How to Recover Deleted Notes on iPhone & iPad

May 10, 2016 - 23 Comments

How to restore and recover deleted notes in iOS

The Notes app in iOS is widely used by many users for many purposes, whether for keeping a shopping list, password locked personal notes and data, a diary, sketches and drawings, checklists, or whatever else you may want to keep handy on an iPhone or iPad. Because much of the Notes data is personal, if you accidentally delete a note or two it can be a stressful experience and you’d understandably like to recover from inadvertently removing an important note.

Not to worry though, the latest versions of the Notes app allow for an undelete process, allowing users to restore deleted notes to their iOS device, assuming they act within a reasonable time frame.

How to Restore Deleted Notes in iOS

You have up to 30 days to act to undelete and restore a deleted note in iOS Notes app. If you wait any longer than that, the note will be removed permanently.

  1. Open the Notes app if you haven’t done so already, then tap on the back arrow button in the upper left corner (it looks like “<") to view the notes folders
  2. Choose the notes folders

  3. Choose the “Recently Deleted” folder
  4. Select the recently deleted notes folder

  5. Tap on the “Edit” button in the Recently Deleted section
  6. Edit so you can move the deleted note

  7. Now tap to select the note(s) you want to restore and undelete so they are marked with a checkbox, then tap the “Move To…” button in the lower left corner
  8. Select the deleted note to recover in iOS

  9. Choose the folder you want to move the deleted note back to, typically this is “Notes” on iCloud or on the device itself, or whatever custom folder you may have created
  10. Choose the folder to recover deleted note to

  11. Return to the notes folder you moved the deleted note to and find the undeleted note
  12. Deleted note successfully recovered on iPhone

Stress averted, your note (or notes) have been restored to the iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch. Phew!

If the note is not found in the recently deleted section, it may be gone for good. The only other means of undoing a deleted note would be to restore the entire iPhone or iPad from a backup, assuming the backup was made prior to the note being deleted in the first place.

A similar undelete feature exists for recovering deleted photos in iOS, where you have up to 30 days to act before the system software takes over and permanently removes something.

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Posted by: Paul Horowitz in iPad, iPhone, Tips & Tricks

23 Comments

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  1. Michael says:

    Paul,

    I have IOS 9.3.1 on all our devices and recovering a note could not come at a better time. We had lost an important note and thought it was gone forever.

    We followed the instrusctions above BUT we could not find the “Recently Deleted” folder on any of our devices. I am at a loss and disappointed. Is there anything we missed?

    • Jotfleth says:

      If you don’t see the Recently Deleted folder available then the note is probably already missing. You could try to restore from an iTunes backup to before when the note existed for sure, but that is trickier situation since who knows what date it is from.

      You can test it and make a new note, put some jibberish in it, then delete it. Then go to look for the Recently Deleted folder, the deleted note will be in there to undelete and recover.

  2. Pyle Keifer says:

    For everyone to remember here: you have to have ‘updated’ your notes to the new iOS version to have the Recently Deleted option (it asks you to update at some point with the release, usually during system update a few months ago I don’t know how to trigger it manually and neither does Apple LOL seriously!!) New phones will have the notes updated automatically but if you updated an older iPhone or iPad to a new iOS version it asks to update the notes. Still not sure why, maybe to make them iCloud compatible.

    Anywho, the last way to get a deleted note is possible if you backup your phone regularly. Find the backup that dates to before you deleted the note, and restore to that. It works, but of course you go back in time with other things like your pictures and music too.

    I wish iCloud worked like we all thought it shoudl and would – automatically store everything in the cloud so we could get it when we wanted it. As it works now, I don’t know what good it is beyond the overall package backup.

    my 2 cents

  3. Lynne2232 says:

    Does one have to have iCloud set up to make this work? And, do tou have an article on setting up iCloud.
    Lyn

    • Jotfleth says:

      Notes does not require iCloud to use unless you want to sync the notes between iPhones or Macs.

