Are you using Apple’s Notes app? Although it remains limited to iPhones, iPads, and Macs, it has become an incredibly useful tool that even offers collaboration features to help work as a team.
Juggling too much at once? Notes can help
Apple has reiterated Notes over the years and has made useful productivity improvements in its most recent operating systems. (Aside: QuickNotes is also very valuable.)
Notes today is a powerful service synced with iCloud with features that let you save words, documents, pictures, websites, links, checklists, etc. search function.
Here are some of the things you can do with that can help you stay ahead of the millions of tasks you suddenly face in late 2021 (and the COVID-19 pandemic).
Are you using gallery view?
I live in list views in all of my apps because it’s a good way to stay on top of multiple topics at once. This is why I so often neglect to use the Gallery View, which is a more visual way to find notes. You will see any image taken from the top of the note and the first few words of the text.
To access Gallery view on iPhone / iPad: Press the three dots ellipsis icon and select See the gallery or put your device in landscape mode to automatically call up this view.
To access Gallery view on Mac: In Notes, just tap the four-square icon above the second column or use View> As Gallery from the applications menu.
The Quick Way to Find Attachments
I love that you can use tags, folders, titles, and images to make Notes stand out. But if your notes are like mine and have become a minefield of poorly ordered notes in no particular order – with a few pinned at the top and an item somewhere at the bottom of the “Resolution 2012: Stop Procrastination” market – you will have need this trick: Attachments view.
To see all your attachments in a visual gallery, tap the ellipsis on iOS / iPad and select View attachments. Or choose View> Attachments browser on a Mac. Alternatively, just place your iPhone in landscape mode and you will see this view as well.
Starting with iOS / iPad OS 15 and macOS Monterey, you can assign color-coded tags to every note you create. These sync to iCloud and give you another way to search for items, as well as a powerful way to collect relevant notes from different topics in smart searches. You can assign multiple tags to each note, which makes Smart Folders useful as they can organize items from different folders and on different topics.
How to create a tag?
Just type the hash (#) then the tag.
This report can be tagged as #helpful tips, once saved in Notes, for example.
The big limitation is that these tags don’t proliferate in other apps, so a note won’t be discoverable in a smart folder on your Mac or in Files on iPhone – just in Notes. Once you’ve assigned a few tags, you’ll see them appear in a new tag cloud at the bottom of the left column of the app.
How to use smart folders
Smart folders are a great way to put together relevant notes. When you create a folder, you can also access a range of commands. Tap the ellipsis and you will be able to share the folder, sort its notes (including sort them in order), add a new folder or move the current folder, rename it, add attachments and convert it to a folder. clever .
[Also read: 2021 — the year Apple became a big player in enterprise tech]
Choose the folder you want to convert to smart folder, tap the ellipsis, and then tap Create smart folder, add a name to it, and its notes will be labeled with the same name. You cannot convert folders that contain subfolders, shared folders, or folders that contain locked notes. In the future, any note that you tag with this subfolder name #projecttitan, for example, will be retrieved and made available in this Smart folder.
How to sort the notes in a folder
Each folder lets you define how the notes it contains are organized by folder. Open the folder, tap this ellipse, and select Sort Notes By. The default is to sort notes by when they were edited, but you can also set this option to Oldest First, Newest First, Sort by Title, and Date Created. Just choose the order that makes it easier to manage your notes for that specific set of notes.
To prevent checked items from moving to the bottom of your list, open Settings> Notes and set Sort the checked items at Manually. On a Mac, open the app preferences and check or uncheck Automatically sort checked items.
How to share notes and folders
Sharing notes (and folders) is easy. On iOS, select a note, tap the ellipsis, and choose Share Folder.
- On a Mac, tap the person in a circle with a plus button icon at the top of the app.
- You will be asked to assign rights and you will have two choices: “Can make changes” or “View only”.
- You will then be asked how you want to share: via Messages, Mail or other selected apps.
- Finally, you can choose the freedom to share this note. You can allow anyone you share it with to share it with others, or secure the note so that no one you share it with can then forward those confidential Project Titan notes to that reporter who knows too much.
One more thing: in iOS 15 and macOS Monterey, you can use mentions to let collaborators know when something has changed in a note, just type @their name in the note and they will be notified to verify what you have changed.
How to export notes to PDF
You can export notes in PDF format; just choose File> Export in PDF format on a Mac.
- On iOS, tap that ellipse again and tap To print.
- Then, in the Print dialog that appears, drag two fingers over the preview image you see to get a full screen preview of what you are going to print.
- This full screen preview will be a PDF, which you can now insert a copy of in Books or tap the Share item to send it to someone else via Email, Messages, AirDrop, etc.
How to see what people are doing in a shared note
You can see what people did in a note. Open the note, press and hold it, and swipe left to right. You’ll see a timed and dated list of all changes and who processed them.
Perhaps you have found some ideas to help you use Notes better. You can also explore Apple’s own guide to its app to learn a bit more.
More advice? Here are more to explore:
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