How to use and link handwritten Notes

Hi everyone,
has anyone figured out a workflow where handwritten notes are integrated into the vault.
Why am I using handwritten notes? For me it’s less friction to write and sketch something on paper than sitting in front of a computer. In addition, I have a feeling that ideas and information stick better when writing by hand.

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I handwrite notes on an iPad and have different workflows depending on whether or not I’ll need images. If I think I’m sketching an illustration, I use Apple Notes in split-screen with Obsidian Mobile. If you aren’t on the mobile beta, you can still do this (assuming you have an iPad and Mac) by accessing your note in MacOs where you can convert the written text for copy/paste, and export the image as a png. I mostly use Drafts and Scribble, then use an export action to save to my vault. Sometimes I do this in split-screen mode, so that I can immediately link the note within my daily note. If I just want the text in the daily note, I copy and paste. If I want and atomic note AND the text in the daily note, I link it as a transclusion.

I’d suggest rocketbook, either the actual notebook, or if you’d rather, just the templates on paper. (I have used a slick sleeve to write on them in dry erase and then wipe off and use again). Then, the free app scans and can OCR them (decently, but not perfectly), and send to a destination you specify. Obviously, Obsidian sync isn’t on the list, but maybe a third party cloud app and you can fetch from there? They’re saved either as pictures or PDF, which Obsidian can deal with.

Here are some of the free pages, and there are more user-created scattered throughout the rocketbook site.

I have also seen people take the black borders and the bottom stuff and cut it out to make a way to use existing notes. You need the borders, the QR code, and the little bubbles on the bottom.

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Someone mentioned the iPad app Nebo. Draw and diagram or write and it converts your handwriting to text, and it’s pretty good.

On Mac, I often take little screenshots of a diagram and paste into my Obsidian note. The image is automatically saved and linked in the note.

I am a huge fan of Prizmo Go. It is incredibly accurate with handwriting. So I will write things on index cards or a notebook. Then I have an IOS shortcut that quickly opens, capture, and either puts on the clipboard or into drafts (where one keyboard shortcut sends it to my Obsidian vault).

On Mac/iOS, I’d really recommend GoodNotes. On iPad, I use GoodNotes with the Apple Pencil. Then, viewing the pages in a notebook as thumbnails, I can drag one or more individual pages into the folder in Files that holds my Obsidian attachments. In Obsidian, I can then embed that PDF into a note. (The iCloud sync on iOS is still a bit slow, but that should improve.)

A really slick workflow is this:
When reviewing (on the Mac) the notes I’ve written (on iPad), I open the thumbnails for a GoodNotes notebook, then start dragging a selected page (or several) the right edge of my screen, at which point Yoink pops up, and I drop it there (as a PDF). From there, I can drag the file directly into a note in Obsidian, and it automatically embeds it. (You can als drag/export the pages as PDFs into the Finder, and work from there, but using Yoink makes it all very intuitive. The only thing I’m worried about is the size of these PDF and the bloat of my vault.)

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GoodNotes is good and searches your handwriting but does not convert it to text.

I think Prizmo and Nebo convert your writing to plain text.

Nebo lets you export as PDF as well.

GoodNotes can easily convert handwriting to text. (Lasso the relevant text, and then “Convert”, and export the plain text in the resulting window ). I forgot to mention that!

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You can also drag and drop once lasso’d to apps like Drafts. Pretty magical.

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And I just discovered that the Apple Pencil “Scribble” function works just fine in Obsidian Mobile, on the iPad. Very cool!

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I’ve been scribbling! It’s awesome!

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With a reMarkable you can convert your handwritten notes into word documents, and you get pretty decent results.

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I am more into writing on paper. What I am thinking about is how to link the handwritten and scanned paper slips.
Here’s an example
https://github.com/crelder/zettelkasten/wiki
I think the linking via file prefix (see source) is not really practicable…does anyone has something similar implemented with obsidian?

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I take notes in workshops with my reMarkable 2, extract each session’s notes into a PDF, and insert that into Obsidian notes that detail other aspects of the topic for that workshop that were not discussed during the group session.

(I don’t convert the reMarkable notes to Word. My notes ramble all over the page with illustrations, arrows, etc., that Word cannot deal with.)

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Do you know if there is any plans for Rocketbook to export to Obsidian? That would be a game changer for me (and a lot of other folks) I imagine.

I recently got some of their reusable index cards. I would LOVE to be able to scan those and send them directly to obsidian.

I don’t know of any. I wish, though, right?

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I’ve been trying different apps and still haven’t found a single one that does one basic thing which I think is crucial: Keep the handwriting and convert it to text on the same page without much manual work. I can write in most apps and many make it searchable which is cool. But this searchable text can hardly be copied properly without unnecessary line breaks and spaces. For the time being, I’m writing in Apple Notes and then copying the handwritten part as text and then exporting it as PDF.

Does anyone know of any app which could automate the second part ie converting handwriting to text without removing the handwriting using Shortcuts or any other apps (like Scriptable)?

As I was saying, Rocketbook does okay at this. I think the problem is that OCR still isn’t a completely reliable tech, because millions of people and millions of styles of handwriting, but it does a tolerable job for my purposes. I have had to transcribe a little, but it does some of the best I’ve seen. You don’t even have to have one of the books, just use their sheets, or make your own with their QR codes and destination dots.

Thanks for the recommendation! Unfortunately, it seems to add a lot more friction in writing and then taking a picture. The part about taking a picture could get cumbersome soon I imagine. I’ve tried this with Evernote (Scannable) in the past and gave up in 2 weeks easily. What is your workflow like when keeping the handwritten notes?

I don’t keep the written notes. But if I did, the process would be about the same. Write the notes, scan them in using the Rocketbook app – or the Adobe scan app (also free) and then store the notes.

Both of those apps use a scanner, so, it’s not “taking pictures” as much as holding phone steady and letting it collect the data. Not sure how else you’d digitize the information other than letting a camera at it.