Notes iOS 9

Have you ever saved a note in the iOS Notes app and then expected to see it sync across all of your devices via iCloud only to find that it didn’t? Maybe notes don’t sync between your iPhone and iPad, or maybe they don’t between your MacBook and your iMac, or a combination of these devices.

iCloud can be very finicky, especially when it comes to syncing your notes, and sometimes you have to take troubleshooting matters into your own hands to fix the problem.

There are a number of things you can try to fix Notes not syncing properly across all your devices with iCloud, so we’ll just dive right into them so you don’t waste any time.

Make sure your notes aren’t being stored locally

There is a setting under Settings → Notes called “On My iPhone” Account, which essentially forces the notes on your iPhone or iPad to be stored locally on the device itself rather than being synced with iCloud.

Notes Locally Stored

When you save notes in this way, not only will your iPhone’s Notes not be uploaded to iCloud, but your iCloud notes won’t be downloaded to your iPhone.

If you want your iCloud notes to sync with your iPhone, you should disable that “On My iPhone” Account toggle switch, as this will allow your device to sync

Ensure you’re signed into iCloud on all devices

The first thing you should check is to make sure that you’re signed into iCloud on all your devices. It may be something as stupid as one of your devices being signed out of your iCloud account. Signing back in should allow the device to sync with iCloud properly.

iPhone iCloud Signed In

To check, go to Settings → iCloud on your iOS device to see if you’re signed in. On a Mac, you can go to System Preferences → iCloud instead.

Are you using the same iCloud account on all devices?

You should also make sure you’re using the same iCloud account across your devices. If you’re signed into a different account on one device from another, then your Notes apps will never sync with one another.

iCloud was designed to keep everything under one account synced across all of your devices and computers, so make sure you’re using the same iCloud account on all of them and sign in with the right one if necessary.

Check for software updates

If your version of iOS is not up to date, then there could be an inconsistency with the features of the Notes app from one iOS version to the next. This is particularly a problem with firmware releases pre-iCloud Drive after you have enabled iCloud Drive.

iPhone Software Updates

Make sure all of your iOS devices are up to date from Settings → General → Software Update, and make sure your Mac(s) is up to date from the Updates tab in the Mac App Store.

Make sure Notes syncing is turned on

It’s also entirely possible that you have Notes syncing over iCloud turned off. If this is the case, then your device will never sync your notes from iCloud no matter what you do.

To make sure Notes syncing is turned on from an iOS device, go to Settings → iCloud → Notes and make sure the switch is turned to “on.” If it’s off, then turn it back on again and check back later after it’s had some time to sync.

iPhone iCloud Settings Notes

On a Mac, you can go to System Preferences → iCloud → Notes and make sure there’s a check mark in the Notes check box.

Restart all devices

You can also try to restart all of your iCloud-driven devices. If it’s an iOS device, just hold down the power button until you see the slide to power off slider, and then slide it. If it’s a Mac, go to  → Shut Down… and this will turn your Mac off.

iPhone Slide to Power Off

After all your devices are powered off, you can go ahead and power them back on. The restart may jog the syncing services and help your devices’ Notes apps in arranging content such that they’re identical to one another.

Sign out of iCloud and back in again

Another thing you can try is signing out of iCloud on your device(s) and signing back in again. This helps particularly when content is syncing to most of your devices, but just not one or two of them.

In this case, you’ll want to sign out of the one that’s having the problems first, then sign back in again. If this doesn’t solve it, then try signing out of all your devices and signing into all of them again.

iPhone iCloud Sign Out

If it’s an iOS device, go to Settings → iCloud→ Sign Out. On a Mac, you can go to System Preferences → iCloud→ Sign Out.

Save the note on another device

It could be a bug with the device itself. Try saving the note on another of your iCloud devices and see if it syncs. If it does, it might be time to restore the device that isn’t working. If it doesn’t, then the problem is still related to iCloud.

Are Apple’s services down?

If everything you throw at the problem seems to be failing, it might be that Apple’s iCloud services are experiencing a hiccup. You can check Apple’s system status web page to see what services of Apple’s are working or not working at any given time.

If you see anything besides a green square next to the iCloud Notes part of the chart, then Apple’s own servers are having problems and they may be under maintenance. The only thing you can do in this instance is wait a while longer until it goes back online.

Contact Apple

If none of the above remedies have worked for you, and there’s no sure sign of the problem being fixed, the next best thing to do is contact Apple Support and see if they can’t set you up with a proper solution.

Also read:

Were you able to get your iCloud Notes syncing back up and running again? How did you fix it? Share in the comments below!

  • Iskren Donev

    For what it’s worth, I have had Reminders sync issues for a long time. The only solution that (somewhat) works is:
    1. Sign out of the problematic device(s).
    2. Power down the problematic device(s).
    3. Keep them powered down for a minute or so.
    4. Power the device(s) back on and sign in.

    The steps above were actually suggested to me by Apple Support.

  • Agneev Mukherjee

    OMG! I’m having this issue after the 10.12.2 and 10.2 update…

  • malhal

    How it works is: a note gets saved using CloudKit, on the server it loops the subscriptions to these notes, if there is a match it then sends out a push notification, the other device receives the latest notification and then runs and downloads all notifications, it then downloads the notes that are mentioned in these notifications. It’s a very fragile architecture and has many points of failure. To me the problem is most likely cloudkit not sending the push notification to the other devices, or it not being received.

  • John Rogers

    When I try to turn off Notes syncing on my phone, or to sign out of iCloud, it says all my notes will be deleted from the device… Can’t think what to do but manually back them up. But there are hundreds…

    • Naveh Halperin

      I have the same issue

  • Mark Mitchell

    On some computers or devices, particularly the crappy ones that are in the classroom or the office next-door, iCloudDrive just needs a “nudge”. Restarting the machine does NOT work. But, on the machine in question, take any file at all and save it to the icloud drive (just drag something, ANYTHING, from your desktop over) and it will “nudge” the icloud drive into updating all its stuff, including that note or whatever that you updated. Non-apple files as well. Especially non-apple files.

    • Mark Mitchell

      note: this MUST be done on the offending machine. It’s a local problem.

  • Mike

    Just a tip for everyone who IS logged in on the same iCloud account on iPhone and mac AND has chosen to sync “notes” in iCloud settings on Mac and iPhone:
    -In notes app on iPhone, press the “<"(back) button in the left top corner.
    -Choose "On my iPhone"
    -Press edit (top right)
    -Mark all your notes you want to sync.
    -press "Move to" (bottom right)
    -Choose "iCloud"

    Done and DONE!
    iPhone 7, iOS 10.2.3 & iMac 27" Late 2015 macOS Sierra 10.12.5

    • Rosaline Callaghan

      Mike, thank you. I wish I could get back the hours of my lıfe I spent the last few days trying to sync. Sorted within seconds of following your tip. Done and DONE!!!!!! Appreciate it.

    • TM

      Excellent! Worked flawlessly!!!

    • Cris Mejia

      I don’t have a “Move to” button, only “delete” button.
      My ipad and iphone are syncd not the mac.

      • Cris Mejia

        Found the button but still doesn’t appear on the Mac. Please help!

      • Veritas

        Hi, Cris!

        Where you found the button?
        What is your iOS version?

    • Andrea

      This worked, thank you!! I had my notes stored on my gmail instead of icloud