I removed the Notes app from my iPhone and thereby lost all the notes that had been stored in iCloud. (Stupid, I know.) I have a Time Machine backup from shortly before I lost the notes. I've tried restoring the contents of ~/Library/Containers/com.apple.Notes/ and ~/Library/Group Containers/group.com.apple.notes/ but that hasn't worked.

From opening the NoteStore.sqlite file under Group Containers I can tell that at least some of the lost content is in there, but it's hard to make much sense of. I tried opening the same file in an SQLite app but I don't really know what I'm doing and can't find the content that way.

Any suggestions? Thanks.

  • I'm afraid I won't be able to help you but I am curious whether you made any progress with this as I have a similar issue. However, on my installation (El Capitan) it seems that notes are not stored in group.com.apple.notes.
    – jan
    Oct 26, 2016 at 9:01

2 Answers 2


What is possibly happening is iCloud is overwriting your restore. Be sure sync is turned off before you attempt to restore the database files. Then, manually update Notes and turn sync on so your local copy is the newest one. I believe it will attempt to merge.

  • I had the same issue and tried what you suggest (I'm on El Capitan). I turned iCloud off and substituted group.com.apple.notes but starting Notes.app again it remained empty with no notes. Turning iCloud back on again gave me the iClouds notes back but nothing from the restored notes showed up.
    – jan
    Oct 26, 2016 at 9:06

You don't say what version of macOS you are using, but there is software that will export your notes from the SQLite database into a usable format.


Export HTML copies of your notes from Apple Notes


SQLite3 Command-line Shell Program

You may find other options with a Google search.

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