The new Notes app in Mountain Lion lets you create and view small notes. These are also synced across devices using either iCloud or another cloud-based service that supports notes.



Video Transcript (Click to Expand)
Hi, this is Gary with MacMost Now. On today’s episode let’s take a look at the new Notes app in Mountain Lion.

So Notes may be the simplest app on your entire Mac. Basically it allows you to create little text files and stores them all inside the Notes app. The biggest thing that it does is that it syncs that between your Macs and any IOS devices using your same Apple ID.

So, here’s what it looks like. You probably have it down here in your dock once you install Mountain Lion and its a very simple app. It has several different configurations. You can change it down here. As you can see I can switch to one where it doesn’t have the left side bar and open up the left side bar there.

The left side bar is useful because not only do you have folders but you have different services where you can store notes. But we will get to that in a second.

Here in this list you have your list of notes and you can flip through them. To create a new note press the plus button here and start typing. You can put lots of different things in the note. Continue to type with it. You can style the text if you want just like in other apps. Command T will bring up the text formatting right there and you can set fonts and sizes and all that. It has some formatting options here under Format as well. You can create, for instance, bullet lists and things like that which can be useful inside of Notes.

You can switch between notes. There is no saving or anything like that. As soon as you type something it is saved so you can go into a note, type something, quickly switch to another note and type something, and go back and everything that you did on that first one is saved and is there. You can also quit at any time and all the information is saved.

Now for the individual notes you have some functions at the bottom. The Trash Can which will delete a note. You can also click here and go to delete. You have a shared button which right now allows you to share this note as an email or text message using the messages app.

So what is really important to pay attention to is exactly where your notes are kept. So you can see here on the left it says iCloud and I have a folder called Notes. I can actually hit this plus button here and create another folder and you can see “To Do Items” so I have a folder of To Do Items and a folder of Notes. All iCloud will give me all of those combined into one. Now iCloud tells me these are all stored on my iCloud account.

I can add other accounts by going to Notes, Accounts. Now what this is going to do is to launch System Preferences and take me to my user accounts here and I can see I have my different user accounts and some of them will support Notes and some of them won’t. So iCloud will support Notes of course and also Gmail and Exchange will support Notes as well. So if you go into your Gmail account you can select to have Notes turned on which means that now you will have another option here inside of Notes. You can see that I have iCloud and I’ve got Gmail. Under Gmail I can also create new folders as well.

So it is very important when you do this to make sure you have selected the correct folder when you create a new note if for instance I were to be here in Gmail and I hit the plus button to create a new note under my notes folder in Gmail that would not then sync with my other devices that are just using iCloud. It would only sync with devices that are using that same Gmail account using the Notes syncing having that turned on as well. So you want to pay special attention to that.

Also occasionally, it is not on by default and there is no real way to force it to go on, but occasionally you will have an On My Mac section here as well. One way I know to force that is to try to drag it. I can drag a note here, it’s in my Gmail, and I can drag it to iCloud and it will now move that note in there. Sometimes doing that will actually create an On My Mac temporary folder there which won’t contain anything. So if you see On My Mac here that it means it’s locally stored. You probably don’t want to use that. Another time you will see On My Mac is if you delete both of these and you have no other account. Then you can only store notes on your Mac and they won’t sync with any services they will just exist on your Mac.

One cool thing that you can do with Notes is that you can bring them out into their own window. So for instance I can double tap that and I get this window here that just contains the note. It doesn’t have the side bar or anything else. So that could come in handy. You can move that here and then create say another one and have multiple notes available on one screen which could come in handy if you are working on a project and have some information about that project in a note.

So that’s it. That is all Notes does. The most important thing it really does is to sync with your IOS devices. It will sync with other devices as well. For instance if you are using Exchange or Gmail and you have a device that supports notes from Exchange or Gmail it would sync with that. So the most important thing is that you can actually jot down some information while working on your Mac and then have it later on through the cloud on your iPhone. Or vice versa. So it is a very easy way to exchange information or to have information at your fingertips any time you want it. You can copy and paste into Notes. You can even drag and drop files and images into Notes and of course if the other device you are using supports that and the service you use supports that it should sync across too. It would with iCloud for instance.

