5 ways to better use Apple Notes on iPhones, iPads and Macs

Image: Apple

Some of the best programs — from Mac’s Disk Utility to Apple Mail — have proven to be reliable challengers more than capable of competing with paid offerings from independent developers. Apple Notes, the note-taking app integrated within iPhones, iPads and Macs that works seamlessly with iCloud, is no exception. Whether you regularly use Notes or may have overlooked its convenience and potency, here are five ways to ensure you’re making the most of the app.

1. Configure iCloud support

Extend Notes’ capability by ensuring the notes you create automatically sync between devices. With iCloud synchronization enabled, you can begin a Notes entry on an iPhone, edit the same note on an iPad and add more information to the same file using a Mac.

To enable iCloud synchronization for Notes, on an iPhone or iPad, tap Settings, then tap your name to access your Apple ID account. On the next screen, tap the iCloud entry, then ensure Notes is set to Enabled.

On a Mac, open System Preferences, then click the Apple ID icon. When the iCloud menu appears, confirm the Notes entry is checked, as shown in Figure A.

Figure A

Enabling iCloud synchronization further extends Notes functionality by permitting access and editing from a variety of devices.

2. Organize notes using multiple folders

Don’t just lump all your lists, notations, statistics, data points, reminders, URLs and similar information you collect and document into a single Notes directory containing a multitude of files. Divide your notes into separate folders by topic.

With a little quick coordination, you can organize notes across a broad range of subjects, thereby simplifying locating notes in the future. For personal purposes, consider creating notes folders for such subjects as investments, maintenance information, travel itineraries and even recipes. For professional pursuits, consider creating folders for the various individual tasks and responsibilities you manage. For example, if you’re an accountant, you may wish to create separate accounts payable and accounts receivable folders.

SEE: M1 MacBook Pro vs M1 iPad Pro: Which is quickest in the real world? (free PDF)  (TechRepublic)

3. Share notes with others

When coordinating business or personal travel, projects, meetings, seminars, training or similar activities, consider collaborating with colleagues or family using Notes. By sharing a note, you can create a common repository whereby important information — including hotel reservations, flight itineraries, schedules, lists, instructions, inventories, dependencies, etc. — can be shared, viewed and edited by a variety of participants.

To share a note using an iPhone or iPad, open it, tap the More icon and tap Share Note. Then, invite those with whom you wish to share the note, either by sending them a Message, email or even a Teams message.

To share a note using a Mac, highlight the one you wish to share and click the Share This Note With Others icon. Invite those you want to share the note with, either by sending an email or Message or via AirDrop or OneNote or even by copying and forwarding the link using another program.

When sharing a note, consider the permission you wish to provide the recipient. Apple provides the option to permit recipients to make changes or just view the note. A separate option is provided, as shown in Figure B, for permitting recipients to invite (or add) other people.

Figure B

When sharing notes, you can specify whether recipients can only view or make changes to the note. You can also restrict whether the recipient can share the note with others.

SEE: iPhone 13 cheat sheet: Everything you need to know about Apple’s flagship phones (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

4. Exploit formatting features

Notes includes a variety of formatting capabilities that permit inserting tables, bulleted lists, numbered lists, various headings, checklist items and even lines and grids to better assist collecting and sharing information however you need to. Notes also supports freehand drawing and sketching, including using the Apple Pencil on compatible iPads.

Once you begin using titles, subheads, tables and similar formatting capabilities, you’ll notice notes become more professional and useful, their utility enhanced. Instead of scouring the App Store or internet for third-party notes or collaboration tools, try using Notes’ formatting features first to see if the free integrated app doesn’t actually meet your needs.

5. Import scans, images and other elements

Notes also permits scanning documents, importing diagrams and charts and embedding photos. Contemporary trends certainly emphasize the importance of breaking up text-heavy blocks with supporting charts, diagrams or images. Let Notes assist; add these elements within the notes you create and even share with coworkers, when appropriate.

Give Notes a go

Resist the easy temptation of just entering plain text within various notes. By extending functionality using iCloud and organizing notes by individual folders according to function or topic, sharing individual notes with others to collaborate and distribute information and by importing images and scans, Notes can quickly become a go-to application you don’t remember how you lived without.

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