iOS 18 Notes App: Unlock the Hidden Features

The Notes app on iOS 18 offers much more than a simple place to jot down text notes. Underneath its straightforward interface lies a surprisingly powerful suite of features that can enhance your note-taking and project management. This article will explore some of the lesser-known capabilities of the iOS 18 Notes app and how you can use them to boost your productivity.

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Secure Your Private Notes

The Notes app now includes a Secure Notes feature that lets you protect sensitive information with a passphrase. When you enable this feature for a note, the contents are encrypted and can only be viewed after entering your passphrase or using biometric authentication like Face ID or Touch ID.

Secure Notes ensure that your private data remains private even if your device is lost or accessed by someone else. It’s perfect for things like Wi-Fi passwords, credit card numbers, or any other personal info you don’t want openly visible.

To create a Secure Note on iOS 18:

  1. Open the Notes app and create a new note or select an existing note to make secure.
  2. Tap the More button in the toolbar at the top of the note.
  3. Select the Lock Note option.
  4. Enter and confirm your passphrase when prompted.

Your note text will now display as obscured until unlocked with your passphrase. The note will also display a small lock icon to indicate its secure status.

Organize Notes with Tags

The Notes app allows you to create custom tags to categorize and group your notes. Tags make it easy to search and filter your notes so you can quickly find what you need.

To add tags:

  1. Open a note and tap the More button.
  2. Select Tags.
  3. Enter your desired tag names separated by commas.
  4. Tap Done.

The tags will appear below the note text. You can tap a tag to view all notes with that tag applied.

Some potential uses for tags include:

  • Project or client names
  • Note categories like “Ideas”, “To-Do”, or “Important”
  • Topics like “Recipes”, “Shopping”, or “Trips”
  • People’s names to associate notes from meetings or calls

With tags, you can build a refined organization system tailored to your needs.

Enhance Notes with Attachments

The iOS 18 Notes app supports attaching photos, sketches, web links, documents, and other file types directly into your notes. This provides immense flexibility to incorporate multimedia content and supplementary information.

To attach files:

  1. Open a note and tap the Plus button.
  2. Select the type of attachment: Photo/Video, Sketch, Scan Document, Web Link, Map Location, or File.
  3. Follow the prompts to insert the attachment into the note.

With attachments integrated directly into the note, all the relevant details are stored in one place. For example, you can scan receipts, brainstorm sketches, embed web links for reference, add maps of locations, or attach documents related to projects.

Share Notes Securely

Need to collaborate on notes with a partner or team? The Notes app makes sharing simple and secure.

To share a note:

  1. Open the note and tap the More button.
  2. Choose the Share Note option.
  3. Select the sharing method you want to use.

For sensitive notes created with the Secure Notes feature, you can control sharing on a case-by-case basis. Only those you explicitly grant access to will be able to view the encrypted note contents after entering the passphrase.

Sharing notes enables seamless collaboration while the selective sharing for secure notes prevents unintentional leaks of private data.

Customize Note Appearance

Tired of plain white notes? iOS 18 Notes allows you to customize note appearance in several ways:

Change default font and text size: Set the default look for all new notes. Go to Settings > Notes and select options under Text Size and Font.

Alter individual note format: Open a note, tap the More button, and choose the Format Note option. Here you can change elements like fonts, text color, and background color for that specific note.

Add checklists: Transform any note into a checklist by tapping the More button and selecting Checklist. Add checklist items as needed.

Insert headers: Organize longer notes with headers to divide sections. Tap More > Format Note and use the Headers option.

Don’t settle for a singular look for all notes. Use formatting customization to differentiate note types, highlight important text, or simply add some visual flare.

Choose from Handy Note Templates

For specialized note-taking scenarios, the Notes app provides a selection of templates to get you started:

  • Checklists: Create task or grocery lists.
  • Contacts: Store names, phone numbers, and email addresses.
  • Events: Plan details for upcoming events and meetings.
  • Goals: Outline objectives and deadlines.
  • To-do: Write down tasks and action items.
  • Travel: Record itineraries, reservations, and packing lists.

To start a note from a template:

  1. Tap the New Note icon in the bottom right.
  2. Select Choose Template at the top.
  3. Pick the desired template.

The template will open as a new note pre-formatted for the selected purpose. Customize the content as needed and tap Done to save.

Write Naturally with Handwriting and Drawing

Thanks to Apple Pencil integration, the Notes app accommodates handwritten notes and free-form sketches. Writing by hand or drawing out ideas can feel more natural than typing in many situations.

To use handwriting and drawing features:

  1. Open a note and select a pen or pencil from the tool menu.
  2. Write or draw with your finger or Apple Pencil directly on the note canvas.
  3. Tap Done to save changes.

Your handwritten or sketched content will be converted to digital text and seamlessly incorporated in the note.

Scan Documents and Whiteboards into Notes

iOS 18 enhances the Notes scanner with the ability to capture entire documents, forms, receipts, business cards, and more. Simply use the camera to snap a picture of the item, and the app will auto-crop and enhance the scanned image.

The scanner also now works with whiteboards. Line up the camera and it will automatically detect the whiteboard shape and eliminate glare and shadows.

To scan into a note:

  1. Open a note and select the Scan Documents option from the toolbar.
  2. Position the camera over your document or whiteboard and tap the shutter button.
  3. Make any needed adjustments and tap Keep Scan.

The scanned material will be added right into the note for future reference. Scanning physical items directly into Notes eliminates the hassle of managing separate images or PDFs.

Set Reminders for Notes

Notes can now integrate with the Reminders app to help you stay on top of important to-dos, deadlines, appointments, and more.

To set a reminder:

  1. Open a note.
  2. Tap the More button.
  3. Select Reminder.
  4. Customize the reminder options like date/time and repeat settings.
  5. Tap Done.

The note will display a Reminders icon and appear within your Reminders app. Receive a notification when the reminder comes due so you never miss a noted action item.

Real-Time Collaboration

iOS 18 Notes ushers in real-time collaboration, a major upgrade from previous version’s basic sharing capabilities.

When collaborating on a note:

  • All participants can edit the note simultaneously.
  • The note updates instantaneously for everyone as changes are made.
  • Cursor locations are synchronized so everyone stays in sync.

Collaborative notes enable teams to brainstorm, share meeting minutes, coordinate projects, and more from a single up-to-date reference accessible to the group.

To start collaborating:

  1. Tap the Share Note option after opening the note.
  2. Choose Add People and select collaborators or create a shared note link.

That’s all there is to it! The note will now update for all collaborators as edits happen.


The Notes app includes an impressive set of features beyond basic note taking. Secure notes, multimedia attachments, scanning, templates, reminders, and real-time collaboration transform Notes into a versatile hub for individual and team productivity.

Unlocking the full potential of Notes requires digging deeper into its capabilities. Implement some of the techniques outlined here to level up your note-taking game and streamline your workflows. iOS 18 Notes readily adapts to your personal or professional needs thanks to the broad utility hiding beneath its simple exterior.

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