10 Tips to Get the Most out of Apple Notes on OS X
If you have switched over to Notes and use it on a regular basis, you’re sure to have figured out the basics, but we thought you might appreciate a few tips on improving your workflow. So here they are!
Import Your Notes
If you want to bring your notes from Evernote into the Notes app, you’re in luck. You have a hassle-free solution in the form of Larry Salibra’s script (download). It comes with simple instructions.
If you’re using a different note-taking app, you don’t have a straightforward way to import your data into Apple Notes. But don’t worry! You’ll get one soon, because an “import notes” option is coming to Notes in the OS X 10.11.4 update, which is in beta at the time of writing.
How-to import notes from Evernote to Apple’s Notes app for OS X 10.11.4. El Capitan pic.twitter.com/xTiTjGhi46
— Christian Zibreg (@dujkan) February 9, 2016
Use Checkboxes for Your To-do Lists
Wrapping up a task is that much more satisfying when you can cross it or check it off your to-do list. That’s why we recommend adding checkboxes to your tasks in the Notes app. It’s easy to do.
Place the cursor on any line that makes up a task and click on the Make a checklist icon in the toolbar at the top. This prefixes the task with a blank circle, one that you can mark as checked. Completed tasks are highlighted in orange and with a tick mark.
Love keyboard shortcuts ? Use shift+cmd+l to add a checklist and shift+cmd+u to mark a checklist item as complete.
Add URLs to Notes
The Notes app allows you to store web page links in your notes — quite a convenient option when you don’t want to clutter up your bookmarks . You can simply copy-paste a URL to a note. Then hit the spacebar or the Enter key to make the URL clickable.
If you stumble across a link while browsing and would like to save it to one of your notes, you can use the OS X Share feature to send the URL directly to the right note in the Notes app.
When you’re on any web page that you want to save, click on the Share icon in Safari’s toolbar and select Notes from the menu that appears. You’ll then get a dialog box where you can select a note and save the link to it.
Use Makeshift Tags
There’s one thing that Apple hasn’t introduced to notes — tags. If these are a regular part of your workflow, you’ll have to make do with a hack. Go ahead and use hashtags in your notes and then search for them using the search box in Notes or using Spotlight , to filter notes based on hashtags.
Get Expressive with Emojis
It’s the era of emojis . If you want to add an emoji to a note, here’s the quickest way to do that: hit cmd+ctrl+space to bring up the emoji keyboard and click on any emoji of your choice. This shortcut is not limited to the Notes app. It’s works in various text fields across OS X.
Look at Notes without Squinting
The default font size in Notes on OS X is ridiculously small. Unfortunately that’s how it’s going to stay till Apple adds a setting to increase font size across the app.
A message to Apple developers who designed Notes app for MacOS El Capitan (clue: font size) pic.twitter.com/dq6DuAfdcp
— Piotr Kowalczyk (@geekowalczyk) October 14, 2015
For now you’ll have to content yourself with increasing font size on a note-by-note basis. To do this, select any note text and click on Format > Font > Bigger. You can also scale text up and down faster with two shortcuts: cmd+plus (for scaling up) and cmd+minus (for scaling down).
Speed up Formatting with Keyboard Shortcuts
The usual shortcuts for emphasizing (cmd+b), italicizing (cmd+i), and underlining (cmd+u) text work in the Notes app, so you can continue using them to keep your workflow fast and smooth. In addition to these shortcuts, you might want to start using the following to make text formatting easier:
- shift+cmd+t to use the Title style
- shift+cmd+h to use the Headline style
- shift+cmd+b to use the Body style
Finally discovered the keyboard shortcuts for Apple Notes formatting. Quickly replacing Evernote for me. If it only did Markdown… :)
— Craig Jarrow (@TMNinja) January 19, 2016
Every note begins with a standard font style, which you get to pick via Format > New Note Starts With. Your options are Title, Headline, and Body.
Make Your Notes Portable
Your notes don’t need to stay stuck within the Notes app. You can export them as PDFs using the File > Export as PDF… option in Notes, or as a bunch of plain text files using Notes Exporter.
Sync Notes with Your Email Account
Because Notes is a part of the Apple ecosystem, your notes are pushed to your iCloud account. It doesn’t hurt to check that everything is configured properly on your Mac. To do that, go to System Preferences > iCloud and ensure that the checkbox next to Notes appears selected.
You don’t have to keep your notes synced with iCloud. You can sync them with your Gmail account by going to System Preferences > Internet Accounts. There, select your Gmail account from the sidebar and in the list of applications on the right, check the box next to Notes. Your notes then appear as emails in Gmail, and are tagged with the label Notes.
You can also back up your notes to any other email account instead of Gmail. All you have to do is check the Notes option for the right email account under System Preferences > Internet Accounts. This feature has been around for quite some time.
Find Notes Faster
You can scan folders or the list of notes in them to find a note, but there are a couple of simpler ways to get the same result:
1. Use the Attachments Browser
Image thumbnails are easier to scan and identify than a bunch of text snippets. If the note that you’re looking for has one or more attachments, you can find the note via any of its attachments. To do so, first open the Attachments Browser by clicking on the grid icon in the toolbar or by pressing the keyboard shortcut cmd+1. Now right-click on the attachment whose note you’d like to open and select Go to Note from its context menu to jump to the note.
2. Use Spotlight
If you love the speed of Spotlight for accessing everything on your Mac, use it to search your notes as well. You don’t need a keyword that’s part of the note’s name to locate the note. Any keyword from the body of the note will also do. Of course, the number of results will vary based on the precision of your keywords.
Do You Use Apple Notes?
Notes does lack a few features that could be super useful. Tags, Markdown support , and sort options, for example. Despite these missing features, Notes is on the right track to become a primary (and perhaps only?) note-taking app for many people immersed in the Apple ecosystem.
Will you be ditching Evernote? Have you discovered any hidden features or hacks while exploring Apple Notes on OS X?
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