Solve Disappearing Notes in iOS

Question Mark on iOS Notes App Icon

Sometimes I’m bewildered how Apple manages media and documents within their mobile operating system, iOS. The myriad ways are beyond the scope of this post. Recently though, I ran into an issue where some notes were disappearing from the Notes app.

When you create a note in the Notes app, it will be saved automatically for you. But where? Good question. Here’s what I learned:

The note will be saved on the phone and backed up somewhere else. Where depends on configurations in two different places.

Notes Sync Toggle

First (and most important), see how your mail accounts are configured.

  1. Go to Settings app.
  2. Swipe downward a bit, find, and tap Mail, Contacts, Calendars.
  3. Under Accounts, you should see a list of accounts (e.g., Gmail, Yahoo! Mail, iCloud, etc.).

Tap each one to see if Notes is toggled to On. I suggest that Notes be set to On in only one account (more on that later).

Default Account Setting

Second, choose the Default Account for Notes.

  1. Go to Settings app.
  2. Swipe downward a bit, find, and tap Notes.
  3. Tap Default Account.
  4. Choose the service to which you want to back up your notes.

If you do not have a Default Account setting, you likely have only one account set to back up from the Notes app. Make sure that is true by checking each account.

When your notes back up to Yahoo!, you can find them in a folder named Notes. When you back them up to Gmail, they are given the label Notes. When you back up to iCloud, they are available within the Web-based Notes app.

Personally, I choose to back up my notes to iCloud. This allows me to edit the notes on my iPhone, iPad, and the iCloud Web site.

Remember, when I suggested having Notes set to On in only one account? Well, I found that if you change from one account to another in your Notes app, some or all of your notes have a nasty habit of vanishing from the iOS device. And it’s not easy to get them back on the phone. While they disappear from the mobile device, those notes will still be in the online service to which they were originally backed up. So that much is good.

The bottom line is that if you ensure your notes are backed up to only one account, you should be in good shape.