Stupid "Notes" app.

It seems like every time I edit a "note" on my iPad, then later edit it on my iPhone, the page duplicates, with both edits, and I have to merge them by hand. (What year is this?)

I can't duplicate this bug when I try, but I've been seeing it for years. Do you understand the conditions that trigger it? Is there a workaround? Notes are sync'ed to an IMAP account on my server, not iCloud.

I know there are a ton of way-more-complex note-sharing apps out there with way more features, but I really only need something dead simple -- I need nothing more than what Notes does, minus this irritating bug -- so evangelizing all the hairy features of other apps will be uncompelling.

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29 Responses:

  1. Tape says:

    Weird. I sync mine with iCloud and haven't seen this problem. I wonder if there's a weirdness related to IMAP involved.

    That said, I used PlainText for some time before deciding I liked that Notes synced with the OS X app. I believe it syncs with either Dropbox or iCloud. I liked it because it was just text files, so I could write a .txt on my Mac, toss it in the Dropbox folder, and then it was on my phone. I think the current version is "PlainText 2".

    • jwz says:

      But doesn't "syncing notes to iCloud" actually mean "syncing notes to the IMAP server for your email account"? (Which I don't have and don't particularly want.)

      • Tape says:

        I've honestly never looked into the particulars of how the notes are stored. It never occured to me until now.

        But you appear to be correct:

      • Reigschmeggder says:

        Hi, I see this frequently also with syncing to iCloud and having no other IMAP account. I also already removed formerly locally stored notes in the desktop version (I don’t know if something similar exists in the iOS app). I’m also pissed by this, since this is not a multi-user, simultaneous editing, multi-OS thing. One user, two devices, fail. I don’t understand this. This is how a company can make a user unhappy with very small things.

  2. Rusty Hodge says:

    There is a similar bug with draft messages stored on an IMAP server. It creates new ones rather than updating the old one. I gave in and switched Notes to iCloud which does work as expected. But ideally I'd like them to be on my own server.

    • Leonardo Herrera says:

      Well, that happens with the Gmail - Outlook combo in Windows land. Sometimes you cannot even delete drafts, they just come back from the dead over and over again.

  3. Gik says:

    Compares 'all' of them in one table.

  4. rex says:

    I use It is an API that many applications use.
    it stores very simple plaintext notes and version history.
    there are desktop apps, linux apps (including cli), ios apps, android apps.
    most are very clean and simple. I'm a fan.
    oh, web app, too:

    • I gotta second SimpleNote.

      • Laura says:

        Thirded. It's basic, it's everywhere, and it works.

        • I love the UI, but in my experience the sync is far from reliable. My spouse and I have had lots of issues when updates to shared notes won’t sync between our different devices.

    • Steen says:

      Another vote for simplenote. I know you don't care about cross-platform, but the fact that it keeps my shit straight across my mac, ipad, and android phone without dupe issues is indicative of a certain quality. Also they recently fixed a rather obscure syncing bug, so devs are active.

      Also if you want to deal with your notes as plain text files on a mac, nvALT syncs with simplenote and saves everything locally. I run both simultaneously, and have no collision issues.

  5. Charles Gray says:

    I have no clue how we fail so hard at tihs

  6. Jay Sittler says:

    I've had this same thing happen to me, and my notes are synced via IMAP to my google account. I don't know if I can recreate the bug on the fly though, so it makes me think it is a "feature" of the 'background activity' that happens if I lock my phone/pad before it has finished uploading to the server.

  7. Jamie, Charles: I’m afraid I have no good advice to offer. But AFAICT automatic and reliable text syncing is not a solved problem :-(

    • Didn't Palm solve this 18 years ago? I remember syncing text memos between multiple desktop PCs and a Palm Pilot PDA, and syncing multiple Palm PDAs with a Desktop PC. You could edit any memo on any device and it would do sensible things if clashing edits were detected.

      • I’ll be damned. I had a Palm back in 2001 or so, but I rarely synced it to be honest. The future was there... Just not very evenly distributed.

  8. Kyle Huff says:

    The Windows phone stuff probably works much better. Sadly, I will experience this only on a cold day in hell.

  9. AJ Slater says:

    This bug has happened with iCloud syncing too, for years. Also fun is the occasional note that just completely disappears after editing.

  10. Jeff Warnica says:

    Is it possible that they use Mork as the database on your iThingy?

  11. blah says:

    Cascade of attention deficient apple apologists. But at least you're paying for this never-ceasing parade of non-bugfixes by paid programmers.

  12. Julian Calaby says:

    I'm going to say Evernote and leave it at that. I know it's not what you're after, but it's progressively taken over my note-taking life, so if you're willing to switch to something completely different, I heartily recommend it.

    • Yeah, that's like telling someone who has a question about notepad that Emacs will solve their problem. But then again, our host was involved in writing an Emacs fork (is that a reasonable way to put it?).

      And Evernote is awesome and amazing, and very, very handy. Though a bit overkill for this use. But I use it for simple note sync at work (list of machines to work on from desktop, sync, sync phone, work on machines, sync updated list back, handy).

      Everyone should use it, or damn near.

      • Julian Calaby says:

        It's total overkill for JWZ's use case, however it should meet all of his needs. (Except the whole "running on my own server" thing) As he _hates_ people giving him overblown solutions (like this) I wanted to put it there in case it helped someone else, but not make a big thing about it. I guess I failed in the latter.

      • jwz says:

        Emacs will solve your problems. It will solve them good and hard. It will solve your problems so completely that your problems will Transcend and start writing you twelve dimensional sonnets.

        • Sheilagh says:

          VI foreverrrrrrrrrrrrrr!!!!

          dodges thrown manikin hands

          I conned a friend into installing note.exe and paint.exe on a wine instance on my redhat box :) it hurt him, but it pleased me very, very much to have my simple, dependable tools back. The only good parts of windows....