The blog of

"If you want to see the sunshine, you have to weather the storm." [A simple AppleScript script to backup Notes in iCloud]

As someone who likes to make backups of all my data, storing things "in the cloud" is a little concerning because I have no idea how well that data is backed up. So I try to periodically save copies of cloud data locally just to be safe. This can be easy or hard depending on how that data is represented and how amenable the provider is to supporting this workflow. In the case of Apple Notes, it's easy to find questionable or for-pay solutions, but there's a lot out there I don't really trust. You might think Apple's own suggestion would be the best, but you might be wrong because it's rather impractical for someone with more than a handful of notes.

As a new macOS user, there's a lot I'm still discovering about the platform, but something that seems well suited for this problem is AppleScript and the AppleScript Editor, both of which are part of the OS and enable the creation of scripts that interact with applications and data. This Gist by James Thigpen proves the concept of using AppleScript to backup Notes, but of course I wanted to do some things a little differently and so I made my own script.


  • This script enumerates all notes and appends them to a single HTML document that it puts on the clipboard for you to paste into the editor of your choice and save somewhere safe, email to yourself, or whatever.
  • The script does very little formatting other than separating notes from each other with a horizontal rule and adding a heading for each folder name. The output should be legible in text form and look reasonable in a web browser, but it won't win any design awards.
  • The contents of each note are apparently stored by Notes as HTML; this script adds the fewest number of additional tags necessary for everything to render properly in the browser.
  • If your OS language is set to something other than English, you may need to customize the hardcoded folder name, "Recently Deleted". (Or remove that conditional and you can backup deleted notes, too!)
  • This was my first experience with AppleScript and I'm keeping an open mind, but I will say that I did not immediately fall in love with it.
set result to "<html><head><meta charset='utf-8'/></head><body>" & linefeed & linefeed
tell application "Notes"
  tell account "iCloud"
    repeat with myFolder in folders
      if name of myFolder is not in ("Recently Deleted") then
        set result to result & "<h1>" & name of myFolder & "</h1>"
        set result to result & "<hr/>" & linefeed & linefeed
        repeat with myNote in notes in myFolder
          set result to result & body of myNote
          set result to result & linefeed & "<hr/>" & linefeed & linefeed
        end repeat
      end if
    end repeat
  end tell
end tell
set result to result & "</body></html>"
set the clipboard to result