When Kim opened the Notes app on her iPhone, she noticed that a lot of her notes were gone. Did she accidentally delete them? Probably not. Not knowing where to find her missing notes, Kim asked for my help in the Payette Forward Community, and I was happy to take the case. In this article, I’ll explain why your notes have disappeared from your iPhone, where they’re hiding, and how to get them back.
Understanding Where Notes Actually Live
Just like your email, contacts, and calendars, the notes you see on your iPhone are often stored “in the cloud”. In other words, the notes on your iPhone are usually stored on a server tied to your email address.
A lot of people don’t realize that the email accounts you set up on your iPhone can do a lot more than just send and receive email. Most email accounts, including the ones you get through AOL, Gmail, and Yahoo, have the ability to store contacts, calendars, and notes in addition to your email.
When Notes disappear, they usually haven’t been deleted. The notes live on a server that is tied to your email address (Gmail, Yahoo, AOL, etc.), and there is a problem between your iPhone and the server.
Common Reasons Why Notes Disappear From iPhones
If you recently deleted an email address from your iPhone, you probably removed the notes from your iPhone too. It doesn’t mean they were deleted. It just means your iPhone can’t access them anymore. When you set up the email account again, all of your notes will come back.
If you’ve been having trouble connecting to an email account lately, that could be another clue. Maybe you recently changed your email password online, but haven’t entered the new password on your iPhone. When you go to Settings -> Notes -> Accounts on your iPhone, tap on your email account, and update the password, everything should begin working normally again.
How Do I Know Where My iPhone Notes Are Stored?
Open the Notes app on your iPhone, and look for the yellow back arrow in the upper left-hand corner of the screen. Tap on that arrow and you’ll see a list of all the accounts that are currently syncing notes on your iPhone. You might see more than one. The first place to check for your missing notes is in each individual folder. Tap on each folder to see if your missing notes are stored inside.
Recovering Missing Notes Using Settings
If you haven’t found your notes yet, the next place we’ll check is in Settings -> Notes -> Accounts. Tap on each individual email account and make sure that Notes are turned on for each account.
If you recently removed an email account from your iPhone, add it again and turn on Notes when you set it up. Go back to the Notes app, tap the yellow back arrow , and check each new email account for the missing Notes.
Keeping Your Notes Organized
It’s certainly not necessary to sync your notes across multiple email accounts. In fact, I discourage that because it can get very confusing! Right now, we’re trying to find your missing notes – that’s why we’re turning them all on.
To stay organized moving forward, it’s important to know where you’re saving your notes. If you’re using Siri to create your notes, you can set the default account for new notes in Settings -> Notes.
Otherwise, you need to be aware of which account you’re using when you create a new note in the Notes app. Before you create a new note, tap the yellow back arrow in the upper left-hand corner of the screen and choose a folder. The good news is that the Notes app should pick up right where you left off whenever you open it.
My recommendation is to use as few accounts as you can to sync notes. After you “take an inventory” of where your notes are stored, I recommend going back to Settings -> Mail, Contacts, Calendars, and disabling Notes for the accounts that you aren’t using to sync your notes.
On my iPhone, I use two accounts to sync notes. To be honest, the only reason I use two accounts is because I haven’t taken the time to switch my old Gmail notes over to iCloud yet. Ideally, most people should only use one account to sync their notes.
iPhone Notes: Found!
Kim’s question about where her iPhone notes had gone was a good one, because it’s a very common problem. The good news is that this problem usually has a happy ending. When notes disappear from an iPhone, it’s not because they were deleted — they’re just lost. I’d love to hear about your experiences with recovering lost notes on your iPhone, and if you have any other questions, feel free to do what Kim did and post them in the Payette Forward Community.
Thanks for reading, and remember to pay it forward,
I have notes on my iPhone and iPad. They are supposed to be the exact same, and usually they are. Twice in the past week this one note has disappeared from my iPhone but it was still available on my iPad. I forget how I got it back on my iPhone the last time it happened. I looked at all of the solutions here and no luck. Any thoughts?
I cannot believe how Apple is brushing this off when it has happened to so many of us. I had 250+ notes and all of the sudden I have 86 just because I turned on Sync to iCloud. There is definitely a problem in the software and servers. Unacceptable.
The bottom line is that if your notes disappear, there is no recovery.
What bothers me is that is where I kept sensitive financial information. How do I know Apple is not selling it? Answer, I don’t.
I’m going back to pen and paper.
Apple cannot be trusted.
This just happened to me when I deleted an outdated exchange account. Is there a way to get those notes back without having to sign into that account again? It no longer exists.
Thank you so much! Life saver!
i thought I had lost it all.
I turned off notes in iCloud and it deleted all my notes! Then when I turned it back on in iCloud ONLY the notes saved in iCloud returned. My iCloud is full, but I have plenty of space on my phone to save them! How do I recover ALL notes not saved in the cloud and save them directly to my iPhone’s hard drive? Please help!
