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Home / Tips and Tricks / 12 new note-taking features in iOS 14 that improve navigation, drawing, folders and more «iOS & iPhone :: Gadget hack

12 new note-taking features in iOS 14 that improve navigation, drawing, folders and more «iOS & iPhone :: Gadget hack



For a built-in app, Notes works quite well and can stack up against some of the best third-party note-taking tools. Apple continues to update it with each iteration of iOS, adding new features and improving existing ones to make noting your daily thoughts a smooth and effective experience. With iOS 14, there are twelve such changes that we think you will want to know about.

Now, Apple did not make Notes the center of the iOS 14 update in any way. If you open the app right now, you may not even notice what’s new right away. Although there are not many in-your-face changes, the new features are really cool and should give you some extra tools to keep track of your important notes.

Function 1
: Notepad has a widget for the home screen!

Like so many of Apple’s current iOS apps, Notes now has a home screen widget. With one of the options, you can view notes from a selected notebook in either small (one note), medium (three notes) or large (up to six notes). The second option allows you to view a specific note and only comes in the small size with a note.

However, it lacks some functionality compared to the old style Today View-only widget. It had quick shortcuts to start a new note, make a new checklist, take a new photo, scan a document and draw. You can still use most of them via the quick actions on the Home screen icon or from the Notes control in Control Center, but not through the iOS 14 widget.

Function 2: It has a better interface

On the more subtle side of Notes’ new features, all folders for each section, as well as the list of notes in each folder, are enclosed in a rounded box with a color other than the background. For some reason, it just makes things easier to read and easier to navigate accounts.

IOS 13 layout (left) compared to iOS 14’s new interface look (right).

Function 3: And a search field on the main page

Within any folder in any account, you can use the search bar to find specific items you are looking for in either the current account or across all your accounts. This is still the case in iOS 14, but now there is also a search bar in the main Folders page so you can search without going into a folder first.

Function 4: The search field appears immediately

In iOS 13 and older, when you open a folder, the search bar would not appear immediately. To find it, you must swipe down on the screen to display it. In iOS 14, it is visible by default. You can still hide it, but you no longer need to reveal it if you have not hidden it yourself.

Function 5: Notes Has an updated action menu

The action menu in iOS 14 has been redesigned in some ways. Only when you are in a note, touch the ellipse icon (•••) instead of touching the split icon. Instead of displaying the regular stock sheet, you get an action sheet just for Notes.

In the new action menu, the options Pin / Unpin, Lock / Unlock and Delete are displayed as colorful square buttons at the top. There is also a new Scan button. Below these you will see the other options for adding people (Share note), find text (Find in note), move to another folder (Move note) and adjust the layout (Lines and grid). Another new button is “Send a copy” which opens the regular stock sheet with extended options such as Copy and AirDrop.

Function 6: And so do folders

When you tap the ellipse icon (•••) in a folder view, a nicer action sheet and consolidated tools appear. So if you want to see your notes as a gallery or sort them, do so instead of under the search bar. And you also get your good old buttons “Select notes” and “Show attachments”.

In folders you have created (ie not the “Notes” folder) on iCloud, you will also see options for adding a folder, moving the current one, sharing it or renaming it.

Function 7: You can hide the Pinned Notes section

If you want to attach important notes to the top of your folders, you will like this feature. Now you can collapse your pinned notes so you can focus on the pinned notes below. Do you want to see these notes again? Just tap on the chevron and your attached notes will be locked back to their original layout.

Function 8: Search is better with ‘Top Hits’

Are you looking for something specific? The notes’ new “Top Hits” function distinguishes what they think are the notes that are most relevant to your search, so you can quickly find the note you are thinking about.

Function 9: Notes can recognize shapes you draw

This one is really cool: When drawing a shape in Notes, hold your finger down at the end. After half a second or so, you will see an outline of a straight version of your shape appear on the screen. Release, and Notes will replace your drawing with a more perfect one. It works with lines, arcs, hearts, stars, arrows, clouds, hexagons and more.

Professional tip: if you like your scribbled art, press the “Undo” button at the top.

Function 10: You can change the text format faster

There is a faster way to change the style of a note text. Just long press the Aa button and Notes will display a list of style options. You can change the boldness and size of the text with options such as “Title” and “Header” or add the text to a list with one of the three list options instead.

Function 11: There is improved scanning

According to Apple, the Notes document scanner now takes sharper scans and has more accurate auto-cut. Fantastic news for one of the most underrated features on iOS!

Function 12: You can start a new note from the main directory

If you are in a hurry and do not feel like selecting a folder to start a new note, you do not need to. From the head Folders you can tap the new note icon and start typing immediately. The note is saved in your default folder “Notes” on iCloud.

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Cover image, screenshots and GIFs by Jake Peterson / Gadget Hacks

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