All my notes are gone on the Mac

this is a strange one. After returning from vacation, I hooked my 2021 M1 MacBook Pro up in my office and started to work. I keep records of all my phone calls in the notes app. Looking at my notes app, I noticed that all the notes newer than 2017 were gone. In a panic, I took a look at my iPhone notes app. To my great relief all the notes were there.

I had a call, so I took a note on the Mac. It synced as usual to icloud and my phone. this morning I went back up to the office to work, I looked at the Notes app, and it was completely empty. Just as yesterday, when I look at my phone, all the notes are there. I am completely at a loss for what to do next. I do have a time machine drive hooked up, but I have not done a clone of the drive in quite some time.

Quick, try to access your Notes through the web interface. What is there?

First, let me say how sorry I am to hear this! As you may know from my prior posts, I’ve had issues with Apple Notes in the past:

The experience you are having once again increases my concern, though I am backing up my notes to DEVONthink, in addition to all of my other backups.

After several long and frustrating calls with tech support, the issue resolved itself. To this day, I have no idea what was fixed. I have not had an issue since then.

Something to try - on the Mac, turn off Notes in iCloud settings, then turn back on. Since your notes are still there on other devices, this might just kick it back into action,

Just saw this. What you suggest is exactly what I did. It took several hours, but now all 6,200 of my notes are back. Thanks for the good advice!


Glad it worked. No idea why iCloud hiccups in this way - I occasionally lose all my books because of it.

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FYI, Apple’s iCloud, as reported here more than once and in other “interweb” forums for users and developers of other apps, is somewhat unreliable and certainly not “controllable” by user. Complicated and/or large data transfer size seem most problematic. For me, works fine for simple syncs like Calendar, Reminders, etc. but other stuff not so much.


I think uncontrollable is the point. I am a bit vary trusting things I want to keep for long term to an environment I do not really control for backups.

@Bmosbacker is it possible to re-import notes from DEVONthink back into the notes app?

Yes. You first have to export the notes from DEVONthink and then import them into Apple Notes. I usually drag the notes or folder out of DT onto the desktop and, from there, import them into AN.

However, the attachments do not import with the notes. They are still in DEVONthink but can be manually added to Apple Notes if and as needed. This is not a concern for me because, for the vast majority of cases, I only need the text. I don’t use Apple Notes as a document repository. Most attachments in AN are there for quick reference when I’m in a meeting and, therefore, almost always reside elsewhere (DT, Finder, or Google Drive). In other words, I attach documents in AN for convenience, not for storage.

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Good to hear it is possible to re-import them.

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You might consider exporting notes app and more using this:

If power users can share their backup strategies for Apple Notes, that’d be helpful for all of us.

Mine is basic, I use Bear Notes (free version) and import Apple Notes to it. You can then either export them as markdowns or keep them as bear notes file format.

My backup method is DEVONthink (see above) and the Exporter app. This way, my AN are backed up in Backblaze, iCloud, and two external drives.