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On an iPhone with iOS 16, how does one restore a single note from iCloud? I need to recover the proper version of the note.

(I did not delete the file. I edited it, and Notes doesn't seem to have an Undo function. Google only shows how to restore deleted files.)

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Unfortunately, you can't recover it because it wasn't deleted.

The key to all of this is this statement:

I did not delete the file. I edited it...

Since Notes synchronizes to iCloud, it means any changes to any a Note on any of your devices will overwrite what you had previously had. It doesn't keep versions of the same note - that's what Git is for. The irony of it all is that if you had deleted it, you'd be able to recover it from "Recently Deleted."

There are a couple of avenues you can explore to attempt recovery, however:

  • Restore from Time Machine if using macOS and Notes on the Desktop
  • Restore iPhone from iCloud if a backup image exists prior to the overwrite.
  • Contact Apple to see if they can restore your notes from Backup

Depending on how long since your inadvertent overwrite, you may be able to get the Note back using one of these messages. Keep in mind, that the longer you wait, the less of a chance you have at success.

Suggested Workflow

While I don't use Notes but instead OneNote, there is still the same problem of overwriting the notes and not being able to recover what you lost. Because of this, I purposely don't overwrite notes I'm unsure of until I've had the opportunity to verify that is in fact what I want to do. Instead, I will insert new text and strikeout (stricken text) what I no longer want. Below is a sample OneNote image:

enter image description here

This method works well because I have (many times) come back only to realize I needed what I had crossed out. This works on all devices - iOS, iPadOS, and macOS though the macOS version is shown.

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  • I've got an iPhone. Does Time Machine even exist for it?
    – RonJohn
    Apr 3, 2023 at 19:01
  • Time Machine, no, but iCloud backup does. If you have a backup of your iPhone on the cloud prior to your overwrite, you might be able to get it back. Be forewarned that any modifications to Notes (or anything else) will be lost because you'll be restoring to a point in time before those changes were made.
    – Allan
    Apr 3, 2023 at 19:03
  • "any modifications to ... anything ... will be lost because you'll be restoring to a point in time before those changes were made." Right. Which is why I wanted to restore that Note.
    – RonJohn
    Apr 3, 2023 at 19:06
  • That's not how synchronization works. There's no versioning on iCloud. If you were using and syncing to the Desktop, you could probably get the note back from Time Machine.
    – Allan
    Apr 3, 2023 at 19:07
  • I've always thought it odd that it will keep deletions/changes 30 days for Contacts, Calendar, Bookmarks & Files… but not Notes
    – Tetsujin
    Apr 4, 2023 at 8:12

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