Best Apps for Back to School

An oldie but a goodie: this post was originally published on August 4, 2016.

It’s that time of year again–the dreaded Back to School! If you’re like me, when August rolls around and the store shelves are lined with backpacks, highlighters, composition notebooks, and other school supplies, you start having that familiar queasy feeling in the pit of your stomach. For many of us August means our kids are (finally!) getting out of the house after a long summer and heading to school, while for others it’s a time to start fresh with a new school year. For some, myself included, it’s a bit of both. Wherever you find yourself this August, we have some apps that will help you transition smoothly into the back to school grind.

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iTunes U

Many schools and universities now have their curriculum materials in iTunes U. Students at those institutions can access their assignments and instructor updates through this free app. Instructors can push content to their students, provide grades and feedback, answer questions, and more. iTunes U also contains over 750,000 free books, videos, and lectures that you can access even if you are not enrolled in that particular school.

For iPhone and iPad

Free from iTunes

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Keep yourself organized with one of the the granddaddies of productivity apps. Take notes from lectures or meetings, clip and highlight articles online for research, make to-do lists and other checklists, and so much more. Make notes as texts or photos and use the camera to scan in documents. Peek and pop into notes to quickly preview them. You can also sync your notes across all of your iOS devices and your Mac.

Bonus tip: If you have an Apple Watch, Evernote for Apple Watch will allow you to dictate notes directly into Evernote!

For iOS (iPhone and iPad) and Android

Free from iTunes and Google Play Store


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The go-to app for backing up all of your stuff. Keep all of your notes, reports, pictures, and other files at your fingertips with this powerful app. Send links to your saved content or share files and folders with anyone. Users must first create an account with; creating an account gets you 2 GB of free storage. Upgrade your account as needed. The best part of Dropbox is the cross-device usability—get your files from your iPhone, iPad, or any desktop connected to the internet.

For iOS (iPhone and iPad) and Android

Free from iTunes and Google Play Store

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Arguably the best note-taking and annotating app for Apple products, Notability was recognized by Apple as the “Best Selling Paid Productivity app” since 2013. Take notes, make sketches, annotate PDFs, sign documents, draw on pictures, record lectures, and more.

Bonus tip: If you have an iPad Pro and Apple Pencil, Notability will make your note-taking life much easier! This app provides great usability with the Apple Pencil on your Pro.

For iPhone and iPad

$5.99 from iTunes

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Scanner Pro 7

Save your notes from being eaten by the dog. Scanner Pro lets you turn your iPhone or iPad into a portable scanner. Scan anything from a recipet to a multi-page document. Email or print your scans, upload them to your favorite cloud server (e.g., Dropbox), and even use optical character recognition (OCR) to covert your scans into text.

For iPhone and iPad

$3.99 from iTunes


Hopefully these apps will help make the August craziness a little easier. Look at it this way: at least we have an excuse to go shopping. Do something nice for yourself and download some cool apps. Happy back to school!



One thought on “Best Apps for Back to School

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