When ‘digital planning on iPad’ is mentioned, usually what is being referred to is a downloaded file which contains PDF documents, which then gets uploaded to a note taking app on your iPad that enables you to ‘write’ on-top of those PDF pages.

Why use a digital planner for iPad?

Here are a few reasons why someone might start digital bullet journaling:

  • ECO-FRIENDLY. Yes, digital planning does save on paper, and that saves the environment. But I will add that it would be important to check your electricity is from a clean source, otherwise charging your iPad could be not very eco-friendly at all.
  • THE ABILITY TO ERASE. Yes, you can decorate it and if you don’t like it you can erase to your heart’s content. If your plans change a lot, this is also a great option for you because you easily move things around, or erase and re-do.
  • ACCESSIBILITY. For some carrying a big physical planner around is not an option, but with a digital planner, often you can sync it with your phone and have the ability to see your plans as you go about your day.

How does digital planning on iPad work?

The concept

Essentially the concept is the same as a paper planner, except it is a digital version of that on your iPad. It is not an app…although some apps do exist for digital planning.

As mentioned at the start, your planner will be a collection of PDF pages which you upload to a note taking app. You will then be able to see all the pages and write on them.

The handy details

Here are some things I had to spend quite a lot of time learning when starting out with a digital planner..


Many planners come with tabs along the side. These are a navigation aid. They contain hyperlinks which when you press on them will take you to a certain page.

Most of the note apps have some option for being able to navigate with these hyperlinks. It will not work will the pen tool is selected, you have to click on a separate tool which allows the hyperlinks to work.

There are many tutorials on how these work, for example to use hyperlinks in GoodNotes & Notability you could check this video here.


Quite often you can draw straight onto your planner if you want to decorate it, or create a custom layout for a blank page.

But a very cool feature is that often you can select your drawing using a lasso tool and add it as a sticker which then means you can use the same sticker or layout again and again on different pages.

This makes setting up your planner week after week or month after month really quick. I have found digital planning on iPad to be way quicker than normal planning.


Usually you can copy whole pages and then paste them as a duplicate of a page. This is handy if you want the same weekly spread for each week of the month.

You can also delete pages that you do not use. And it won’t leave a ripped stub like it does in a physical bullet journal.

What is needed to get started?

A woman tapping on an ipad screen with a stylus. Part of an article a beginner’s guide to digital planning on ipad.

To start digital bullet journaling I suggest you need a few basics:

  • An iPad
  • A writing stylus [such as the Apple Pencil]
  • A note taking app
  • A digital planner for iPad

Let’s go into more details on the last two, because they are the ones that can be most confusing.


There are many apps that allow you to import PDF files, but you want a bit more for digital bullet journaling.

You want a note taking app that allows annotation on PDF files. Also you want as a bonus an app that allows navigation using hyperlinks.

Here are some:

GOODNOTES: [paid for app] allows for everything mentioned, including the option of having your own sticker selection.

NOTABILITY: [free app] same as GoodNotes, can create stickers from drawings.

COLLANOTE: [free app] same but adds stickers from photos images.

ONE NOTE: [free app] PDF planners can be used but I couldn’t find a way to use the hyperlinks except you can import the planner many times into different sections and basically create your own navigation tabs, like the pretty bad picture shown here..

Picture of one note app, doing digital planning on iPad


There are so many options for a digital planner for iPad. There are some that you can find on my shop here.

I also wrote an article that you might find helpful for finding the kind of digital planner that would suit you:

Reviews of 3 Free Digital Planners for GoodNotes.

These planners were very helpful for me starting out and practicing before I paid out any money.


I hope you found this article helpful. By all means fire away with any questions you might have. I hope you take the plunge into digital planning, and I hope you find it as useful and helpful as I do.