11 Incredibly Useful Features Hiding In The Notes App

images showing various iPhone notes app features

The Notes App Features You Need To Know About

Like many people, I depend on my smartphone to keep track of all sorts of important information. Without the Calendar and Notes applications on my iPhone, I’m sure I would regularly forget appointments, due dates, to-do list items, and more!

I’ve been using the Notes app for a long time now, but I’ve recently started exploring some of its less obvious features. It seems as though the more I learn about this seemingly basic note-taking app, the more useful it becomes!

In this post, I’ll be highlighting some of the most useful Notes app ideas, features, and tips for you. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised at what the Apple Notes app is truly capable of!

Not an iPhone user? See the end of this post for a great Android alternative to the Notes app!

11 Useful Things You Can Do In The Notes App

iphone note with a drawing of the word

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

I like that I can import my Notes drawings into the new iPhone Journal app, because Journal currently doesn’t have drawing options.

iphone note showing pictures of a couch

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.

iphone showing the notes app folders

3. Organize With Folders

The more notes you have in your Notes app, the trickier 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.

photos showing how to scan documents in your iPhone notes app

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!

iphone showing how to add a link in your iPhone notes app

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.

iphone showing a locked note

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) try to access it, it will show This Note Is Locked until you enter your password or use TouchID or FaceID to access it.

screenshot showing how to share a note in your iPhone notes app

7. Share Notes

The Notes app is 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, providing them access to them 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.

iphone showing a grocery list in the iPhone notes app

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!

screenshot showing how to use Siri to create a notes in the iPhone notes app

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.

screenshots of the gallery view in the iPhone notes app

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!

screenshots showing how to sync the iPhone notes app with icloud

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!

Do You Prefer Pen And Paper?

I don’t blame you! There are times when I prefer to have a quick hand-written list as well. But you know me — I’m always on the lookout for the best, fastest, or easiest way to do things. You can get all my best to-do list tips here!

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!

Want Even More Smartphone Hacks?

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Jill Nystul (aka Jillee)

Jill Nystul is an accomplished writer and author who founded the blog One Good Thing by Jillee in 2011. With over 30 years of experience in homemaking, she has become a trusted resource for contemporary homemakers by offering practical solutions to everyday household challenges.I share creative homemaking and lifestyle solutions that make your life easier and more enjoyable!

About Jillee

Jill Nystul

Jill’s 30 years of homemaking experience, make her the trusted source for practical household solutions.

About Jillee


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