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Today I started using Apple Notes App and populated it with little over a dozen notes. Then I tried to find a note by searching for keywords. Search does not return any result for me.

I tried to find a fix for hours today, without success.

Possible solutions

Link 1: Two suggestions

Here is a discussion that adresses the problem: Notes app search is not finding some notes

In that thread there are some suggestions
  1. turning off notes in iCloud, restarting and turning it on again. (Did that, without success.)
  2. re-indexing with spotlight (via command line or via System prefs). (Did that, no success.)

Link 2: Points to Spotlight issues

This discussion says it might have to do with excluding ~/Library/Containers from spotlight search. But I haven't excluded that folder.

My system

  • Am using MacOS Catalina, Version 10.15.5.
  • In Notes.app I turned off local notes. I keep all my notes in iCloud.
  • I can see all my notes on my iPhone and iPad. Search works there without a problem.

Edit

Search within one single note works, but

Search across notes fails

Here is a screenshot of what I see. I have only 16 notes. My search term delivers me four notes on my iPhone, but nothing on Notes.app on my Mac.

enter image description here

Edit 2: Decided to ditch Notes.app

After so many hours in trying to fix the broken search in my Notes.app, I decided to get rid of it altogether. Why? Because

  • it is opaque (proprietary database, no way to look into what's wrong)
  • no easy import / export (my data is siloed in this app, I can't get it out)
  • it is developed and supported by Apple! that means, support is minimal. Every other app developer would have solved an issue within hours (Ulysses.app, Bear.app, TaskPaper app, these kind of apps have super responsive teams, because they are small companies, but not Apple; it will answer my requests as if they are talking to retards ("have you restarted/rebooted your MacBook Pro?" kind of answers))

So this incident was an eye opener for me. Better get rid of the app with a handful notes, instead of using it for years, accumulating some 10k notes and then having a serious problem with the app, just when I need it.

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  • Does search work with iCloud Notes? i'm confused about that part. I keep all my Notes in icloud and i can access them from any device using iCloud.
    – Natsfan
    Jun 30, 2020 at 22:34
  • Please have a look at the screenshot I added above.
    – Ugur
    Jul 1, 2020 at 5:12
  • In the image you added, you have not selected where to search so obviously you find nothing. You should select Notes or ICloud and then search.
    – Natsfan
    Mar 29, 2021 at 20:41

2 Answers 2

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I solved this for me. I am on macOS Monterey 12.4 (Notes.app v4.9). My Notes.app uses both accounts of (A) iCloud and (B) 'On My Mac'. The iCloud account I use for my working notes and 'On My Mac' account for archiving notes I don't need in iCloud anymore. The Notes.app search function stopped working a week or 2 ago. It wouldn't find anything in either account. Another iCloud-linked Mac of similar specs does not have any problem with the search function for the iCloud account (but, obviously, won't have access to the same aforementioned 'On My Mac' account, anyway).

After reading the many and various suggestions here and elsewhere without any sure fix, I was inspired to try something I had not read anyone else suggest: -

Solution: -

I tried simply option-dragging my most important folder that needs searching to the 'On My Mac' account area. This creates a copy in that account instead of moving it. Thereafter, the search function started working again. I deleted the copy, and the search function continued to work. The search function now works for other folders, too, but I didn't test them all.

Maybe this will work for other readers, too.

ETA 2022-08-07. The above 'fix' did not last long - maybe only a week or so before needing to be redone for another short temporary fix ad nauseam. This is extremely tedious. Is switching to another app (Evernote etc) the only permanent fix? I have about 8000 notes archived in the 'On My Mac' area and 900 notes in the iCloud area. Judging from comments from others with far fewer notes, the issue doesn't seem to be quantity related.

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For a search to work you have to tell the search function where to search. So if you put the notes on the icloud drive you want to click on that and then search. The search function works fine on Notes as it searches inside each note.

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  • Please have a look at the screenshot I added above. - Where can I tell it to search in iCloud? I have only notes in iCloud anyways.
    – Ugur
    Jul 1, 2020 at 5:13
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    Click on "All iCloud" on the left and then search.
    – Natsfan
    Jul 1, 2020 at 13:56
  • Already selected.
    – Ugur
    Jul 1, 2020 at 15:00
  • you must have a different problem. Search in Notes works well for me so I'm at a loss. Sorry I couldn't help you. Have you tried rebuilding the spotlight search?
    – Natsfan
    Jul 1, 2020 at 15:09
  • Did that many times. Without success.
    – Ugur
    Jul 1, 2020 at 15:18

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