How to make Notes App sync properly on iOS

ios9-notes-app-iconHave you ever wondered why some notes seemingly sync just fine between your iOS devices, but others do not? Wether a note is not fully updated, or you find a duplicate entry in the list, it can be an exercise in frustration.

But fret not, it doesn’t have to be! This is not a bug in the Notes app; it’s the way we’re using it.

Let me show yo what you can do to avoid such problems, and how they can happen in the first place.

Why do we sometimes get random duplicate notes?

This has to do with the way the app stores data in the cloud. Notes saves your content only when you close the note, or when you switch away from it. Your note is not saved while you’re typing it.

Likewise, iOS can only “save over” the current note if you’re not actively editing it. Leaving it open, even if you’re only looking at it, means your note is locked for edits from other devices.

When you make a change on device A, and the same note is opened and edited on device B, then iCloud cannot save your changes to the current note. Hence it creates a duplicate entry. This is a safety mechanism so that your changes are saved rather than lost, and you can decide which copy you’d like to keep when you’re done.

How to avoid sync trouble on iPhone

So on iPhone, the solution is simple: always return to the list view of all your notes. Do not leave a note open. That way, another device can edit its contents without trouble.

How to avoid sync trouble on iPad and Mac?

On the iPad as well as your Mac, things are a little different due to the nature of the Split View Controller. It displays both the list of your notes, as well as a note next to it. Even when you hold your iPad in portrait mode and cannot see the list view, one note is ALWAYS open and displayed, and therefore cannot be edited by another device. That’s usually when and why iOS (or macOS) saves a duplicate.

To avoid this situation, make sure you switch to a note that you’re unlikely to edit from another device. Perhaps create a “dummy note” without content and switch to it when you’re finished with the Notes app.

Remember you can look at a note even if it’s open on another device – it’s just that when editing an open note, trouble keeps in.

Hope this helps 🙂





Jay is the CEO and founder of WP Hosting, a boutique style managed WordPress hosting and support service. He has been working with Plesk since version 9 and is a qualified Parallels Automation Professional. In his spare time he likes to develop iOS apps and WordPress plugins, or draw on tablet devices. He blogs about his coding journey at http://wpguru.co.uk and http://pinkstone.co.uk.