Mac Productivity

5 Easy Ways to Organize Your Life With Apple Notes

Akshata Shanbhag 08-01-2018

If you need a simple, yet flexible note-taking app on macOS, you must consider Apple Notes as a top candidate for the post. That goes double if you’re tied to the Apple ecosystem Apple vs. Android: Buy the Ecosystem, Not the Gadget You love your Android phone and want to buy a tablet. Everyone tells you the iPad is the best tablet, and it really is the best; but you should still buy an Android tablet. Read More and love the convenience of iCloud.


Familiarize yourself with the basic features of Apple Notes 10 Tips to Get the Most out of Apple Notes on OS X Have you switched over to Apple's vastly improved Notes app? Here are a few tips on improving your workflow. Read More and use the next five tips to turn the Notes app on your Mac into the ultimate organizer.

1. Keep Important Files Handy With File Attachments

Notes allows you to attach files to individual notes; drag and drop the files into the desired location in the note. You can preview the attached files with Quick Look, rename them, and share them — all from the Notes app.

Apple Notes' Quick Look Attachment for quickly viewing files

I recommend using the file attachment feature to bring some of your most-used Finder files into Notes. Why? To add some context to them, which is sure to make finding the data in those files easier.

To see the benefits of this approach, let’s consider, say, the resources related to your personal website. For starters, you probably have a folder for logo files and one for a handful of profile pictures to upload to various websites. Add a text file to store your website content and one to store testimonials you have gathered from past clients. You’ll need to save details such as the colors in your website’s logo, the fonts you use, and the website maintenance tasks you need to follow up on.


Yes, you can access all this data by digging through Finder folders or by sifting through tags. Wouldn’t you rather get to it from a single note or from a folder of notes named, say, Website Resources?

Storing functionally related information in a single Apple note

If you’re curious to know where those attached files go to roost, here’s your answer:

~/Library/Group Containers/

The attached files will get backed up to iCloud with the rest of your Notes data if you have set the Notes app to sync with iCloud. You can check whether you have enabled or disabled cloud sync from System Preferences > iCloud > Notes.


Syncing Apple notes with iCloud

Thanks to the Attachment Browser, you can view files attached to all notes in one place with a click of a toolbar button (it’s a grid with four squares). Based on the attachment type, Notes sorts files into documents, photos and videos, maps, and so on.

Apple notes attachment browser

While you can drag folders to Notes, we wouldn’t recommend doing so; they could get corrupted without warning.


Folder-opening error in Notes

2. Get Organized With Checklists

Are you a list love? Why not go crazy with the Checklist feature in Notes! It’s perfect for tracking your progress 10 Ways To Dig Yourself Out Of Task Backlogs The feeling of drowning in a list of never ending tasks is a fear common to all of us. The cure is available. Here are ten ways to claw your way back. Read More on everything from the usual to-dos and bill payments, to reading lists and travel plans. Combine the Share feature of Notes with checklists and you have an easy way to send your birthday wish list to loved ones. You’ll find note-sharing options under File > Share.

Click on the Make a checklist toolbar button (a check mark enclosed in a circle) within any note to create a checklist. Here are a handful of ways you can put checklists to use:


If you would rather not back up notes containing sensitive information to iCloud, put them in the On My Mac folder — it stores notes locally. If the folder isn’t visible in the sidebar, force it to show up by selecting the checkbox for Enable the On My Mac account under Notes > Preferences…

Keeping notes on your Mac with Enable the On My Mac account setting

You can also protect notes with a password: select the Lock Note option in the note’s right-click menu to set one. It’s a pity password protection doesn’t extend to notes with file attachments.

3. Scan Information Faster With Tables

If you hate spreadsheets, use the table feature in Notes to track what goes in and out of your pocket instead of using yet another app. Click on the Add a table toolbar button (sandwiched between the lock and checklist buttons) to create a new table.

Create tables for monthly and annual expenses, automatic and manual payments, and IOUs. You’re less likely to miss important information about your money 4 TED Talks to Help You See Your Money in a New Way Personal finance can be a scary and intimating subject. Luckily there is a wealth of information to help you learn. Here are some of the best TED Talks on the subject. Read More when you can take stock of it at a glance. When you can see:

Thanks to the Share sheet integration, you can even add reminders for specific expenses. For example, let’s say your domain name comes up for renewal in the first week of August every year. Why not set a reminder for it to prompt you to pay in the last week of July? You don’t have to leave the Notes app to do it!

To create a reminder from Notes, select the text snippet you want to link to the reminder, and from its right-click menu select Share > Reminders.

