13 things you didn’t know Apple’s Notes app could do


The Notes app built into Apple devices has long provided users with a quick and convenient way to save lists, thoughts, and other random items. And while Apple initially eschewed the bells and whistles found in the best note-taking apps, it has slowly strengthened Notes every year.

A 2019 update added a gallery view, checklist options, subfolders, and shared folders. In 2020, Notes got a better search tool, widget support, and Apple Pencil compatibility. This year’s upgrade to iOS 15 or iPadOS 15 adds tabs and smart folders.

Once you have installed the latest update (Settings> General> Software update), here are 20 things you can accomplish with the Notes app.

In List view, your notes appear by default in descending order with a title and the first words visible. Tap the ellipsis icon and select View as gallery to view each note as a thumbnail image that displays the name, part of the note text, and any photos that might be in the note. If the note is locked, you will see the name and a lock icon, but no text or image preview. Return to List view by pressing the ellipsis icon and selecting View as list.

View all attachments

see attachments

You can view all your photos and attachments at once. Tap the ellipsis icon and select View attachments. Faucet Ended Once finished.

Access folder and note controls

folder commands

Open a specific folder or subfolder and the ellipsis icon offers a host of other commands and options, including the ability to share the folder, sort its notes, add a new folder, move the folder, rename the folder and convert it to a Smart Folder.

note the orders

Tap a specific note, and then tap the ellipsis icon. A variety of commands appear allowing you to scan, pin, lock, delete, share, send, find, move, format, and print your note.

Drag and drop organization

organize files

Notes lets you easily organize your folders and notes. Tap a note or folder and drag it to another location in the list. If you drag a folder to another folder, it will turn it into a subfolder. The new subfolder will then be hidden until you open the parent folder.

move the folder

You can also turn a folder into a subfolder by dragging the folder to the left and tapping the folder icon. To move a note, swipe left on it and tap the folder icon, then choose the new folder.

Sort notes in a folder

sort notes

You can change the way notes are sorted in a folder. Open the folder, tap the ellipsis icon, and select the sort by button. By default, all notes are sorted by last modified date, but you can sort them by date created or title instead and sort them further from oldest to newest or newest to oldest ( or by AZ or ZA, if you sort them by title).

Share notes and folders

share notes

You can share notes and folders with other people, giving them permission to view and edit them. You can also create a new folder specifically for sharing. Drag the folder you want to share to the left and tap blue Share icon. Or, open a note, tap the ellipsis at the top, and select Share note.

Faucet Sharing options to change editing permissions between Can make changes and Show only. You can then decide how to share the folder or note: via SMS, email, another app or by copying a direct link. Select the recipients and a notification will indicate that it has been shared.

add people

Once a folder is shared, you can go back to the Sharing screen and tap Add people to add more recipients. Tap a person’s name to edit their individual permissions, or select Remove access to stop sharing the note with them. You can also press Stop sharing at any time to remove everyone’s access at once.

modify permissions

For individual notes, tap the Share icon in the top right to add more people, edit or remove access for existing recipients, highlight changes, and manage alerts.

Mark your notes

create a tag

Those upgrading to iOS 15 or iPadOS 15 will be able to add hashtags to notes anywhere in the text or title to better organize their notes. Type # followed by the word you want to use as a tag and select the word as it appears in quotes above the keyboard to create your tag.

The tag cannot contain spaces, but you can include hyphens or underscores. Those running iOS 14, iPadOS 14, or macOS Big Sur will be able to see the tagged words, but they won’t appear as actual tags. Those using older operating systems will not be able to view the note at all.

After creating a tag, you can use that same tag in another note by simply typing the # symbol and selecting the tag as it appears above the keyboard. To add an existing tag to multiple notes, tap the ellipsis icon and choose Select Notes. Tap all the notes you want to tag, then choose the tag option at the bottom of the screen and select the tag you want to add.

Key words

Once a tag has been created, a Tags section on the main Notes screen will appear. From there, you can tap All Tags to see each note with a tag or select a specific tag to see only those notes.

Create smart folders

smart folders

You can create smart folders based on your tags. These folders are dynamic in that they change to automatically include any notes to which you add a specific tag. On the main Notes screen, tap the icon to create a folder and select the New smart folder option.

Create a name for your folder, then select the tag to use or create a new one. Your new folder will then appear with all the notes with this tag. Every time you create a new note and use this tag, it is automatically added to this folder.

Send a copy of a note

send a copy

You can send a copy of a note to another person or app. For example, you can send a note to a file service such as Google Drive or Box to store it in a separate text file. To do this, press the note and select Send a copy in the context menu. Select the person or app you want to send the copy to.

Create a checklist

control List

To generate a checklist of items, tap the notepad icon at the bottom right to create a new note. Type a title for your note at the top and tap the check mark icon. A circle appears for the first item on your checklist.

Type the entry and press the Return key to create another circle and repeat the process as necessary. Drag any entry in the list to the right and you can turn it into a subitem.

After you’ve completed any of the tasks listed in the note, tap its circle to view it as complete. The first time you do this, you are asked if you want all completed items to move to the bottom of the list. Accept this option, and each item you check will move down.

Change text formatting

text formatting

You can quickly change the style and formatting of the text. Select the text you want to reformat. Press the Aa above the keyboard to choose a style, apply bold, italic, and other attributes, and configure a bulleted or numbered list.

Scan a document or photo

scan a document

You can scan a document or photo to embed it in a note. Create a new note or open an existing note and tap the camera icon and select To analyse. You can then choose to scan an item, take a photo or video, or upload an existing photo or video. Select the appropriate option to include the item in the note.

Draw text with an apple pencil


Notes works with Apple Pencil in iPadOS 14 or higher to offer a Scribble option that converts your drawn letters into editable text. Compatible iPad models include iPad Pro, iPad (6th generation and later), iPad mini (5th generation and later), and iPad Air (3rd generation and later).

You can use this function in a new or existing note. Press the Design in the toolbar at the top right and select the Apple pencil in the palette at the bottom. Draw alphanumeric characters, then wait to see them converted to editable text.

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