Friday, June 7, 2024

Import and Export From Apple Notes

John Gruber:

I worry that import and export aren’t priorities for Apple. Apple Notes can import RTF and plain text files, but its only option for exporting is, bizarrely, PDF — which is a file format Notes can’t import. A good system for import/export would allow for full fidelity round-tripping. You should be able to export to a file or archive format that Notes can also import, without losing any formatting, metadata, or image attachments. Notes doesn’t even try. And if Notes still doesn’t support robust import/export, 17 years after it debuted as one of the original iPhone apps in 2007, we probably shouldn’t hold our breath for Journal.

Open formats are where it’s at.


4 Comments RSS · Twitter · Mastodon

Apple Notes on iOS, and weirdly only on iOS, allows for .txt exports too (save to Files option), but the file loses all formatting: better than nothing but very strange that this isn't available on the Mac too.

Not a great solution, but there are scripts and even small utility apps that allow you to export notes from the sqlite database.

I only use with my IMAP account as the backend. It has some quirks, but is mostly reliable.

People that are aware are not going to use notes for any valuable information, and people that aren’t are ultimately going to be disappointed when they can’t get their stuff out easily. So it’s a lose/lose situation.

I’ve been happy backing up my Apple Notes with the Obsidian Importer plugin (, which reads the Notes database on macOS and converts it to a folder full of Markdown files. You need to have Obsidian installed to use the plugin, but once you run the import you can do whatever you want with the Markdown files; they’re just ordinary files on the filesystem.

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