
Enable the dark mode, and you have nothing to worry about.
Also, the app syncs across platforms using either Dropbox or iCloud, so you can see it is cross-platform, which makes it seamless.
Focus on the thoughts without any disturbance with iA Writer, which you own by paying a one-time fee.
- Easy-to-use interface
- Blog integration is fabulous
- Great-looking night mode
- Not the most feature-rich writing app
- Lacks support for TextBundle files
Pricing: $29.99-lifetime subscription
App Store rating: 4.5/5
2. Google Docs
Google Docs is a must-have in your writing arsenal, seeing that it is a cross-platform free tool.
Sure, the app lacks the crazy list of features as compared to others on the list, which is why I reckon writers don’t need those.
The basic tools include full formatting mode, spell checkers, good export options, image support, etc.
Probably Docs’ real strength is its online presence. Even though it is an app on Android and the App Store, it can be accessed on the web, which many other apps lack.
Its online nature means it is free, and the people with whom you share the document can edit in real-time.
Screenplay and novel writers might find it a bit bare, but it will work if you are ready to make it work.
Google Docs still has a reputation as the ultimate note-taking tool, and its free access makes it even more tempting.
- The full-screen view makes for a distraction-free writing
- Add-ons for checking grammar
- Offline Mode for writing anywhere
- Constant access to the internet needed
- Limited set of features compared to MS Office
App Store rating: 4.8/5
3. Bear – Markdown Notes
Bear provides a streamlined writing experience and convenient editing tools that will help you write without any hindrance.
The app is one of the best apps that support markdown.
Customizing the app with different themes is a pleasant part of the app if you want.
Bear Notes include one-tap formatting, which means writing without much hassle.
It supports various formats such as PDF, HTML, DOCX, MD, JPG, and EPUB when it comes to exporting. These are great for flexibility.
Bear isn’t just a writing tool; it doubles a refined note-taking app that works seamlessly with Apple Pencil. So, sketching your dreams and drawing your imagination is possible.
- Advanced Markup Editor highlights over 150 programming languages
- Rich previews while writing
- In-line media support
- No multimedia capture
- No web app
Pricing: $1.49 monthly (with one-week free trial), $14.99 annual (with one-month free trial)
App Store rating: 4.7/5
4. Werdsmith: Writing App
Werdsmith makes writing addictive, which is its core belief.
The app has all the tools to make it an impressive writing tool that will inspire you to type away your thoughts to paper, or in this case, the app.
If you have the skill but lack motivation, then Werdsmith is a perfect match for your iPad as its writing tracking and daily goals features will push you to jot words down every day.
The Apple Watch word-counting app is a bonus.
Other features include screenplay or novel writing tools. The cloud syncing function will ensure that you don’t lose your precious work.
I know that writers struggle with organizing their overwhelming thoughts, and there’s only one way to do something about it – keep pressing those keystrokes. You can make Werdsmith a part of that journey.
- Clean design
- Quickly add thoughts to the Ideas list
- Screenplay/novel writing tools
- iCloud syncing
- Less efficient commands
- Expensive pricing
Pricing: $4.99, yearly for US$49.99, or twice-yearly for US$29.99
App Store rating: 4.7/5
5. Microsoft OneNote
Well well. Microsoft OneNote is one of the best apps for writing on iPad.
You might have used Microsoft OneNote at work or school, but the iPad app lets you do more than that.
You can write your next novel, thanks to its robust organization. Use the Apple Pencil to take handwritten notes, or just use it as ya note-taking app.
OneNote is designed to look like a physical binder, which means you can organize any notes you take or any stuff you write by the topic.
The app is full of multimedia features, so you can record a voice note, add graphics, type text, and even use a pencil to write down stuff.
Handwritten notes and typed words can be searched throughout the directory.
As for where these notes go, they all are automatically backed up to OneDrive.
Writers will love OneNote for its multimedia features and how it can be integrated into their writing process.
- Easily organize data in the Notebook section
- Apple Pencil support
- Voice recording
- Searching through notes is limited
- Adding documents from other apps is complex
Pricing: Free (with a Microsoft Account)
App Store rating: 4.6/5
6. Microsoft Word
MS Word is synonymous with writing.
This is a classic app, and it has been a default app for millions of writers across the globe.
MS Word is a word processor with various templates that handle different types of documents.
I would say – and many would back me app – Google Docs and MS Word are twins, except you pay for the latter.
If you don’t use the Office suite – Excel, PowerPoint, or other apps, don’t buy the entire subscription just to use MS Word. But if you already have the subscription, it’s a strong app that will handle any writing.
Microsoft Word is great if you want to export in popular formats, want a service that supports cloud-based storage, and lets you edit documents in real-time editing with collaborators.
- The app is familiar and accessible
- Reviewing features are excellent
- Plenty of tools
- Not modern-looking as other apps
- Office 365 is quite expensive
Pricing: $10 per month for Office 365 Home
App Store rating: 4.6/5
7. Final Draft Mobile
Known as the industry standard for writing screenplay, Final Draft’s mobile version makes one of the best apps for writing on iPad.
