Apple Notes Import Links

Request: Maintain apple notes internal links on import.

With ios17/sonoma Apple notes now supports links. When using the insert link and then linking to an existing note can these be maintained when importing Apple notes to DT? I believe these are true links and not just wikilinks which might allow this?

I am not sure if this is technically possible or not. Thanks.

1 Like

I’m not clear on what you’re importing to Devonthink

edit: Answered - Files > Import > Folders and Attachments from Notes
generating notes in Formatted Note format

When I share an Apple Note to Devonthink; I get a bookmark (iCloud URL)
It’s an interesting UI; the note is presented in the Devonthink window, but it’s actually the iCloud Notes app

I make notes with new feature either by “add link” or the >> as below images.


I do a monthly backup to DT via the import Apple notes function of all notes. When I do this the link with Test in this example does not work.

I don’t quite understand. If you want a backup of the notes, why not use a backup (Timemachine, Arq, Backblaze, whatever). Converting data from one format to another is not a backup but a conversion. And it can incur loss of information, as you’re now seeing.

As what you do is apparently for backup from iphone, any reason you are not relying the backup to icloud built into iOS for your notes?

For example How to Back Up iPhone Notes and Texts | Small Business - Chron.com

1 Like

I’d prefer all my notes to be in DT, but I mainly use mobile and the note taking experience is pretty horrible compared to about everything else. I’ve been using Apple notes as a work around for anything that I need to use/edit frequently and keeping more static or completed documents in DT where it is just access.

See other response, but I want them in DT. I use mobile essentially only (Mac is used to backup DT only), and the editor/note taking experience on mobile is clunky at best.

Apple Notes is horrible for several reasons, but a very simple one is that it’s not open. Apple silos your data in an SQLite database (and, of course, on their iCloud servers). They don’t tell you anything about the format they use, and the only export they offer is PDF – seriously?

Consequently, a “link” from one note to another makes no sense outside this app. What would the protocol of the link be? How would person A on a Windows machine open a link in a note to another note it received from person B on a Mac?

In your workflow, you import from Notes to DT. Now, note A contains a link to note B. If note B is imported before note A, DT could perhaps recreate that link as an x-devonthink-item one (though that might be difficult, too). But if note A is imported before note B – to what should this link point but to a giant black hole? Now imagine 50 notes with links between them …

If you’re not happy with DTTG for note-taking, you might find another tool more to your liking. But I suggest staying with Markdown as a format and not using “features” that are meaningless outside the app you settle on.

1 Like

Fair points with openness. But I like how adding a link just opens the web link, and I was hopeful there new linking would maintain that link and allow the web link (this is how it works at work on a windows machine with iCloud.com, those links do seem to go to the iCloud url). Was hoping this could be extracted to maintain those links even via web URL.

Ive tried several markdown apps, and my biggest issue is inability for shortcuts on mobile to work with DTTG (as the files integration on iOS of DTTG doesnt work with Apple shortcuts). If this worked I probably would live with a markdown app, but unfortunately this limitation makes it difficult for my workflow and ultimately makes a Mac necessary. The Apple notes import works better in my workflow than markdown has thus far until Apple allows the shortcuts to work with files integration DTTG so I can be 100% mobile.

2 Likes

A real world example of a note – especially as there is no such format and only a sea of opinions on what a note is – would be helpful in deciphering what would be clunky in composition.

2 Likes

My notes are typically meeting notes and project notes. I like keeping checklists within these notes as well (some areas more outline with indents/checklists) and other areas as summaries of the meeting. I also prefer having formatting in my notes that are WYSIWYG so rich texts are preferred. I find on Apple Notes the ability to quickly make a checklist, indent/outdent on iOS, and format notes quickly much easier than DTTG. I also think the ease of “smart lists” on apple notes is nice, and they have nice widgets.

I have and do use markdown, but in DTTG (especially on an iphone) it is difficult to check of a list quickly, indent/outdent (need to go to a menu rather than sliding hand over), and to add a date I need to type it or use a different keyboard. I also like the ability for using a hashtag within my note to trigger a tag rather than having to go to info and add one. All of these together make the experience better on a phone/ipad with touch input.

Honestly apple notes with current import is good enough for me, was just hopefully make I could make use of the links if they could be supported. I have previously noted that obsidian has a much better editor in my opinion, however this still requires the intermediary step of using a mac to get the files indexed. This is a bit too much for my use case, so I have been using DT for storage and more long term notes, and apple notes for active notes/meetings/things I will be actively working on and then backing up monthly and sorting at that time.

