I desperately want a good note-taking app for Android. Sure, we have Evernote, Google Keep, and a smattering of half-decent, usable handwriting apps. What we don’t have though, is a good one. I mean a really good one. But what does a really good note-taking app look like? Well, Papyrus (free; plus) gets close.


Here on this blog, I’ve certainly offered my share of recommendations for handwriting apps, including my current favorite, Quill. I found Papyrus a few days ago from a “Play Picks” suggestion on Google Play.

Google Play Picks

I knew one free look wouldn’t hurt, and I’m glad I did.

Papyrus functions like many of the other handwriting simulation apps, giving you the option of organizing the notes into notebooks, and presenting a sheet of paper to jot down notes.

New Notebook and Note - Papyrus

Welcome to Papyrus

Papyrus features a very thorough toolbar with plenty of easy-to-understand options.

Papyrus Tools

Many of these types of apps fail because of their inability to translate the touch to actual text very well. Papyrus bridges the gaps, and makes note-taking very convenient and nearly mistake free.

You can draw shapes, select text, and, if you have an “active pen” (i.e. S-pen), you can incorporate some special controls for Papyrus.

Papyrus Active Pen Controls

Papyrus also enables “page selection,” which I haven’t seen in any other Android handwriting app. This useful setting allows you to choose your default page size, rather than the designer’s selection.

Page Size Selections - Papyrus

The page selection setting is very helpful when you export the document in PDF or as a PNG or JPEG image.

Papyrus also features two additional app add-ons ($2.99 each), which allow you to sync or backup notes to Dropbox or Box.net, and add an enhanced tools packet (“adds a true eraser tool, shape tools, and a text tool”). The cloud upgrade is worth the price, while I haven’t found any worth to purchasing the tools packet.

Papyrus isn’t without some small problems though. For instance, the app doesn’t do a good job of reflowing a note when you switch from landscape to portrait view.



The solution to this problem is to zoom out of the page, it’s just a hassle to perform that action.

One feature Papyrus desperately needs is a full page view with a zoom-in box at the bottom. This could, and should correct this problem:

100% View - Papyrus

Even though my tablet screen shows “100%” of the page, which should mean a full (in this case) legal sized page, I’m really only seeing 1/4, or less, of the page. I have to scroll with two fingers in order to reach the remaining portions. I wish Papyrus (and other Android apps) had a zoom box similar to Note Taker HD for iPad. Fortunately, the developer allows you to submit new feature requests for a community vote.

Overall, I’m not sure how I missed this app, but I think Papyrus is an excellent choice for those wanting a great note-taking app on Android. I give Papyrus 4 of 5 stars.

Get this App on Google Play

Jeff Taylor

I'm just an ordinary guy living an extraordinary life. I'm also an attorney and I blog about Android for lawyers. You can follow me on Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, or Google+.


jallenmorris · May 28, 2013 at 1:35 pm

Fellow Oklahoma lawyer here and Droid enthusiast. I recently purchased the Samsung Note 10.1 and one of my first apps was a handwriting app. Google lead me to Papyrus right away and I love it. It has almost completely replaced paper for me. I originally didn’t think owning a tablet would be so useful. If I had a clue about how much I’d use a tablet in my (solo) practice (literally, solo, uno, just me), I would have had a tablet years ago. Glad I have one now and I’m glad it’s android and not a fruit.

    Jeffrey Taylor · May 28, 2013 at 3:54 pm

    jallenmorris I can’t tell you how much I appreciate and value my tablet. I’m glad you’re enjoying your newly-found beauty.

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