How to use Notes on iPhone and iPad: The ultimate guide

How to use Notes on iPhone and iPad: The ultimate guide

The Notes app is the built-in way to take notes, draft memos, jot down thoughts, and otherwise record text on your iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad. As apps go, Notes is bare-bones. You can enter and edit text, look for replacement words, and get definitions, sync between iOS, Mac, and, and even control Notes via Apple's virtual personal assistant, Siri, but that's about it. Previously you could change the font but that went away with iOS 7. However, iOS 8 will be bringing a few new features, including support for rich text — bold, italics, and underline — as well as the ability to insert pictures.

For now, this is everything you can do with Notes for iOS 7, but we'll be updating for iOS 8 as soon as its released so keep checking back!

How to setup Notes sync on iPhone and iPad

How to set up iCloud Mail, Contacts, Calendars, and more

If you didn't originally set up Notes sync when you first setup iCloud, Google, or another IMAP service on your iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad, or if you want to use a different iCloud account than you do for iTunes purchases, you can easily set it up or change it later. Once you have Notes sync set up, it's a great way to send text — including webpage links — from one device to another!

Note: If you're setting up Gmail, you have to use the standard (IMAP) setup in order to sync notes. Google Sync (ActiveSync) doesn't support Notes. The same holds true for Microsoft Exchange (ActiveSync) accounts, including

How to create, edit, and delete Notes on iPhone and iPad

How to create, edit, and delete Notes on iPhone or iPad

The Notes app on iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad lets you quickly write down your thoughts, draft out your memos, or store any text you want to keep around for any length of time. With it, you can easily create new notes, update or append existing notes, and delete old notes you no longer need. All with just a few taps and swipes.

How to replace or define words and manage the dictionary in Notes for iPhone and iPad

How to replace or define words and manage the dictionary on iPhone and iPad

Notes not only lets you do the basics of editing — cut, copy, and paste — but also let find replacement words if the one you typed didn't autocorrect exactly right, look up definitions to words you aren't sure about, and even add or remove different dictionaries depending on which languages and dialects you want to use. All of it is contained in the popup menu, and all of it is simple and easy to do once you know how.

How to share and print Notes on iPhone and iPad

How to share and print Notes on iPhone and iPad

The Notes app makes it easy to take down quick notes, memos, thoughts, or any other bits of text you want to keep handy on your iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad. It also makes it easy to share those notes, memos, thoughts, and other bits of text with your friends, family, and colleagues via AirDrop, Messages, Mail, or even print it out and hand it to them with AirPrint.

Coming this fall with iOS 8, you'll be able to use sharing and action extensions to do even more, like post to Pinterest and maybe even auto-translate with Bing. Here's what you can do right now and we'll update when the new features go live.

How to dictate, find, and update notes on your iPhone or iPad with Siri

How to take a note on your iPhone or iPad with Siri

The default Notes app on the iPhone and iPad is a great place to jot down random thoughts, memos, and other bits of text. If your hands are full, however, or if you're driving, or if you're simply to lazy to type, you can use Siri to take the notes for you, and even to find and update your exiting notes.

How to access your iCloud notes via the Web

How to access iCloud Mail, Contacts, Calendars, and more on the web

While iCloud is meant to be used on your iPhone, iPad, and Mac, times may arise when you'll need access to your notes from a public computer. Perhaps your iPhone is dead and you need to use a friend's laptop, or you're on holiday and don't have mobile data but there is an internet cafe or terminal close by. Either way, you can quickly and easily get to your iCloud notes, and many of the other iCloud services, from any web browser.

Best notes apps for iPhone and iPad

Best note-taking apps for iPhone and iPad: Evernote, Drafts, Vesper, and more!

If you're looking for something more than Apple's built-in Notes app for iPhone and iPad, the App Store provides for a ton of alternative options. Whether you want to stick to short, text based notes, switch to text editors proper, or take the leap to hand writing-based note taking apps, all of them, and more, are available to you.

How to get more help with Notes and iOS

Have something to say about this story? Leave a comment! Need help with something else? Ask in our forums!

Rene Ritchie

EiC of iMore, EP of Mobile Nations, Apple analyst, co-host of Debug, Iterate, Vector, Review, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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Reader comments

How to use Notes on iPhone and iPad: The ultimate guide


I seem to use Notes all the time. Whenever someone calls me and gives me info I need to take down, I fire up and input everything there. That way I have it with me on my phone. One of the most seamless things ever.

I use Notes for a couple things:

  1. To mark edit points in podcasts I'm recording. I can write them on my iPhone as they happen and then refer to them on my Mac when I'm editing because they're all nicely synced over. (Vesper for Mac might take that part over when it ships.)

  2. To push a bit of text or a URL from one device to another. iCloud tabs has made this unnecessary for some apps, but not for others.

  3. To copy single words/codes/etc. from iMessage. Since iMessage only lets me copy the entire message, and sometimes I need to paste in only a code, I need to paste the entire message somewhere else first and then copy the important part out.

I've stopped using the notes app and switched to the Drafts app. Drafts lets me quickly export my notes to omnifocus, iMessage, and Evernote.

Tho I sometimes curse the Notes app for being far to basic, I still use it quite a lot. It's great for taking down quick info, starting a new note/subject, then I'll ultimately move it to something better for notes with organization and other more advanced features that the basic Notes app. Usually I go to Evernote, but things usually begin in Notes.

Sent from the iMore App

I use OneNote, much more useful than the default solutions on Android (Keep) and iOS (Notes).

Notes' big advantage on iOS is the Siri Integration. On Android you can set Google Now to add to OneNote by default, making it as good as Keep in that area.

When you start serious note taking, and use the OneNote Desktop App, it really starts to shine. Nothing compares to it, currently (no, not even Evernote). Probably Microsoft's best service for consumers out there.

Only negative is it needing a Microsoft Account, for those who like to keep as small a services/online profile as possible.

Notes and Keep are way too basic to be considered OneNote apps. Keep leans more towards Scrapbooking, though (supporting Images, etc.), but Notes I don't even think goes that far. Also, maybe they should consider merging Notes and Reminders?