The closest I have found to a solution has been the bear panda editor (was in testflight but no longer available) allowed markdown, most of the features I noted above, but had a WYSIWYG editor like obsidian and worked on mobile ontop of the files integreation of DTTG. The shortcuts were still missing but it was fast enough to open the app and quickly append a note I felt like keeping everything in DTTG was worth it at that time.

More than backup, DT is the place I store/organize all my notes; including Apple Notes
Initially as a bookmark;
which gets replaced with a pdf file in a monthly cleanup

When using the insert link and then linking to an existing note can these be maintained when importing Apple notes to DT?

As you noted, the ‘add link’ is also not functional in the pdf
A work-around is to use an actual url

1 Like

Thanks, I’ll try using the url instead if I want to maintain the link.

Can you explain what you mean by clean up and maintain your Apple notes? Are you using the importer on Apple notes (which I believe does rich text) then manually converting to pdf (or using smart rule, etc). Or are you exporting individual notes from Apple notes when done as a PDF and organizing?

Apple Notes is a useful editor, but not a tool I chose to store/organize notes
Periodically I remove completed notes from Apple Notes; moving them to Devonthink

Are you using the importer on Apple notes … Or are you exporting individual notes from Apple notes when done as a PDF and organizing?

My use is low volume, so I just do this workflow manually, exporting individual notes
The DT import tool can not be restricted to completed notes; and I prefer pdf format

Thanks for that reply. This is similar to what I had been doing, for more static notes, keeping in DEVONthink to go, but for things that I was editing like meeting notes using Apple notes. Also, for active projects, I like the ease of checklist with an apple notes. I had intermittently used the exporter tool, But recently found out about the import note tool, and had been doing a monthly back up and then pulling the notes that were finalized out of this and thought it might be a chance to use the new wiki link and Apple notes.

With some of the updated features of Apple notes in the past few years, I finally got around to trying them, and I do like the ability to do smart groups. I have been completely figured out how to pull this into my workflow since the Apple notes in Porter treats, each smart group as its own folder, and makes duplicates, So for files that will ultimately end up in DEVONthink to go it may make more sense to not use smart folders at this time, until DEVONthink supports them, and do it natively on mobile.

I wouldn’t use Apple Notes for full note-taking, because of its closed nature as mentioned here before. Same goes for OneNote. Also some great features, but exporting your notes or the integration with other tools then those on these vendor’s own platform is always problematic. So a no-go for me.

That said, the most recent version of Apple Notes supports export and edit in Apple Pages. Maybe you find a solution by using that, as you can edit outside of the Notes app and store your document(s) to DT.

Sometimes I clip webpages or snippets to the Notes app (as DTTG web clipper behaves unreliable), which I manually convert to Obsidian (or as pdf directly to DT). My Obsidian notes are synced to DT for backup and full search within DT.

I think my problem so far has been I’m mainly mobile. DTTG editor is limited and doesn’t have a lot of mobile first features. Obsidian editor is great, but using obsidian still requires a Mac to get files into DTTG so not practical. I was using bear panda editor to edit DTTG markdown, but not available any more.

I don’t see any other markdown editors that are as nice as obsidian/bear panda so I started looking elsewhere. I want a realtime preview WYSIWYG editor like those 2 (and I believe typora on Mac) has. Until this app exists or DTTG adds some mobile conveniences or mobile features I’m still looking for an external editor, and so far Apple notes seems to do the job and I can send to DTTG or monthly pull them over later.

You can share a note as markdown from Obsidian on mobile to DTTG, too.

Thanks. I’ve tried this but am looking for something I can open in place for ideal work flow. Often times these are notes for meetings and projects referenced and adjusted multiple times over a few months.

I don’t see any options for a realtime WYSIWYG editor on iOS at this time, but open to suggestions. Even simple things like clicking the box for a checklist etc is a very used function far me. I know ia writer supports links, but not sure about checklists (and not sure it’s worth $50 anyhow). 1writer didn’t do it for me. Living with one markdown when I try to do open in place but still feel that Apple notes is just better even given the extra steps to get into DTTG.

What exactly do you expect as checkbox behavior?

  • putting an x inside the square brackets in the raw MD should render as a checked box in HTML
  • otoh, checking a box in the rendered HTML would have to result in a modification of the raw MD. While that might be technically feasible, I doubt that there are products doing that.

Otoh, DT’s formatted notes (which are HTML) retain the state of input elements.