How to search scanned documents in your Notes app

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Search scans on your iPhone in Notes app.
Search scans on your iPhone in Notes app.
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

Did you know that you can scan paper documents into the Notes app on your iPhone and iPad? The app turns them into PDFs, and trims them to make them look as if you scanned them in a proper scanner. Maybe you read our how-to article on scanning into the Notes app, and you already know this. But in iOS 13, things get better: You also can search those scanned documents.

That’s right. You can scan a sheet of paper into Notes, and anything printed on it will become searchable, as if you typed it in yourself. Let’s see how to search scans.

How to use Files app to replace your lame notes app

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No, not that kind of file.
No, not that kind of file.
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

After trying out the millionth notes/scrapbooking app for the iPad, I realized that I should ditch apps altogether and just use the built-in Files app. It might be severely limited as an actual file browser, but Files has some big advantages over scrapbooking apps. It makes everything available to Spotlight searches, for one, and it doesn’t create duplicates of your files, because you’re always working with the originals.

Another huge advantage is that marking up PDFs with the Apple Pencil is instant. With all other PDF editors I’ve tried, you have to tap to enter a markup mode. In Files, you just start writing on the PDF. And that’s just the beginning.

Let’s see how it all works.

How to replace a paper notebook with your iPad

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lock screen notes
The iPad might finally be better than paper.
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

The iPad has replaced many things — it’s a TV, it’s a games console, it’s a book, it’s a (huge) camera, and it’s even a typewriter. But until recently, it hasn’t made a very good alternative to paper. But thanks to the Apple Pencil, and to iOS 11, that has changed. Now you can write and draw a note without even unlocking your iPad, and you can search for anything you write, just as if it were text. Let’s check out lock-screen notes.

Custom thumbnails make your Apple Notes easier to find

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thumbnails in notes
Thumbnails make notes way easier to spot quickly.
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

Apple’s Notes app gets better and better, with the iOS 11/macOS Sierra version bringing all kinds of amazing features. But however good any notes app is, you still have to find your notes, and for most of us that means scanning a list until we find the one we’re looking for. Today we’ll see how to add a custom image thumbnail to any note, so you can quickly identify it in the list. Even if you use search to narrow down the results, an image will still make notes easier to spot.

How to replace the App Store’s missing Wish List in iOS 11

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bookmark wish list
Apple removed the App Store wish list in iOS 11. Maybe it'll be back, but if not, there are options.
Photo: Cult of Mac

In iOS 11, the App Store Wish List disappeared. Maybe it’ll come back in future updates, and maybe it won’t, but for now there’s no built-in way to save an interesting app to go back to later. You may bookmark an app for several reasons. You might be researching several similar apps. You might want to do some more research on an app later, before buying it. You may want to save an app that someone you know would be interested in. Or maybe you’re just holding off until the price drops, or until you’re on Wi-Fi to download a big app.

Whatever your reasons, there are third-party options. Today we’ll look at a dedicated app for making an app wish list, as well as a Workflow to do the same, and a third option you may not have considered. Best off all, they all have gone big advantage over the old wish list — they can save free apps as well as paid.

How to export your Apple Notes to plain text

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exporter notes export
Getting your notes out of Apple Notes is easy.
Photo: Cult of Mac

Apple’s Notes app has gotten great in iOS 11 and macOS High Sierra. It’s fast, it’s easy to clip content to new and existing notes, search is instant, and you can collect pretty much anything into a note. You can even share individual notes, mark up PDFs, draw on pictures, and scan paper documents.

It really is a powerhouse. But one thing Notes doesn’t have is a sensible way to get your notes out of the app. Notes export is limited to PDF. If you decide Notes isn’t for you, you’re stuck. Fortunately, some third-party apps will export your Notes into universally compatible plain text files. Even better, one is free, and the other costs just 99 cents.

Notes app gets new turbocharged text tools in iOS 11

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iOS 11 notes
Notes app behaves more like a piece of paper than ever in iOS 11.
Photo: Cult of Mac

Up until now, if you wanted to do fancy formatting with the iOS Notes app, you had to dust off your Mac to do it. Now, with the iOS 11 Notes update, you no longer need to boot up a desktop computer just to switch a note to a monospaced font, or add a table. You can do it all on your iPhone or iPad. And this is in addition to the great new in-line sketch features and document scanner that headline this update.

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The Apple Pencil isn't only useful for artists, but for business, photography, and other interests too.
The Apple Pencil isn't only useful for artists, but for business, photography, and other interests too.
Photo: Ally Kazmucha/The App Factor