Export Rich text to Apple Notes

Dear all!

I’m quite a newbie to Drafts but am impressed by its capabilities and features, so I would like to fully integrate it into my system. The only problem is, that Apple Notes is another integral part of my workflow and I am not quite sure on how to combine the two. I’ve already done my research on posts and actions that have been posted on this forum in the past, but I’m still not entirely sure If there actually is no way at all to share formatted/rich text from Drafts to Apple Notes or not. I’ve played around with shortcuts and actions myself but haven’t been able to produce the desired outcome. In my mind actually I thought it would be quite simple to just queue the actions “copy as rich text” and “share to apple notes” through a shortcut together but it still didn’t work. Is the problem with Apple Notes that it generally won’t accept any formatted text from any input at all?

Anyways, the last developer post I found on this topic is from 2018 and even the then released MacOS workaround with Apple Scripts won’t work for me at all as of today. Does anyone here have some kind of working alternative for this missing integration on Mac and iOS or is it simply something that we will have to live without permanently?

Thanks for any help!
Cheers, Astra

1 Like

I’ve not migrated to Big Sur yet, and am behind schedule on my upgrade reading, so I don’t know any details around what may have changed there in regards to Apple Notes.

On Catalina and i*OS, the sharing of rich text from a variety of apps, via the share sheet, to Apple Notes, always seems to be as plain text only.

That limitation is around the share sheet implementation of what Apple Notes will accept from the share sheet. But, Apple Notes will accept rich content from the clipboard if it is pasted in.

Drafts has scripting that allows rich text to be placed on the clipboard if expressed as HTML. For example this would convert Markdown to HTML to rich text and place it on the clipboard.

app.htmlToClipboard(draft.processTemplate("%%[[draft]]%%"));

You can then paste that into an Apple Notes note. However, the built in share action for Drafts is dealing in plain text, and the scripting options allow for plain text, URLs and (text) files - not richly formatted text.

The challenge for full automation is therefore that Drafts only puts the rich text on the clipboard, and Apple Notes will only accept rich text on the clipboard, and you need to manually bridge the gap or use an additional automation tool to do so.

It might be possible to run it via AppleScript, but using Keyboard Maestro would be my preferred approach. You could even include an action step to trigger a Keyboard Maestro macro to carry out the new note and paste steps.


Apple Notes seems to be beloved by many for its deep OS integration and ubiquity. But, for more advanced/experienced users, who push for more from their apps, it actually presents several automation challenges; such as the one presented here. There are a variety of other notes applications available that provide better options for automation and where I would argue that any limitations of deep integration with the OS can be mitigated.

Different applications have different feature sets, and different users have different requirements and preferences. I don’t believe that there is a one size fits all solution. But there are a wealth of great choices.

I would certainly recommend that if you have not had a look recently at alternatives to Apple Notes that could complement or be complemented by Drafts that you do so. I suspect you would be pleasantly surprised by the options that are available.

I hope that helps give you some ideas for ways to proceed.

1 Like

The clipboard is the only way to get rich-text directly to Notes. Notes does not support direct integration via rich-text on either platform.

On Mac, you can script note context via HTML, like the “Markdown to Notes” example in the Notes integration guide, but it’s pretty wonky, honestly. You cannot get rich-text that matches the default rich-text in Notes app that way, so I wouldn’t really recommend it, and there’s not equivalent on iOS.

Not even Shortcuts can send rich-text to Notes on iOS.

2 Likes

Thanks you very much for your very detailed response! Much of what you said is confirming what I’ve feared already but nevertheless I’ll also have a look art Keyboard Maestro workaround! Thanks a lot for that!

Regarding the Note Taking Apps, I guess you are right! But especially as a User who frequently works from an iPad Pro as well I love the shortcut integrations and really fast syncing that Apple Notes offers. I have also played around with One Note, as it integrates better with Drafts. But apart from that most of the features I would require are either nonexistent or implemented atrociously (like syncing, exporting capabilities, shortcut support and PDF conversion).
Do you have any recommendations for other Note taking apps to check out which could complement workflows with Drafts?

Thanks a lot again for your response!

Okay too bad, thanks a lot for your answer anyways!
I guess I’ll just have to resort to manually copy pasting from Drafts to Notes each time I want to export formatted text, but that’s alright!
(It seems kind of odd though that the iOS shortcut “get from clipboard and create note” actually doesn’t achieve the same as manually pasting it from the clipboard. Weird implementation on apple’s part imho)

I expect there are technical reasons from Apple’s end. I don’t know how it stored notes but there are not just RTF or something simple like that.

1 Like

DEVONthink. Though I use it mostly on the desktop, and it is a note n taking app on steroids. So may be too much for what you need/want.

1 Like

No I don’t.

As I noted above, there are many great ones each with their own features and benefits, and different ones suit different people. It’s a bit like musical tastes.

Figure out what matters to you most and take a look at what’s around that matches your criteria.

The biggest factor is often your not taking system/methodology in that some apps are better tailored to some systems than others. Maybe that would be the best place to start. Should you not have a system/methodology, then that is definitely the best place to start :wink:

1 Like