Organize your messy Notes app with these simple tips


What did we do before the Notes app on our iPhones? How did we make grocery lists? How did we write down this thing that we need to remember? How did celebrities apologize for the latest PR disaster?

It is really a useful app. I’ve used it for everything from writing ingredients for New Year’s Eve having dinner to compose a best man speech.


But chances are you’re not getting as much out of your Notes app as you can. The app actually has lots of cool features and tricks to help you get things done efficiently. Here are seven of our favorites.

1. Search your notes

If you’re like me, you have countless notes in your iOS Notes app. And let’s say you want to find an old recipe for a certain type of chicken. All you have to do is go to the search bar and type “chicken”. Additionally, as Apple points out on its site, you can search by specific note types, such as “notes with drawings.”

Recipes, restaurant orders and menus with chicken on my phone.
Credit: Mashable

2. Add tags

Suppose you want to keep certain types of notes in one place. Did you know you can create tags that group notes together? Well, yes you can. It’s so simple: just type a hashtag with how you want to label the note inside the note. For example, here’s what it looks like in a grocery list for a salad I made last week.

list of ingredients and hashtag #groceries

The salad was good, to be honest.
Credit: Mashable

Once you tag the note, it will be categorized under that tag in the app homepage. It will look like this, under your folders.

screenshot of tags on iphone notes app

Simple and useful.
Credit: Mashable

Tags are searchable and easily accessible from the Notes app. You can also tag a note with more than one thing if it falls into a few categories. For example, a shopping list for Mashable’s AirFryDay series might appear under both #groceries and #work on my phone.

3. Pin an important note

Let’s face it, there’s probably one note you use more than most. Maybe it’s something for work, or a project you’re working on right now, or, in my case, a note for some fun names I’m making up for gaming NCAA Soccer 2013.

All you need to do is enter a note, tap the three-dot button, and then select the pin option. It will look something like this.

screenshot showing where to click to pin a note

Gaston Nebraska is a fantastic fake name. You have to admit it.
Credit: Mashable

Once the note is pinned, it will jump to the top of your notes. It will look like this.

screenshot of a pinned note titled names for ncaa

It helps to have an important note at the top.
Credit: Mashable

4. Add tick marks to your lists

A nifty auto-formatting in the Notes app just might change your grocery shopping forever. Suppose you make a list of things you need. Don’t just dash or press enter. Click the little tick icon on your screen and the Notes app will create bubbles for you to tick off when you complete a task. Once an item is checked, it automatically moves to the bottom of the list. Look at this fake grocery list, where I already have chicken thighs and sriracha.

screenshot of a grocery list with items checked off

The button is easy to find.
Credit: Mashable

Say your note could use some help. Did you know you can share notes and collaboratively create/edit in real time? This has been a game changer for me and my wife as we try to get things done around the house.

All you need to do is tap the three-dot button and then select “share note”.

screenshot of how to share a note

Sharing a note is extremely useful and easy.
Credit: Mashable

Then choose how you want to send it and give access to whoever you want. They will be able to modify the note and edit as they wish.

share note screenshot

Usually I just text the note to someone.
Credit: Mashable

6. Create smart folders

When creating a folder, you can choose the option to create a smart folder. Then you can select the tags that apply to it. In the future, when you tag a note, it will be directed to a Smart Folder designated by that tag. Here you can see me creating a smart folder for food notes.

screenshot of creating a smart folder

Food, all in one place.
Credit: Mashable

And here are my folders, on the home page of the Notes app.

screenshot of Notes folders

Smart folders are new to me but will be very useful moving forward.
Credit: Mashable

7. Sort the way you see your notes

By default, notes are sorted by date modified, from most recent to oldest. But it doesn’t have to be that way. You can sort by title, date created, date modified, or oldest to newest. All you need to do is tap the three-dot button and then select Sort Notes. The button looks like this.

arrow pointing to sort button in Notes app

Easy enough.
Credit: Mashable

From here, you can select any of these options for organizing your notes.

In-app note sorting options

Personally, I prefer the default setting.
Credit: Mashable

That’s what’s great about the Notes app. It is quite malleable and can be shaped to help each user perform their tasks as they see fit. Sure, celebrities use it to apologize and I use it for video games, but it might help you get your life back on track.

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