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HOWTO: Sync iCloud Notes Properly On All Your Devices

Apple iCloud Notes

Notes Not Syncing As Expected?

Apple’s iCloud was recently improved with new features and enhanced existing ones.

One of those was the syncing of all your Notes between your iOS devices and your Mac or PC.

With the launch of OS X Mountain Lion this is even more useful as Apple introduced a desktop version of the popular iOS app, Notes.

So, you are probably experiencing the problem that so many others are right now which is that you enable iCloud sync for your Notes on your device and expect them to automatically show up on all your other devices, but they don’t.

The problem here is that when you enable Notes sync through the iCloud setting screen on your iOS device it will only sync new Notes and not existing ones.

The slow and tedious way to fix this is to simply copy/paste the contents of your existing Notes into a new Note but of course there’s a better way, especially for those who have a lot of Notes on their devices.

Setting up Notes Sync on iCloud

For this article I am going to explain how to sync an iOS device with a Mac running OS X Lion.

It should be very similar if not identical for all iOS devices (iPad, iPhone or iPod Touch) and all recent versions of Mac OS X that support iCloud (OS X 10.7.4 or later).

So, if you’re reading this then you’ve probable got this far, by enabling syncing of Notes (Settings > iCloud > Notes > ON) on your iOS device only to see nothing sync then you may also have noticed a change in your Notes app.

There should now be at least two accounts (tap Accounts in the top left corner of Notes app), iCloud and On My iPad (or On My iPhone or On My iPod).

iCloud will probably be empty to start with and On This iPad will have all your existing Notes in it – which won’t sync to iCloud.

From the actual iOS device, there is no way, apart from manually copy/pasting the contents of all your Notes, to sync the On My iPad (or On My iPhone or On My iPod) account with the iCloud account.  For this. we must use your Mac (or possibly PCs, let’s come back to that – leave a comment!).

Syncing iCloud Account with On My iPad (or On My iPhone or On My iPod) Account

To get these in sync (and eventually remove the On My iPadaccount completely) do the following on your Mac:

  1. Open Apple Mail
  2. Add a new account (if you have no accounts, you’ll be prompted, if not click Mail > Preferences > Accounts).
  3. You need to add your iCloud account which is added using your @me.com address that you were prompted to created when you tried to enable Notes syncing on your iOS device.  Enter your address as [email protected] and your password (which is the same as your Apple account password) > click Create and Create again.
  4. When Mail opens, the left side navigator may not be visible > click Show to see it.
  5. In the left navigator, you should see a section called Reminders and beneath that Notes with two sub-sections, On My Mac and iCloud.  At this point, iCloud should show anything you’ve already created on your iOS devices iCloud account and On My Mac will be empty.
  6. Connect your iOS device to your Mac by USB.
  7. Open iTunes.
  8. Select your iOS device from the left side.
  9. Click the Info tab on the right side.
  10. Scroll and place a check mark in Sync Notes > click Apply > click Sync.
  11. If prompted to Merge or Replace choose Merge.
  12. When the sync is complete, switch back to the Mail app and look in the On My Mac section – you should see all of the Notes that were on your iOS device.
  13. Select all Notes (CMD+A) and Cut (CMD+X) them to the clipboard.
  14. Click the iCloud Notes account and paste (CMD+V) the Notes into iCloud.  After a few minutes, you’ll see all your Notes in the iCloud account section on your iOS device but you’ll also still see them in the other account (now called ‘From My Mac’) so let’s get rid of the duplicates now.
  15. Switch back to iTunes.
  16. Select your iOS device from the left side.
  17. Click the Info tab on the right side.
  18. Scroll and remove the check mark in Sync Notes.
  19. When prompted if you want to Keep Notes or Remove Notes, click Remove Notes > click Apply.

Now iTunes will sync once more and you’re done.

On your iOS device you’ll now notice that you no longer have multiple accounts or multiple Notes but just one clean list of Notes which are all stored in iCloud.

If you have multiple iOS devices, simply rinse and repeat.



Wow, 14 Comments! We've got a conversation going now. Join the discussion below!

  1. LS says:

    it does not seem to work with the new version of iTunes 10.7 since they seem to have removed the option of synchronising notes directly without iCloud

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