Unlock the potential of Apple’s Notes app!

Take Control of

Josh Centers
(2 customer reviews)

This book tells you everything you need to know about Apple’s Notes app for iOS, macOS, and the web, from basic features like formatting to advanced features like scanning documents, password protecting notes, making sketches, and managing attachments.

All Take Control books are delivered in three ebook formats—PDF, EPUB, and Mobipocket (Kindle)—and can be read on nearly any device.


Apple’s Notes has come a long way since it was first introduced with the iPhone as a simple note-taking app, but many users are still unaware of its expanded capabilities. Now available on Macs, on iOS/iPadOS devices, and on the web at iCloud.com, Notes has become a surprisingly powerful tool for writing, sketching, organizing, and sharing information of all kinds.

Note: An update to this book that covers changes in macOS 13 Ventura, iOS 16, and iPadOS 16 is planned for late 2022. The update will be free to everyone who purchases the book now.

In Take Control of Notes, TidBITS Managing Editor Josh Centers provides a quick but thorough guide to this deceptively simple app, showing you how to master its many tools—and avoid or work around its limitations.

Among many other things, you’ll learn how to:

  • Choose where to store notes (iCloud, IMAP, or a device) and whether or how they sync
  • Import notes from other apps and services
  • Apply and modify character-level and paragraph-level formatting in a note
  • Make lists (including checklists and lists with multiple levels of indentation)
  • Work with tables in notes
  • Encrypt notes with a password
  • Add photos, videos, audio, maps, and other content to your notes
  • Scan printed documents into Notes and save them as PDF attachments
  • Draw and sketch using your finger or an Apple Pencil
  • Share notes with other users, and add @-mentions
  • Use the Quick Note feature in macOS and iPadOS to start a note from anywhere
  • Organize your notes into folders, tag notes, and search their contents
Josh Centers

About Josh Centers

Josh Centers is the managing editor of TidBITS and a freelance writer who has written for Macworld, the Magazine, Boing Boing, and the Sweethome. He has been featured on Daring Fireball, the Loop, TUAW, and Scientific American, and is a frequent guest on MacVoices. He lives in Tennessee with his wife, Hannah, and their three children.

What’s New in Version 1.6

Version 1.5 of Take Control of Notes focuses on the changes in iOS 15, iPadOS 15, and macOS 12 Monterey:

  • In iPadOS 15 and macOS 12 Monterey, there is a new Quick Note feature that lets you quickly take a note without opening the Notes app. See “Make a Quick Note.”
  • You can now tag notes to organize them. See “Tag Notes.”
  • In shared notes, you can swipe right to highlight changes in a note and reveal who made them. There is now a new Activity view to see all See “Share from Notes.”
  • Also in shared notes, you can @-mention other people in the note—for example, if you want to assign a task. See “Mention Another Person in a Shared Note.”
  • You can make tables in iCloud Notes for the web. See “Make Tables.”
  • Search in iOS 15, iPadOS 15, and macOS 12 Monterey can recognize text in images on newer devices, and that extends to the Notes app. See “Take Control of iOS 15 and iPadOS 15” for more details on that and other useful things like capturing text from real-world sources.
  • Read Me First
    • Updates and More
    • What’s New in Version 1.5
    • What Was New in Version 1.4
  • Introduction
  • Notes Quick Start
  • Why Notes
  • Use iCloud Notes
  • Make and Manage Notes
    • Choose Where to Put Notes
    • Make a New Note
    • Make a Quick Note
    • Import Notes from Other Services
    • Organize Notes
    • Search Notes
    • Password-Protect Notes
  • Format Notes
    • Learn Basic Formatting
    • Work with Lists
    • Make Tables
  • Use Graphics in Notes
    • Add Photos or Videos
    • Scan Documents
    • Write and Draw with Notes
    • Browse Notes Attachments
  • Share to and from Notes
    • Share to Notes
    • Share from Notes
  • About This Book
    • Ebook Extras
    • About the Author
    • About the Publisher
  • Copyright and Fine Print

September 28, 2022—An update to this book that covers changes in macOS 13 Ventura, iOS 16, and iPadOS 16 is planned for late 2022. The update will be free to everyone who purchases the book now.

2 reviews for Take Control of Notes

  1. David Forsyth (verified owner)

    Thank you very much for the book Take Control of Notes. I had not used the Notes app until I read about this book and bought it. I now use Notes daily for keeping track of a wide variety of information, adding photos, etc. I was using Evernote for many of these things but found that Notes works just about as well so have cancelled my Evernote account and saved several times the cost of the book.

    Thanks, David Forsyth

  2. Mike McGraw (verified owner)

    Josh, I’m reading your Notes book to learn the tool. One small issue I’ve found is that I cannot use your method to upload phots to notes. You say “In a note tap the “plus” icon and choose Photo Library to bring up the photo browser.” However, there is no plus icon in my version of Notes. (iPhone XR, all updates installed) I have found that I can open Photos, select and copy what I want, and then paste directly into a note.

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