Notes iOS 9 El Capitan teaser 001

A much-improved Notes application is one of my favorite features of iOS and macOS. With it, you can now draw sketches with your finger, enrich your thoughts with photos, maps and web links—and even create a checklist of to-dos.

Checklists work perfectly for stuff like grocery lists, wish lists, quick to-dos and what not, and they’re interactive so you can tick off individual items to mark them as completed. And with iCloud, changes to your notes are automatically pushed to all your devices.

In this post, we’re going to demonstrate how easy it is to create interactive checklists in Notes on your iPhone, iPod touch, iPad, Mac and iCloud.com.

Before we begin, we’ll assume you have upgraded your iPhone, iPod touch and iPad to iOS 10, that your Mac runs macOS Sierra, and that you have upgraded your notes to the new format. Otherwise, you won’t have access to these new features.

How to create checklists in Notes for iOS

Step 1: Open Notes on your iPhone, iPod touch or iPad.

Step 2: Tap the pencil and pad icon at the lower right of the screen to start a new note.

Step 3: Next, tap a gray circle with the plus sign just above the keyboard to reveal a toolbar providing quick access to the new Notes features.

Apple Notes Checklists iPhone screenshot 003

Step 4: Now tap the Checklist icon in the toolbar, as depicted below.

Apple Notes Checklists iPhone screenshot 002

Step 5: An empty circle will appear in your note, letting you type your first to-do. Pressing Enter positions the cursor in a new line so you can create another to-do.

Tip: You can also highlight multiple lines of text and then tap the Checklist button to turn them into tappable to-dos, all at once. To insert a new item into an existing checklist, position the cursor at the end of a line and hit Enter on the keyboard.

Apple Notes Checklists iPhone screenshot 001

If you own an iPhone 7, use 3D Touch for precise cursor positioning.

Step 6: Tap Done to finish creating the checklist.

How to create checklists in Notes for Mac

Step 1: Launch Notes on your Mac.

Step 2: Click the pencil and pad icon in the toolbar at the top to start a new note, or hit Command (⌘) – N.

Step 3: Click the Checklist icon in the toolbar, as depicted on the screenshot below. Alternatively, hit the Shift (⇧) – Command (⌘) – L keyboard combination or choose Checklist from Notes’ Format menu.

Apple Notes Checklists Mac screenshot 001

Step 4: The cursor will be positioned next to an empty circle in your new note so you can start typing away your to-do items immediately, separating each entry with Enter.

Apple Notes Checklists Mac screenshot 002

You can also view your checklists and other notes in Microsoft Outlook on your Windows computer set up for iCloud Notes using Apple’s free iCloud for Windows client.

How to create checklists in Notes on iCloud.com

Step 1: To use iCloud Notes on the web, go to icloud.com/notes on your computer and sign in using your Apple ID (the one you use with iCloud).

iCloud Notes web screenshot 001

Tip: Make sure you’re using a supported browser to access iCloud.com.

Step 2: Click the pencil and pad icon in the toolbar to create a new note.

iCloud Notes web screenshot 003

Tip: If you don’t see the Notes icon in the main menu of the web interface, log in to iCloud on your iOS device in Settings → iCloud (or on your Mac in System Preferences → iCloud) and enable Notes syncing.

Step 3: Now click the Checklist button next to the Format button in the toolbar to create your first to-do item. Type as many to-dos as you like, hitting Enter after each.

iCloud Notes web screenshot 004

Any changes you make to your notes on iCloud.com will be pushed to your devices that use iOS 10 or macOS and are set up for iCloud Notes, and vice versa.

iCloud Notes web screenshot 002

Keep in mind that using the updated Notes app on iCloud.com will only show notes you added or changed on iCloud.com or on your devices that have iOS 10 or macOS and are set up for iCloud Notes.

How to import existing lists into Notes

On a final note (pun intended), you don’t need to create checklists from scratch. To bring an existing formatted list from another app to Notes, first copy the text of that list into the clipboard.

Notes Checklists teaser 001

Paste the text into Notes, then highlight it and finally tap the Checklist button. This will instantly create a multi-item interactive checklist. Of course, you can paste existing lists from emails, text messages and so forth.

Sharing Checklists from Notes

Formatted checklists in Notes can be shared with friends and family. Open Notes, select a note and then tap iOS’s multi-purpose Share button to send it via email, Messages or through third-party apps with a Share extension. One thing to remember: interactive Notes checklists will be shared as non-interactive bulleted lists.

That means you cannot, for instance, share the shopping list from Notes with your girlfriend and have both of you add and tick off items as you go. For that, you’re advised to use Apple’s Reminders app.

That’s all, folks!

You’ve now mastered the art of interactive checklists in Notes.

The ability to check off items as you go, coupled with seamless syncing across iOS, OS X and the web, makes interactive checklists in Notes a viable (though rather basic) alternative to the Reminders app.

Related tutorials

You might also like the following tutorials and resources from our archives:

Please share this how-to with your friends on social media and send us your feedback and ideas for future tutorials at tips@iDownloadBlog.com.

  • :D

    Updating to iOS 9 – this is gonna be a long night…

  • diggitydang

    How do you use the Reminders app for shared checklists like to do’s with your girlfriend (like the article advises)? You can’t invite someone to a reminder, can you???

    • Techsticles

      You can share a reminders list. Great for grocery lists and shared to do’s.

      Tap “Edit” at the top right of a list and then you’ll see “Sharing”.

      • diggitydang

        HO….LY!!!! I didn’t know this!!! How did I not know this???? Geez!! Anyway, that’s awesome, thanks!!!

      • Techsticles

        Glad I could help. =]

        Crazy thing is, you could share reminder lists before iOS 8/9, but only by creating the share on the Mac.

      • diggitydang

        Ok, stop, stop!! Hahaha. I feel like such a newbie when I hear stuff like this!!

  • Techsticles

    Any reason to make a list in Notes versus a list in Reminders besides being able to freeform the notes per item?

    • coLin

      You can attach a photo of your desired cucumbers if you like 😛

    • Gary le

      Reminders seems to have an alarm but Notes doesnt?

  • Jake Platt

    One of the best additions to iOS 9

  • Vic Levanh

    Shopshop is better

  • MrJohnBlaze

    I use it to remember my tweaks along with Dropbox

  • Okada San

    Hmm, not seeing the gray circle with the plus sign. I doubt it’s because I’m jailbroken. Anyone else have this problem?

    • Diego

      Me too
      jailbreak and can’t see the gray circle

  • Arnold Gill

    Well, for whatever reason, the new toolbar icon in Notes does not appear on my iPad Air with iOS 9. Is this feature country specific? If so, incredibly stupid!

    • Norbi Whitney

      Not showing up on 5s either. Canada here.

      • Arnold Gill

        Canada as well. Foolish if this is country specific.

  • Gary le

    I actually have a question about Reminders and Calendars App; and the question is what is the major diff between those two?