The post will also forever be known as I’ve never given Apple notes enough of a chance and I bet you haven’t either. Despite two significant updates in recent years I’ve skirted around Apple notes usage, both for hand-written pencil ones and also writing things down, yet never used it entirely. There isn’t any good reason for this; many people use the stock notes app to the best of its abilities, it’s just never really ‘clicked’ – until now.
Notes are the cornerstone of my life, more so as I get older, I have to write stuff down rather than rely on my memory. I need to take meeting notes, I need to share information for my podcast, and I need to make shopping lists, so I don’t go hungry. When I add into this mix the fact I like to write a Journal and also write my blog posts, I end up with things spread all over the place.
If I can’t remember to buy food, I sure as hell won’t remember if I put my blog post idea in Ai Writer, Drafts or whatever cool app I’m using at this moment in time. You see I’ve skirted around all sorts of apps to do this with varying degrees of success (the closest was Bear), but nothing stuck. So I decided on all my requirements, and the Stock Apple Notes app was the most intimate. Using Apple Notes To Write In 2019.
When it comes to the Notes app, the stock iOS app isn’t ugly, but it won’t win any design awards. What it offers is rock-solid sync between devices (my two iMacs, iPad and iPhone) and a service I can trust to collect everything together with minimal fuss. Every time I think about my time with Evernote, I shudder a little, but Apple Notes offers what the vast majority of people need. I consider myself a power user, so some adaptations were required, and miser up becomes infantry more powerful when you take into account integration with Shortcuts and Siri. I didn’t want to go crazy as some users have, but if I am putting my life into one app, it needs to be useful.
I like clear divides between my work and personal life, so the first step was creating areas for both of these things. Apple Notes makes it dead simple to have folders of notes and not allows them to be nested. Once I am in a folder, created notes go straight into that folder, and sync to all my devices within a minute or so. Meaning my created folders become sudo workspaces, a handy feature of more specific writing apps such as Drafts.
If I’m in work mode, I will only see work-related notes. This also become more helpful with iOS13 ability to open multiple notes in split-screen and move between them with ease.
Using Emoji in the folder names also makes these much easier to find, as does not having too many of them. You can make this as in-depth as you like, notes does allow sub-folders to be set up on iOS now and once done, they will sync across all devices – and show up in iCloud.com. Keeping everything organised does help with finding the information you’re looking for, but spotlight is often your friend.
Shortcuts & Siri
Recent updates to Shortcuts makes working with Apple Notes much more natural and dare I say it enjoyable to use. Shortcuts has the ability to search, list, append and show specific notes with a few taps. Or indeed voice commands, the joy of using a stock app is the access it has to features very few other apps do. Siri is a breeze to use with Apple Notes for capturing content and working with Shortcuts.
What I enjoy about using Apple Notes is the mature and familiar feel. It is simple and straight forward to understand and to use a tired old saying – it just works. Other apps out there feature fantastic publication features, tagging and all sorts of things – but I’m always stuck with a sync issue at some point, or a feature stops working for a little while. I have none of those fears with this setup.
I’m sure there are issues some times, but for the most part, Apple service is now trustworthy. With notes powerful features, integration with the OS and brand new dark mode, it’s hard to go anywhere else.
My only issue is publishing from the app, other apps have much better sharing features, so writing has another step in it. I’m hoping to build some more powerful Shortcut once iSO13 comes out and solve this issue. At the moment in time, I am only using Apple notes, and very happy that I have found my almost perfect setup.