Hi Jessica! I’m sorry to hear that, losing any notes can be extremely frustrating. Did you happen to save a backup of your iPhone before you turned notes off in iCloud? If so, restoring to that backup might get your missing notes back on your iPhone!
Are you saying that if I go to settings and turn off notes my notes will reappear?
Hi Carol! Not exactly. We suggest disabling Notes for as many email accounts you have registered on your iPhone as possible to make it harder to lose track of where your notes are stored. The fewer accounts you have set up with Notes, the easier it will be to keep your Notes app organized!
However, if you have already created notes using a certain email address, keep that account enabled in Settings so you don’t accidentally lose more notes.
I hope this helps!
Help! I’ve lost the ‘To-Do’ list on my iPhone. It was saved on iPhone, not on iCloud. I pressed something and it disappeared. I Haven’t been able to find them despite following your ideas.
My son has tried all that you suggested when losing notes and he still cannot find them! Any other suggestions??
Thanks for reading! It all depends on which account your son uses to sync his notes. You can see the default account in Settings -> Notes -> Default Account. If he’s turned off the “On My iPhone Account”, try turning that switch back on too.
Bear in mind that you don’t need to ask questions on behalf of “a friend” or “a son” here! We’re here to help! 🙂
Best of luck,
Hi. My mom was looking at one of her notes and her screen went black, and when it came back up ALL of her notes were gone. Apple and Verizon can’t figure it out. She’s tried every solution offered and still can’t find them. Any thoughts?
Hi Heather, has your mom already tried restoring to a recent backup of her iPhone?
Yeah. She tried everything.
When I had a note open, the app suddenly glitched out of nowhere and the pictures I had saved in the note suddenly weren’t appearing. When I tried exiting the note to check if others were having the same problem, the entire app crashed. Now the entire folder, including all the notes within that folder, are gone. They should be saved to my iCloud but I can’t find them anywhere. I searched the name of some of them and only two showed up, so I was able to recover those (except for the pictures within them), but none of the… Read more »
Hey Ace, sorry to hear you’re going through this! Have you tried going to icloud.com to see if your notes are actually there? Sometimes the web interface can provide clues into what’s going on — if they’re on the website and not on your iPhone, there may be an issue with the Notes app itself. Sometimes just signing out of iCloud and signing back in again on your iPhone will fix the issue.
(Sorry for the late reply) Hi David. I checked the website, but it was the same as the app; only the notes I’ve tried recreating since they got lost were there.
The notes on my exchange account are all there but they are whited out and I can’t read them. If I look at the notes for the “on my iPhone” account those are visible. If I reboot my phone the Exchange notes are readable again. What is it that causes the notes to be whited out?
Hey all, I went to access my Notes app on my iPhone X and I saw the last note I was using was still open. Next thing I know though, all the notes disappear and I am sitting at the Folders screen with everything gone. I logged into my iCloud account hoping they were there but it was all gone as well. My iCloud storage was recently filled 100% so I am not sure if this had anything to do with it. My iPhone storage has plenty of space leftover (nearly 65% available) . Would could have caused this? Do… Read more »
Hi Ian, did you try logging in on iCloud.com to see if your notes are there? That’s a good place to start. Notes don’t delete themselves. 🙂 You’ll find them!
Hi, please help me with finding my notes. They have disappeared! Finding these notes a very important to me, I would be so grateful if you can help me find them. One morning I was adding some notes to my folders, then later that night I was checking my notes and noticed all of my recent notes that I open and use on a regular basis were gone. Old notes that I had deleted in 2019 were all there instead. I’ve spent hours with Apple Support and paid extra for more iCloud storage. My toggle is on for my email… Read more »
David/Colin PLEASE HELP! David/Colin, my AOL email account stopped working long ago on my iphone so I called Apple who suggested I delete then re-add my AOL account which I did. After that most of my Notes were deleted from the Note app. I had three folders: “AOL”, my actual aol address, and “From My PC”. I have 7 left from my email address folder, 105 from my AOL folder and only 430 from my PC folder. Weirdly not just the newest ones are missing but seemingly some of the oldest too. PLEASE Help!! My entire life and life thoughts,… Read more »
Hi Bill, I’m sorry to hear that! Losing notes unexpectedly can be very scary. Have you saved a backup of your iPhone recently? Restoring your phone to a backup from before you lost your notes might restore the ones that disappeared!
My notes have completely disappeared. ‘i do not have e-mail set up on my IPhone7, so that doesn’t help.
The back button in the upper left corner isn’t displayed,except to go to Folders, and there is nothing under Folders. so can’t do that. There is a Search filed, but I cannot find anything through that way. The only hopeful news is that they are sti on my laptop notes app. IS there any way to retrive them on my phone?
