Apple Notes may be the best free note-taking app you can use if you have an iPhone or a Mac computer (ideally both). The app is packed with features that many note-taking apps charge for, so if you’re not already using it, you might want to give it a try.
RELATED: How (and why) to switch to Apple Notes
Scan Documents and Text
On your iPhone or iPad, Notes can act as a document scanner that automatically saves any captures to iCloud. This gives them access on almost any device shortly after completing the scan.
To do this, open a new note and tap the camera icon at the bottom of the screen. Select “Scan Documents” from the menu that appears, then point your camera at whatever you’re trying to scan and wait. This is best if you place the document against a contrasting background, such as a piece of white paper on a dark table.
You can also select Scan Text from the camera menu if you want to take an editable copy of the text and insert it directly into the recording. This allows you to edit the text as if you had typed it yourself. It’s especially useful for quickly capturing quotes from books you want to paste into a document, or for quickly capturing large pieces of text so you can search for keywords.
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Draw perfect freeforms
You can use the markup tools in the note to scribble and draw on your iPhone or iPad. Tap the pen icon at the bottom of the screen and use it to write and draw using various pens and other tools. On iPad with Apple Pencil, you can take handwritten notes, draw by hand, and use a ruler to create perfectly straight lines.
But did you know you can also draw perfect shapes? To do this, draw a shape like you always do, but don’t take your finger (or the Pen) off the screen. Hold your finger or pen for a few seconds to see the shape magically transform into a perfect version of itself. It works with squares and rectangles, straight and curved lines, circles, triangles, stars and pentagons.
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Collaborate (and Share) on notes.
Apple Notes isn’t quite Google Drive when it comes to sharing and collaboration, but the feature list for a note-taking app is pretty comprehensive. You can share and collaborate on notes in real time, just like in Google Docs. To do this, you need to log in to your Apple ID with an open account. On an iPhone, tap the ellipsis “…” icon in the top right corner, then “Share Note,” and on a Mac, you can simply tap the “Share Note” button, which looks like a person’s head with a plus sign. next to
In the next step, you’ll be able to specify whether you want to share the recording with edit privileges (labeled “Can Change”) or as “View Only” with the option to limit who you share with. share with more people. You can send an invitation using a number of apps, including Messages, Mail, Facebook, or simply by copying a link that you can forward to someone else.
After sharing a note with someone, you can use the @note format to tag them and get detailed details of changes to the notes.
Share (and collaborate) entire Folders.
You can move a recording to a specific folder by using the “…” context menu on an iPhone or iPad, or by right-clicking on a recording and selecting “Move” on a Mac. If you often collaborate on something with someone and prefer to share each note as a whole collection rather than individually, you can share a folder instead.
Your assigned folder is created, you can share the folder by swiping left from the top-level Folders screen on your iPhone or iPad. Click the blue Share icon (it looks like a person’s head with a plus arrow next to it) then share it as you normally would. You can do the same on a Mac by right-clicking on a folder in the sidebar and selecting “Share Folder.”
Filter with Smart Folders
Apple loves Smart Folders. They’ve been a staple on the Mac for years, Apple Mail has Smart Mailboxes that work the same way, and you can use them in Apple Notes too. Here, tags allow you to group notes together, regardless of the folder you use to organize them.
Tagging notes in Apple Mail should be done in the note itself using the #hashtag format. By sharing tags across your entire collection of notes, you can create a new smart folder to filter by tag and group relevant items together. So, for example, you might want to tag all receipts with #receipt, but separate each into separate folders for work and personal. If you want to show all receipts at tax time, regardless of where they’re stored, you can create a Smart Folder that comes in and shows only records marked with #receipt.
Create a Smart Folder like a normal folder. On your iPhone or iPad, tap the New Folder icon in the lower-left corner of the top-level Folders screen. Select “New Smart Folder”, then give it a name and decide which tags to filter. On a Mac, you can do the same by clicking the “New Folder” button in the lower left corner of the app. Smart Folders stored in iCloud are visible on all your devices.
You can take notes on your iPhone or iPad by adding the Apple Notes widget to your home screen. For quick recording, you can add a New Recording shortcut to the Control Center. To do this, go to Settings > Control Center and tap the green and “+” icon next to the “Notes” option. You can drag it up and down in the list to rearrange where it appears.
You can then access this shortcut on your iPhone or modern iPad by swiping down from the top left corner of the screen. If you have an older iPhone with a home button, swipe up from the bottom of the screen instead. On older iPads with a Home button, double-click the Home button to open the Control Center.
On a Mac, you can use the Quick Note hot corner shortcut (enabled by default) in macOS Monterey. You can find this option under System Preferences > Desktop & Screen Saver > Hot Corners. When enabled, drag your pointer to the designated corner and click to record a new one. These notes will be stored in the Quick Notes folder until you rearrange them.
Access records online
If you store notes in iCloud (and all notes will be in iCloud by default on new devices), you can access them on the web at iCloud.com. It lets you access and retrieve Apple Notes on Windows or Android devices, and while it’s not as good as native apps, it’s perfect in a pinch when you’re away from your iPhone, iPad, or Mac.
Keep Useful Notes
If you have records that you need to refer to frequently to view information or make corrections, you can pin them so they always appear at the top of your list. This will ensure that you don’t lose them among all your other notes because Apple Notes organizes everything in chronological order. This is especially useful if you need to read information from a record without changing it, because viewing a record will not “dump” it in the same way editing a record does.
To pin a note on your iPhone or iPad, open it, then tap the “…” context menu and select “Paste as Note” from the options that appear. You can do this by right-clicking on a note on a Mac and selecting “Paste as Note” instead. Notes pinned on one device will appear pinned on the other when synced via iCloud, but won’t appear on iCloud.com.
Find text within a note
If you have particularly long records, it can be a matter of sifting through them to find something special. Fortunately, you can search any record to make your life a little easier. To do this, open a note on your iPhone or iPad, then click the ellipsis “…” button and select “Find in note” to search in the body of the note.
On macOS, you can simply use the Command+F keyboard shortcut to search a note, just like on a web page.
RELATED: 35+ Mac Text Editing Keyboard Shortcuts to Speed Up Typing
Apple Shortcuts Integration
Apple Shortcuts is a powerful tool that allows you to automate and speed up many different processes for both iOS and macOS devices. While not a notes-specific feature, Apple’s note-taking app has a decent set of actions, including “Add Note” to add more detail to an existing note, “Create Note” to start a new note, and “Show Note” as well. ” and “Show Record Folder” actions to display information.
How you use this integration depends on what you want to do. Some use it to speed up journaling, geotagging and logging weather data, or automating daily to-do lists. With Shortcuts automated, you can use Notes to record the number of times you’ve visited a place (like the gym), when you’ve opened an app, or how quickly you’ve charged your device.
How to Switch to Apple Notes
If you normally use Evernote, you can easily switch to Apple Notes by exporting collections one at a time. If you don’t use Evernote, you may need to use it as a stepping stone to migrate from something like OneNote.