I need to get all my notes from my old machine (10.11) to my new machine (10.13) and I was thinking that it would be super easy by copying over a few folders but unfortunately, that doesn't really work as Notes on the new machine is still empty.

What I have tried: Copy over the following folder ~/Library/Group Containers/group.com.apple.notes ~/Library/Containers/com.apple.Notes

This didn't help - when I start notes it's empty. I did find a topic here on how I can get the data out of the sqlite database but that's raw data and need time to sort.

I can hear a lot of you say iCloud already but I don't wan't to mix my personal Apple ID with a work computer. Aside from that I don't like iCloud all that much. Sure it has good features and I use those, but those not so great features are not so nice to say the least.

1 Answer 1


iCloud is likely your best bet, but it doesn't have to be a permanent decison.

First, you can restrict iCloud to just Notes if you like in System Preferences > iCloud preferences. Simply unselect everything in iCloud other than Notes. In this case there is no work on your part other than signing in. The notes will simply move to your Notes app.

When you get your Notes as desired, you can sign out of iCloud after the Notes appear. Go back to iCloud in System Preferences, and sign out. It will ask if you wish to keep everything on your Mac, in which case you should say 'yes'. Of course, you will no longer sync Notes between your devices, but it sounds as if you do not need that feature.

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  • This is the way I transferred Notes content to a new laptop. It works.
    – IconDaemon
    Jul 10, 2018 at 14:25
  • Thanks for your explanation @cmason I've considered this already but don't want to use this method for the reasons mentioned. There are actually a few more reasons but I can't get into that.
    – Yilk81
    Jul 11, 2018 at 14:33

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