How to Create Deep Links to Specific Apple Notes on iOS

Key Takeaways

  • Use Shortcuts to generate a deep link URL for Apple Notes that can be used across different apps and platforms.
  • The process uses Shortcuts to access the hidden URL stored in each note’s metadata, but our step-by-step guide makes it simple.
  • Deep links to Notes allow for easy cross-linking and organization between notes and apps.

You might want to link back to notes in the Notes app on iOS from other contexts, such as events in the Calendar app, tasks in Reminders, and even tools like Obsidian. Here’s how to use Shortcuts to find the secret deep link to a specific note so that you can link back to that note from anywhere that supports URLs.

The built-in Notes app has rich support for multimedia, formatted text, tables, and more. While you can link from one note to another in iOS 17 and later, there’s still no obvious way to copy a note’s deep link URL for use outside the Notes app.

Shortcuts provides a workaround, albeit one so convoluted it feels like a hack: accessing the hidden identifiers stored for each note. This might seem like overkill to generate a link, but our step-by-step guide makes it simple.

First, you’ll use the Shortcuts app to extract the note’s URL and copy it as a rich link to the clipboard. Then, you can simply paste it into any app that accepts URLs, links, Markdown, or even plain text.

These links go directly to other Apple Notes, and they’re fully functional on macOS, too! With internal links, you can make simple connections, contextualize calendar events and tasks with relevant notes, and build the kinds of personal wikis that people create in Microsoft OneNote.

If you’d prefer not to build the shortcut from scratch, this iCloud link will open the Shortcuts app and install a pre-built shortcut automatically.

1. Create the Shortcut to Show the Note’s URL

Follow these steps to create the first half of the shortcut:

  1. In the Shortcuts app, tap the plus button to create a new shortcut.
  2. Tap Add Action and search for the Find Notes action. Tap the action to add it to your shortcut.
  3. Tap the Sort by variable and change it to Last Modified Date.
  4. Then, change the order to Latest First to make it easier to find recent notes.
  5. Repeat step 3 to add each of the following actions:
    • Choose from List
    • View Content Graph
    • Get Clipboard

Next, you need to use a simple regular expression to capture just the URL from the note’s hidden data (more on that later). Here’s how to do it.

  1. Continue working in the same shortcut and add a Match Text action.
  2. In the action’s Pattern text field, paste the following regular expression:

At this point, your shortcut allows you to successfully copy a note’s deep link URL. If that’s all you want to do, you can stop here and jump to the next section of this article: Find the Note’s Hidden URL. However, if you’d always like to generate a rich link instead of simply copying the URL as plain text, follow these additional steps:

  1. Add a Text action. In the empty text field, type the following: []()
  2. In that text box, put the cursor between the square brackets you’ve just typed and tap Select Variable in the suggestions above the keyboard.
  3. Then, tap Chosen Item below the Choose from List action to insert your chosen note as the variable. In the action’s details view that appears, tap Name.
  4. Next, in the Text action, put the cursor between the parentheses and choose the Matches variable from the suggestions.
  5. Next, add the following actions:
    • Make rich text from Markdown
    • Copy to Clipboard
  6. Finally, type a name for your shortcut in the text field that’s been prefilled with the name of the first action you added, such as Find Notes.

notes get link content graph shortcut

Running this shortcut will present a list of notes, but choosing one might not do what you expect.

2. Find the Note’s Hidden URL

When you run the shortcut and choose a note, you’ll see a list with one item: the note you just chose. Tap it, and things get stranger.

Now, you’ll see the Content Item Graph. This is a graph view of all the data contained in the note, including text, images, files, and other properties.

Tap the circle labeled Note and you’ll see another list. This time, tap the LNEntity option.

What you’re looking at is the behind-the-scenes data for your note. The important part is the line that begins with identifier: and contains a URL that starts with applenotes:note/. That’s the note’s hidden URL (the URL ends at the comma).

3. Capture the URL to Use in the Shortcut

This URL should appear at the top. But if it doesn’t, you might not be able to select and copy it because of a bug in the Shortcuts app in iOS 17.1.

Instead of worrying about that, simply copy the entire LNEntity text. The Match Text action in the shortcut will automatically pull out just the URL.

  1. Tap to show the keyboard, then tap the cursor once to display the text actions. Choose Select All.
  2. Then, copy all the text.
  3. Finally, dismiss the two sheets showing the LNEntity and the Content Item Graph.

The shortcut will automatically run the next steps, which use a regular expression to extract the URL from your clipboard. If you added the optional steps earlier, it’ll then convert the URL to a rich link with the note’s title as its anchor text and copy that rich link to the clipboard.

Finally, you can link to Notes from other apps by simply pasting your newly created rich link into it. Tapping the link will instantly take you to the linked note!

Cross-linking between notes is a great way to organize research, enabling you to build a connected database of information.

Linking to Notes Isn’t Simple, But It’s Powerful

You might think it’s not worth it to go to all this trouble for internal links when some third-party apps have the feature built-in. But with its rich support for media, text, files, and more, Apple’s Notes app remains one of the most powerful note-taking apps available on iOS.

For even deeper connections between your notes, you can also create and assign tags to them in iOS 15 and later.

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