Quick note capturing / Document Lookup

Hey Y’all, I’m looking for an app that I can use for Quick Note capturing and document lookup. Preferably uses iCloud or Dropbox

1. Quick Note capturing: Basically, the app is fast, and can be used to store quick notes. These notes might stay there for a while, but it’s not a knowledge management system. Mostly things I want to look up quickly. Like serial numbers, some snippets of text, food receipts, etc.

2. Document Lookup: It can store images/PDFs of documents and I can refer back to them. These docs are mostly things I might need to refer quickly, like driving license, bank account number, etc. I don’t intend of using this as a document cabinet. Maybe max of 100 docs.

3. Searchable: The notes are searchable/indexed. Like Apple Notes, which show up in spotlight search on iOS and Mac so I don’t have to open the app and search for it

ATM, I’m using Bear Notes for it (quick/searchable/uses iCloud), but want to minimize the subscriptions I have. Apple Notes is another good one, but the lack of export options and formatting stops me.

Can you suggest a few apps that might suit my needs?

  • Drafts? Seems Drafts doesn’t support images/PDFs
  • Obsidian?


I’d stick with Apple Notes for this workflow (and I do myself in practice). What export options and formatting are you missing?

Also if you haven’t tried the iPadOS 15 Beta yet, I recommend it - Quick Note works really well.

I have been using UpNote. Does almost everything Evernote could do. It does have a one time lifetime subscription of $19.99.


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I use Apple Notes for some of the tasks mentioned. I use 1Password to keep things like bank accounts, driver licenses, vehicle registrations, software licenses, and passports. I can attach images to the entries.

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I keep all my notes — including reference material like you’re talking about — in plain text files (formatted in markdown), with a directory for images and attachments (so I can embed them in a note using a markdown link). They are stored in Dropbox.

Although I use Drafts on Mac and iOS to create notes, for its automation capabilities, I use several other apps on both platforms to retrieve, edit, review, etc., and could use them to create new notes as well.

On Mac I use nvUltra currently, but have also used The Archive, nvAlt and dabbled with Obsidian; all work well, and are easily automated with Keyboard Maestro, Hammerspoon, shell/Python/Javascript scripting, or pretty much any other tools you know and love. Marked 2 is invaluable for reviewing longer items or exporting formatted text with embedded images.

On iOS, I use 1Writer, which lets you build your own automations with javascript. Although intended for markdown and text, you can open standalone PDFs and images in it as well.

If I need to annotate PDFs, I use Highlight, on both platforms, which can also produce a markdown file of annotations.

It sounds complicated, but they all work from the same folder of notes and sub folder of images/PDFs, so it’s seamless, and if I want to switch applications for a single task (or day, week, month, year…) I can, without changing anything.

And if I find myself without my own devices and apps, it’s all still there in plain text on Dropbox, viewable (and editable) from any device I want to use.

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I’ve moved much of my text/note taking/writing/blogging etc to Obsidian. On iPad search is working great from within the Obsidian app. The key problem with this approach is system-wide search via Spotlight on iOS/iPadOS as the content in Obsidian is not indexed whereas it is on Notes, both in the text of notes as well as pdfs/images stored in notes as of iOS 15/iPadOS 15. For now I’m using a dual approach where I tend to put longer writing in Obsidian and I just know that if I need to find something there I need to do it within the app. But original poster mentioned being able to search from Spotlight so Notes might be the better option there.

Everything I have is searchable by spotlight. They’re just text notes, PDFs and images.

Sorry, I should have been more specific. Original poster wants Spotlight results on iOS devices as well as Mac devices. Currently iOS devices do not offer spotlight results on text in folders in the Files app. And though text recognition is being done on images in Photos app and in the Notes app this does not appear to extend to photos/pdfs that are stored in Files.

Ah, I see. I forgot they call search on iOS Spotlight as well (even though it clearly works differently, since it doesn’t look into third party files).

THANK YOU @Scot for mentioning UpNote app here. Your recommendation and sightings on reddit led me to try it and now I am sold. Others seem to be also recognizing this app as a top contender alongside Obsidian; I anticipate given the dev’s speed it’ll probably one of the best