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 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.

Roll Your Own Automatic Markdown Journal With IFTTT, Drafts, Instagram And Dropbox [How To]

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There are many, many ways to keep a journal using your various iDevices, or paper, or even — if you’re desperate — your Android phone. (Kidding — a sharpie turns the back of any Android handset into the perfect paper-emulation device.) But they tend to be either high on effort — manually writing up everything yourself — or somewhat proprietary, keeping all your info inside an app or service.

But thanks to the ever-amazing internet automating service IFTTT (If This Then That), and some new channels, it’s now possible to roll your own plain-journal, pulling from various sources automatically. And it even includes pictures, which is quite a trick for plain text.