Hi Gisele, have you saved a backup of your iPhone recently? Restoring your phone to a previous back up might get you your notes back!
I lost my notes, when I deleted an old AOL account from my XS. I didn’t realize the notes were being saved to the AOL account, which has been inactive for years. Is there a way to retrieve them?
To tonight I was looking up birthdays on my notes. The title “Birthdays” was there along with all the other titles of notes I’ve created. But when I opened my Birthdays notes… nothing was there?! I tried the next note… same thing. All my notes titles are visible under Gmail, Yahoo, NOTES but no info is attached to the notes. Can you help me? I’ve stored some very important information in my notes. HELP
Have you saved a backup of your iPhone’s data recently? Your best bet might be to try to restore to a recent backup and hopefully the data you had saved in your Notes App will be preserved. However, if you haven’t backed up your iPhone in a while, I’d hold off on trying to restore to a backup for now.
If you don’t have a recent backup saved, feel free to let me know and I can talk to the rest of the team and get back to you.
hi, i shut down my iphone because it was slow because of the videos and pictures stored in notes. when i turned it on again, all of my notes were gone, like permanently deleted gone. i waited about a few hours and only 3 notes had recovered, and clearly i had way more than that. what do i do?
Hi Marianne. Was your iPhone’s storage at full capacity? It’s possible all the pictures and videos on your iPhone might have overloaded your device storage, causing a malfunction.
Hi, the same problem happened to me did you find the solution?
i scanned a 3 page document using notes which I then began typing up on my laptop, I went to put the phone down and caught the screen on the skin of my arm, when I went back to the document the middle page had gone? I cannot find it anywhere, could you help please?
My phone storage was close to full and I deleted several videos. Later last night I went to my notes to retrieve a scanned document and I discovered that many of my notes from the past several months were gone. I have them sync to cloud but cloud didn’t have enough storage. Just poof without answer or reason. Are these totally unrecoverable? To just disappear without any warning has me so devastated – I had some incredibly important information that will be very hard to get back.
Thank you for this! Thought I lost my notes and almost had a heart attack.
All my notes on disappeared! I logged in to my iCloud online and I see them there but I can seem to get it back on my phone note app. What do I do?? Please someone help. ?
This saved me! Thank you very much!
I cannot find notes on my iphone 12 plus
I tried the suggestions in this article. The notes are turned on in all of my email addresses and still I cannot find the notes anywhere on my phone. When I search for them it refers me to download the app. Do you have any other suggestions?
I have just notice today my Notes have disappeared and the look and feel of my Iphone 11 notes has changed
I have followed your article but unable to find my notes anywhere and have not deleted any of my email address either
Need some help here
I have the same problem and still no folders or notes
total different app when opened
My notes are there but I can’t see them in the notes app, I can export them to text or mail, and it’s all there, but the notes page is blank.
Finished my work pressed done. first, it displaced the letters on the lines of the worksheet and also erased the whole page and also put it all the letters to the side of the page is there something kind back up string of hidden save files so I can find that save file before it screwed it all up .
David, The IOS environment is very confusing to me. My background is mainframe and microsoft apps. So many terms you are using have “hidden to me” meaning, implications, etc. For example, “sync” has so many meanings. email sync, account sync, etc. microsoft uses this term too. I have two computers, one personal and one for work. I do NOT want them to have the same data. and yet everything I do causes my phone to ask to sync. Another example, “account” why so many and icloud account, email account, etc. Case in point, my phone setup tells me I have… Read more »
Hey, Ed! First of all, I don’t think iOS is for you. iOS is a great operating system for some people, and it works very well, but for your experience and comfort level I don’t think it is the best choice. I’m not a very big fan of it either! Android is probably the next-best thing to Windows in the mobile OS space. Samsung’s latest devices I believe were actually in part developed in partnership with Microsoft. This allows phones like my Galaxy Note 9 to connect to Windows using the Your Phone app. This even allows for screen sharing… Read more »
It’s January 16, 2021 and I’ve still got the “disappearing notes” issue! It happened with my legacy iPhone SE and now the SAME thing is happening with the newer iPhone SE. The folder titles are there and visible but not the material inside any folder is not. I shut down the phone and the wait for it to re-boot.
Many others have this issue and no one has a better solution. Keep in mind, the “Disappearing” act is random. There is no rhyme or reason that I can find.
Thought I’d see if you might have one.
As said in the article here, it’s possible that out of date login information for your email address where your notes are stored could be the culprit. Make sure you’re signed in to the right email. The article above can help step by step ?
If you sign out off your iCloud and sign back in it should appear but check the last time you back up you might lose a few but it’s better than the hole lot.
All of my notes have disappeared from my iPhone 11 today and I’m unsure as of why when I haven’t touched it. I kept important notes in there. I also did not sync any of my e-mails or iCloud and just left it as “On this iPhone” or something like that. I’m highly frustrated at the moment.
