Notes (Apple)

Notes is a notetaking app developed by Apple Inc. It is provided on their iOS, iPadOS and macOS operating systems, the latter starting with OS X Mountain Lion. It functions as a service for making short text notes, which can be synchronized between devices using Apple's iCloud service. The application uses a similar interface on iOS and macOS, with a non-textured paper background for notes and light yellow icons, suggesting pencil or crayon. Until 2013, both applications used a strongly skeuomorphic interface, with a lined, textured paper design; the Mountain Lion version placed this inside a leather folder. This design was replaced in OS X Mavericks and iOS 7.

Developer(s)Apple Inc.
Stable release(s)
iOS1.3.3 / September 19, 2019 (2019-09-19)[1]
Operating systemiOS, iPadOS, and macOS
TypeNotetaking software

iOS/iPadOS version

iOS 9

Starting with iOS 9, Notes received a significant functional overhaul: iCloud sync (instead of IMAP; in-line with the OS X El Capitan version), the ability to create sketches (and later, support for Apple Pencil), advanced text formatting options, several styles of lists, rich web and map link previews, support for more file type attachments, a corresponding dedicated attachment browser and a system share extension point for saving web links, images, etc.[2] As of iOS 9.3, individual notes can be password-protected (with the ability to use Touch ID to unlock all notes on compatible devices), however, only one password can be set for all notes locked henceforth. The password syncs across compatible devices.[3]

iOS 10

In iOS 10, Notes now has a collaboration feature for many people to work on a note at the same time.[4]

iOS 11

The update to Notes released with iOS 11 adds tables,[5] pinned notes,[6] a document scanner,[5][6] graph and lined paper,[6] monospaced text support,[6] handwriting search[6] and improved integration with Apple Pencil. Tapping the Pencil on the Lock screen will bring up a new note, with drawing active; the Pencil can also be used while in the Notes app to start an inline drawing.

iOS/iPadOS 15

Notes supports using tags, which is a efficient way to categorize notes.

macOS version

Prior to Mountain Lion, Apple Mail on macOS supported a mailbox containing notes, which was synced with notes in the Notes application in iOS. This situation was a kludge: as Apple Mail already implemented the IMAP mailbox synchronization protocol, it could also sync notes with minimal additional work.[7] In Mountain Lion, notes were moved to a separate Notes application.[8][9] Created notes are synced through all the user's Apple devices through the iCloud service. Notes can be arranged in folders and pinned to the user's desktop. When the application is closed, the pinned note still remains. Additionally, unlike the iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch versions, the OS X Mountain Lion Notes application allows for images to be embedded within notes. Originally, notes could be created in three different default fonts, Noteworthy, Marker Felt, and Helvetica. Users could also add custom fonts by visiting the "Show Fonts" menu. The menu allows users to change text size, and format lists, choose the alignment (left, center, justify, or right), assign a writing direction, and indent text. Attachments, images, and hyperlinks can also be added to a note. Attachments cannot be viewed on iOS devices.[10]

Data Storage Opacity and Exporting Issues

Due to the proprietary nature of the data storage mechanism for the Apple Notes app(s), users of this software may be locked into it without a convenient way to export all Notes data to a different format. While Apple does provide a way to export individual notes as PDF files, the software does not provide a mechanism to export the text of all notes to a text file, a Rich Text File, or other commonly-used data file formats as a bulk data transfer.

OS X El Capitan

As of OS X El Capitan, Notes received a significant functional overhaul (in-line with the iOS 9 version), with major features including: iCloud sync, the ability to view sketches created on the iOS counterpart, advanced text formatting options, several styles of lists, rich web and map link previews, support for more file type attachments, a corresponding dedicated attachment browser and a system share extension point for saving web links, images, etc.[11] As of OS X El Capitan 4, individual notes can be password-protected, with the password syncing across compatible devices.[12]

macOS High Sierra

The update to Notes released with macOS High Sierra adds tables.[13]

Social media users have often used the Notes application to write short notes which can then be posted as a screenshot to social media sites such as Instagram or Twitter.[14][15] Writers have noted that this form of communication has often been used by celebrities to make public statements, perhaps to give them an informal feel or extend beyond platform character limits, including often to post public apologies.[16][17]

See also

  • Evernote – independent, cross-platform note-taking service, allowing storage of more complex data such as tables, charts, and pictures
  • Microsoft OneNote – Microsoft's cross-platform note system, linked to a Microsoft account
  • Reminders – Apple's reminder service, also using iCloud
  • Google Keep – Google's note-taking application, available on Android and iOS as a web application
  • Windows Notepad
  • Notebook


  1. "Notes". App Store Preview. Retrieved October 2, 2019.
  2. "Inside iOS 9: Apple's Notes app is greatly enhanced with drawings, lists, pictures, links & more". AppleInsider. Retrieved April 24, 2016.
  3. "Keep your notes secure with password-protection - Apple Support". Retrieved May 22, 2022.
  4. "How to collaborate on Notes in iOS 10". Macworld. Retrieved May 22, 2022.
  5. Zaib Ali (June 18, 2017). "5 Awesome New Features iOS 11 Brings To The Notes App: Its A Big Plus".
  6. "10 New Features in iOS 11 Notes App". iPhone Hacks | #1 iPhone, iPad, iOS Blog. July 5, 2017. Retrieved August 30, 2017.
  7. Gruber, John. "Mountain Lion". Daring Fireball.
  8. "OS X Mountain Lion - See everything the new OS X can do". Apple. Section "Notes". Retrieved February 22, 2012.
  9. Titlow, John Paul. "Apple's Convergence of Desktop and Mobile Continues With Mountain Lion". ReadWrite. Archived from the original on April 21, 2012. Retrieved April 24, 2012.
  10. Breen, Christopher (July 26, 2012). "Up close with Mountain Lion: Notes". Macworld. Mac Publishing. Retrieved September 3, 2012.
  11. "Hands-on with Notes 4 in El Capitan". Macworld. Retrieved April 24, 2016.
  12. "Keep your notes secure with password-protection - Apple Support". Retrieved April 24, 2016.
  13. "How to use tables in Notes in macOS High Sierra". iMore. Retrieved September 11, 2017.
  14. Weber, Lindsey (January 12, 2019). "How We Apologize Now". The New York Times. Retrieved May 13, 2020.
  15. Ruiz, Michelle (December 31, 2019). "2019 Was the Year of the Celebrity Notes App Statement". Vogue. Vogue. Retrieved May 13, 2020.
  16. Way, Katie (April 13, 2018). "A power-ranking of every celebrity iPhone note 'apology,' from Logan Paul to Lena Dunham". Babe. Retrieved June 27, 2020.
  17. Kesslen, Ben. "Why Sarah Sanders used the Notes app, just like many celebrities". NBC News. Retrieved June 27, 2020.
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