Tuesday, 7 January 2014

Livescribe 3 Workflow - One Solution

Intended workflow when using the Livescribe 3 Smart Pen

The problem I have tried to overcome is the issue of getting handwritten notes off the pen and onto a platform where I can do something useful with it having gathered the text in the first place. The Livescribe+ application on the iPad does a pretty good job of converting handwritten notes into text, the problem is that the text is full of hard returns which have to be removed.

This is what I do:

Generate the text with the pen in a Livescribe notebook, unless you need to record audio there is no need to have the pen connected to an iOS device at this stage.

Following note taking, which may be after hours, days or even weeks, connect the smart pen to the iOS device and allow the handwritten notes to be copied over into the Livescribe+ application.

Open the handwritten notes at the page you want to start exporting at and then switch to feeds view mode. Click on the select button and then click (tick) the feeds you want to have exported as text, the selections can span many pages or be just few feeds, or even be a single feed. I tend to use this process for long blocks of notes.

When you have selected all the feeds you want right swipe to flip over to convert the text and then at the foot of the screen click the up pointing arrow (circumflex) and in the pop-up menu that appears select copy. This copies the text that has been converted from your handwriting over to the clipboard.
With that done you need to paste all the text somewhere you can edit it, specifically you need to be able to remove all the hard returns which will be present at the end of all the lines in your handwritten notes, it is very tedious to do this by hand.

As you are still on the iPad with the text on your clipboard you need to use a text editor on the iPad, you must use one that has DropBox integration, I use Byword and have found it to be excellent. So, open your chosen editor (Byword) and paste your text into a file, this file will be saved to your DropBox account. At this stage all those hard returns are all still in there, the next stage is where you will get rid of them.

Now move to your Mac or whatever you are using as your main machine, wherever you want to edit your converted text, obviously this machine also needs to be connected to your DropBox account. I use the free text editor called Text Wrangler which is excellent for removing hard returns etc. and doing a rough edit, it also includes a spell checker.

Essentially at this stage you have your converted text where you want it, this workaround works for me in the absence of a desktop application for the Livescribe 3 which should incorporate these features if it ever comes along. With the text now under your control and wrapping normally without all the hard line breaks you can edit to your heart’s content in whatever package you prefer.

This sounds like a lot of work but in fact when you have it set up and sorted out it’s dead easy and it at least brings your handwritten notes out onto a platform where you can do something useful with them.

Here is a summary of what I use:
  • Livescribe+ application, currently using v1.0.6 (132). Free download.
  • Byword for iPad, currently v2.1.3. $4.99
  • TextWrangler, runs on Mac, currently v4.5.5 (3346) Free download.
  • DropBox account, currently using v3.0.2 on my iPad. Free account available offer 2GB of storage.
Quentin. January 2014.


  1. Replies
    1. No problem, I hope it was helpful. It looks a bit of a performance but is actually very straightforward and gets the job done.