Can I trust Notes?

As many of you know I’ve bee committed to using Apple Notes as my default note application. I like Apple Notes but I’m growing concerned about the long-term reliability of the app.

Here is why I’m concerned.

Over the last several days I’ve run into multiple issues with my iPhone 13 Pro Max. The details don’t matter but just one problem is that Siri would not work, along with other issues. When I tried to go into settings to reset the phone, that would not work either so I finally had to connect the phone to my MBP and do a complete restore to factory settings.

After getting the phone up and running again I started the process of downloading my apps, including Apple Notes. I only have 781 notes in Apple Notes. Most of those notes are text, perhaps a 100 have a PDF attached. Perhaps 10 have a picture embedded.

Notes would not initially download the notes. I closed Notes and reopened the app. I toggled off and back on Notes in iCloud. Nothing worked so I shut down the phone and restarted it. I opened Notes and it finally started downloading my notes. As I write this it is still downloading the notes—taking at least 45 minutes on a fast network to download 781 notes. By contrast, when I opened Obsidian*, iA Writer,* and Craft*, the download of my notes was dependable and fast from iCloud. That included attachments in separate folders.

This does not engender confidence in Apple Notes. I’m now second guessing my commitment to storing all of my work and personal notes in Apple Notes. What will happen when I have 3k-4,000 notes?

Am I over reacting? Should I reconsider my commitment to using the default apps for my work? Everything has bee working seamlessly and as many of you know, I struggled with settling on my note app. I’m good as far as my other productivity apps are concerned—I don’t need to change those in my workflow. Those apps include DEVONthink, Obsidian, Ulysses, Reminders, Mail, Calendar, iWork, 1PW and a few others.

What advice would you give me?

  • Stick with Apple Notes, Apple is a big company and AN will always work.
  • Change to another note app? If I swallow hard (and my pride) and abandon my proclaimed commitment to Apple Notes, I need to find an app that meets most of my criteria. Simply put, here is what I need in a note app:

NEEDS—in no particular order:

  • iCloud sync across devices
  • Tables
  • Ability to add PDFs, pictures, hyperlinks, and links to notes
  • Ability to highlight action items in the notes and send them to my task manager—Reminders, but I’d consider moving back to Things 3 if necessary
  • Ability to link emails from Apple Mail to the notes so I can click the link and go back to the message. I’m not willing to change mail apps.
  • Ability to export notes to other formats, e.g., markdown, PDF, Word, etc.
  • Comparable feature set and GUI on MBP and iPad
  • Ability to add footnotes

PREFERENCES but not required:

  • Backlinking
  • Ability to reorder notes without the need to number them
  • Ability to reorder folders without the need to number them

Any advice will be appreciated. I’m frustrated that I find myself even considering a change.

* I have used these apps (still using Obsidian) so I have a lot of original notes in them (Obsidian has thousands of notes) that were not moved to Apple Notes.

I personally wouldn’t switch apps over this. This was an unusual circumstance that required a one-time kick start (the phone reboot), but it is working now. I would only worry if you start to see day-to-day sync issues after this. I wouldn’t change my advice if you had an order of magnitude more notes.

I think you should also expect Apple’s sync for its native apps in edge cases to improve over time, too.

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I think the current problem with AN is related to iCloud sync

Hopefull this will be fixed soon, at least on mac , see my other post

I also agree with @cornchip , I shall also continue to use AN but for really critical piece, I create a copy on 1P8, which is so far very realiable to me

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Taking a long time to start an initial download, then running slower than expected is not unusual. I’ve experienced this on multiple occasions.

AN performance became unuseable (for me) when I had around 1000 notes with PDF attachments. I don’t recall losing any files but I wasn’t willing to wait for an app that frequently seemed to be stuck in mud.

Given your commitment to Apple Notes, I reluctantly say "Stick with Apple Notes, Apple is a big company and AN will (probably) always work. ". But expect occasional bouts of digital constipation. iCloud’s performance varies but it has never matched the competition. And I would keep an eye on performance if/when you accumulate two or three hundred more attachments.

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IMHO My hunch is you are over-thinking this, especially when it looked like you were getting more involved with DEVONthink … but I accept (and experience) issues with Apple’s cloud synching doesn’t always work as quickly when I want it and there is no good way to bend it to my will, sadly.

That being said, if you have concerns is not the first step to make sure you have restorable backups of all your notes so that if/when you hit that wall you fear, you can restore from a maintained and testable backup restore.

What’s the biggest worry? Fear of not getting access to old notes? Or not having a sync complete when you want it. Or not having the “needs and preferences” met with some other app in the future?

My thoughts exactly. I use Notes, and have 1,159 notes as of right now. Same thing happened to me as @Bmosbacker. I had to restore iPhone (beta software!). That initial sync, while it takes more than you would reasonably think it should, finally completed and all is well. Sync is flawless on day to day usage.

Thanks everyone for the wise counsel. Perhaps I was overreacting. I’m going to stick with Notes. My failsafe is that I have a recurring monthly reminder to export my Ans to markdown using the Exporter app. In the worse case, I can use DT to convert PDFs of my notes from an iCloud download should it ever become necessary. Apple Notes meets all of my requirements and two of the three preferences.

Thanks again!

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One of the problems, also I can see here, and very often with friends and family asking for help:
If you restore your System from the iCloud, it could take (depending on the amount of files of course) days, to be completed.
Switch it on, and let it run.
Every time you cycle a switch, turn it off and on, and what people do if they think they are supposed to do, is breaking the process, or even reseting it.
This is nothing, that will end within minutes, even if you see it happen like this with other apps.
Apple has some issues with iCloud, and one of them, from my point of view, is that it is almost impossible to influence the order it downloads files after a reset of iCloud.
AN is only one of the apps, needed its data again. There are a lot of others running thru this parallel, and therefor it could only need minutes, or days.
BTW this is a general rule, also if an app is not reacting in the expected speed or something similar. Let it settle, in most cases it will return to work by itself, if somebody is not giving too much commands, while it is not responsive.
The more commands, the less responsive, and the less the chance of a recovery.

If you are happy with AN in every other way, at least to have a productive workflow with it, stay with AN.
It is way more likely that every other company in the world is ending its product for one or an other reason, but is is most likely, that Apple has a very long run, and even if they end AN, they will most probably provide a successor to continue with your notes.

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This is one of the reasons I want to stay with default apps if possible, in particular, I want to preserve the links, which I’ll potentially lose using a third party apps that that the developer, or I, abandon.

Thanks for the tips above, I have been guilty of clicking too soon/often while waiting for a response. :grinning:

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Thanks again everyone for talking me off the ledge. :rofl:

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My 2 cents. In the beginning of 2021 (or was it 2020?) I migrated my 22k-ish Evernote notes to Apple Notes and decided Apple still had quite a lot to do in terms of syncing.

While it’s nice that Apple Notes can import .enex files, the syncing was just terrible and unreliable. It took weeks before all my devices displayed the same number of notes (!!!) --well, give or take one or two. Also, sharing folders with the wife was also unreliable.

It became clear to me that Apple Notes may work if you start from a few notes and build from there. Importing a huge library of stuff was then a no-go.

I went for DEVONthink for personal stuff (which I recently left) and kept using Evernote with the missus.

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Just came here to echo what others have said. It sometimes takes an awfully long time to “kick in”. Sometimes even a toggle of the Notes section in iCloud from On to Off and back again…but it eventually chugs its way home.

It doesn’t instil a ton of confidence, but it never seems to fail me.

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