How to Search in Notes on iPhone and iPad

Jul 27, 2017 - 19 Comments

Search in Notes on iPhone and iPad

Are you looking for a specific note on the Notes app of your iPhone or iPad, but you can’t quite remember which note it was or where to find it? Maybe you have a bunch of notes and you want to quickly get to one about a particular topic? No problem, you can search through Notes in iOS by keywords or search terms instead, and the search will offer matching notes to whatever phrase or word you’re looking for.

Searching within Notes offers the quickest way to locate a particular note, and it provides a great solution for quickly sorting through and browsing through large notes collections. As is often the case with search tools in iOS, the Search box is a bit hidden and thus it’s easy to overlook or not even realize it exists – not to worry, it’s super simple to find and use, as we’ll demonstrate.

How to Search Within Notes for iPhone and iPad

  1. Open the Notes app on the iPhone or iPad if you have not done so already
  2. Notes icon in iOS

  3. At the primary notes listing screen, tap and hold while pulling down on any note to reveal the “Search” box at the top of the screen
  4. Pull down to reveal Search box in Notes for iOS

  5. Tap into the “Search” box in Notes
  6. Tap into the Search box to search in Notes

  7. Type the search term, word, phrase, or keyword to search Notes for and return matching notes
  8. Searching for a term or keyword in Notes on iPhone and iPad

  9. Tap on any of the found Notes to open that matched note directly within the iOS Notes app
  10. Matched note based on search term

In the example above, we searched for the term “orange” and found one matching note with the text matching ‘orange’ in that note.

You can search for any word, phrase, term, keyword, or other text or numbers to match, and any matching notes will be found and listed. While notes that have drawings in them will be returned as well if there it included text which matches a phrase, you can’t search for a specific drawing by a description of it (yet, anyway). Additionally, only the names of password protected Notes in iOS will turn up but content within the password protected notes will not display or be searched.

The searched notes will include whichever notes collection you are in, whether those are Notes stored in iCloud or notes stored locally on a device, or even shared Notes.

Most iOS apps with large amounts of data offer a search feature, including searching on web pages in iOS Safari, searching in Messages on the iPhone or iPad, searching in Reminders in iOS, searching for descriptions or objects in Photos for iOS, and much more.

Oh and by the way, if you prefer to search by voice, than you can also perform basic searches of Notes as well as some other tasks by using Siri to find, make, and modify notes data too.

Do you know of any other interesting Notes tricks? Do you have some search tips or tricks for uncovering information in the Notes app on iOS even faster? Share with us in the comments!

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


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  1. Anthony Piner says:

    Great tip. This was new to me and a great help for the future.

  2. Susan Kittrell says:

    I tried, but my only option is iCloud. When I tap and hold on one of my notes and drag down, it tries to copy or delete, not search.

    • Bill says:


      It’s not the actual note you pull down, but the list of notes on the left side of the screen.

      I know; had me confused at first.

      • Grump says:

        Searching notes is easy if you can manage to work through the Notes user interface and the rest of the iOS guessing game. Welcome to the new interfaces of Apple iOS, where everything you do is a mystery and guessing game, and even when explained succinctly it’s still a mystery and confuses half the people. Is there anything in the new iOS versions that is actually intuitive and obvious?

        Apple UI used to be intuitive and simple, now it’s guess work and challenging. Not moving in the right direction.

  3. Wilson Laidlaw says:

    iOS search (10.3.3) from a pull down on the home screen does reveal confidential data from within locked notes. This is a major security issue and something Apple should sort out rapidly.

  4. Kevin says:

    What they still need to add is the ability to search within a note, i.e. if you’re reading a note you should be able to search for strings within it. This feature is available on notes for desktop, not iOS. I hate it.

    • Roger of Orlando says:

      I agree that it would be good to be able to search within a NOTE. I have a note that is very long, many words, and I would like to find a specific word or phdrase. Alternatively, the present system of finding the NOTE could go directly to the word within the note and also highlight the word would be nice.

  5. Andrew Planck says:

    As far as I can tell, the Search process only takes me to the first instance of a search item. But if it appears more than once in a Notes file, how do I get to the second or third iteration?

  6. Gord says:


    What I need to know is how to search for something a note.

    I have some very long lists (of sensitive info) in my Notes app and the tip above doesn’t help me find what I want to find. I still have to scroll through the whole thing to find what I’m looking for.

    Unless there’s another solution someone is aware of …

    • Nick T says:

      Gord, I have the same question. How do I find the exact location of the searched phrase WITHIN a Note? You used to be able to do this where the search would jump to (or at least highlight the searched phrase so it was easily identifiable). An update got rid of this ability. I can’t understand why. Please help

  7. Kevin says:

    What I’d really like is to be able to search within a note once already have it open. So if I’m in a note I can click search and look for a keyword. You can do this on the desktop version of Notes but not mobile.

  8. Victor M says:

    I’m amazed there is no way to search within a note. I was using Simplenote on Android and it shows multiple instances of the keyword and navigates between instances. When will IOS catch up with Android?

  9. haseeb saqaf says:

    Search for something inside a note is now possible on iOS 11…..

  10. Jill Koppel says:

    I draft tweets in notes and keep lists of useful #hashtags.
    But when copying and pasting text, I find that selecting a link only selects part of it, It would be handy (and quicker) to select the whole link for pasting elsewhere – you can’t easily drag it wider out as it activates as soon as part of the link is selected.

  11. RA XA says:

    Great Tipps, I can correct my photos with a pensil, too,
    Not all but speziell only.
    Thanks a lot for your advices, have a happy weekend.

  12. Rosa Aksentowicz Tofte says:

    Great Tipps, I can correct my photos with a pensil, too,
    Not all but speziell only.
    Thanks a lot for your advices, have a happy weekend.

  13. Cameron says:

    SOO is there a way to look up multiple instances of the same word within a note? Some of my notes are extremely long

  14. Teresa Frazer says:

    If I search a word like “restaurant”, I will get 30 (of 140 notes) notes listed, where “restaurant” appears occasionally. But the two notes with Restaurant in the titles, and multiple use of the word in the body are not found by the search.

    Any suggestions?

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