This app gives you all the needed tools to start writing a script. You no more have to forget your character’s names or locations.
The mobile app includes keyboard supports, mark-up, and feedback to the scripts.
You can even print the script directly from the app.
It doesn’t matter if you are a novice or a pro screenwriter; Final Draft Mobile makes you strive for more.
- Write, edit and read Final Draft scripts
- SmartType remembers all character names, scene headings, etc.
- Best for writers in general
- One of the most expensive desktop version
- Users reported weird cursor issues
Pricing: $9.99 lifetime subscription
App Store rating: 4.6/5
When people hear ‘Ulysses,’ they immediately think of the modernist novel by Irish author James Joyce.
But, the Ulysses I am referring to is an app that intends to push writers just to write whatever they are thinking of.
This is an app for serious writers as it can do many things.
Write your blog’s post, notes on your upcoming novel, screenplay, or even a to-do list.
Ulysses includes a grammar and spelling checker, which is handy for messy writers.
If you own other Apple products, this app syncs with the macOS version if you have one.
Like iA Writer, a handy typewriter mode vertically fixes the current line on which you are working.
And yes, the app also supports Markdown.
You can set benchmarks when you have a deadline – characters or words.
When you are done with your work, you can export it as an e-book. How neat!
The app will cost you $4.99 per month/$49.99 per year, but if you are a serious writer and don’t mind the subscription plan, then it won’t get better than this.
- UI is clean and accessible
- The export options are powerful
- Reliable iCloud sync
- Not as feature-rich as something like Scrivener
- The subscription model won’t be to everyone’s tastes
Pricing: $4.99 per month/$49.99 per year
App Store rating: 4.5/5
One of the newer apps, Byword, lets you open all of your text documents across all Apple products, which is handy if you own an iPhone as well as a Mac.
Developers know that we always don’t have access to the internet, so the app will let you edit any document in offline mode.
As for the user interface, it’s quite easy to use. It doesn’t have a learning curve, nor does it need too much customization.
When you are done writing and want to share it, Byword can convert files into HTML and PDF formats for easy editing.
If you type for longer hours, enable its dark mode, which will be comfortable on your eyes.
You can split Byword into instances, which is great if you want o move between documents.
Take my word that Byword is a worthy app to store your thoughts.
- Best for distraction-free writing app
- Supports Markdown
- Inexpensive one-time purchase
- Not the best app for long-form writing
- Lacks templates
Pricing: $5.99-lifetime subscription
App Store rating: 4.4/5
Scrivener is the king of writing apps as it is the most powerful single tool for writing.
This app makes for a great writing platform, fabulous for researchers, and a wonderful writer tool.
When I mentioned researchers, you guys can write notes on locations or characters and a useful corkboard-style view for your chapters.
The user interface of the app is extremely satisfying. If you use it once, you’ll never look for alternatives.
Once you are finished refining your writing, you can export it to an e-book and other accepted platforms.
I can go as far as to say that Scrivener is a writer’s friend, and it is the real deal.
- Advanced functionality
- Exporting and compiling options are superb
- Corkboard and Outliner feature works well
- The app isn’t the most accessible
- Expensive compared to the competition
Pricing: $20-lifetime subscription
App Store rating: 4.4/5
11. Storyist 4
Storyist 4 is the fourth attempt to inspire writers to write in a suitable environment, and it is successful at that.
The app gives you the ability to create, review, and edit your work whenever you want to.
You can even ready screenplays and manuscripts without much hassle.
The rich text editor of Storyist makes way for images, style sheets, headers, footers, and support for comments that makes it a collaborative app.
The inclusion of screenplay and manuscript templates is a bonus that will keep you hooked on your writing.
I like that Storyist can be a basic writing app and an app that screenplay writers can use. I say that because you can sketch out a story with the help of color-coded index cards and then edit it with plot, character, and setting customizable sheets.
The app will also display your index cards next to your manuscript while you write.
I am impressed by the export options. Storyist exports for Mac, Plain Text, Fountain, RTF, and Final Draft FDX files. Your work can also be exported into PDF.
Storyist is an all-rounder app that justifies its $4.99 monthly price tag.
- Enhanced comment support
- Easy keyboard shortcuts
- Fabulous for any type of writing
- No folder tree
- Bugs could auto-delete your work.
Pricing: $4.99 per month, $10.99 for six months, or $39.99 per year
App Store rating: 4.3/5
Nothing can get simpler than Simplenote.
This is a superb app that is literally distraction-free. I know that I have thrown around that word quite a lot in this listicle, but I mean it.
Simplenote is a more stripped-down cousin of iA Writer. If you like the latter, you’ll love the former in no time.
Many think of this tool as an app used for note-taking, but there’s more than meets the eye.
