Taking notes on your Mac and iPhone: Notes in Mail

While adding notes to calendar events and people in your address book are good for many purposes, there are other notes that need to be somewhere else.

Until the release of iPhone OS 3 I used several different note apps on my iPhone. Each had some method of syncing, most involved having another application on my computer. That was one more thing to add to my dock and often one more web site to pay money to each year.

Now that the Notes Application on my iPhone

…can sync with the Notes in Mail

…I am pretty happy.

Let’s review how this works.

When you open the Notes app on the iPhone, you will see one of the two screens below. If you see this screen, you either have no notes or you are looking at notes you have previously made. To add a note, click the plus icon in the upper right corner of the screen.

If you see this screen, you are looking at the note you were last using. Click the plus icon in the upper right to add another note. Click the arrow icons at the bottom of the screen to navigate to your other notes. The envelope icon attaches the note to an email so that you can send it to someone. The Trash can icon deletes the note.

If you want to add a note on your computer, it is done in Mail:

Click on the Note icon in the toolbar at the top of the screen to add a new note. Click on the Notes icon in the Mail sidebar to view your notes.

There are many options when making Notes in Mail. It is possible to change fonts and colors, attach files and photos and even to make To Do items in a note:

Syncing notes

While it is possible to sync Mail accounts, Contacts, Calendars and Bookmarks to the iPhone using MobileMe, Notes are not included.

Instead, synching is set up in iTunes:

This means that in order to see the latest changes you have made on the other device (iPhone or Mac), you must connect your iPhone to the Mac and do a sync.

While there are lots of other applications that can be used for notes, I prefer Apple’s Notes application. Since it is an application made by Apple Inc., I can check my notes at any time. For example, when I am talking on the telephone, playing a game, listening to my podcast or music. For me this availability is not to be missed!



Taking notes on your Mac and iPhone: iCal

While storing notes about people or companies in the Address book on the Mac (or in Contacts on the iPhone) makes perfect sense, some information just doesn't belong there.

For example, I am taking a Frontier Airline flight to Macworld later this week. I received a confirmation email from Frontier after I booked my flight:

While I might put the telephone number and URL for Frontier in Address Book, information about my flight to San Francisco would be easier to locate in iCal or the iPhone Calendar. I used copy and paste to put the information into iCal:

Then I waited for MobileMe to sync the information to my iPhone:

One of the most interesting things is that although the links from the email do not appear in the iCal event, they are visible and available on my iPhone. The links open to Google maps in Safari. Just think of how convenient it could be to have such easy access for maps to hotels, restaurants etc.

Note that I edited the screenshots to remove personal and identifying information from the images above.

Both Bob LeVitus and I will be at Macworld later this week. Look for blog posts, Twitters and updates as we learn about new products for the Mac, iPhone and iPod Touch. I will be traveling with my husband, Ron--if we don’t get snowed in by yet another DC storm.



Taking notes on your Mac and iPhone: Address Book

Its time for another blog series. This time we’ll take a look at making notes on you computer

Are you a note taker? I am. Sometimes I wish there was just one place and one way to make notes, but realistically, it would not work well. In fact, I need different ways of taking notes--and they need to be stored in different places or I would never be able to make sense out of them.

Let’s start by looking at making notes in the Address Book. Do you remember the old days when we used paper address books to keep track of people’s addresses. I would use the same book for several years, until it got so messy and “scratched out” that I simply had to begin again.

The worst part of transferring to a new address book was the loss of bits of knowledge that somehow did not make it into the new book. Add to that the time that it took to hand write all the addresses and the possibility of introducing errors in copying the information. That was a task that begged for computerization!

There are extra fields that can be added to the Address Book template to make it easier to organize information. To make changes to the template, first choose Address Book > Preferences from the menu bar:

In the Preferences window, click the Template button and then click the Add Field button.

I have added just about every field to my template. However, notice that I have left Phonetic First/Last Name unchecked. If I need those fields, I can add them while I am in the Edit mode of Address Book. To add a field, use the menu item Card > Add Field.

It is also possible to add multiple items in many of the fields. For example, it is possible to add many different kinds of telephone numbers:

At the bottom of the pop-up are two choices, other and Custom… If you choose “other”, a new item labeled Other is added. If you choose Custom, you will see this window where you can add a new, specific kind of telephone number.

Add a custom field and the label will show the new field:

However, the Custom field is not available in the fields in other address cards. That is a suggestion that I will have to send to Apple!

At the bottom of each address card, there is a Notes field. I add all sorts of information to this area. It could be anything from an old address to notes about what I served the last time I invited the person for dinner. I also add ideas for future gifts and reminders about gifts I have sent in the past. If it is an entry for a business, I add employee names, notes about things I have purchased there, directions to their store etc.

Searching is one of the best features of Address Book. Not only can the name and address fields be searched, but the results will include any information that is stored in any other field, including the Notes area.

When you enter text into the Search area of the Address Book, it will look for that text throughout the Address book. It will include all fields and the Notes area.

If you use MobileMe to sync information from the Address Book to your iPhone or iPod Touch, the information is available in the Notes section of each card. However, at this time, it will not come up in the search results. For example, If you have entries for restaurants and you have added the cuisine that they serve in the Notes area, you would not be able to search the Contacts on your iPhone for Mexican food restaurants. I hope Apple will add these capabilities in new versions of the iPhone software.

If you need help in organizing your address book or you need to move addresses from another application into Address Book, consider booking a help session with me at Doctor Mac Consulting. I can show you how to move your addresses out of just about any program and into Apple’s Address Book. The cost is $60.00 per hour and I can use our special software to “see” your computer. Send a note to or call us at (408) 627-7577 for further information.