I have a "work" iCloud account - a couple of Macs and stuff at work which use that account. I added that iCloud account under Mail etc settings on my iOS 9.0.2 iPhone. However even though Notes is checked, I do not get the exact same content in Notes as is on those Macs at work, or the Notes that appear when I sign in iCloud.com with a desktop browser.

It looks as if the notes that appear for my work iCloud account on my iPhone are old.

  • I do not see any recent notes, especially not any from October 2015, just older ones.
  • I no longer see any changes made on the iPhone to the Notes appear on my work Macs/iCloud.com.

I am suspecting that iOS 9 and/or OS X El Capitan has something to do with it.

I have tried to sign out of and then in to the iCloud account over and over on my iPhone, but it seems I can no longer use that iCloud account for Notes on my iPhone. I use the job email account too on my iPhone - that works.

Update: I added the same work account to my personal Macbook Air - again as a secondary account. The funny thing is I get the SAME work notes that I have on my personal iPhone! So in essence, I have two sets of "work notes": (let's skip bold here)

  • A set of work notes that sync between Macs and iPhones at work, when that account is added as primary iCloud account. The notes are also accessible at iCloud.com when using a desktop browser.
  • Another set of work notes that sync between my private Macs and iPhones, because (I guess) those are added as secondary accounts.

How can this be? The account id and password are surely the same. Still iCloud somehow keeps two different content sets for these... This is getting beyond me...

4 Answers 4


I have the same problem syncing with my wife's notes. I found an obscure note in a marginally related Apple article about this: https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT205015. At the very end, under "Learn More" it says

"If you’re signed in to more than one iCloud Mail account on your iOS device or Mac and have notes syncing turned on, you can only use the new Notes features with your primary iCloud account. You can see your primary account in Settings > iCloud, or System Preferences > iCloud."

This really sucks since there is no workaround once you've upgraded.

  • Unfortunately this sounds like you're right. It fits with the period of the upgrades to iOS 9 and El Capitan. Being able to have several secondary accounts synced was a real killer feature to me. Maybe we will just have to look for another app that can do this? Like Evernote, which I never really used much. I liked the real fast UI of notes. You reach your notes within the seconds. No lengthy startup times.
    – Jonny
    Oct 13, 2015 at 13:08
  • Any indications on if Apple is going to start supporting the enhanced Notes functionality also in secondary iCloud accounts? Or will it remain like this indefinitely?
    – Make Mark
    Oct 16, 2015 at 16:51

Yes indeed. Although in some ways it's worse than that. If you have 3 accounts in (say) a family, then "Mum" "Dad" and "Child" will each have their own primary account. iCloud now appears to store two version - the "primary" version and the "secondary" version. Both are updatable. So: What "Dad" does in "Dad's Account" will sync with all Dad's devices (where he is logged in a primary) but not to Mum's or Childs. However: if Mum or Child update their version of Dad - it will still synchronise between them and all their devices... but Dad won't see it!!

Bad apple!

  • Yes this is the conclusion I also came to. I've been using Evernote for my work notes recently. Evernote does not easily support several accounts either but using different apps is one way of getting around the problem. Another one could be to never upgrade to iOS 9 Notes...
    – Jonny
    Nov 8, 2015 at 0:07

You can add a fourth iCloud-Acocunt e.g. "Family" which everybody uses as "secondary" account for their "public" notes and which thus will be synced. Not very nice but should work...

  • Sounds interesting. I guess Apple would be well off adding more categories, like "Colleagues"...
    – Jonny
    Apr 11, 2016 at 2:07

If you accidentally upgraded your Notes on El Capitan and you are having a trouble syncing with your IOS older devices such as IOS 8. I have spent a week trying to fix this problem, (downgrading the Yosemite and upgrade back again to El Capitan) I did this about 4 times trying to figure out a solution, I also did use many tricks like (Changing the Notes app configurations), I did A LOT LOT LOT. I successfully figured it out, here you are:

You can solve this problem with the following steps: 1- Create a new iCloud Account 2- Sign into your iCloud account on El Capitan (Not the Primary Account) and enable notes only. 3- Do the same with your older IOS devices, which you want to sync the notes with, sign in into your IOS devices and enable notes only. It should synchronise smoothly.

The reason behind that, El Capitan Notes by default is not compatible with the older Notes versions such as IOS 8(s) and below, it is only compatible with IOS 9. BY KLICKING; upgrade notes (your account will upgrade your Notes “accoun/databaset” that is associated with your Apple ID whihc you used to upgrade). Luckily, by creating a new Apple ID, the Notes “accoun/databaset” associated with the new ID will not be up-date in Apple servers, in other words, it is still considered to be somehow an old account, Unless if Apple wants to update their database particaully new accounts (Apple IDs).

So you need to always have a backup Apple ID, that you can use in such cases.

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