How to export and backup notes from Apple Notes

January 17, 2021 | Reading time 2 minutes

Back in 2019 and 2020 I lived without a Mac for a while. During that time the Surface Laptop 3 was my main computer. I loved the hardware, but I missed the apps that are available on Mac. Especially the default notes app by Apple. On Windows I used OneNote, which is good, but I prefer Notes and Bear. That’s why I wrote that Notes pulled me back to the Mac.

Now I’m back using a MacBook, I’m using Notes daily. It only has one big downside: it doesn’t offer an export and backup function for multiple notes. OneNote lacks this too. It kept me from going full in on Notes. But no longer, because there’s a hack that solves this problem the absence of this feature.

Backup notes from the Apple Notes app

Note that you need an iPad for this hack. If you have one, follow these steps:

  1. Open the Notes app and the Files app in split screen.
  2. Create a folder in the Files app as the destination folder for notes you’re exporting.
  3. In Notes, tap the 3 dots in the sidebar, or right corner, and choose Select Notes.
  4. Select the notes you want to export.
  5. Tap and hold the selected notes and drag them to the folder in the Files app.
  6. The iPad now copies the notes as RTF files, including images, to the Files app.
Screenshot of exporting notes from Apple Notes to Files

And you’re done. You can do this for all notes or separate for each folder. Importing the RTF files in an app like Bear works fine, except for the images. When you import the files back to Notes it will include images.

This workflow is not perfect but it’s I’m happy it’s working. For me it means that I’ll use Notes more extensive, because I now know that I’m not locked in and that there’s a backup.

Next up is trying to automate this through the Shotcuts app.