How to Secure Notes on Your Mac

BY Khamosh Pathak

Published 27 Mar 2016

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One of the biggest features in iOS 9.3 was the ability to protect individual notes using Touch ID or a password along with Night Shift. Now with the OS X 10.11.4 update, Apple has brought the same feature to the Mac. If you’re someone who uses Notes as their default note-taking system, you’ll want to check for this update.

Here’s how to use this feature to secure notes on your Mac.

How to Lock a Note

Once the Notes app is open, you’ll see all your notes in the sidebar. Right-click on the note you want to lock and from the menu, select “Lock This Note”.

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You can also go to the menubar, click “File” and select “Lock This Note” once you’ve selected the note from the list.

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If this is the first time you’re locking a note on the Mac, you’ll see a popup asking you to create a password.

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Once that’s done, the note will be secured.

But as you can see, the contents of the note haven’t been locked.

To actually lock down a note, you’ll need to click the “Lock” icon in the toolbar (like you can see in the screenshot below) and select “Close All Locked Notes”.

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Once you select the option, all secured notes will be locked.

If you lock more than one note, just repeat the same steps.

If the notes are unlocked, you won’t be asked to enter the password again. The password though, will be common across all notes.

Secured notes will be marked by either a “locked” or “unlocked” icon in the sidebar, depending on their state.

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How to Remove a Lock

Removing lock is pretty easy. Go to the locked note you no longer want to protect and right click the “Lock” icon. From the options, select “Remove lock”.

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Again, if the notes are unlocked, you won’t be asked for the password. If they’re locked, you will be.

How to Change or Reset Password

The Notes Mac app lets you both change the password or just reset it outright (to do this on iOS, go to “Settings” -> “Notes”).

You can get to both options by clicking the “Notes” item from the menubar.

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“Change Password” option lets you create a new password. This will be the new default password for all notes going forward (even the ones secured before the change).

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“Reset Password” option lets you create a whole new password that would apply to notes that will be secured from here on. Notes secured with the old password will still use that one. Yes, using this feature can be confusing.

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Notes on Mac and iOS

If you’re using iOS 9.3 on your iPhone or iPad and OS X 10.11.4 on your Mac, your Notes experience should be pretty seamless. It should, “just work”. But of course, it’s not that simple.

  • In my experience, I found that sometimes there was a large delay when it came to syncing the status of locked notes to iOS. It took 2-3 minutes and in that time I could freely edit the note on my iPhone that was supposed to be locked.
  • Also, when you lock a note from your Mac, the first time you access it from your iOS device, you need to enter the password compulsorily. After that, you can use Touch ID to authenticate.
  • Passwords sync between devices so if you first got iOS 9.3 and created a password, you’ll use the same to authenticate notes on the Mac.
  • Currently, there’s no way to secure individual notes using different passwords. But you can kind of hack around it by reseting the password and securing new notes with the updated one.