Handwritten Searchable Notes in PDF from the iPad!

Yes I'm supposed to be focusing on my email project but I had a great idea yesterday that worked amazingly well. Must have been all the creativity from the MPU listener show 191. So what was the idea? I've been looking for a way to use the notes I take on my iPad searchable. The answer has been staring me in the face on my iPad for several months.

The answer is Notes plus. Its handwriting recognition is very good. It has the requisite zoom to write feature that is a must have for me. My only question is how did this approach escape me? I want to save my notes to PDF and be able to look at the handwritten scrawl and any diagrams but be able to search the text and use that text to power Hazel tricks. Notes Plus (on the appstore) enables this in a few short steps

  • use the dashed box tool to select the handwriting on your page
  • duplicate that handwriting
  • convert to text
  • simply change the text to white and transparent.

In a belts and suspenders approach, I also use the send to back command to further hide the text. Export to PDF and its searchable. Below is the tip in pictures. Last picture is me searching my PDF on my iPad in PDF Pen. In this case, I moved the "invisible text" down and PDF Pen and you can see where the text is "highlighted.

I'm quite pleased with this and will be using Hazel to look for my standard to-do mark a hand written star. Notes Plus turns my handwritten star into an asterisk. This will be a lot of fun. If you use a process like this and have tips, please let me know!

Use the dash box selection tool to select your handwriting and tap the check mark

Tap on the sandwich stack that appears where the checkmark was.  Duplicate the handwriting and then convert to text.

You can see even with my poor scrawl it does pretty well. Now just turn the text white and transparent before exporting and you are done.

Here is the output in PDF Pen for iPad