Tools for Writers – Apple Notes

I love cool tools. I’m a sucker for analog tools like well-built notebooks and the ever-versatile index card, but I also have a definite weakness for software and apps.  While I sometimes feel a little guilty about my fascination with shiny new toys (don’t tell, but I have been known to temporarily abandon a deadline in order to download and explore a new app), I also know that writing is hard work and I can use all the help I can get. For that reason (and because  #geekfactor), I’ve decided to share some of my favorite tools with you via a post series called, aptly, Tools for Writers.


apple-notes-iconAnd the first tool I’d like to share with you is Apple Notes. (Sorry PC users.)

Despite my recent technical troubles with my MacBook Pro, I’m still an Apple fan. So, it was no surprise that the headline Apple Notes is the most innovative thing Apple did in the last two years caught my eye. The post, written by Matt Haughey and published on Medium, opened my eyes to the potential of a modest little Apple app called, simply, Notes. It’s standard on all Apple products – Macs, iPhones, iPads. I’ve used it on my iPhone for years to capture everything from shopping lists to story ideas to the names of people my daughter and I met while out walking dogs. What I didn’t know until I read Haughey’s article is how you can supercharge the usefulness of this tool by linking your notes in the cloud.

I won’t go into tons of gory detail (Haughey’s article does a great job with that), but I will say that the brilliance of this app is the fact that you can instantly capture any info you need (notes, links, images) and because it’s uploaded to the cloud you can then access it anywhere. Now, I realize that there are tons of ways to do this same kind of thing  (Dropbox, Google Drive, and Evernote come immediately to mind), but I have found that there’s something about the simplicity of Notes (and the fact that it’s so perfectly designed for the iPhone, which is the device I use to capture ideas when I’m out and about) that makes it particularly useful and fun to use.

Here’s a screenshot of Notes on my MacBook:


One of the very first posts I wrote for this blog (way back in 2010) was about the importance of capturing your ideas in the moment.  Notes has been an easy and reliable way for me to do just that – no matter where I am. And I love being able to instantly access  my information from any device at any time. Other cool features include the ability to add images and links to my notes (see the link at the bottom of the screen shot above), lock notes (so that a password is required to open them), and create checklists (again, see the screen shot above).

All in all, this is a super handy, free, reliable, and fun way to capture ideas and even work on projects. If you use Apple products and  haven’t yet discovered the full potential of Notes, I highly recommend exploring this app and making it part of your writer’s toolbox.


Jamie Lee Wallace Hi. I’m Jamie. I am a content writer and branding consultant, columnist, sometime feature writer, prolific blogger, and aspiring fiction writer. I’m a mom, a student of equestrian arts, and a nature lover. I believe in small kindnesses, daily chocolate, and happy endings. Introduce yourself on FacebookTwitter, Instagram, or Pinterest. I don’t bite … usually.

22 thoughts on “Tools for Writers – Apple Notes

    • If you do take another look, I hope it is a better experience. If not, maybe it’s just not the right fit for you. As much as I love my tools, I know every writer needs to find his or her own Perfect Process. 😉

    • If you’re using NOTES on your iPhone, the other way to do that is to click the little “send” icon at the upper right-hand corner (looks like a square with an arrow pointing up) and then you’ll have the option to send it via email, text, or any number of other methods depending on your settings. (For instance, I can send mine to Evernote because I have that hooked up.)


  1. While I waited for years for Ulysses to finally release for the iPad, and now use it for my professional work again, the beauty of Notes for me is that iCloud immediately syncs to every device so I’m never without the note I need. I can keep reference notes, links to sites, outlines, discarded story ideas and poetry scraps that I may one day finish.

    • I can’t believe I’ve never heard of Ulysses before. It looks like a great tool. I use Scrivener, which looks similar … especially now that Scrivener has also just released an app.

      I totally agree that the iCloud sync is fabulous … no muss, no fuss. Great way to capture and access all the Good Stuff. 😉

  2. Long time no read! I dumped my blogs so I could focus more on writing, and now I’m to the point of almost finishing my first book. In the process of doing that, I have been in the market for my own laptop/tablet. I currently use my wife’s, so it’s a pain sometimes to share a computer that stays at home.

    I use notes on my wifi-only iPhone, but I prefer Evernote. I love iOS, while I hate Windows. Yet my wife’s Windows laptop has Word, and that’s what I use to write my finished products on. Eesh! Sounds as bad as it is. So I’ve been shopping for something, but not sure what. Do you love Scrivener and how is the app? I’d like to get a Macbook, but saving for it is taking forever. So I’m considering a personal iPad with bluetooth keyboard, in which case I’d have to ask @Phillip T Stephens do you love Ulysses? How are the both for publishing to ebook?

    • Hello, Gene! 🙂

      I do love Scrivener. I currently use it for all my drafting, and then I copy & paste text into Google Docs on Drive for client collaboration. It’s a system I’m loving. Big time. I haven’t yet purchased the Scrivener app because I only have an iPhone, no iPad, and I can’t imagine writing on the iPhone (though I can sync it to my wireless keyboard). That said, I imagine that if you had an iPad + keyboard, you could use the Scrivener app on that. Here’s the link:

      Good luck & happy saving!

      • I have entertained the idea of using my iPhone and a bluetooth keyboard, but it’s not very practical. “My” iPad is now my son’s. I really am just tired of Windows and may revert to a cheap/used iPad just for writing since Macs are not in the budget. I’ll check out the Scrivener app reviews, thanks! The main issue I’m up against, besides money, is wifi connectivity, and since Evernote demands that I’m often a sitting duck when I want to view old stories I’ve written there :-/

      • I hear you about the WiFi issue. Though I haven’t got it all figured out yet, I think that’s one more reason the Scrivener + Scrivener app set-up might offer the best of both worlds … the ability to have “hard” copies stored locally, but synced with cloud versions that are accessible from anywhere when you’re connected to the Internet. I think I also read that even if you work offline, when you reconnect, your documents will automatically sync.

  3. Thanks for blog. Interesting but for myself I still like an ordinary notebook, beautiful pen, pencil and biros.
    Thoughts on paper even sentences somehow become real to me. I googled notebook to illustrate an article I was writing and was shocked to find hundreds of illustrations of the electric WIFI kind. Living as I do where even internet must come via an on roof satilite dish I’m grateful for the simple and creative. Love your illustration, however. Perhaps ….one day…..

    • I also still love pen and notebook, Faye. While I use electronic tools out of necessity, there’s a part of me that would love to be able to manage everything using traditional tools.

      I actually still capture many of my ideas and random thoughts on paper and then transcribe them to digital media as a backup plan. One of my favorite places to scribble in my notebook is down at the barn while my daughter has her riding lesson – something I’ll be doing later this afternoon! 🙂

  4. I like Notes too. Use them a lot on my mac, even tho I have a google smart phone. I like the simplicity of Notes.
    But, since i dont have an iphone, im not sure what good storing them in the cloud would be.

    • I think that even without an iPhone, you can access things from iCloud using your Mac. If nothing else, it’s a good backup measure to have a copy stored there as well as on your hard drive. Might be worth looking into. 🙂

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