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.


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.

  • 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. – jmh Jun 30 at 22:34
  • Please have a look at the screenshot I added above. – Ugur Jul 1 at 5:12

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 at 5:13
  • Click on "All iCloud" on the left and then search. – jmh Jul 1 at 13:56
  • Already selected. – Ugur Jul 1 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? – jmh Jul 1 at 15:09
  • Did that many times. Without success. – Ugur Jul 1 at 15:18

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