How to Share Notes with iOS 10 for Collaborative Editing

Oct 6, 2016 - 6 Comments

Share Notes in iOS

The Notes app in iOS now allows you to share notes with other iPhone, iPad, and Mac users over iCloud. This Note sharing feature is extremely useful, enabling other invited people to view and edit the same shared note that you are using in a collaborative fashion, and of course other people can invite you to view and change their notes as well. The use cases for this are vast and cooperative notes are easily one of the more useful features added to the Notes app in quite some time, so let’s review how to share Notes with other people using the latest versions of iOS.


There are a few basic requirements for note sharing and cooperative note editing to work this way. First, you’ll obviously need iCloud, since the shared notes are managed through iCloud. Beyond that, you will need iOS 10.0 or later on an iPhone or iPad, and Mac users will need Mac OS 10.12 or later. Assuming you have those requirements met, sharing Notes will be available to you and people you invite to a note.

And yes, you can share any note along with any contained drawings, pictures, checklists, and anything else.

How to Share Notes in iOS to Allow Other People to View & Change Notes

Essentially what you are doing is sending an invite to the person(s) of your choice with whom you wish to share the note, allowing the recipient to view and edit the notes in addition to yourself. Here’s how this works:

  1. Open the “Notes” app in iOS if you haven’t done so already, be sure you are in the “iCloud” notes section and not “Notes on my device”
  2. Notes icon in iOS

  3. Select the note you want to share by tapping on it
  4. In the upper portion of the note, tap on the Person icon with a + plus button on it
  5. Tap the person button to share the note

  6. Choose the method you wish to share the note: Messages, Mail, Twitter, copy a link, or “More” to choose a different service not listed that may be available through your apps
  7. Choose how to share to add people to view and edit note

  8. Send the note sharing invitation
  9. Sharing a note with Messages

This will send an invite to the recipient to allow that person to view and make changes to the note using an iPhone, iPad, or Mac with the latest software versions.

For example, on the receiving end of a shared note in Messages, you’ll get a little Note icon and a preview of the first line. Tapping on the shared note will immediately open it into Notes app and it will be added to the iCloud Notes section of your own device.

The receiving end of a note invite in iOS

Shared notes will be delineated in the Notes list by having the little person icon next to the note name and title, similar to how a password locked note displays that it has protection with the little lock icon.

This is a perfect feature for sharing grocery and shopping lists, a to-do list, to share notes from a class or conference, quickly sharing an idea, collaborating on some simple collection or concept, and so much more.

And yes the typical ‘sharing’ feature is still available as well, but pay attention to how this note invitation and collaborative editing feature is different from the normal Share Sheet based method of sharing a note from Notes app: with the invitation and cooperative editing, all invited users can edit and view a note immediately, whereas a standard shared note is a one-sided affair, requiring users to have to send the same note back and forth after it has been edited. Both have their uses, but the iCloud based sharing and invitation method is clearly superior for realtime cooperative editing of notes.

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

6 Comments

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  1. Michael Spencer MLA ASLA says:

    Isn’t this more like ‘Share A Note”, rather than ‘Share Notes’? I thought I could enable sharing for the entire app but only note by note. Maybe I missed it?

    The way it’s setup makes more sense, I admit; it’s similar to the way Pages and Numbers work: you wouldn’t want all of your Pages docs shared. But for Notes, maybe sharing globally makes sense.

  2. Geoff Talbot says:

    Thanks for the article.

    I like the set up. Having global sharing for notes is super useful and we are already using it.

    Best
    Geoff Talbot
    InfoPath Alternatives

  3. Chris Black says:

    I shared a note via Message and the note that showed up was an earlier version of the note (missing newer content). Not sure how this happened and not sure how/when updates in the shared note show up after an edit by one of the parties sharing it. Any ideas?

    Thanks,

    Chris

  4. Chris Black says:

    I shared a note via Message and the note that showed up was an earlier version of the note (missing newer content). Not sure how this happened and not sure how/when updates in the shared note show up after an edit by one of the parties sharing it. Any ideas?

    Thanks,

    Chris

  5. Sandra says:

    We have tried doing this and it keeps saying that “Sorry this note can’t be opened right now please try again later”.

  6. Jon says:

    Good idea but doesn’t work. For some reason it says the owner stopped sharing, or you don’t have permission to open it when my wife receives my note share. Evernote works well.

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