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How to use your iPhone Notes app to write secret messages
How to use your iPhone Notes app to write secret messages

Want to send a top secret message on your phone? Don’t look for a rogue app to do it for you. Go straight to Notes on your iPhone because that’s your built-in best bet for chats that require a little more, shall we say, discretion.

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No matter what type of private conversation you have, you have plenty of options at your disposal. Apps like Signal and WhatsApp are popular for their focus on privacy, but why complicate things when you don’t have to?

The built-in Notes app for iOS is a secret weapon for private conversations. It’s always fun when you find a way to use an app for other purposes. It’s almost like you’re using it in a sneaky way that you shouldn’t be using, but all the pieces are there to make this an easy way to have private conversations with someone. We’ll explain everything below.

For more iOS tips, see What’s New in iOS 17.5 and How to Easily View and Copy Wi-Fi Passwords on Your iPhone or iPad.

Create a note in the Notes app

On your iPhone, launch the Notes app and tap the Compose button at the bottom right to create a new note. Next, type something in the note to keep it, otherwise it will be automatically deleted when you leave the note. You can also just go into an existing note, but it’s better to start fresh with a new note.

Notes app on the iPhone Notes app on the iPhone

First, create a new note or open an existing one.

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Customize your note’s sharing options to add collaborators

Once your note is ready, you can add another person as a collaborator so that they can read and edit the note. First, tap the More Click the button at the top right and then press Share note.

Now tap Share options and make sure that the Can make changes under Permission is selected. You should also Anyone can add people if you want to be the only person who can add collaborators to your note. Go back to the last page when you’re finished configuring these settings.

Notes app on the iPhone Notes app on the iPhone

Second, manage what your employees can do.

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Add people and share the link

Next, choose a method to share the note: you can send it via SMS, email, social media, and more. If you swipe the sharing options, you can also choose Copy linkwhich copies the note link to your clipboard and allows you to paste it anywhere.

For this example I choose the Copy link Option to share the note.

At the top of the Copy Link page, enter the email address or phone number of the person who will access the note. You can also click the Add icon to browse your contacts. Adding a contact to the note is required. If you share the link without adding a contact, the other person will not be able to see or edit the note even with the link.

Finally press Copy shortcut to copy the note link to your clipboard and share it with your collaborator.

Notes app on the iPhone Notes app on the iPhone

Next, add your employee(s).

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Send secret messages with Notes

The other person who receives the message must now open the note link and accept the invitation. If they accept the invitation, they will be taken to the Notes app and to the shared note you just created.

To communicate, just type something in the note. The other person can see it in real time without you having to click send. You will also receive a notification when the note is changed.

Each person in the note will see a corresponding color (just for a moment) so everyone else knows who typed what. You can also swipe right from the center of the note to see the name of the message writer, as well as a timestamp for when the message was written and the corresponding colors.

Notes app on the iPhone Notes app on the iPhone

Now you can secretly communicate with your friends or family.

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You can also click on the Share note (with the check mark symbol) go to Manage shared notes and then switch on Highlight all changesThis way, all messages will remain permanently highlighted in the corresponding color, making it easier to read the conversation.

If you want to keep your communication more discreet, delete your message or the other person’s message to remove it from the note. This way, your conversation will be more like the one on Snapchat, with fleeting or short-lived messages that outsiders won’t be able to see when browsing your notes. You can do this with any text in the notes, as well as any photos, videos, links, drawings, or other attachments you add to the note.

Delete your secret chat permanently

Not all secret conversations can go on forever, and that is why now is the time to end them.

If you are the owner of the note and want to keep the note intact for everyone but prevent it from being edited, you can do so easily. Tap the Show participants and then on Manage shared notesTo remove a participant, you can either swipe left on their name and then tap Remove or you can click on the name and then on Remove access.

Notes app on the iPhone Notes app on the iPhone

To end the note conversation, remove all collaborators or stop sharing the note.

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In addition, you can access the Stop sharing Option that not only removes participants from the note, but also deletes the note from all their devices.

If you are not the owner of the note, you can simply delete the note from the Notes application.

For more tech tips, check out How to save money by renting an AirTag for travel and Which two settings to change on your iPhone to put it to sleep faster.