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Since notes.app seems to accrue a "rolling history" of data and doesn't automatically save out versions of your files to disk in any reasonable way (date stamped, etc), I was wondering if anyone knows of a way to access the history of the note data you have accrued.

Specifically this came up because I am trying to restore something that I have lost, because the undo command doesn't work in the app.

Any tips would be appreciated.

2
  • 1
    The Notes data file gets backuped up via Time Machine (and any other backup mechanism). Can you get it back from there?
    – nohillside
    Commented Aug 14, 2014 at 4:18
  • You mean the "Notes" app?
    – Thinkr
    Commented Feb 28, 2023 at 17:28

6 Answers 6

8

No, there is no history of notes. Once modified and synchronised, the note is overwritten and older versions are not available. Per my answer on your last question, you may be able to obtain older versions if a device has been offline, but besides this, unfortunately not. You can provide feedback to Apple at apple.com/feedback.

1
  • 2
    apple rarely listens to user feedback. one might hope that they would monitor discussions that happen in a place purportedly as ubiquitous as this, but alas. i have little patience for the apple support community site.
    – jml
    Commented Aug 13, 2014 at 23:12
8

If you use backup software such as Time Machine, you may be able to access your Notes.app history/older versions of your notes by restoring the 3 .sqlite files in:

~/Library/Group Containers/group.com.apple.notes/

Restore Process

  1. Quit Notes.app
  2. Restore those 3 files to the date of the version of the notes you're trying to get
  3. If you use iCloud, make sure you disconnect from your internet so the notes aren't synced from iCloud when you re-open Notes.app
  4. Re-open Notes.app

Source for notes database location

Recover Notes from TimeMachine

3
  • This looks a bit hacky. At present (5 years later) this still the best way to achieve this?
    – a06e
    Commented Jul 7, 2022 at 15:01
  • Unfortunately I have not heard of any newer or better methods. Commented Jul 8, 2022 at 16:48
  • Did not work for me, but I did the same by replacing the entire group.com.apple.notes with an older version. Turn off WiFi, Quit Notes, replace the folder with old version, search for notes needed and backup as needed, quit notes again, replace folder with new version - worked!
    – n13
    Commented Jul 20, 2022 at 9:43
2

I accidentally deleted content from a note and Undo was unavailable.

To resolve, I put a different Apple device in Airplane Mode as quickly as possible, then opened the note from there - which didn't have time to update and therefore was still showing the version I wanted.

Good luck!

1

My notes was not syncing with Exchange, and I unchecked 'Notes' in Internet Accounts and then check it back. When I did that, Notes resynchronised from the last synchronised version and so I lost a whole lot of Notes. My Time Machine was not turned on, but I managed to find another way:

  • /Users//Library/Containers/com.apple.Notes/Data/Library
  • Make a copy of NotesV7.storedata-wal with .html extension, like NotesV7.storedata-wal copy.html
  • Open in any web browser and you will see past notes - this is limited to the last saved version of NotesV7.storedata-wal, so make sure you get to here fast (as soon as you discover your Notes' been overwritten.
0

If you have a Time Machine Backup, this worked for me - based on the answer from @rsheyd here.

Find this folder:

~/Library/Group Containers/group.com.apple.notes

Then

  • Quit Notes
  • Turn off WiFi (any network, so syncing is off)
  • Rename folder example to ~/Library/Group Containers/group.com.apple.notes_disabled
  • Replace folder with time machine backup of folder
  • Open Notes - now you can see the old notes - get the one you need, copy it somewhere safe
  • Quit Notes
  • Delete the old folder, rename the original back to what it was

Done.

-2

See history for shared notes with Show Note Activity

Some time between the accepted 2014 answer and now, Apple introduced View → Show Note Activity as part of their collaboration features. When you select a history item in Note Activity, it highlights changes associated with that edit.

Screenshot of Note Activity

While you can't restore a version with a single click, this feature gives what you need to identity and manually redress small, unwanted changes. This isn't a full solution, but it's much better than nothing in some situations.

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  • This only applies to shared notes
    – Ezekiel
    Commented Sep 6, 2022 at 22:01
  • Well that's disappointing.
    – Merchako
    Commented Sep 7, 2022 at 20:00
  • And, if you happened to type something while something else (like an image) was selected (like you were trying to copy an image from the note, and then thought you were typing in the search field but instead replaced the image without realizing it until much later) all you will see for the "activity" is the new character that replaced the part you inadvertently deleted. No way to see what was there before the "new" characters were typed. :-( Commented Feb 21, 2023 at 3:01

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