Compiling a secret list of gifts for a birthday or Christmas, writing a diary you want to keep locked, or perhaps working on a top secret document for work. Notes has a handy feature where you can lock the file so that it requires a password to open.

This is especially useful because with your Notes available on your iPhone, iPad and Mac, you may find you frequently store important and sensitive information there, such as passwords and pin numbers, financial information, and maybe health details.

Suffice to say this isn’t information you’d want someone to be able to look at if they popped by your desk when you were away for a few minutes, so luckily you can password protect it.

You can easily set up one single password that you can use to open all your notes. It is possible to set up different passwords that you can use for different notes, but it’s not as simple.

Locked Notes

How to add a password to Notes on iPhone/iPad

Here’s how to set up a password that can be used to lock and unlock individual Notes. You can do this on you iPhone, iPad, or Mac, we’ll show you how to do it on each device.

  1. Either open up the note you want to lock or start a new note. If you are starting a new note you will need to have started adding text to it before you move to the next step.
  2. Tap the Share icon in the top right.
  3. Find the option to Lock Note, tap on that.
  4. The first time you do this a Set Password page will appear. You can set the password here, along with a hint just in case you might forget it. Note that this password will be used for every note you lock - unless you choose to set a new password as described below. Do not forget it because you won’t be able to access the locked notes if you do.
  5. If you have Face ID or Touch ID you can choose to use that as a way of unlocking the note. You’ll need to confirm whether or not you want to use that. If you do opt for that and your Mac doesn’t have Touch ID it will default to the password.
  6. Now if you attempt to open a locked note you will see a message that This note is locked. Tap on View Note and enter the password.

Locked notes

Locked notes will have a padlock icon beside them. The name of the note will be the first words in the note, so beware if this is what you are wanting to keep hidden.

You can lock that note, and all the other opened notes, again by returning to the Notes file view, and tapping on Lock Now at the bottom of the screen.

Once you have set up a password for Notes the same password will be used for all your Notes, and if you unlock one you will unlock all of them. If you want a different password for different notes though it is possible to set this up, we’ll show you how to do that below.

How to add a password to Notes on Mac

If you are on a Mac locking a note is just as simple.

  1. Just right-click or control-click on the note you want to lock and choose Lock Note.
  2. If you haven’t yet set up a password for Notes you will be invited to do so. If you have already set up a password on another device just add that password. (If for some reason your password isn’t recognised we found that unlocking a locked note with the password fixed the issue and we were then able to lock the new note.)
  3. Once your password is added a padlock icon will appear next to the note.
  4. Click on a locked note to open it and you will see This note is locked and a field in which to enter your password.
  5. Enter your password and the note will open.

Lock Notes on Mac

How to change the Notes password

You can change the Notes password at any time.

  • On an iPhone or iPad go to Settings > Notes > Password and choose Change Password.
  • On a Mac choose Preferences from the Notes menu and then click on Change Password.

You’ll have to enter the old password and verify your new password.

How to add an additional password to Notes

If you have a particular note that you want to lock with an alternative password, perhaps because someone else knows your usual password, you can do so. But this method will change your password to a new one going forward while maintaining the old password for those notes you have already locked.

  • As before, if you are on an iPhone or iPad go to Settings > Notes > Password but this time choose Reset Password. The text below that option explains that this will allow you to create a new password for notes you lock from now on.
  • On a Mac choose Preferences from the Notes menu and then click on Reset Password.

When you access one of your older notes that uses the old password you will have the option to update the password to the new one you are using - but only once you have unlocked it.

Old Password Notes

This could be a bit confusing as it could mean you end up with multiple passwords, but if that’s your aim then it is a solution.

How to lock notes once they are unlocked

Once you unlock one note you will unlock them all.

If you want to lock all your notes again, you can do so.

  • In iOS click on Lock Now - you'll find that at the bottom of the screen.
  • On a Mac click on the padlock icon in the menu and choose Close All Locked Notes.

Close Locked Notes

How to unlock notes without the password

If you have set a password on your notes and forgotten it you won't be able to unlock them.

Hopefully when you set up the password in the first place you set a reminder for yourself. After three attempts at the password you will see your hint. Hopefully that will be suficient to jog your memory.

How to lock a shared note

You can't set a password or lock a shared note.