The same thing happened to me. Incredibly frustrating as I’ve been taking notes in the app since at least 2013. I’m on the phone with customer support at the moment. They are escalating it to engineering. I think what happened is that the notes (for me) were stored locally on the phone’s hard drive, and Apple updated the notes app as part of a normal system update, and the new app doesn’t seem to know how to retrieve this locally stored data. As far as I can tell, the data is still there as you can check the storage levels… Read more »
I see this was 20 hours ago! I’m having the same issue as of this morning. Mine aren’t in my email accounts either. It’s just vanished
Were you given a solution? I have yet to call customer service myself but the same thing has happened to me; I had about 900 notes on there and now they’re all suddenly gone except for a selected few 🙁
Did anyone ever get to the bottom of this? I have the same problem, all my notes disappeared about 2-3 weeks ago, I’m pretty sure from the “on my iPhone” folder. It’s an iPhone 6 for reference. Thanks!
hello, in my spanish class i take notes and i pinned them so i do not loose them and i created a folder for those notes so i selected them and moved them to that folder, but the three notes that were pinned disappeared, can you please help me, those notes were very important,
I recently tried to get access to a few notes that I have saved on my iCloud and when I got in they were partially deleted like still there but missing information and I know I did not delete the info and it was a locked note so no one else had access how do I recover those notes without trying a factory reset. I had a similar problem with iMessage and contacted apple they told me a factory reset would fix it and I never got any of the content back and lost all the new content
I am not able to find my note
The titles of my AOL notes on my iphone are visible, but the notes themselves are blanks. I was copying the 233 notes from my ipad icloud notes, but then they went completely blank. my 9 icloud notes on my iphone are still visible, but the 233 notes are not here. so I do not see my 233 aol notes any where, but still have the titles. I have tried to put a password in to the notes, but it doesn’t let me.
I have a iPhone 11. All my notes are listed when I open the app, although one of the notes does not is blank in the areas I used a grid. Please help. This is an important note.
I have the same problem by any chance have you figured out how to recover the information?
Hi David, I recently got a new iphone, I was using my phone for a while and adding to my Gmail notes often and then my phone told me I needed to reconnect to Gmail (because I had changed my password recently?). As soon as I logged back in, all of the new notes I made since I got the new phone two months ago were gone. Do you have any idea where these might have gone? I already checked All Mail, and I have not backed up my phone since I got this new one.
hi david I recently got a new iphone and in transferring over my data I noticed a lot of note missing. I use notes with my icloud, aol , and gmail accounts and I see that all 3 are activated on the notes. I used the synching tool that apple allows from using a nearby phone. Most of the notes that are missing for me were in the aol folder and are not there now and I don’t know how to get them back. they are also missing from my old phone – please help!
I only used iCloud on Notes. I looked in my iCloud account, and the one note that I lost isn’t there. I even deleted a few notes in hopes that it was a storage thing but it’s still not there. I’m so upset!
still can’t find my notes 🙁
My husband deleted all of his emails from one of his inboxes without realising the account was synced with his notes. He subsequently lost all his notes. Is there any way to retrieve them?
My notes on my gmail account on my iPhone X which is backed up on iCloud are disappearing. Significant ones. I have tried everything listed and nothing has work. I am desperate and have a limited amount of time. My only option is to try to reproduce them which is virtually impossible. Please help! The notes aren’t in the gmail app and they were in the notes section for gmail and the app does have the notes checked as a back up item for iCloud. I’ve done everything from rehire it got to reinstalling. I have never ever been able… Read more »
Mine notes are forever disappearing if I reboot my phone they all come back, but is a bit of a pain, must be an easier way
How do I get my notes back?
Ok sooo, I logged out from my iphone account to a different account. And when I logged back in again some of my notes were not there. My iCloud is apparently full and I don’t seem to remember storing the notes on the phone it self.. seems impossible to restore it but I just gotta ask is it possible?
Thanks in advance
I just want to say thank you. I spent 45 minutes over the phone with AT&T trying to find where my notes went and they couldn’t help me, their answer was that my notes were deleted and couldn’t be re-stored. I googled for help with this issue and found you, followed your instructions here and I FOUND MY NOTES, they’re back on my iPhone. Thank you very much 🙂
What steps exactly did you follow? I am missing one note and just can’t find it on my phone or iCloud. Called Apple, and they really are of no help!
My gmail notes have disappeared from my iPhone 6. Help!
I still can’t find my notes after following these instructions. I have really important info in my notes. All i know is i deleted a lot of emails yesterday, so l’m wondering if that’s the issue? Someone please help me!
My Notes icon disappeared. When I go to my profile in the App Store I can find my notes there but can’t download it back to my phone. None of your suggestions work. What do I do?