If you’re a student, a teacher, an employee, or just an internet citizen, there are times when you need to collect a lot of information about a particular topic. The process usually starts with a single Google search page and ends up with multiple tabs, maybe spread across multiple windows, with snippets of useful information scattered across different web pages.
There’s no way you’re going to remember all of that, which is where Apple’s Notes app comes in. This free tool can be an indispensable research aid, especially with Apple’s Continuity feature that allows you to work seamlessly across Apple devices.
Here’s how to put Notes to good use, and a few alternatives you can turn to instead.
Why Use Apple Notes?
Many users often disregard the built-in Apple apps, and I’m guilty of that myself. Many of these overlooked and underrated Apple apps are actually top-notch, including Notes.
You can sort notes into folders, add markups, collaborate with others, and sync over iCloud, allowing you to drop and pick up work from across multiple Apple devices
Apple Notes is a straightforward notetaking tool. Although it doesn’t have all the advanced features of some apps, it also isn’t prone to sudden pricing changes, as its competitors are.
Notes serves as a quick, always-there, tool that offers an easy way of collecting and organizing information from the web. It’s also great for assembling research on any topic.
Getting Started With Notes
First, you’ll need to make sure that your device is running the latest version of iOS, iPadOS, or macOS. Plus, to gain access to its most recent features, you should set up Notes using your iCloud email account.
To check from your iPhone or iPad, go to Settings > Notes > Accounts. You should see iCloud under Accounts. If you can’t see it, head to iCloud by tapping Settings, tap your Apple ID, then choose iCloud. Scroll down to Notes and toggle the switch to on.
On your Mac, head to System Preferences > Apple ID, then click iCloud and tick Notes.
Organizing Your Notes
Organization is vital when doing research. If you just keep on drafting a new note with every webpage clip and website link, you’ll end up cluttering your notes and having a hard time retrieving information.
That said, you can use Notes to create dedicated folders and subfolders for topics. To do this, open Notes, then go to the Folders section. Tap the New Folder icon on the lower-left side. Enter a new name for the folder, and hit Save.
Clipping Webpages From Safari to Apple Notes
Assuming that a bulk of your research takes place on the Mac, you really should be using Safari because of the Share sheet integration. If you’re a Chrome user, you’re left out in the cold, as there’s no extension for you. You’ll need to resort to the classic “copy, switch to Notes, paste” drill.
But for Safari users, this is much, much easier. Say you’re on a web page that has useful information about a topic, and you want to save it. Just highlight the text, Control-click or tap and hold, select Share, and then Notes.
You’ll see a popup with the selected text right there. Select the note you want to save it in beside Choose Note: or create a new note by choosing New Note. Select Save, and it’s done.
You can also highlight text in Safari, Mail, or other apps, then wait for a popup menu to appear or long-press to cause it to appear. Then choose Share, look for the Notes app, specify where you want the content saved, then tap Save.
Saving Everything From Everywhere
In iOS, you can share content to Notes through the Share function from various apps. For example, you can send images from Photos to Notes. You can also send clippings from reading apps like Kindle and Apple Books and forward links from alternative browsers to your Notes.
The same is true for screenshots. Sometimes, you might also take screenshots of essential posts or files to unload your brain of unnecessary mental load. Instead of allowing them to stay in Photos, you can directly send them to Notes.
To do this, take a screenshot, tap the preview, add markups to the screenshot if needed, then tap the Share icon on the upper-right corner, choose the Notes app, then choose the note destination and add any necessary text before hitting Save.
Creating a Link Bucket
If you’re the kind of person who’s unsatisfied with the built-in bookmark manager in your browser and you think third party solutions, like Raindrop, Stash, and Pinboard are either too convoluted or organized in a way that doesn’t make sense to you, try using the Notes app as a link bucket instead.
Because the Notes app adds a link preview for every page you drop in, it makes it really easy to save and organize links in different notes. And as the text links appear underneath, it’s really easy to go in, rearrange, and delete links later. Whether it’s for research purposes or simply for organizing your favorites, you should give it a shot.
To save the page you’re currently on, use the Share button from Safari’s toolbar, select Notes, add some text if you want, select the note, and hit Save.
When you go to the Notes app, you’ll find a nice preview of the link, including the title of the page and the featured image. This visual link preview will be beneficial later on when you’re browsing through the note, trying to find that one link.
It works similarly on iOS. When you have a webpage you want to save, just hit the Share button, then find the Notes app on the list of apps. Add text or a description, choose where to save it, then hit Save.
Saving Images to Notes
You can save images as well, using the same Share > Notes method. On a Mac, Control-click on a photo, then hover over Share > Notes, specify the destination, and then Save.
If you do this method on a photo representing a site, say an image from Google, Notes will also save a link from where it came from, which can be super helpful in research.
Once the image is in the Notes app, you can mark it up as well. Apple’s Markup tool is another handy feature that may be useful in doing presentations and research.
Alternative Research Aids
Maybe the simplicity of the Notes app just isn’t for you, and you need more. There are several clean note-taking apps that you can use to organize your notes.
You can always go for other cross-platform notetaking apps, like Simplenote, Evernote, or Microsoft’s OneNote to accomplish your research. If you want to stay in the Apple universe, you might want to check out the Bear app.
Do You Use Apple Notes?
Apple Notes isn’t for everyone, but it’s received quite the overhaul in recent years, making it a much more viable tool than when it first appeared. Formatting, markup, and other handy tools make it a genuine alternative to Evernote and OneNote, albeit a lightweight and simple one.
Whether it’s looking for insights or gathering information, here are a few ways you can use LinkedIn as a research tool.
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