Organize your messy Notes app with these simple tips

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What did we do before the Notes app on our iPhones? How did we make grocery lists? How did we jot down that one thing we need to remember? How did celebrities apologize for the latest PR disaster?

It really is a useful app. I’ve used it for everything from writing down the ingredients for New Year’s Eve dinner to composing a best man speech.

But there’s a pretty good chance you’re not getting as much out of your Notes app as you can. The app actually has lots of cool functions and tricks to help you get stuff done efficiently. Here are seven of our favorites.

1. Searching in your notes

If you’re like me, you’ve got countless notes in your iOS Notes app. And say you want to find an old recipe for a certain kind of chicken. All you have to do is go to the search bar and type in “chicken.” Also, as Apple points out on its site, you can search by specific types of notes, such as “notes with drawings.”

screenshot of notes app searching for "chicke"Recipes, restaurant orders, and menus with chicken on my phone.
Credit: Mashable

2. Adding tags

Say you want to keep certain types of notes all in one place. Did you know you can create tags that group notes together? Well, yes, you can. It’s so simple: Just type a hashtag with how you want to label the note inside of the note. For instance, here’s what that looks like in a grocery list for a salad I made last week.

list of ingredients and #groceries hashtagThe salad was good, to be honest.
Credit: Mashable

Once you tag the note, it’ll file under that tag in the home page of the app. It’ll look like this, under your folders.

screenshot of tags on iphone notes appSimple and useful.
Credit: Mashable

Tags are searchable and easily accessed from the Notes app. You can also tag a Note with more than one thing if it falls into a few categories. For instance, a grocery list for Mashable’s AirFryDay series might appear under both #groceries and #work on my phone.

3. Pin an important note

Let’s be real, there’s probably one note you use more than most. Maybe it’s something for work, or a project you’re working on at the moment, or, in my case, a note for funny names I make up for the video game NCAA Football 2013.

All you have to do is go into a note, hit the three dot button, then select the pin option. It’ll look something like this.

screenshot showing where to click to pin noteGaston Nebraska is a fantastic fake name. You have to admit that.
Credit: Mashable

Once the note is pinned, it’ll jump up to the top of your notes. It’ll look like this.

screenshot of pinned note titled names for ncaaIt’s helpful to have an important note up top.
Credit: Mashable

4. Add checkable marks to your lists

Some nifty auto-formatting in the Notes app might just change your grocery shopping forever. Say you make a list of things you need. Don’t just make dashes or hit enter. Click the little check mark icon on your screen and the Notes app will create bubbles that you can check off as you finish a task. Once an item is checked, it automatically moves to the bottom of the list. Look at this mock grocery list, where I’ve already gotten chicken thighs and sriracha.

screenshot of grocery list with checked itemsThe button is easy to find.
Credit: Mashable

Say your note could use some help. Did you know you can share notes and create/edit collaboratively in real time? That’s been a game changer for me and my wife as we try to get things done around the house.

All you have to do is hit the three-dot button then select “share note.”

screenshot of how to share noteSharing a note is wildly helpful and easy.
Credit: Mashable

Then choose how you’d like to send it and give access to whomever you like. They’ll be able to change the note and edit how they like.

screenshot of share noteI usually just text the note to someone.
Credit: Mashable

6. Make smart folders

When create a folder, you can choose the option to make a smart folder. Then you can select the tags that apply to it. Going forward, when you tag a note, it’ll direct to a smart folder designated with that tag. Here you can see me create a smart folder for food notes.

screenshot of making smart folderFood stuff, all in one spot.
Credit: Mashable

And here are my folders, on the home page of the Notes app.

screenshot of Notes folders

Smart folders are new to me but will be very helpful moving forward.
Credit: Mashable

7. Sort how you see your notes

By default, notes are sorted by date edited, from newest to oldest. But it doesn’t have to be that way. You can sort by title, date created, date edited, or from oldest to newest. All you have to do is hit the three-dot button, then select sort notes. The button looks like this.

arrow pointing to sort button in notes appEasy enough.
Credit: Mashable

From there, you can select any of these options for how your notes are organized.

Options for sorting notes in appPersonally, I prefer the default setting.
Credit: Mashable

That’s what is great about the Notes app. It’s pretty malleable and can be shaped to help each user get their tasks done how they see fit. Sure, celebrities use it for apologies and I use it for video games, but it might just help you get your life together.

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