Yes, I know Apple says this will no longer work. But it continues to work just fine on iOS 9 devices. Both iPad and iPhone iOS 9 devices continue to sync via my IMAP account. I enter or modify a note on iPad and I see the change on iPhone immediately, and vice versa. And my web mail client see the Notes folder with the updates. All sub-folders are visible in iPhone and iPad and in the web mail client...but not on Mac OS X.

How can I fix my Mac Notes configuration to reenable syncing via IMAP? I don't need the new features of Notes on El Capitan... I need basic synchronization of simple notes between all devices. I can't use iCloud or any other for-profit web service, I need to sync through a specific IMAP server for compliance reasons.

I've tried restoring the old Notes app, but Apple disallows this during the Time Machine restore function.


  • I restored the ~/Library/Containers/com.apple.notes folder from before the El Capitan upgrade. All IMAP notes were restored, and the system quickly synched back to current. New notes posted to any of the subfolders and changes made to existing notes are now synched correctly. Changes made to iPad or iPhone notes are reflected immediately on the Mac Notes. But changes made on Mac Notes do not propagate as quickly. The iPad or iPhone notes need to be manually refreshed to see the updates. [email protected]
    – M. Abel
    Oct 2, 2015 at 20:37
  • I noticed that my old iPhone 3S (I still use it!) stopped synching with El Capitan. The captain doesn't seem to deal with oldies any more >.-( (angry one-eyed pirate)
    – qwerty_so
    Oct 22, 2015 at 11:07

2 Answers 2


For anyone else stumbling over this because Notes.app stopped syncing IMAP based notes in El Capitan 10.11.3, the solution which worked for me is the following:

Firstly, check that the IMAP Path Prefix is correct for the account. This can be done in System Preferences / Internet Accounts / (select your account) / Advanced or in Mail.app / Preferences / Accounts / (select your IMAP account) / Advanced. In my case, this was set correctly to INBOX, but sometimes requires different values, or no value at all.

Secondly, the solution given above by @rene actually works, but it's in French, so here's a step-by-step approach that worked for me.

  1. Open Terminal.app to get a command prompt
  2. Change directory to the following folder:

bash> cd ~/Library/Containers/com.apple.Notes/Data/Library/Notes/

  1. Make a backup the file NotesV6.storedata so that you can restore it in case something goes wrong

bash> cp NotesV6.storedata NotesV6.storedata.old

  1. Open NotesV6.storedata with sqlite3

bash> sqlite3 NotesV6.storedata

  1. A new sqlite prompt will appear - you can always exit by pressing CTRL-D


  1. (Optional) You can examine the table that we need to fix by entering the followoing command

sqlite> .schema ZACCOUNT

  1. The ZACCOUNT table contains all accounts which Notes.app is accessing. However, in my case, the IMAP based account entry was missing information about username (field ZUSERNAME), hostname (field ZHOSTNAME) and path prefix (field ZSERVERPATHPREFIX). This is the information we need to update.

  2. You can dump the whole table by invoking

sqlite> select * from ZACCOUNT

but it's probably easier to select a few relevant fields and identify the Z_PK id of your account


This produced the following output for me:


As you can see by the field divider lines (|) at the end of the last line, fields for username, hostname, and prefix are empty for the IMAP account (Z_PK id 5) which is what needs to be corrected.

  1. Update the table entry by invoking:

update ZACCOUNT set ZUSERNAME='[email protected]', ZHOSTNAME='imap.hostname.com',ZSERVERPATHPREFIX='INBOX.' where Z_PK=5;

You will of course need to set the correct field values and also adjust the Z_PK id with the correct reference, which you identified above.

  1. As soon as I'd updated the table, Notes.app started magically syncing the notes from my IMAP based accounts.

When using notes.app in El Capitan, I've noticed that the account settings are lost in the Notes config file. It's a sqlite3 file, I've described what to do in my blog: Refaire fonctionner Notes avec IMAP sous OSX El Capitan. It's in french you may use google translate if you can't read french.

It says that you need to open with sqlite3 file ~/Library/Containers/com.apple.Notes/Data/Library/Notes/NotesV6.storedata and execute some SQL statements with your imap settings (account, server, prefix)

  • Since this is an english q&a site please add all necessary steps in english instead of posting an almost link-only answer.
    – klanomath
    Oct 19, 2015 at 7:48

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