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11 Surprisingly Useful Features That Are Hidden In The Notes App

If you think the Notes app is just a simple note-taking tool, think again! These 11 unexpected features make Notes one of the most useful and powerful apps on your phone.

Like many people, I rely heavily on my smartphone to keep track of all sorts of things. Without the Calendar and Notes apps on my iPhone, I would forget so many important things, like appointments, due dates, to-do list items, and more!

While I’ve been using the Notes app for a long time, I’ve recently started exploring some of the less obvious features it offers. And I’ve realized that the more I learn about this seemingly basic note-taking app, the more useful it becomes!

So today I thought I’d share some of the best features of the Notes app with all of you! I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised at what this app is truly capable of! 🙂

(Not an iPhone user? Check out the end of this post for a great alternative to the Notes app for Android!)

11 Surprisingly Useful Things You Can Do With The Notes App

1. Draw In Your Notes

Express yourself with drawings right in the notes app! In an open note, tap the pen icon above the keyboard to reveal the drawing options, including:

  • Tools – Choose from a pen, highlighter, eraser, and more
  • Color – Tap the black dot to change the line color
  • Undo & Redo – To undo a change or redo something you undid, tap the curved arrows near the top of the screen

2. Attach Photos & Videos

In addition to adding handwritten additions or sketches to notes, you can also attach files to them! This feature makes it easy to quickly reference relevant documents, photos, or videos.

To add a photo or video, open a note and place the cursor in the body. Tap the camera icon, then select either Take Photo or Video or Photo Library to select an existing file.

To attach information from another app to a note, open the item (like a webpage, a PDF, etc.) in that app, then tap Share and select Notes. Save the item to an existing note, or save it in a new note.

3. Organize With Folders

The more notes you have in your Notes app, the tricker it can be to find what you’re looking for. In addition to searching by keyword, you can also use folders to organize your notes however you like!

To make a folder, open the Notes app and hit the back button to view your folders. Select New Folder, give it a name, then hit save to create it.

To move notes into a new folder, go to your list of notes and tap the ellipsis icon near the top of the screen. Select the notes you want to move, then select Move To… to select a new folder.

4. Scan Documents

Move over bulky scanner, because the Notes app offers a surprisingly powerful document scanner! Scan things like recipes, owners manuals, forms, and more to keep a digital copy of them at your fingertips.

To do it, create a new note, then select the camera icon above the keyboard. Select Scan Documents, then position whatever you want to scan within the frame shown on screen. It usually does a good job of cropping and adjusting the image on its own, but you can adjust it if necessary. When you’re happy with the selection, hit Keep Scan, then Save to finish up!

5. Add A Link

Found a webpage in Safari or Chrome that you want to check out later? Save the link in a Note! Just hit Share, select the Notes app, then choose the folder or note you want to save the link to.

6. Make Notes Password-Protected

If you’re keeping sensitive information like account numbers, passwords, or gift ideas in a note, you can keep it safe by password-protecting it. Open the note, tap Share, then select Lock Note to add an unlocked note icon.

When you’re finished writing the note, tap the lock icon to protect it. The next time you (or anyone else) tries to access it, it will show This Note Is Locked until you enter your password or use TouchID to access it.

7. Share Notes

Notes are a great way to keep track of information for yourself, but it also makes it easy to share information with others (like your grocery list with your husband!) Open a note you want to share and tap Share. Options include:

  • AirDrop – Use WiFi and Bluetooth to share the note wirelessly with other iOS and macOS devices
  • Message – Send the contents of a note to someone via iMessage or text message
  • Mail – Send the contents of a note in an email via the Mail app

You can also add other iOS users to your notes, giving them access to the note within their own Notes app. Any changes you make will update on their end automatically! Just hit the person-shaped icon in a note to add someone to it.

8. Make A List

Who doesn’t love the satisfying feeling of checking something off a long to-do list? You can get the same gratification in Notes by using the built-in checkmark icons, which are perfect for to-do lists, shopping lists, packing lists, and more!

With your cursor in the body of a note, select the checkmark button to add an empty circle to the note. Then you can simply tap the circle to check that item off your to-do list!

9. Use Siri

You can create and populate notes in the Notes app without lifting a finger! Just activate Siri and say “take a note” or “start a new note.” Dictate what you want in the note, and Siri will transcribe it for you.

10. See Notes In Gallery View

The iOS 13 update brought a few new features to the Notes app, including Gallery View. When viewing your list of notes, tap the icon with four squares to switch to Gallery View to display your notes as thumbnails.

These thumbnails contain a mini preview of what the note looks like, which can come in handy depending on what you’re looking for. Super helpful for recipes!

11. Sync With iCloud

With the help of iCloud, you can also access and edit your notes from your iPad, MacBook, or any other Apple device. To set it up, go to Settings and select your Name from the top of the screen.

From there, select iCloud, then slide the toggle next to Notes to the on position. Then you’ll be able to access your notes from any device associated with your Apple ID!

Not An iPhone User?

If you don’t have an iPhone, never fear! Android users should check out the Google Keep app, which offers many of the same useful features as Notes. You can download it for free in the Google Play Store!

How often do you use the Notes app?

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    Hi, I’m Jillee!

    I believe we should all love the place we call home and the life we live there. Since 2011, I’ve been dedicated to making One Good Thing by Jillee a reliable and trustworthy resource for modern homemakers navigating the everyday challenges of running a household. Join me as I share homemaking and lifestyle solutions that make life easier so you can enjoy it more!

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