Using Highlights and Notes In iBooks

You can highlight text in iBooks and add notes for each highlight. These can be used as study guides or simply reminders. Highlights and notes in iBooks textbooks will be added to the flash card study function as cards. You can also export the highlighted text using copy and paste. They also sync across your devices using iCloud.
Video Transcript / Captions
Closed captioning for this video is available on YouTube: Using Highlights and Notes In iBooks.

Hi, this is Gary with Let's take a look at Highlights and Notes in iBooks for Mac.

So let's go into a book here, in iBooks on the Mac, and let's take a look at some text. Let's say I want to highlight something so I can refer to it later. I can use the cursor here and select text. Once I do that I get this little menu that pops up and gives me several different types of highlighting. I can do colors, or red underline. Let's just do a standard yellow there.

If I want to change it later all I have to do is click anywhere in this highlighted area and it comes up and I can change it, I can remove the highlight, just switch between which ever one I want. I can also add a Note. That will create this post-it note kind of thing here and I can add some text to it. Now when I click off of it you can see that the note goes away but it appears as this box here. So I can select the highlight still, and I can remove the note, or remove the note and the highlight, or I can click on the note itself to reveal the note to see what I wrote.

Now let's flip through a few pages here and create another note. Here let's just do a yellow highlight for that. I can go to the top and there is a way I can review all of my notes. I click on this icon here and I can see all of the notes. It shows me the highlight, this is the part that is highlighted, underneath any note that I added.

I can also add a note. I didn't put one initially for this highlighted area so I can add it right here and you can see it is going to appear on the right when I'm done. You can see it appear right here. So I can access my notes either of these two ways.

If I had multiple highlights in multiple chapters I would have chapters with these little reveal triangle here so I can kind of go through my notes for an entire book and see what I have highlighted. Of course if I want to jump to it I can click on the page number and it will take me right to where any of these notes are and it gives me the time of when I made this note.

I can also search through the notes so it will show me the notes and the highlighted text and I can search through and find things very quickly.

So if you are looking to anecdote something you are reading, make some important notes so you can remember things later this is a great way to do it.

This, of course, syncs over iCloud so if you are using iBooks say on your iPad or iPhone or multiple Macs these notes will appear throughout all of the copies of your book in all of these different platforms.

Now this works basically the same way in Textbook. So I'm reviewing a textbook, one that was made for iBooks, so it has features in it, for instance glossary terms. So here you can see I can click on astronomy for a glossary term. I can also highlight text just as before and it will appear in my notes here on the left. I can do all the same stuff as I did before.

It is also going to incorporate, anything I highlight, any notes I had, to the study guides. So you see I've this Study here, I click on that study button, and in addition to five different glossary terms that are already added here by the creators of the book, I've got the area I highlighted and if I Flip Card you can see it uses the note I added. So I can create my own study cards here by simply adding highlights with notes. The rest of them are actually glossary terms. You can see at the top. So they are things that already existed in the book.

Two other things I want to show you here. One is that in Textbooks only, you can use the Show Notes in Margin to actually put the notes over here rather than having them as a little box that you have to click on or having the panel on the side.

Another thing in both the textbooks and the regular books you can use the Command key and the cursor will change to crosshairs and you can quickly highlight things. So you don't have to do the multiple steps to highlight some text. You can just use Command and then drag. You can still click on it later and change the style.

Now while it would be nice to have an export option for your notes you can actually select them, select individual ones or Command click to select multiple, and then you can Copy and then Paste them into something else like, for instance, TextEdit. If I paste them into TextEdit here I get all the information that's been highlighted and the notes as well as a little bit of information at the bottom.

Comments: 8 Responses to “Using Highlights and Notes In iBooks”

    5 years ago

    Gary, I have about 7 e-books in KINDLE on my iMac. I bought these books from Amazon.
    I did NOT know I had iBook on my iMac running Mavericks (10.9.4). Two questions:

    (1) Can I export these 7 books from KINDLE to iBook on my iMac, as iBook seems more powerful than Kindle … ???
    (2) If I buy more books at Amazon, can I designate iBook, instead of Kindle, as the download host … ???

      5 years ago

      1. No. They are most likely locked (copy protected) so you need the Kindle app to view them.
      2. No. They are competing stores. Things you buy from Amazon are for the Kindle app and thing you buy from Apple are for the iBooks app. If you purchased an eBook or PDF file from another source, you can drag that into iBooks to read it, though. I suppose some Amazon books could be available in ePub or PDF format, but I’m not sure.

        5 years ago

        Thanks for answering my 2 questions. You da man … !!!!

      5 years ago

      If your e-book is not copy protected, open-source software Calibre ( can convert it to PDF. There are a couple of DRM removal software tools with free trials, but I’m not sure if that infringes on any licensing agreements. It’s probably best to enjoy your Kindle Reader for Amazon books, and use iBooks for Apple’s content and other PDF files.

    Kerrie Redgate
    5 years ago

    Once again, great information, Gary. I had no idea these things were possible in iBooks. Love the way you demystify the Mac for me, as I had spent 20 years on Windows, so Apple is new and wondrous territory and I don’t always easily discover features. Many thanks!

    Michael Becker
    5 years ago

    I foolishly purchased a textbook from Amazon/Kindle which I needed to use in a court report verbatim, but to my distress I discovered electronic books from Amazon can’t be printed; I had to buy the actual book and you can me sure I didn’t get it from Amazon!

    I know with Kindle I can highlight some of the text but is there anyway to print A greater volume such as two or three pages and a copy of the cover?
    Gary, you have done me a world of good with the clarity of your instructions, THANKS!

      5 years ago

      Probably has to do with the license between Amazon and the publisher. But I can understand why they would restrict printing. It is against copyright law to copy printed books, so why not electronic books? And so, why would they enable a print function?
      For three pages, I would imagine screen capture and printing the images in an option. But it would be kind of odd to thwart copyright protection to present something in a court of law.
      This is a case where a printed copy is needed, or simply a portable device (MacBook, iPad, iPhone, Android phone, etc). With Amazon Kindle books you could have loaded the book up on any device, which is an even better solution than printing.

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