Tool choice for math note taking, summaries, home work …

Note taking with pen and paper, with a stylus on a tablet, using keyboard and note taking app on a tablet … what did I do and where am I going for now.

No requirements study, just a couple of wishes:

  • LaTeX support of course. Why not LaTeX itself? To elaborate for note taking, producing summaries and home work you don’t have to share with others and if you share it speed of producing is more important than perfect layout.
  • Cross platform, so if you produce something and by any chance need to share it that it is possible, so Apple, Linux and Microsoft.
  • Usable on MacOS, iPadOS and iOS.
  • Works with iCloud for file usage and storage.
  • Nice to have would be an export to a LaTeX environment, for further polishing if needed or wanted. 😉
  • Should produce clean, simple but good readable .pdf’s for eventual printing and sharing with non specific editor / markdown users.
  • Simple, to use.

What did I try so far:

  • Apple notes, no LaTeX support.
  • Microsoft OneNote, in a Mac environment no LaTex support.
  • MWeb, checks a lot of boxes, but too complicated. It is Markdown based, later on some thoughts on Markdown in this context.
  • MacDown, just works, very simple, straight forward MacOS markdown editor, with superb LaTeX support. The simplicity almost made me forget about ‘iPadOS and cross platform’ demands.
  • iaWriter, pricey, but looked very good, if I remember it correct there were some printing issues with pdf’s with horizontal chopped last lines on page.
  •, snip notes is a simple online editor powered by Mathpix Markdown. Not only can you write and publish documents using both Markdown and LaTeX, and much more. And last but not least you can export direct to Overleaf (online LaTeX collaborative IDE, another time more on this). Since 2020 I’m a paid user of Snip for translating screenshots, photo’s of handwritten formulas or or on the iPad handwritten into LaTeX, which works flawlessly, even for complex formulas.
    • I still have to try some of there features like translating scanned handwritten documents and pdf’s into LaTeX for example.

While playing with iaWriter when hitting on the printing problems, seen with also other Markdown editors I started to have enough of Markdown and reverting to handwriting on either paper of tablet. The reason for producing pdf’s is that Markdown doesn’t know a fixed standard, so what you produce in one editor might or more probably will look completely different in another editor, so sharing notes in Markdown is a no go.

My choice, for now: from the makers of Mathpix. When collaborating with other mathy’s I think they either already use Mathpix tools or easily switch to start using them, you can use them for free or intensively using them is possible for a very reasonably price.

To do:

  • Try all export features, especially the connection with overleaf.

If I would change my mind, my enthusiasm for the Snip editor I’ll come back here and share my further experience with it.

About olikilo

happy, satisfied, studious, (let) do, reach, tech, different, Dominika, kids, CEO of Sue (infra & open source gurus)
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