Creating a Reminder from Apple notes with Share

Feel free to tweak the reminder title and content in the dialog box that shows up. Paste in a link to the payment page to speed things up. Click on the tiny information “i” icon next to the reminder name to tell the Reminders app when and where you’d like to receive a notification. Once you hit the Add button you can rest assured that the Reminders app has taken note of your request.

Creating Reminder notification and adding details

Can’t see the Reminders app in the Share menu? You’ll need to enable its extension first. To do this, first click on the More… button in the Share menu and then select the checkbox for Reminders in the extension list that shows up.

Make sure Reminders is enabled in Settings > Extensions > Share Menu

4. Access Web Content Fast With Link Attachments

When you’re browsing the web with Safari, use the Share feature to save links to articles, videos, Amazon products, SoundCloud songs, and so on. It’s a great way to create playlists and bookmark items without cluttering up your digital life Clearing Out Clutter Is Good For You — But Why? Decluttering is a great way to start the year feeling fresh, and it gives you a big sense of accomplishment — but there's more to it than that. This simple habit can improve your life. Read More with more user accounts.

Click on File > Share > Notes from any web page to add its link to an existing note or a new one on the fly. Links saved this way come with previews, unlike those you type in or paste into the Notes app. The previews make identifying information a whole lot easier. Their content depends on the dictates of the source website though.

Now, how about saving links to free online resources such as guides, templates, and planners in a separate note for future use? Start with our ultimate Mac security guide The Ultimate Mac Security Guide: 20 Ways to Protect Yourself Don't be a victim! Secure your Mac today with our exhaustive High Sierra security guide. Read More .

Saving websites in Apple Notes

5. Use Custom Thumbnails to Find Notes With Ease

Images are powerful visual cues. With a simple trick, you can take advantage of them to jog your memory while searching for notes. For every note or at least the most important ones, attach an image right at the start of the note. (It can be anything: a logo, symbol, photograph, or an icon.) A thumbnail of the image then shows up next to the note’s name in the note list, which makes for an easy way to find the right notes faster.

Highlighted thumbnails in Apple Notes

You’ll find attaching images easier if you have them stored in the Photos app. If you have, you can pick the right ones within Notes with the Photo Browser feature hidden in the Window menu.

Using Window > Photo Browser to attach images to notes

Plan to use the photo browser often? Access it in a single click with its toolbar button. You’ll need to make the button visible first, here’s how:

  1. Right-click on the toolbar.
  2. Select the Customize Toolbar… option.
  3. Drag the Photo Browser icon from the popup dialog box to the toolbar.
  4. Click on the Done button to wrap up.

Customize Notes tool bar with right-click > Customize Toolbar

One App Instead of Many

Track your school, college or personal projects and use Apple Notes as a research tool How to Use Apple Notes as a Research Tool Apple's free Notes app can be an indispensable research aid on both a computer and mobile device. Read More .

Save Maps locations to Notes and you can access them (even offline) from the Notes app itself. That’s quite handy when you use an iPod Touch and have no Wi-Fi access on the go. You’ll need to access the map at least once when you’re connected to Wi-Fi to cache it (i.e. to make it available for offline use).

Bookmark Goodreads pages for books and you can pick stuff to read next from your new digital bookshelf aka Notes.

To-read list in Apple Notes

Notes has the potential to replace so many apps/services and adds much-needed context to your data based on how you wish to see it. That you can carry your notes in your pocket with an iOS device How to Use Apple's Powerful New Notes Features in iOS 11 Notes has received its fair share of useful new features in iOS 11, so here's how to use them. Read More makes an already-great deal irresistible. The only fuel Notes needs is your creativity.

Is Apple Notes Your Top Choice Yet?

Apple’s native note-taking app still lacks a few features that many of us would consider must-haves. For example, tags, Markdown support, and plaintext export. You can’t deny that Notes has some serious potential though, and it is getting better with each iteration, don’t you think?

I hope Apple doesn’t pile on feature after feature and turn Notes into the kind of apps many of us are trying to dodge — complex and cluttered. The simplicity of the app is after all a big part of its charm. With a little careful planning, you can turn Notes into your go-to data hub for managing various areas of your life.

Which other kind of data or information would you suggest saving in Notes? Share your best tips in the comments.

Related topics: Apple Notes, Organization Software.

Affiliate Disclosure: By buying the products we recommend, you help keep the site alive. Read more.

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  1. Abhi
    August 29, 2019 at 2:47 am

    Creative, minimal, productive and utilitarian. Love the article.
    Helped me stop looking at a bunch of other apps that add mere bells and whistles to what Notes already does which is enough.

