Why You Might Really Like the New Note to Note Linking in IOS 17

 

Why You Might Really Like the New Note to Note Linking in IOS 17

Note to Note linking adds an extra dimension of relationship

APPLE

Selecting text in a Note to add a link
Selecting text in a Note to add a link — screenshot by author

IOS 17 is out in beta now, but sensible people will wait for the real release sometime in the early fall. Or, if you happen to have a spare iPhone or iPad, you might install it on that.

I kept my iPhone 11 when I bought an iPhone 14 Pro, so that older phone was available to become an IOS 17 guinea pig. I’ll be writing about this and that as I explore the new operating system.

Notes

At the Preview page for IOS 17 Notes, Apple says “View and mark up PDFs and scans of presentations, assignments, research papers, and more. You can also add links to connect related notes, like a trip itinerary and a list of recommended restaurants.”

Well, we are already able to put PDF’s and scans into Notes and mark them up with Apple Pencil or our clumsy fingers, so unless they mean editing PDF text fields within Notes, I am drawing a blank. I don’t yet know what they mean.

But linking to another Note just like you’d link to a web page is not a current feature, so let’s look at that.

Linking

Currently, there are three ways to organize Notes. You can include some identifying text in the Note name, add tags, and put related notes in a folder. Those aren’t “or’s”, you can use all three. In IOS 17, we will be getting a new trick: a link can be to a web page as we can do now, or it can be to another Note.

You create this link in the normal way: highlight some text and choose “Add Link”.

Selecting text in a Note to add a link
Selecting text in a Note to add a link — screenshot by author

A different screen appears with IOS 17, telling you to enter a URL or a Note title. Usually you’d be pasting in a URL, but when you start typing text, you will see a pick list of matching Note names.

If you start typing “https”, and happen to have any file names like that, you’ll see those. Don’t panic, just keep going with your URL. It will work. But, if it does match a Note name, that’s what it will open, not a web page.

When you start typing text, you will see a pick list of matching Note names
Screenshot by author

The end result is a link that looks just like any URL link, but when you click on it, the linked Note opens. That Note could contain a link to another Note, which could contain another, and so on. As of the first beta, I found no way to return to where you came from other than adding a return link, which would be easy to do, but a return button or gesture would be nice.

If you open a Note that has one of these links in a previous IOS, it still looks like a normal link, but nothing happens if you click it.

You could use this to create a story with multiple plot decisions or simply to organize your Notes in a way that extends folders and tags.

No iPhones or guinea pigs were harmed by the installation or my subsequent experimentation.

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