I have an iPhone with 100+ notes that I've collected over the last ten years (thanks to migrating from my PalmPilot). I realize that I can now synchronise these with Gmail, but that doesn't allow me to edit them from my computer. I'd rather switch to use a new app/website combo which allows for online editing of notes, automatic OTA syncing, etc.

It seems like Simplenote and Evernote are two of the better app/sites, as mentioned at Web application to sync with Apple Notes and from this article, I think Simplenote is exactly what I'm looking for. The problem is, I can't figure out how to migrate all of my existing notes into whatever new notes app I choose.

How do I migrate my existing Apple iOS Notes into Simplenote or Evernote?

The best workaround I've found so far is to open each note, select all, copy, and create a new note in the iOS app but I'd rather not spend the time and hassle doing this for ~100 notes.

  • Do you have the option of using an automation application, such as AutoHotKey? If you can, download it and try it out, there is a handy script recorder that lets you complete an action once and provided all the movements and clicks will be the same for subsequent runs, it will automate it. Jul 18, 2010 at 0:06
  • I just realised - are you doing the copying and pasting from the iPhone or the computer? If from the iPhone, see if you can save all the notes to Gmail, then sign up for Simplenote and copy the notes on the computer between Gmail and Simplenote? That would be much faster than on the iPhone. Jul 18, 2010 at 0:06
  • And for anyone else that wondered 'how?' when reading 'I realize that I can now sync these with gmail': lifehacker.com/5569758/… Jul 18, 2010 at 0:08
  • If I could get the notes onto a website (e.g. gmail), then I agree that migrating then via AutoHotKey or some other macro tool would be doable. But all my existing notes are stuck on my phone for now.
    – Steve K
    Jul 18, 2010 at 19:34
  • 1
    I had exactly 75 notes, and I ended up copying them one-at-a-time from Notes to Simplenote on my iPhone. I would open Notes, select all, copy, then use the iOS 4.0 fast app switch to go into Simplenote, click the plus icon, paste, and then switch back to Notes and repeat. Probably took ~15s per note once I got going (select all and copy didn't always work). The whole thing probably took me 15 minutes total, split between several downtimes when I had nothing else to do. Just updating this in case anyone else runs into the same "data migration" problem and wonders about their options.
    – Steve K
    Aug 25, 2010 at 22:46

4 Answers 4


You can email into Evernote, so you can either send your notes as emails directly from iPhone Notes or import into a mail program then find a way to mass forward them.

  • Thanks for this suggestion. Unfortunately I'd have to email each of my notes 1 at a time, and when I tried this on 1 note it removed all hard returns from my note (and inserted asterisks for 2 HR's for some reason) so I'd have to reformat each one. Not an ideal solution.
    – Steve K
    Jul 18, 2010 at 19:40

Here is an easy way to do it using the Mail Application of the Mac:

  1. From the top menue of your mail application, click "Mailbox and in the dropdown menue click "New mailbox"
  2. A small windows will pop up. In the "Location", choose "Notes" and in "Name", put the name you want.
  3. Click "OK"
  4. Now if you check on the left side of the mail application main windows in "REMINDERS" you should see your "Note".
  5. Plug your iPhone to your mac and all the notes should be transferred instantly

After waiting years for a good solution to this, I decided to write an open source tool:

Main Project Page

Download Page

  • Note - the tool requires that you sync your iPhone/iPad via iTunes and do not select the 'encrypt' option (at least until the tool is done). Source is available for paranoid folks.

I think given that this is a relatively small task, your best bet would be to do all the copying through the computer, where it should only take you a few minutes.

So sync the notes to Gmail, then sign up for Simplenote and copy the notes on the computer between Gmail and Simplenote - with the sites open up in side-by-side windows if possible.

I am assuming that you are currently trying to do it on the iPhone, given that you say

and create a new note in the new app.

  • 1
    Good idea, but the problem is syncing with Gmail. I've enabled gmail-syncing on my iPhone, but there is no way to move my existing notes from the "On My iPhone" account into the "Gmail" account so it will sync. The best I can do is to cut the contents of an existing note (thus deleting it), and paste into a new note, given that I've made gmail the "default account" for new notes.
    – Steve K
    Jul 18, 2010 at 19:32
  • Ah I see the dilemma. Sorry that didn't help, I don't have an iPhone 4 to play around with but best of luck to finding an easier way - and then report back! :) Jul 18, 2010 at 21:56
  • Actually, I think this problem affects any iOS device (doesn't even need to be running the lastest 4.0 version): iPhone 3G/3GS/4, iPod Touch and iPad. All I need is for EverNote or SimpleNote or someone else to offer a simple "Import existing notes from my phone" option, and I bet a bunch of more people would switch over and start using the app. But maybe Apple does not have a public API to access their Notes?
    – Steve K
    Jul 19, 2010 at 13:29
  • @Steve: Is this even possible via the SDK? I feel like the Apple Notes app is notoriously "second tier" as built-in iOS apps go. Jul 29, 2010 at 0:26
  • @Jared: It might not even be possible; I have not looked at the iOS SDK, so I'm not sure what is feasible. Maybe that's why, to the best of my knowledge, it hasn't been done yet?
    – Steve K
    Aug 16, 2010 at 14:03

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