So I don’t see this as being a major new feature that everyone must use. I can see it being handy for a lot of folks. It can be useful to quickly store a bit of information and have it available on another device later one.

I hope you found this useful. This is Gary with MacMost Now.


11 Responses to “MacMost Now 752: Mountain Lion Notes”

  1. Marshal says:

    In the beginning I thought: “Gary is going crazy lol… He is using a lot of shortcuts and don’t say a word about it…”
    But then I realized that it seems that your mouse was invisible :P

    Thanks a lot for the video Gary… now I understand what means the On My MAC and Gmail!!!

    • Yea, a little bug in the screen recording software for Mountain Lion. I need to come up with a good work-around until they fix it.

      • Marshal says:

        LoL… But your excellent work pays off.

        However I’m still having some problems with the “On My MAC”. It insists in appear. Even if I move all my notes from it to iCloud and it doesn’t have notes anymore.
        Every time I open the app Notes, the notes that I created before last “QUIT” appears duplicated (one in icloud and one on my mac)
        What could it be?

        One last thing, what’s the difference of config Gmail using Exchange or Gmail on MAC? My iPhone is with Exchange for Push. Do I need to use the same of iPhone on MAC to sync Gmail notes?

        Thanks a million, Gary.

        • I think it is a little buggy. Hopefully it will sort it self out in a future update.
          I’ve never tried to connect to Gmail as an Exchange service. Don’t know if there would be any difference. I would think that connecting as Gmail would be best.

  2. Chris says:

    Hey Gary,

    I’m looking for some tips. I do not use 3G on my iPhone, only Wi-Fi. But my notes do not sync automatically. I must open the notes app on the iPhone before heading out the door.

    For example: I get on the iMac, add some text to a note, say a grocery list, and I pick up the iPhone about to head out the door. The notes are not yet synced unless I open the notes app on the iPhone. If I forget, well, no grocery list on the iPhone.

    Any advice?

    Thanks!

    • It might just work like that. You launch Notes and it syncs. For people using the iPhone normally, they would never notice.
      So why don’t you use 3G on your iPhone? You pay for it, right?
      I guess if you want to use Notes without 3G, you’ll either have to tap into wifi at other locations, or remember to update before you leave.

      • Chris says:

        True, now that I think about it, it makes perfect sense why it works the way it does.

        Thanks!

  3. Phil says:

    Thanks for the video. I’m wondering if you have any solutions for the predicament I find myself in. When I upgraded to Mountain Lion, I got a duplicate set of notes show up in the new Notes app. I figured no problem, I’ll simply delete the duplicates. After about the third of fourth deletion, I realized that both notes were being deleted. I can’t figure out a way to undelete the notes–I have a TimeMachine backup, but it’s back at the office and I won’t be there until next week. In the meantime, I realized that both my iPhone and iPad still have copies of the notes I deleted. However, these notes are under their respective accounts (e.g., iPhone or iPad) and I can’t figure out a way to move them over to my me.com account or the iCloud so that I can get them back on my MacBook Pro. Any ideas?

    I don’t understand why Apple wouldn’t have made it so that deleted notes can be recovered from the trashcan. I realize the notes aren’t separate files, but you would think they would have included an undelete feature in the app in case some notes are deleted by mistake. I also need to figure out why I get a duplicate set of notes on my MacBook.

    Thanks for the feedback.

    • It sounds like you are somehow subscribed to the same account twice. For instance, the same iCloud account twice, or the same Gmail account twice. That would explain why you see each note twice, and why deleting it once will delete it from the server, which deletes both versions on your Mac.
      I’d check your settings carefully.

  4. Marshal says:

    Hey Gary, how r you doing?
    I didn’t find the option to create new folders on Notes app for IOS.
    And about the Notes for MAC, my icloud settings keeps turning off the notes sync. And only the Notes. Why this is happening?

    Thanks a lot Gary

    • I don’t think there is a way for you to create a new notes folder on iOS, at least not on the iPhone. As for why your sync turns off — no way for me to know. Check and double-check all of your iCloud and Notes settings.

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