How do I get my notes back?
May 20, 2015 1:02 PM   Subscribe

So, I have a standard Notes app on my iPhone and iPad. Lots of problems lately with reading/deleting mail on both, particularly with Yahoo!, so I deleted my Yahoo! and Gmail accounts and downloaded the particular apps for each instead. Then I made a note in the Notes app and to my dismay saw that most of my notes had disappeared. I googled this and learned that the Notes app may have assigned my notes to the email accounts I deleted (why?) but searching those online email accounts has only uncovered some, not all, my missing notes. iCloud doesn't have them either. Are they gone forever, hive mind? Can you think of something I've missed?
posted by bearwife to Computers & Internet (9 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
When I updated to iOS 8.3 last month, all my content in Notes went missing.

While I was never able to properly restore my notes, I was able to retrieve them by backing up my iPhone, then restoring an earlier back-up from before the system update. I then simply transcribed them to my computer manually (though I imagine there is a more sophisticated way to transfer them en masse). Then I finally restored my system to the current back-up (where the notes had once again disappeared).
posted by fairmettle at 1:09 PM on May 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


The Notes app on iPhone and iPad really seems to want to assign individual notes to some account or other. And it's not really obvious where - for example, I have

personalemail@gmail.com
me@mycompany.com (Google Apps)
&
me@myclientwhowantsmetohaveanemailaddresswiththem.com (Google Apps)

So to check all those emails on my iPhone/iPad I had to set up all those accounts. I could have been more careful, I suppose, to uncheck the Notes option on all accounts except my personal one, but I didn't (because I don't use this app for anything important, see bit on Evernote below), and then I had the freaky experience of setting up a Mac Mini, putting

me@myclientwhowantsmetohaveanemailaddresswiththem.com

on it as an account to check mail, and then having certain notes show up on it.

Somewhere I zigged where I might have zagged and created notes in that account, despite not meaning to. Fortunately, I don't ever use that app for anything important or confidential...

Solution: don't use that awful app for anything important. I put Evernote on everything I own with electricity and internet running through it, and I use my personal account for all of it. If I part ways with a client, I'll delete or send them whatever notes I have in it, as the case may be.

If I had a "real job" and was using a corporate computer/phone/whatever, I'd have to use whatever scheme they told me to use, and then I'd never, ever, ever use that device for personal stuff... which is why I'm going to try not to work for a place that doesn't believe in BYOD.
posted by randomkeystrike at 1:15 PM on May 20, 2015


I can't think why those online services wouldn't have your notes stored SOMEWHERE you could get to them, however. Have you done some searching on where those services store notes? Sometimes it's kind of buried.

You didn't mention iCloud, but odds are you have an iCloud account (same login as your Apple ID) - have you checked there?
posted by randomkeystrike at 1:18 PM on May 20, 2015


Response by poster: randomkeystrike, I did mention iCloud and sadly they are't there either. I have Evernote and am kicking myself now that I haven't put all the notes there.
posted by bearwife at 1:22 PM on May 20, 2015


Just add the email accounts back to your iPhone and the notes will come back.
Then move the notes to an other account.

Common problem is a "Clusterf*7ck" in the cloud where people enable multiple services for the same software. In your case you let Yahoo, Gmail, iCloud, etc sync your notes. The problem is that the notes get scattered over various accounts :-O

Same problem when you enable multiple cloud services for Contacts, calendars, bookmarks, etc.
For your own sanity unless you have a really good reason to user more than one account. Consolidate all this services with one account!
posted by Mac-Expert at 1:25 PM on May 20, 2015


Best answer: (why?)

Because Notes are stored as messages in a folder in an IMAP mail account.

So, you can actually just log into your Google or Yahoo accounts on the web, look to see if there's a mail folder or label named "Notes," and chances are all of your notes are there.

It's also possible for Notes to store notes locally - in the "On My iPhone" folder - which would not sync across devices, meaning that some notes might be on one of your devices but not the rest. If you've still got old hardware that you no longer use, you may want to check it to see if your notes are there.
posted by eschatfische at 2:51 PM on May 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


Response by poster: Just add the email accounts back to your iPhone and the notes will come back.

Did that, it did not work. Not even the notes I can find online in my Yahoo! account came back.

Also, Mac-Expert, I actually do have very good reasons for having three accounts. (One work, one personal and used for years, one personal for use with sites I don't want to share much with.) No idea why this app is designed to assign notes to the various accounts without any input from me.
posted by bearwife at 3:07 PM on May 20, 2015


Response by poster: So, you can actually just log into your Google or Yahoo accounts on the web, look to see if there's a mail folder or label named "Notes," and chances are all of your notes are there.

As I said in my question, I did that before I posed it. Not there.

It's also possible for Notes to store notes locally - in the "On My iPhone" folder - which would not sync across devices, meaning that some notes might be on one of your devices but not the rest. If you've still got old hardware that you no longer use, you may want to check it to see if your notes are there.


Yes! Fortunately I have an old iTouch. There they are! Will now copy everything to EverNote and never use the Notes app again.
posted by bearwife at 3:10 PM on May 20, 2015


So glad to hear that you were able to recover your notes. Nothing strikes more fear in my heart than losing hard-won data like this.
posted by intermod at 8:30 PM on May 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


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