I have a hate-love-hate-hate relationship with Notes. I love that Notes is built into both iOS and OS X and that it automatically syncs between devices and my home computer. I hate that individual notes constantly clone themselves into a dozen nearly identical versions of the same information. Apple does a terrible job in resolving conflicted edits. It also has a nasty tendency to entirely lose stuff. Life lesson learned: If it’s important, email it, don’t note it.
If I dislike the app so much, you might ask, why do I keep using it? There are plenty of third party alternatives on the market, several of which integrate with Dropbox, my cloud-of-preference. So why Notes?
The answer is simple. Notes integrates beautifully with Siri. I’m constantly using Siri to save a quick thought here or there. It’s ridiculous how much I love Siri and how little I like Notes.
If Siri supported third party cross-platform note apps, I’d have ditched Notes a long time since. But since I haven’t, I’ve created a body of how-to and workarounds for Notes. Here are some things I’ve learned along the way.
- You control Notes sync from System Preferences > iCloud. There’s a check box there for enabling and disabling iCloud.
- Your notes are stored in ~/Library/Containers/com.apple.Notes/Data/Library/Notes in an SQL-based storedata file. You can “view” them using sqlite3 or an SQL browser. Notes are not normally backed up to Time Machine.
- WriteApp’s Notes Exporter (freeware) lets you manually back up notes into plain text format. WriteApp develops the Write editor for OS X and iOS. Works great.
- If you’d rather not lose formatting to text conversion, Pedro Matiello offers an open-source “notes-export” repo that uses AppleScript to export HTML files. Also works great.
Between these, I’ve been able to create a system that allows me to control, store, and back-up my notes outside of Apple’s flawed management. It’s not ideal but it works. Have alternatives? Let me know.
Tip: When using Siri to take notes, you can dictate a little at a time using the add command to keep adding new thoughts to the note you’re creating.