      You can setup iCloud in your Settings app. It’s in Settings > iCloud

      You probably already have it enabled if you have an iPhone or iPad. It is the same as your Apple ID. I know this is confusing, Apple has NOT made it easy to understand! Their whole ‘services’ division is pretty frustrating!

  4. Anne Bennett says:

    This is just like your “tip” on password protecting notes.

    It is simply NOT on the iPad (yes, I have the latest version of iOS).

    You seem to have a version of Notes that is different.

    • Edwin says:

      Anne, this and password protecting notes, are features of the Notes app on iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. If you are not running a modern version of iOS you will not have the feature. It’s that simple. This is non-fiction.

      • Anne Bennett says:

        I have the latest version of iOS and my iPad is about a year old. This, too, is non fiction.

      • Anne Bennett says:

        I rummaged around and hit on something offering an updated version of Notes. That must the problem. It was by no means obvious, I had to look for it.

  5. Stephanie says:

    I am trying to edit my iCloud email address to update all of my apps. I read where I am supposed to sign out and enter a new email address and password but the sign out button doesn’t give me the option to save notes on my phone. If I sign out I will lose all of my notes. And my phone has not been backed up in a while. Please help.

  6. Vicki says:

    I have the updated version of everything and there is no recently deleted folder in my notes app. Help! I refuse to use an earlier back up.

  7. Magdalene says:

    Thank you SO much for a clear and expertly described answer and accompanying visuals. I was so confused by other suggestions. Luckily I did nothing until I found yours. Will save your site for the future!

  8. Stacey says:

    I accidentally deleted the iCloud folder which had so many important info I need . I had down loaded the latest iOS version but I did not knowi had to update in NOTES . I did try what this says to do but their is nothing that says deleted notes . Is their anyway of retrieving this folder ??? Please help .

  9. Mikaela says:

    Notes lost all of my newest notes typed between Saturday 9/24-9/26 but the older ones seem okay. If I upgrade to the newest iOS (I have 9), is it possible to recover the notes? Sadly I hadn’t backed up my phone recently.

  10. Chet says:

    Thank you!! Thank you.

  11. Kirstin says:

    In an attempt to increase storage space for backup, rather than upgrade iCloud storage, I turned off the notes to backup. This however, deleted my notes. I turned it back on but my notes are still gone. I have the latest iOS update (10.1.1) on my iPhone 6+ but do not have a deleted files option in my notes?? Please advise.

  12. Liz says:

    I have iOS 10.1.1 on my iPhone 6. I can verify that Paul’s undelete method works. In the Folders list, the Recently Deleted folder does not appear if it is empty. In other words, you will only see this folder when something has been deleted. I hope this helps.

  13. Barb says:

    Q, thank you, thank you. You are a godsend. I thought I lost a very important note that I’ve been keeping for over a year and adding to it. I managed to recover it following your very clear and concise instructions. Once again, thank you so much.

  14. HELP says:

    Okay, so, when I first was typing, I tried to copy my note well doing so, highlighting the ENTIRE note, I accidentally typed. Thinking this was a glitch, I exited the note, and seeing as it never recovered I researched how to get it back! Is my note lost forever, my backup does NOT work for some strange reason, so it has NEVER been backed up!

  15. Stacy says:

    THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Simple, clear, and my accidentally deleted note is right back where I need it to be!!! You are wonderful!!! :)

  16. Oliver says:

    Will this also work if the notes app has been deleted? What shall I do in that case? My daughter deleted by accident the complete notes app. What is the best way to restore it back when I do not have a iTunes nor iCloud backup?

  17. Patricia says:

    I am attending a conference and typing notes as I always do. When I close the note, it disappears. There is no “deleted notes” in my folders. I’m using IOS 10.2.1
    Why are the recently typed notes deleting? How can I recover them?

  18. jellea says:

    If you completely delete the notes from your iphone, you cannot recover them with this way, and if you have iTunes backup, it would be nice, but if you don’t have backup to recover from, have a try of data recovery tool, I have used a tool named MobiKin Doctor for iOS.

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