4/6/16
6:15 am

Password-Protected Locked Notes

A new feature in Mac OS X 10.11.4 and iOS 9.3 allows you to lock some or all of your notes in the Notes app. You can assign a single password that works for all locked notes in your iCloud account. You can lock and remove the lock on notes on your Mac, iPad or iPhone. This provides an extra layer of security if you store sensitive information in some of your notes.

Video Transcript (Click to Expand)
Hi, this is Gary with MacMost.com. On this episode let's take a look at a new feature for your Mac and iOS devices that allows you to lock and secure Notes.

There is a new feature if you've got OS X 10.11.4 in the Notes app. You can now lock Notes. So what this does is actually encrypts the note using a password. Before anybody that was logged into your account could access all your notes. Just open up the Notes app and you can access them. So they were useful for keeping notes but not secure notes like putting important information and numbers and things like that into them.

Now you actually lock some of your notes. You don't have to lock all of them. I've created a new note here, just called it Test, and in order to lock it I just hit the Lock button here and select Lock This Note.

What it is going to do is ask me to create a password. Let me cancel that because I can also go and say Notes, Set Password and come up with the same thing. Basically the important thing to remember is you're going to create one password that covers all of your locked iCloud notes. So you can have seven notes that are locked and all of them are going to use the same password.

Either way you do it you are going to create a password, so let me just create a dummy password here and verify it. I can create a hint that will be shown. If you forget your password you can't ever get to those notes. There is nothing that can get you in there. They are going to be encrypted so there is nothing you can do. Nothing Apple can do. Nothing anybody can do. So make sure that you remember and write down on a piece of paper and put it in your desk somewhere that password. Or use a password manager like OnePassword or something to store it.

I'm going to set this password here and it tells me that I basically need to close the Notes in order to lock them. So let's go and create another note here. So I've created Test and Test 2. Notice I can move back and forth easily between these. This one is unlocked and will remain unlocked while I'm using Notes.

If I quit Notes and go back into Notes I can see it is now locked and it is going to ask me to enter the password.

Another way to lock it is to click the button here to lock it. It's going to not just lock that note but all of the notes that I've locked. But notice how I've got this unlocked note here and all my unlocked notes will still be accessible. I can also go in and remove the lock so now that's no longer a locked noted. I can easily lock it again.

So that's how you use Locked Notes on your Mac. It's very useful. You definitely want to remember to quit Notes here. Of course, if you are concerned at all about security your should have your entire User account protected by a password. As a matter of fact even if you are not concerned about security everybody should be using a password on their user account and in addition to that, of course, if you are using a portable Mac you should be using a File Vault feature in System Preferences so that your entire Documents folder and all of your stuff are encrypted all the time.

But this is an extra layer of protection that you can have for Notes. The great thing is that is also works across iCloud. This lock will appear on other Macs I'm using that access the same iCloud account and also appear on iOS devices if the iOS device is using the latest version of iOS 9.3.

So here I am on my iPad. This iPad is using the same iCloud account as my Mac. So when I go into Notes here I'll see the same notes. There they are. You can see that the one note is locked just like it is on my Mac. In order to unlock it, once I've selected it, I can tap where it says View Note and I can enter the password by tapping in the password and I can also use Touch ID.

I'm going to use Touch ID to open it up. The very first time you do this it's going to ask for the password, I believe, and then you can use Touch ID from that point on because you have to at least prove that you know the password before you can then assign that to Touch ID.

So now you can see I've got that unlocked and I can switch back and forth between the two. It won't lock unless I hit the Lock Now link kind of at the bottom left or the padlock button at the upper right just to the left of the trash can there so I can easily lock that and then I can open it up again.

This doesn't effect the unlocked note and I can go to that. Now what if I wanted to lock a note. You can see there is no padlock button. There doesn't seem to be anyway to lock it. There is a Lock Now button at the bottom left but that will simply lock that one note. The one that already had a lock on it. It will not attach a lock to this one.

So how do I lock this note because on the Mac it was fairly straight forward. Here I've go tap the Action button, some people call it the Share button but it does so much more than sharing now. It is the one between the trash can and the create new note button on the upper right. I tap that and you can see Lock Note is one of the actions I can take. So I hit Lock Note and I'll either enter the password or use Touch ID and now that note is locked.

But it is in the unlocked state. You can see both are now in the unlocked state and I can move between them. If I lock them, it locks them both. When I unlock it will unlock them both. Now both are going to be locked on my Mac. So everything syncs across including the state of whether a note is meant to be locked or unlocked.

If I want to remove the lock from this I can hit the Actions button again and Remove Lock and I can remove the lock from that one note.

So that's how you do it on iOS and Mac. It's a handy feature. It's great if you have stuff that's of medium security. Some general information. Maybe you want to put some notes in there when you're traveling like your passport numbers of things like that and you just want an extra layer of security on those in addition to the security already on your Mac. You can just put all that information into a locked note or several locked notes and just know that it is a little harder to get into that information.

Comments: 6 Responses to “Password-Protected Locked Notes”

    Joel
    4/7/16 @ 5:19 pm

    I tried to lock the Notes that I have on my MBA only to discover that ability to setup a password is greyed out (i.e. not available)…I further noted that the Notes that I have are synced from my Exchange server which leads to my question; specifically, am I unable to use the password feature because the Notes originate from my Exchange Server as opposed a iOS/OS X device?

    Thanks in advance.

    4/7/16 @ 8:46 pm

    Joel: This is an iCloud Notes feature, so they won’t work with Exchange. Maybe in the future, but I wouldn’t count on it.

    Steve
    4/8/16 @ 5:43 pm

    Having set a password for Notes (all notes), how can you change that password, with or without first unlocking all notes?

    4/8/16 @ 5:55 pm

    Steve: In the menu bar, choose Notes, Change Password or Reset Password.

    Steve
    4/9/16 @ 6:25 am

    Thanks Gary. Not sure how I managed to miss that. How embarrassing :-(

    Joel
    4/9/16 @ 8:57 am

    Gary, a short note to thank you for confirming what I suspected was the case, much appreciated!!

Comments Closed.