How To Back Up Your Apple Notes

If you store important information in your Notes app, you'll want to make sure it is backed up. Since notes are stored as a database, not individual files, you'll need to use multiple methods to insure you can recover information in different situations.

Comments: 34 Responses to “How To Back Up Your Apple Notes”

    Karen
    3 months ago

    Thanks for this video! I followed your steps exactly to make the shortcut, but I got this error message: "Couldn't communicate with a helper application." I had Notes open. Any ideas?

    3 months ago

    Karen: Try a restart. And launch Notes first before running the Shortcut.

    Simon Jones
    3 months ago

    Hi Garry, I’m in the UK. Is there any chance you could make the shortcut available for download. I back up saving as pdfs and this is so time consuming. I also have Time Machine running and periodically back up the system files. I’ve trined the shortcut by taking a screen shot of your process and it just won’t work. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Love your content and learn so much even being a Mac User since 1989. Best Regards Simon.

    Karen
    3 months ago

    No luck with a restart – too bad! It seems like a great system for keeping copies of notes. I do have Time Machine running and I use iCloud, so I'm not overly worried about losing them. I'll leave it for now – too many other things to do, but I appreciate you trying. :)

    3 months ago

    Simon: What happens when you try it?

    Azer
    3 months ago

    Thank you for this Gary. I tried replicating your shortcut step by step and I’m getting a failed message, even after restarting and having notes running.

    Any chance you can share a download link for your shortcut?

    Thanks for all your tutorials, they’re great!

    Bob
    3 months ago

    Thanks, Gary:
    Works well. I didn’t realise I had so many notes!

    3 months ago

    Azer: What does the message say exactly?

    Azer
    3 months ago

    Thank you for the reply Gary. It said something to the extent of “failed to run shortcut” but I think it might’ve had to do with my backup location being on an external drive.

    I changed the location to my local drive and it works perfectly.

    Thanks again, this is a great timesaver!

    Karen
    3 months ago

    I played around a bit more with this today and got it to work by selecting an advanced setting in Shortcuts to "Allow Sharing Large Amounts of Data" – yay!

    Christopher
    3 months ago

    Thanks for this Gary, really helpful. Quick question; wouldn't it be possible to automate a daily backup of this shortcut using, well, a new shortcut program? Just wondering... Thanks again in any case. ☃️

    John Perry
    3 months ago

    This was very relevant Gary. Have you a video on Notes which I can purchase?

    3 months ago

    Christopher: There is a third-party app named Shortery you can get that I think allows scheduling like that.

    3 months ago

    John: I have lots of free videos here at the site. No course that is just about Notes though if that is what you mean.

    Bob
    3 months ago

    As usual a great tutorial. I followed the Shortcut to back up as PdF's to a folder. The first time I ran it I got a pop up saying "this action is trying to share 210 Notes items. which is not allowed. you can allow this in Preferences*.

    *Side note: this is actually NOT Preferences but Shortcuts SETTINGS/Advanced. The inconsistency in nomenclature is not a good look Apple.

    John Perry
    3 months ago

    Yes just about Notes and getting the best out of it. Since I asked I have seen that notes is part of the macOS Sonoma video but I am not sure how much detail you go into there.

    Bob Fahrenholtz
    3 months ago

    Hi Gary! Thanks for sharing these suggestions. I created the shortcut. For some reason, it didn't work with the Creation Date but does when I use Last Modified Date. That actually gives some version control. Fortunately, the majority of my notes don't change frequently so it shouldn't be a space/file management issue. I also needed to change Shortcut > Settings > Advanced > to Allow Sharing Large Amounts of Data to get past an error message. Thanks again!

    Bill Roberts
    3 months ago

    Thank you for this video. As I have folders, I added a folder to the pdf file name. I also have subfolders. Is there a variable that hold the Note path?

    3 months ago

    Bill: You can try to build a path in a Text "action" and then use that in subpath. Or, you can build the whole thing in the subpath field. I haven't built a version of this to do folders, so I'm not sure what it would look like in the end exactly.

    Clinton Hayes
    3 months ago

    Thanks Gary. This is really useful.

    Gabe D.
    3 months ago

    Hi Gary, thanks for the great videos. I tried this shortcut exactly; however, no pdfs were created. Right above Save PDF to NOTES BACKUP subpath Format Date Name, there is a red notification: "You can allow this in Preferences". Any suggestions? Thanks again!!

    3 months ago

    Gabe: Shortcuts, Settings, Advanced, Allow Sharing Large Amounts of Data.

    Gabe D.
    3 months ago

    Thanks Gary, Worked perfectly!

    Pat (Ireland)
    3 months ago

    Hi Gary. The shortcut seems to get thrown off by special characters! I have some Notes created with a title beginning with the special character _. It saves the title line but ignores the rest of the Note. I also notice that if it encounters a Note title with the special character /, it creates a sub-folder with that title.
    Any tips to eliminate this ‘feature’ without re-naming the Notes in question? Thanks, Pat.

    Pat (Ireland)
    3 months ago

    Hi Gary. I should have complimented you on the Shortcut. Very well done and a great Notes backup solution. Pat.
    PS. The underscore problem only occurs if the next character is a numeral.

    Dave Simpson
    3 months ago

    Hi Gary. Thanks for this tutorial, it works fine for me.
    One thought I had was to add the media folder to the backup process.
    Whilst the images won't be linked to the Notes you will at least still have them.
    Depending on how large your media folder is, it may be necessary to compress it.
    Dave

    3 months ago

    Pat: You can see why the / would create a folder as that's what is used in file paths. So your options are to either eliminate those characters from your Notes titles if you plan to backup this way, or to expand on the Shortcut by modifying the Notes title before you use it as a filename to remove some characters.

    Geoff Ralph
    2 months ago

    I found this video so clear but I would like to know how it handles Locked notes as many of mine have have personal data that I want to keep secret eg PIN for bank card, Medical details etc. Any advice please?

    2 months ago

    Geoff: I believe if your Locked notes are locked, it doesn't include them. If they are unlocked it does. But test and see. But what is your concern as the files you are saving would be in your storage, in your Mac user account, right? And that is protected with your user account password. I suppose you could also enhance the Shortcut with an IF statement that checks for a character or word (like "private") in the title and skips those.

    Jose Vasquez
    2 weeks ago

    Re: Books App
    I tried this for the Notes App and it worked! I wanted to do the same for Books App as well for my PDFs I have stored there. I quickly realized that I just have to Select All and drag to a folder of my choosing. No need to run a shortcut for PDFs in Books. But, even easier, I bet those PDFs in Books are in some folder in the Library anyway.

    Jose Vasquez
    2 weeks ago

    I'm wondering if a shortcut can be created for Pages and Text Edit documents in order to batch create PDFs of those files.

    2 weeks ago

    Jose: But why would you want to create PDFs in a batch for backup? Just backup the files you already have. No need for the extra steps that would just give you versions of the documents that would be less editable.

    Jose Vasquez
    2 weeks ago

    I feel that PDFs are like having a printed copy of a file, but I guess that's probably not the case. I was once unable to open an important document in a third-party app, which turned out to be corrupted, and I wished I had a PDF backup of it. But, you make a good point. So, with this Notes shortcut, could it be modified to export .txt files instead of PDFs?

    2 weeks ago

    Jose: Yes, you could just get it as text. I think backing up Notes as PDFs is a good idea since there is no such thing as a Notes "document." Put Pages and TextEdit documents are already files. Just back up those files. Time Machine does it for you.

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