How to use Notes in iOS 11

c/o Tom Page/Flickr

Notes in iOS 11 receives excellent improvements, these include:

  • Scan Documents,
  • Inline Drawing
  • Better Search
  • Instant Notes
  • Better Text
  • Pin Ups

Scan Documents

You can now use Notes to store all those annoying receipts, bills and other items. Because Notes speaks to all your other Apple devices (so long as you are logged into the same Apple ID), you can then gather all this data on your Mac for your tax return, project, research, or whatever.

To scan a document: In a Note, tap the Plus sign in a circle and then choose Scan Documents in the menu that appears. Your camera view kicks in, point it at the document and align your camera so the item you want to scan is visible and highlighted by a yellow tint. Notes will automatically grab the image, using its automatic scanning feature. You can also choose to scan into grayscale mode. When you’re done hit Keep Scan and then Save. (You can even sign the document with your Apple Pencil this way).

Inline Drawing

When you draw something in Notes you’ll see the text around your creation move out of the way. To draw when in a Note, just tap the pencil in a circle icon that appears above the keyboard. You’ll find five tools: three pencils, an eraser, and a color picker (black, blue, green, yellow, read). Tap Done when you finish drawing.

Searchable Notes

You can also search your Notes – but what makes this truly clever is that you can also search through your handwritten Notes. I remember when I started as a reporter when I used to have to plough through pages of handwritten notes in a notebook to find a particular statement: Now, with Notes, your iPhone or iPad will do this for you. That’s clever. Better yet the search takes place on your device so no one else has access to your stuff.

Instant Notes

iPad Pro users also get a brilliant feature: When they tap their Apple Pencil on the Lock screen they can start taking Notes immediately, and whatever they write is saved to the Notes app. I think this will be very useful indeed.

To enable this feature open Settings>Notes and toggle Allow on Lock Screen to on (green).

Better Text

There are some text enhancements. Tap the Aa text button and you can set bold, italic, underlined and strikethrough text, text indents, right and left-hand justification, and also set your text to be Monospaced. These neat little improvements supplement the enhancements we saw in iOS 10 (Title, Body, Heading).

Pin Ups

One more feature you may have missed: You can Pin Notes to the top of the list. If there’s a Note you know you’ll need to find in future, just swipe it toward the right of the display and the Pin icon will appear. Now the Note will be pinned to the top of the list.

One more thing

It is also much easier to file Notes into folders. Swipe left and you’ll find the Trash, Lock, and Folder icons. Tap Folder to return to folder view, tap the folder you want to put your Note inside and in it will go. You were able to use the ‘Move‘ tool in iOS 10 to achieve this, but this really ‘feels’ much easier. It’s a small enhancement I think will help everyone get their Notes better organized.

These are all nice improvements and in conjunction with the collaborative features introduced in iOS 10 they make Notes a significantly useful app (at last).

The ability to Scan Documents, as well as take photos or videos to include in a note, add sketches and introduce items from your Photo library also breathe life into what was once a little-used app.

There also seem to be numerous tiny-but-meaningful talents to Notes. For example, your virtual pens change color to reflect the color you pick.

Have you found other improvements in Notes?

Jonny Evans

Watching Apple since 1999. I don't say what they should do. I say what they might do. They sometimes do.

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