A review of Margin Note after a first test


I have been testing Margin Note to mark up assignments from university students. I see one major and a few minor issues.

  • Margin Note flattens all of the annotations for exporting. Granted, it makes up for this failing by allowing the annotations to be exported in a separate OmniOutliner or mind map format. But, when one’s only goal is to markup and then review in a different app (e.g. DevonThink To Go), the loss of annotations is a failure. Also, Margin Note at least handles importing of annotations from PDFExpert properly.

  • The sync with iCloud is inconsistent and at times unreliable.

  • Importing only works at the root level, not in sub-folders.

  • The lack of support for Google Drive and Dropbox and other cloud services is a limitation.

  • The fixed toolbar position at the top is restrictive (compared for example to PDFExpert with options for any side of the screen).

Overall, I am pleased with the options that Margin Note provides. I especially like the options to tag notes. This allows me to use metrics such as #incorrect, #invalid, #sloppy, #improper, and others. I can then tally up the scores just by counting up and scoring the tags.


  1. Flattened exported PDF. MarginNote, in essence, is not a professional PDF annotation/editing app like Adobe Acrobat or PDF Expert, which is why it has not supported many PDF-editing features in its current build such as TOC addition or delete/add PDF pages. Besides, exporting in flattened format is quite common in other apps as well, including but not limited to OneNote. One important reason is that the excerpts and annotations taken in MarginNote 3 is not all text-based and might have compatibility issues when exported to other apps. We have, however, taken note of this and might work on getting the exported format in better shape.
  2. Sync. One thing for sure is that the notes will be there. The unreliable/inconsistent part has merit in that many users with large-size file/notebook might find the sync not as simultaneously as one might desire. For users who need to sync/use the app across iOS/Mac devices, it is surely faster to export the database backup from device A and import it on device B than waiting for iCloud sync to kick in and finish. After the first round sync/import is done, it would be fairly faster.
  3. Import in sub-folder. Hmmm, not sure what device you were referring to. At least Mac devices works fine. Just in case, we would test it out later.
  4. Other cloud support. True that it would be a bonus to have more cloud options. Would keep this on the list for sure, but we are not jumping ship to add this to MarginNote 3 yet.
  5. Adjustable toolbar position. Noted.

Ps, The user forum is mainly for MarginNote users to gather and converse on topics related to reading, studying and of course the using of MarginNote 3 the app. Fastest and most direct way to reach us is to mail to service@marginnote.com.

Support Team


Thank you. Just a few follow up notes.

  1. I am pleased that MN imports and re-exports annotations from PDFExpert properly. Also, at least MN has an option from study mode to export annotations out separately.

  2. I am using MN 3 on the iPad.

As concerns the way to reach you, the comments here suggest that user support has been … hard to reach … even by email. I am probably not alone to say that it is good to see responses now in the forum.