Optimizing Your Use of Notes
The Notes app can be used as a virtual notepad. Each page of the notepad can contain lengthy notes and be stored within the app as a separate, custom-labeled file. Although your formatting options are limited, you can cut and paste or drag and drop content from other apps, including photos, into your notes.
The Notes app is not meant to be a full-featured word processor. For that, use Pages or Microsoft Word, for example. Instead, Notes enables you to quickly jot down information and ideas and to create lists, which you can then view, share with others (via email or message), sync with your other Macs or iDevice, or print.
Depending on how you customize the Notes app, the app window can consist of one, two, or three separate columns. Figure 6.11 shows the app with all three columns visible.
Figure 6.11. The Notes app with its three columns showing. If you don’t choose to create and use folders with this app, you can hide the folders column (the leftmost column).
The main (rightmost column) serves as your virtual yellow notepad. The leftmost column displays a list of custom-labeled folders within which you can store and organize your individual notes. The middle column offers a complete list of notes that have been created and saved using the app.
Begin using this app by either creating a new note or clicking a listing within the middle column to view, edit, print, share, or delete an existing note. The following are the three ways to create a new note using the Notes app:
- Select File, New Note from the menu bar.
- Use the -N keyboard shortcut.
- Click the plus sign icon near the bottom-left corner of the middle column within the app window.
After you create a new note, a blank page appears on the virtual notepad. Displayed in the upper-right corner of the page is the time and date. Within the middle column, the default label New Note appears. What you type into the very first line at the top of the virtual notepad becomes that note’s name.
As you’re creating a note, manually type text in a freeform format. For example, you can use full sentences and paragraphs, short phrases, or create a list of keywords. You can also copy and paste or drag and drop content from other apps onto the page, or use the OS X Dictation feature to speak into the app and have your words translated into text.
If you opt to manually type your notes, use the commands under Format on the menu bar to select a font, type style, and font color. You can also right-, left-, or center-justify your text, select a writing direction, adjust indentation, and create numbered or bulleted lists.
Once a note is created, view it on the right side of the app window to read its contents, or turn on the Speech feature from the Edit menu and have the text read aloud to you by a computer-generated voice. Also from the Edit menu, you can check the spelling and grammar within your document and take advantage of other popular OS X commands.
It’s also possible to use the Select, Select All, Copy, Cut, and Paste commands within the Notes app (found under the Edit menu) to move content from a specific note into another app, such as an outgoing email, or a Microsoft Word (or Pages) document or into another note (within the Notes app).
To quickly switch between notes that have been created, click their listing within the middle column. To delete a specific note, select and highlight the note’s listing from the middle column and press the Delete key. Or to delete the note you’re currently viewing within the right column of the app window, click the Trash Can icon near the bottom center of the right column.
Just like the Reminders app, your Notes data can be set up to automatically back up and sync with iCloud (as well as with your other Macs and iDevices), and networks or online services such as Microsoft Exchange, Yahoo!, and Google.
By turning on the iCloud backup and syncing functionality, all of your notes you create will automatically be synced with iCloud as they’re created or modified. However, if you want to share one note with someone else, use the app’s Share button.
You’ll find the Share icon near the bottom center of the rightmost column of the Notes app window. The Share menu for this app enables you to email one note at a time to one or more recipients or to send it to other people via a message, as shown in Figure 6.12.
Figure 6.12. The Notes app has its own Share icon, like many preinstalled Mountain Lion apps. Use it to send individual notes via email or messages.
As you’re viewing a particular note, to print it select File, Print from the menu bar, or press the -P keyboard shortcut. From the Print window that appears, you also have the option to create a PDF file from the note. To do this, click the PDF button in the lower-left corner of the Print window (shown in Figure 6.13).
Figure 6.13. From your note, you can create separate PDF documents that can then be shared with others or viewed with other apps (including Preview). PDF files can be viewed on PCs, Macs, and most smartphones and tablets.
The Notes app offers a quick and easy way to store information, notes, ideas, and other content in a way that’s accessible, easy to search, and in a format that can be synced with your other computers or shared with other people. Its functionality does overlap a bit with the Reminders app (in that Notes can be used to create lists), plus it offers some basic features of a word processor. Even so, you’ll probably find a number of uses for this app in your personal and professional life.