Using Mac Notes For Files and Other Objects

If you are using the Notes app only to store simple text, then you are missing out on some of its advanced features. You can store images, videos, audio, links, map locations and many other things in Notes. You can also add checklists and tables. Objects stored in notes can be examined and also exported and shared.
Video Transcript / Captions
Closed captioning for this video is available on YouTube: Using Mac Notes For Files and Other Objects.

The Notes app on your Mac allows you, of course, to type little bits of text to then access them easily on your Mac and then see them on your other Apple devices as well. But you can put a lot more in there than just plain text. As a matter of fact it's hard to keep track of all the different things that you can put into Notes now. So let's take a look at a whole bunch of them. Note that you have to be using iCloud for some of these. If you're storing your Notes somewhere else using another Cloud service then it may not support some of these.

So assuming you're using iCloud for Notes let's try putting some other things besides text into a note. So I have a note here and I'm going to bring over a Finder window that has a bunch of different files in it. So, for instance, if I wanted to put an image in here I can drag and drop an image. It goes in there just fine. So you can add images there into Notes. As a matter of fact with images you can even use the Markup tool here and other extensions that you have installed and do things like annotate the image and then the annotated version will then be in your note.

Now you can also put video in. So I'm going to drag and drop a video file in here from the Finder and the video appears in there. I can even play it, pause it, and even share it from inside the note. Now, as you can imagine, if you can do video you can also do audio. So here's like an MP3 file. I drop that in and I can even play that audio there. So audio works as well. Now what about other file types. Let's make a little room up here.

Let's say we wanted to insert in a text file. We can do that. It puts it there. What it's doing is it is putting a link to that file. So I double click it and it will open up that file. Here is that file opened up there in another part of the screen. How about something like a pdf. The pdf goes in there as well. But in addition to it being there as a file link it's actually visible. I can actually read the pdf here although it's hard to read a multi page pdf. But if I double click on it, it will then open it up in Preview. So at least I can see the first page and I can use Markup here to actually markup the pdf. So useful for one page pdf's.

Now you can see a lot of this stuff in a browser mode for Notes. So there's this button up here. Browse attachments such as photos, maps, and more. So if I click on that I can see photos and videos and this goes across all my notes. I can see the audio file there and other documents there as well. Now notice this gives up some clues as to other things you can bring in. For instance Maps.

So Maps are a little different. There's no real good drag and drop method for maps. But if I go into the Maps app and I were to click on a location I can Share and I can Share to Notes. It even gives me the option then to choose which note. So I can say my Test note and Save. Now I can see if I go back to Test note I can look there and at the bottom there is a link, a map link. I can move that around inside that note. So I get that as well.

Now the websites work in a similar way. I can bring up Safari, go to a webpage, and I can Share that using the same functionality as before. Selecting Notes. Selecting which note and we'll put it in there. I can also use drag and drop. So I can bring up the Notes app again here and if I just quickly drag this URL in here I can put it exactly where I want. I can see these now under Websites here and under Maps.

Sketches and Scans are two things that you would do on your iPhone or iPad. They are iOS devices for Notes and if you did that and you had everything syncing through iCloud you would see these here. So you don't have any way to bring in sketches and scans. Of course you can bring in any image you want. So you can use a sketching app and then save that out and put that in here. You can also Copy and Paste. That works well too.

So another thing you can do here that's text based is you can insert a checklist. So I click here to make a checklist and I can add as many items as I want. Now I can check those off. Then like reminders they don't go away so they allow me to kind of have these active checklists.

You can also insert Tables. Just click that button there and it starts you off with a 2 by 2 table using tabs to go between the different fields in the table. You can Control click on the column heading there and add a column before or after or delete it. The same things with rows here. There we go. Add that. You can also drag these around so I can click there and drag the columns around. I can click there and drag the rows. It's really easy to create kind of a table there to organize your thoughts in here.

You maybe you knew a lot of this already. But here's something you may not know. You can drag and drop files and other items out of Notes. So for instance this note now has a lot of different things in it. Let's say I had a note where I stored a bunch of sounds I was going to use in a project. I can actually click and drag the sounds out and into the Finder. It will put the file where I want it to go. The same thing with videos. The same thing with just about any file type.

You also have some other options if you Control click just like with most things on the Mac. So for instance Control click any of these and you can select View as Small Images or as Large images. You can see how it expanded the photos and also pdf's for that. You can Rename some of these. So I can rename this link here. Let's go down to this file here. I can Quick Look instead of actually opening it up. I can do that for that as well. So there are a bunch of different things that you can do.

Of course you can Share right out of here. So say you can put a bunch of locations or photos or whatever it is and Control click and then Share that out through the many different methods. So you can, say, have some photos in there and then Share directly out of Notes. So Notes can actually be another place to store some photos. Say your Photos app is filled with your own personal photos and you have thousands in there. But you need to store, say, ten photos for work. You can put them in the Notes app in a note and that can be where you can access them while you need them for a project.

Comments: 9 Responses to “Using Mac Notes For Files and Other Objects”

    Doris Slattery
    12 months ago

    Can I save an email or text message in Notes and if so how?

    12 months ago

    Doris: Try it. You can drag-and-drop an email message from Mail into Notes and it will be a link to that message in Mail. You can also, of course, copy and paste text from a message into notes, which may be more useful in most cases. As for text messages, you can copy and paste message contents like you can with any other text.

    12 months ago

    Thanks for the tuto Gary. Can I scan via the camera directly into Notes ?

    12 months ago

    Jean-Marc: that is a big feature of Notes for iPhone and iOS, but not Mac. It works out well if you are using iCloud.

    Terry Haddow
    12 months ago

    Gary – you used the word “link” for items added. Are they linked to your hard drive or do they do a copy ? In other words – if you add a file to notes ( say – from your doc folder) then delete it from your doc folder, is the file still available in Notes ?

    12 months ago

    In some cases a link (web pages, mail, maps) and in other cases the media is actually inserted. It is usually easy to tell. But you could always run a simple test. Just create duplicate file of something, drag and drop it into Notes, then delete the file. See what happens.

    12 months ago

    Eighteen months after purchasing this macbook I’m still on a learning curve…so much info in your easy to follow newsletters that I’m really grateful for..this article especially as I’m always forgetting what audio or e-books I’ve already loaded onto my player and tend to spend a lot of time checking.
    Using Notes to drop the folders into makes a edious task so simple.

    William P
    11 months ago

    It would be nice if notes had an option to encrypt text. I use Microsoft OneNote to get a shared notebook with an encryption option. Some of the info on my notes is private and I don’t want it shared publicly.

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