I am moderately happy with the current (iOS 8) Notes app in my Iphone, and specially with the fact that I can sync it locally to my PC using iTunes, without using iCloud. The only thing I'm really missing is the ability to organize notes by folders.

Now comes the new Notes app in iOS 9, which seems to be the opposite: you can at last have folders, but you have to use iCloud to backup the notes. I've been looking for a note-taking app that can have folders (or tags) and does NOT require you to upload your notes to some cloud in order to sync them, and after searching up and down, the only one I've found is Notebooks, which seems fine, but I'd like to see if there are any other options around.

Is there any other app I am missing? (Syncing locally to a WebDAV server instead of iTunes is fine, if I have to).

  • 1
    Why do you oppose cloud-based notes? Commented Sep 13, 2015 at 19:41
  • @IronCraftMan: half-flippant answer: because I don't want the NSA to have a copy of my data. More serious answer: I don't want to depend on any third-party service that can be modified or shut down depending on the whims of a company I have no control over. Look at what happened to Google Reader users, for example.
    – PaulJ
    Commented Sep 15, 2015 at 9:53
  • Well, you depend an Apple (or any other software developer) for the note-taking app anyway, so I'm not sure whether the iCloud dependency will make it any worse.
    – nohillside
    Commented Sep 15, 2015 at 11:41
  • 1
    @patrix: if a software developer shuts down, I still have a copy of their app on my device. As long as I'm careful not to delete it, I can use it; bits don't rot. If a cloud-based service shuts down... then what?
    – PaulJ
    Commented Sep 15, 2015 at 17:58
  • Another reason to distrust cloud-based notes: Evernote is in deep trouble: "Evernote has laid off roughly 18% of its workforce in the past nine months, and said it will shut down three of its 10 global offices last week. [...] They want to go public, and, to do that, the focus on revenue now has to be a ruthless prioritization on things that make money".
    – PaulJ
    Commented Oct 5, 2015 at 22:07

2 Answers 2


No need for another app, there is a solution for syncing the iOS Notes app without using iCloud or any other third-party service. Since you mentioned WebDAV, I assume you are willing to provide your own server. It takes a little bit of setup, but if you create your own email server (specifically an IMAP server), Notes will sync to it. There is no need to support sending mail at all, just IMAP, with which you will be able to create folders. Just add new email account and turn on the "Notes" option for the account. I believe the server version of OS X will even has an email server built in with easy setup, though there are many other good options such as courier or dovecot. If you are happy only syncing at home, you don't even have to expose the server to the public internet, or you can get a domain name (or dynamic DNS service) and sync to your home server wherever you have internet access. Note that new features in iOS 9 notes, such as handwriting and lists, are unsupported in IMAP notes accounts, but everything doable in iOS 8 is still possible including attaching images.

  • Interesting. But... if I'm not mistaken, starting with iOS 9 Notes doesn't use IMAP to sync anymore; instead, it also uses iCloud to support all its new features. Right?
    – PaulJ
    Commented Jul 25, 2016 at 14:49
  • iOS 9 and iOS 10 beta definitely still support IMAP notes. The notes you make with the IMAP account will not be able to use those new features such as handwriting and lists, but you will be able to do everything you did with iOS 8 including attaching images. You can test it out by turning on notes for a non-iCloud email account and using notes in that account.
    – Paul
    Commented Jul 26, 2016 at 15:12

You can check your iCloud settings and disable syncing of the Notes app to iCloud.

  • Thanks for the answer, but my notes won't be backed up anywhere in that case, right? Besides, I'd have no way to edit them in my desktop computer either. The built-in Notes app seems to be "iCloud or nothing".
    – PaulJ
    Commented Sep 15, 2015 at 9:52
  • Only the ones in your iPhone won't be backed up to iCloud, or whichever device you disable syncing Notes to iCloud. I get that you want syncing your Notes locally (via iTunes) rather than using the iCloud service, though this feature seems to have been disabled from OS X 10.8 and later. Commented Sep 15, 2015 at 10:57
  • Won't your notes still be backed up (though not synced) in local iTunes backups?
    – SilverWolf
    Commented Jan 10, 2018 at 21:23
  • @SilverWolf-ReinstateMonica Yes the notes will back up to iTunes/Finder Backup or iCloud Backup, depending on which one you are using of course.
    – Eugene
    Commented Jan 22, 2020 at 21:24

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