Backing up Notability to Google Drive

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Data loss is a real and present concern when using any device, never mind a mobile device. Breakage, loss, or catastrophic software failure can all mean that you lose all local data. We’d like to avoid this.

To that end, this guide is designed to help you set up an automatic backup from Notability to Google Drive. This means that every note and folder in your Notability app on your iPad will be uploaded to Google Drive for safe keeping. In a worst-case scenario, your data stays safe and protected on Google’s servers to easily be retrieved later.

Please note – You should continue to use Notability to edit the documents you had been working on in the Notability app. This process simply provides an automatic back up of your Notability notes.

Step 1: Go into your Google Drive app.

Google Drive Icon

Step 2: Click the Plus symbol in the upper right corner of the Drive app.


Step 3: Choose “New Folder” from the list of options.


Step 4: Name the folder something reasonable.


Step 5: You should now see the folder in your Google Drive app.


Step 6: Go into your Notability app and click the small gear in the lower right corner.


Step 7: Choose “Automatic Backups” and select “Google Drive” from the options.


Step 8: Select the correct folder for the backups (the folder you created above in Google Drive).


That’s it. It will take some time to sync – especially the first time that you sync – but you will end up with a .pdf of every Notability note you have safely stored in your Google Drive.

Welcome to having your data safe.


This article has 16 Comments

    1. A copy of the original file should remain in Google Drive if deleted in the Notability app.

      This is different when using the new back up to iCloud feature. Deleting a file will cause it to be deleted throughout iCloud/Notability devices.

  1. Dennis, So if I want to delete from my ipad, but maintain the copy in Google drive, then I need to turn off iCloud. Maybe I should just copy the Notabiliy folder contents to another Drive folder, then delete all my in-app Notability files?


    1. Hi Louis,

      I actually don’t have iCloud enabled in my Notability app. I only use the AutoBack Up feature to Drive. That means I can monitor the work on my Notability app and just know that I have a current back up folder in Drive. If you delete something from Notability it will ultimately delete from Drive as well so you can definitely create a copy of the Folder in Drive. I find that introducing the iCloud feature sometime complicates the process a bit. I like leaving that off for Notability. I hope this helps.


  2. If a file has been deleted on notability and is still present in google drive but when I go to open it, it’s a blank PDF, is there a way to recover this file?? I has iCloud back up on and now I am afraid they are gone forever

    1. Unfortunately there may not be a way to recover the file. This sounds like it could be part of the current issues that Notability and Google Drive are having when linked. Since about the iOS 8.2 update – Drive and Notability have had several sharing issues. Google Classroom integration with Notability has also been affected. We are hoping that future updates will solve the problem.

  3. My backed up file came up blank.. Only the highlighted colors and written notes show but the file information is missing in the google drive backed up version of the notes. Is there any way to fix this?

    1. First make sure that all updates are complete – app and iOS. If the document is still in your Notability app you could delete the back up folder in Drive and then enable the Notability app to sync with Drive again. This will create the folder again and may have the document saved correctly.

  4. I have a lot of files to back up on Google Drive. Seems to take far too long for the back up to work. Notability freezes while back-up is enabled. But I am only using an iPad2. Any suggestions?

    1. We haven’t had any issues with the app freezing. It could be because of the age of the device but I would delete the apps and reinstall then try again. Remember though – if the data is considerable for back up – it’s not just the device that could be an issue. The bandwidth connection could also be a factor.

  5. Will the notes get backed up every time you make a change?
    I have downloaded PDFs onto notability and then I write notes all across the PDF file but many times I come back and continue editing the pdf.

    1. Yes as long as the app is logged into your back up app (Dropbox, Drive, etc.) it will sync each change or edit.

    1. Unfortunately many things can contribute to slow back up speeds. The wifi network you are on can cause speeds to be slow. Also if you are backing up to Google Drive it can take much more time because Drive converts the Notability files to PDF. This process is especially slow the first time a file is backed up. Our best suggestion is to make sure that your iPad and Notability app are fully updated and then to try the back ups on different wifi networks if possible to check back up speeds.

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