Simplenote’s simplicity is what everyone needs in the world of chaotic apps.
Its simplicity might be its weakness for some, but I see it as its strength.
Add to the fact that this app is cross-platform. So, if you use a ton of devices, this is a no-brainer choice.
Trust Simplenote for putting the words from your head to the screen.
- Extremely easy-to-use
- Light and minimal
- Supports markdown formatting
- Only supports text notes
- No notebooks, folders, or formatting tools
Pricing: Totally free
App Store rating: 4.8/5
As the name suggests, Jotterpad is great for quick writing sessions, but it is actually more than that.
The app doesn’t have unnecessary tools that create a distraction. Instead, it provides for a distraction-free word processor.
You can choose between a blog, novel, editorial piece, or even a screenplay when you want to start.
The user interface is straightforward and streamlined, but that doesn’t mean it lacks features.
Jotterpad supports Markdown, spell checker, fountain, etc.
I love that there’s a rhyming dictionary. Poets, rejoice!
Jotterpad syncs between different devices, which is a time saver.
The app is totally worth its asking cost.
- Backup files to Dropbox
- Easy for offline usage
- Typefaces and customizable typography
- A bit of a learning curve
- Backup is finicky
Pricing: $30 per year
App Store rating: 5.0/5
When we use any new devices, it isn’t completely app-less. You will find some delightful apps and some worthless ones.
I spent a few days looking for the best apps for writing on iPad, and it was right under my nose the whole time.
Pages is a robust word processor bundled with iPhone and iPads as standard.
Unless you have deleted the app without knowing what it did, you still have it on your iPad.
Pages won’t come across as a good-looking app, but it does what is right in the name – offer writers fully functional pages.
Templates galore. Yes, I would put it that way since I had a hard time choosing which one to choose. The pre-designed templates and styles are made for writing letters or designing resumes.
You can write, doodle, annotate drafts, and take notes with these powerful pre-installed apps.
If you own a lot of Apple devices, Pages will sync without any hassle.
- It is free and pre-installed on iPad
- Useful templates
- Apple Pencil support
- iCloud integration
- Less-attractive interface
- A slight buggy app
Pricing: Built-in, free.
App Store rating: 4.4/5
15. Apple Notes
Oh, would you look at that! Apple Notes is one of the best writing apps for iPad.
I know many would question my decision to put it on last or include it at all.
But hear me out.
Apple Notes is the perfect app for writing down your thoughts, taking handwritten notes with the Apple Pencil, making quick tables, making quick to-do lists, or notes that can be locked.
Even though it is no competition to Scrivener or OneNote, the app has many features of its own that stand out.
Firstly, it’s pre-installed, saving the additional step of looking for it on the App Store. Secondly, it instantly syncs across all your Apple devices.
The app is also strong in organizing notes with the help of sections and folders.
Apple Notes can invoke Siri to take a quick note for writers who need to jot down thoughts quickly. So, the next time you are walking your dog or taking a shower, say, “Hey Siri, take a note.” And then dictate your next big idea.
Moreover, the newer iPadOS has a little Notes shortcut in the Control Center. If not, you can set it up in the settings.
Need I say more?
- Great for those deep in the Apple ecosystem
- Quick note feature
- Take notes using “Hey Siri”
- Notes cannot be exported to a format that can be imported again
- Lacks cross-platform support
Pricing: Built-in, free
App Store rating: 3.6/5
How easy is writing on an iPad?
If you have the Magic Keyboard or similar accessory, then writing on the iPad is a cakewalk as it also includes a trackpad. If you don’t have any, then you should buy one.
What app do I need to write letters on my iPad?
Apple Notes app is great for just writing letters, and it is pre-installed. Google Docs is another great free option, and Microsoft Word will also get the job done if you have a subscription.
Can an iPad be used to write a book?
Yes, you can use an iPad to write a book. The regular iPad, iPad Air, or the iPad Pros are better options, as writing on a Mini would be terrible. I suggest you use the iPad with a keyboard as it will make typing fun.
Is the iPad Pro good for writers?
The iPad Pro is great for writers who want to write and read. As I have been saving, that iPad is great if you pair it with the right accessories. If you don’t own an iPad, don’t buy one just to write. Some of the apps on this list have Mac apps.
Are there any free apps to write on the iPad?
Many free apps will help you jot down your thoughts. Some are Pages, Apple Notes, Google Docs, and Simplenote.
Wrapping it up
These are the 15 best apps for writing on iPad.
No single app is best for an iPad, and I currently use Notion, iA Writer, and Apple Notes.
I would recommend that you fully try Apple Notes for its amazing features.
For journalists, researchers, novelists, Scrivener provided unparalleled power and flexibility.
You can, of course, try a few different writing apps, like opting for the free trial, and continue with the plan if you like it.
iPad is a sweet spot between a smartphone and a laptop, but it means it has the power of these two devices.
It doesn’t matter which iPad you are using; you can get a good writing experience out of it.