If you store important, sensitive information on your iPhone in Notes, you want to be more careful. When Notes syncs across your iPad and Mac via iCloud devices that family members or employees can share – you risk getting your notes read, edited, and deleted by others. Such a disaster can easily be avoided.
There are some options to protect your sensitive notes when more than one device is logged in to your account. You can only keep notes on your iPhone so they never sync with your other devices. You can lock your notes with a password so you can access them only, or you can turn off sync on your iPhone or your other devices.
Option 1: Just Keep Notes on Your iPhone
This option is the easiest solution if you need to keep a certain set of notes solely on your iPhone. Everything in this folder is not synced with your iPad or Mac because it is stored locally.
Open the Settings app, scroll down and press "Notes" and then choose "On My iPhone". When you configure your iPhone for the first time, unless you logged in or used iCloud, "On my iPhone "already turned on for Notes (as it would be the only folder in the app).
Now that you open notes to the folders screen (you may need to press the Back button if you're already in a folder.) You should see a section On my iPhone with a "Notes" folder.
By default, Apple prioritizes the section iCloud at the top when it is logged in iCloud, but On my iPhone It's the next episode before anyone third party sections for Gmail, Yahoo or the liking. You may need to scroll down to find it depending on your view, text size and number of folders and subfolders in your iCloud section.
You can press "New Folder" at the bottom, choose "On my iPhone" to create a new local folder, then tap the folder name that was created once, or just click on the default Notes folder under On my iPhone to start generating local, non-synchronized notes instantly. If you have more than one folder in a section, a new folder will automatically be created to include all your notes, "Everyone on my iPhone" folder in this case.
If you have a note in Your iCloud section you want to save locally On your iPhone, swipe left on it from the folder screen, tap the folder icon and then select the folder under on my iPhone . Alternatively, you can use 3D Touch to look into it, swipe up while watching, and then press "Move" to select a new folder.
Option 2: Lock notes with a password
Because iOS 9.3 allows Notes to password protection for individual notes, with biometric support. Using "Lock Note" is an excellent solution if you need to protect some notes that can be synchronized with your other devices, but else want transparency with the rest. When a locked note appears on your iPad or Mac, it can not be opened or deleted without the assigned password or biometric.
Please note that biometrics such as Touch ID or FaceID defeat the purpose of "locking" notes if other users have saved their biometric data on the other devices. This means they are allowed to unlock locked notes with their fingerprints or facial features instead of a password.
Multi-user biometry can be a thing in a household because multiple family members can have multiple fingerprints or faces saved to speed around bypass lock screens. You can switch biometrics and only rely on passwords to access locked notes in these cases.
See our full guide to protecting notes on your iPhone for more information. There is also a trick to create different passwords for different notes, which means that protected notes do not need to rely on a single password if you want to make Notes even safer. And if you are considering locking notes in general, make sure that you follow basic principles for password creation.
Option 3: Do not sync your notes with iCloud
All notes between your iPhone, iPad and Mac can be kept separate by disabling Notes in iCloud. You can turn off iCloud sync only for your iPhone, turn off iCloud sync for your iPad and Mac, or turn off iCloud sync for all devices. However, we recommend only the first option because anyone with access to your other devices can enable iCloud sync without any credentials.
To turn it off on your iPhone, open Settings, press your name up and select "iCloud," then turn off "Notes." Tap "Remove from my iPhone" to delete all iCloud notes from the device. By doing so, just remove them from your iPhone, so do not worry – all your iCloud notes will still be stored in iCloud. However, you can move sensitive iCloud notes to your iPhone's local storage first (see Option 1 above).
In a scenario where all devices must be logged in to iCloud, you can have your iPhone logged in to an iCloud account other than iPad and Mac, as an exclusive purpose for business use. However, it becomes complicated if other apps and data synchronized via iCloud (ie Photos, Mail, Contacts, Calendar, Safari) must be made available on all devices (as in sharing devices with family members). It's probably best to keep things simple and stick to a single iCloud account for your own devices and turn off Notes sync for your iPhone to maintain privacy.
Finally, although local stored notes on your iPhone are not synced over devices, are still backed up with iCloud when "iCloud Backup" is turned on in your iCloud settings. If you use iTunes to create iPhone backups instead, your notes are saved in the backup on your computer. Due to the way these backups are designed, Notes data in a backup is not readily available – or even legible – unless the information is restored to an iPhone, and that would require your iCloud permission.