  2. Liz
    March 21, 2019 at 10:50 am

    I like this article. Very helpful. Thank you.

  3. Goode BUY
    May 18, 2018 at 10:16 am

    I have been with APple my entire life, and sometimes I hate them so deeply. Notes and Voice Memos have wasted SO MUCH OF MY TIME in the last few years with their ROTTEN SOFTWARE<ROTTEN SYNCING< and stupid lack of basics like BATCH FING EXPORT!!!!

    Your article is totally pointless. If I can't batch export 200 notes with dates preserved (THIS IS IMPOSSIBLE IN NOTES), then there is no point in taking those notes in the first place. STUPID STUPID APP FROM AN ARROGANT COMPANY WHO IGNORES ITS CUSTOMERS!

  4. Ryan
    January 8, 2018 at 9:34 pm

    Microsoft apps are compatible on multiple platforms, where as Apple keeps everything exclusive to their OS.

    That's why this whole article is irrelevant.
    The only people using Apple computers in the workplace, are companies with old hippies, and young hipster running the company who are trying to be different.

    No one wants to pay for 1 Apple when they could get 2-3 PCs with better hardware.

    Until Apple makes the decision to change their closed platform policy, it is almost counter productive to learn their programs. Focus in the ones people actually use.

    • Bubba Jones
      January 26, 2018 at 3:57 am

      Hey Ryan,
      Your comment “Until Apple makes the decision to change their closed platform policy, it is almost counter productive to learn their programs. Focus in the ones people actually use...”. MS Office runs on Apple computers, iOS devices, as does Adobe and most all other software vendors. You are focusing on hardware, the good news software creators write for both Apple and Windows. Did you know Apple hired Bill Gates and company to write the first office apps a few years prior the Microsoft creating those same apps for themselves? The predecessor to Excel was first created for Apple not Microsoft. As for closed system do you remember the often quoted Microsoft mantra “DOS ain’t done ‘til Lotus won’t run’”, look what Microsoft did to Netscape and others locking them out; thus your beloved Microsoft in many respects is a closed system, they can only run Windows software. Apple can run both Windows and Apple software.

      Your other comment does not make sense “...No one wants to pay for 1 Apple when they can get 2-3 PC with better hardware... Okay, right off the bat you know your comment is false, why because Apples sells a gazillion computers. At a meeting Steve Ballmer was giving a talk in front of a few hundred folks. At the beginning of his talk he commented he did not see any Windows PCs in the audience only Apple. He followed that comment with “that is okay as long as you purchase our software”. Truly, I suspect you have not priced highend Window PC’s, and PC laptops. Many Windows based computers are more expensive than comparable Apple devices. Now, I will agree with you ten years ago there was a big price disparity, but not now.

      Where did you get this from “...The only people using Apple computers in the workplace, are companies with old hippies, and young hipster running the company who are trying to be different...”. Spoiler alert, again you are wrong. Business purchase their computing tools, be it a Windows or Apple, based on need, ROI, longevity, support, and the like.

      Think about school systems around the country, Windows computers in grammar schools, high school, and college, are more rare. Of course they are there, but not anywhere near where it was ten years ago. By the way, in many of the school system Chromebooks well outpaced Windows computers.

      Always, I chuckle when someone calls someone that likes Apple products a Sheep. Think about this, because you are using that term Sheep means you are being a sheep following what someone else has stated. Also, we could switch and say that you are a Sheep to your preferred computing device as well.

      Regardless how much you justify your comments, truly you are one of the following, ill informed, ignorant (can be fixed), closed minded, or just stupid. Or on the lighter side as many trolls tend to do you like to stir the pot.

    • Bubba Jones
      January 26, 2018 at 3:07 pm

      @Ryan: “...Microsoft apps are compatible on multiple platforms, where as Apple keeps everything exclusive to their OS....”. You have forgotten all Apple apps are available online. Thus regardless of your chosen OS you can have access to all their apps, files, and the like.

  5. Ryan
    January 8, 2018 at 9:25 pm

    Stfu Apple sheep.

    95% of the real world uses office, excel, etc.

    Why? Because it's better, and proven.
    Notes is for autistic people.

    Simple interface?
    More like waaayyyy to over simplfied.

    Notes/pages will make everything you create look exactly like every other Apple user. I'm guessing that's a win in your book?

    • John Robertson
      January 8, 2018 at 9:30 pm

      Why so angry bruh?

      • Ryan Tvedt
        January 12, 2018 at 1:02 am

        I'm full of rage, and hatred.