How to Use Notes

One of the most basic of the iPhone’s features is that of Notes.  This built in app is implicit to all iOS devices, including the iPod Touch and the iPad, and is used to jot down simple notes that you can reference later.  This has remained relatively constant throughout the various incarnations of the iOS and Notes is still not integrated into other functions in an outward way, but a few outside functions that the iOS has picked up can reference or interact with Notes.  Here is a look at how to get started in Notes, alter it, and work with it in unique ways.

The primary use of Notes is to simply open it up and begin writing with the iOS keyboard.  When you first open it up there will be a listing of different notes you have written in the past in order of most recent, and the background is reminiscent of a yellow legal pad.   When you hit the “+” button in the upper right hand corner, also known as the “Add” button, you will begin a New Note.  Here you can begin writing your note indiscriminately, and it will say the time and date it was begun.  Once you have finished you will hit the Done button in the upper right hand corner. And the note will appear as it was left.

At the bottom will now be a few options to work with it.  You can hit the button that appears to be a curved arrow leaving a rectangle, which allows you to either email the photo with an account already attached to the iPhone or to Print.  This has to be only to available printers that can print using the iPhone, which is limited currently.  Next to that is the Trash button, which will allow you to delete the note if you like.  On either side of these two buttons will be arrows pointing away.  If you select these you can move forward or backwards through the available notes depending on what button you push.  All notes will stay in Notes until they are chosen to be deleted specifically, so they will always stick around.


Notes is not a heavily customizable app, and its simplicity is often its strength.  You can, however, choose from a few different font options right off the bat.  If you want to do this go into Settings and then go down to Notes, which is below Photos and above Store.  Here you will be able to choose from Noteworthy, Helvetica, and Marker Felt by just selecting them so that the check mark appears to its right.

Notes does not usually have the ability to really do much out of the program, but it is sensitive to hyperlinking.  Often times you want to jot down a website, and you will be able to include a direct link once you have entered the website and completed the note.  When you open the note again and press the address it will open it up in Safari.  This is also true of phone numbers that it will initiate in the Phone section.

Outside of Notes, however, you can reference both the app itself and the notes that you produce with it.  First, you can do this in the central searching hub of the Spotlight Search.  Notes are one of the things searched for as general content, and so are apps.  You can enter in the information to open up Notes, or for the specific notes themselves by typing in a part of their text content.  Notes are not the thing that most people search for in their phone most, so it is set fairly far down the search results by default.  To change this you can go into the Spotlight Search’s settings to make an adjustment.  Go into Settings and then go down to General, which is at the top of the third block of options.  Then go down to Spotlight Search, which will open up a list of different functions that the Spotlight can find.  You will find Notes lower than halfway down, and if you press the three-barred icon to its right you can slide it up or down.  You can also just select it to remove the check mark next to it, which will stop your notes from coming up in search results.

One of the best new additions to the Notes repertoire on the iPhone 4s is Siri, which allows you to use voice commands with Notes.  This is not as cut and dry as other commands, but instead something you have to work out with Siri utilizing a voice conversation.  For example, you hold down the hold button to first activate Siri.  You then tell it to put down a note that says to call your Mom later.  Then you press the Siri button, it interprets your voice command, and then saves the note as long as it properly heard you.  You can also use Siri simply to search for existing notes that you can then open up and look at as normal.

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