Notes is one of the default apps comes as part of macOS. You can use the app to create notes with tables, pictures and share with others quickly. Apple also added new features to Notes app in macOS 14 like linking other notes, viewing PDF and share note to Pages. This is my favorite app in Mac to keep all my work in progress items. If you frequently use Notes app in your Mac, here are some of the useful Notes app tips.
1. Using Tags in Notes
Tags help to identify and organize similar items so that you can quickly access all of them without searching separately. You may already know that Mac has tags which you can see in the left sidebar on Finder. Do you know that you can also create within Notes app to organize your items?
- Simply use # with any word to create a tag when you type inside a note.
- This will automatically show the tag on the left sidebar.
- You can anytime click on the tag to view all the notes that contain the tagged word.
2. Create Smart Folders with Filters
Smart Folder in Notes allows you to use tags and filters effectively to group similar items. When you have hundreds of previously created notes without tags, then creating Smart Folder is the best way to arrange them quickly.
- Press “Command + Shift + N” to create a new folder in Notes app.
- When the pop-up opens, check the “Make into Smart Folder” box to view additional options.
- You can include the filters to match Tags, Date Created, Date Edited, Shared, Mentions, Checklists, Attachments, Folders, Quick Notes, Pinned Notes and Locked Notes. This will collect the items from various folders and show it in the new Smart Folder based on your filter criteria.
You can anytime delete a Smart Folder without affecting the notes inside the folder. It is just a container to show notes based on the filter and deleting it will not delete your notes.
3. Lock Notes
This is another useful feature that you can lock individual note with a password. You can use a custom password or use your Mac’s admin password to unlock the note. Simply click the lock icon from the toolbar when you are creating a new.
Choose whether you want to use Touch ID (if you have Magic Keyboard) or use custom password to unlock the note. Mac will enable the password and show an information that the locked notes will be closed automatically with inactivity.
Note that you can’t lock a note which has a tag as the tagged items can be viewed freely. You can choose whether to use custom password or login password and enable Touch ID if available by going to “Notes > Settings” section.
4. Quick Notes
Many Mac users do not know that you can create a quick note without opening the Notes app by pressing Fn or Globe with Q key. Unlike regular notes, Quick Notes will appear separately on top of the sidebar without mixing with other items.
5. Dark or White Background Mode
Notes app will follow your macOS setting to use light or dark mode appearance. However, you can customize whether to use dark background or white background when using dark mode. Go to “Format” menu and select “Show Note with Light / Dark Background” option.
Toggling from the menu will work only on the current note till is opened. If you permanently want set light background for all notes, go to “Notes > Settings” menu and uncheck “Use dark background for note content” option in the Settings dialog box.
6. Change Font Size
You can select the text and use “Command and +” and “Command and –“ keys to change the font size. However, for permanently using larger font size, go to “Notes > Settings” and drag slider to desired position against “Default text size” option.
7. Move List Item Up or Down
Sometimes, after creating a huge list you may want to move an item in the list up on down. In this case, position the cursor on the list item and press “Control + Command + Up Arrow” to move that item up or press “Control + Command + Down Arrow” to move it down. Alternatively, you can go to “Format > Move List Item” menu and select “Up” or “Down” option.
8. Show Notes Count for Folders
By default, each folder in the sidebar will show how many notes are available inside the folder as a count next to the folder name. If you do not see the count, go to “View” menu and select “Show Note Count” option.
This will give you an overall idea of how many notes are available in each folder and how many Quick Notes you have.
9. Pin and Unpin Important Note on Top
If you want to see an important note whenever opening Notes app, you can pin the item to top of the list. Simply right-click on any note and select “Pin Note” option. You can pin multiple items and they will be shown in top inside the folder and when you are in “All iCloud” folder.
Anytime you can remove the pinned items from the top by right-clicking on the item and selecting “Unpin Note” option.
10. Automatically Sort Checklist
By default, the order of the listed items will not change in Notes app whether they are in checked or unchecked status. However, you can sort the order automatically by bringing all checked items to bottom. Sometimes, Notes app may ask you to enable automatic sharing when you check an item in the list.
Otherwise, go to “Notes > Settings” menu and check “Automatically sort checked items” option.
11. Link Other Notes
When you many related notes in a folder, it make sense to link each other to give connectivity.
- Select a text in a note and right-click on it.
- Select “Add Link” from the context menu that appears.
- You will see “Add -Link” pop-up and type the name of a note in “Link To” box.
- Notes app will filter and show the results based on the name and select the one you want to link.
- Click “OK” button to create a link.
For deleting the link, right-click on the linked text and select “Edit Link” option. On the pop-up, click “Remove Link” button.
12. Share Note to Pages
Though you can insert checklist, table and images to your notes, Notes app is not a full-fledged word processing app like Pages. If you want to add colorful features to your plain text note, then simply share the note and open it in Pages app.
Once you are done formatting and adding content in Pages, you can export it as PDF back to Notes app. Learn more about how to share and edit notes from Notes app to Pages in Mac.
13. View and Navigate Through PDF in Notes
Earlier you need to attach the PDF files to your note. However, the latest Notes app allows you to embed the PDF document and view its content easily. You can also show / hide thumbnails to go to different pages of the PDF document quickly.
14. Markup on Images and PDF
You can easily add shapes, signature and text overlay on embedded images and PDF within Notes app. Normally, you can double click on the image in a note to open it in Preview app. Instead of that click on the image and then click the small arrow showing on the image. This will show a dropdown menu and select “Markup” option. Similarly, click the three dots showing just above the PDF embed and select “Markup” option for annotating PDFs.
15. Collaborate with Others
You can easily share a note with multiple people and collaborate. For that, click on the share icon and select “Collaborate” option from the dropdown. After that click “Only invited people can edit” text to expand the options where you can set permissions for who can access and make changes to the note.
Notes app will send you a notification whenever a shared note is edited or someone mentioned your name.
Notes apps in Mac also has lot of keyboard shortcuts which you can use for quickly inserting table, checklist or attachment. All the deleted notes will be available under “Recently Deleted” folder which you can recover within 30 days. In addition, you can enable “Allow mention notifications” option when sharing a note with multiple people. This will help to get a notification whenever someone mention your name in the shared note so that you can keep track of the status.