Simple, ‘til it isn’t

I use Apple Notes to jot down anything that I need to remember. There’s millions of note taking apps nowadays, and I don’t have the time or the inclination to try them all for what might only be an incremental improvement to my chaotic note taking habits. Notes is on all my devices, syncs between them nicely and lets me search for stuff instead of organising it.

It’s Achilles heel is export – as in it’s difficult to get your notes out of it. Really difficult. Especially if you’re using images or handwriting. iOS will let you export handwriting as a PNG image. Desktop gives the added option of PDF. This is probably fine for most people, and it is typical of Apple to keep things simple and cater to the majority of users – which is fine until it isn’t.

I needed to export a handwritten note with a transparent background. There is no obvious way to accomplish this. Notes is clearly using some sort of vector format, so should be possible, right? No. There is no simple way to do this.

My convoluted workflow is:

1. Write the note in Apple Notes on iPad

2. Open the note in Apple Notes on desktop and export the PDF to iCloud

3. Back on the iPad, open the PDF in Affinity Designer, delete the background, crop and export to PNG

4. Rejoice, but curse bitterly that it should be easier

It would be great if I could do this without having to involve my laptop.