How to Highlight in Notes

How to Highlight in Notes

There are times when you may want to highlight some parts on a note, maybe because of its importance or just to mark the beginning or end of something.

However, the process is not straightforward on iPhone, iPad, or Mac. That is why we have provided a clear, step-by-step guide on highlighting text in Notes, whether a typed notes or a scanned document.

Can You Highlight in Notes

Yes, you can highlight in Notes. But the method you use depends on the Apple device you are using, and the type of content you are trying to highlight.

But before working with Notes and taking advantage of the latest features like easier highlighting, you need to ensure that your iOS, iPad, or Mac has the latest software updates installed.

If your device is updated, Notes is also automatically updated, and you have access to the features described in this article.

To update your iOS (iPhone and iPad):

1. Plug your iPhone into power supply and connect to a strong and stable WIFI connection

2. Open Settings app on your phone, and tap on General

3. Then tap on Software Update

4. Tap on Download and Install to download and install the updates

5. Enter your iPhone passcode if prompted and then follow the on-screen instructions

6. Your phone will restart a few times to complete the update.

You may want to get the update to install faster. To do this:

1. Go to Settings

2. Tap on Display and Brightness

3. Scroll down and select Auto Lock

4. Then select Never

To update your Mac OS:

1. Plug your Mac into power and make sure you are connected to the internet

2. Make sure you are logged in with Administrator credentials. If you are not, then be sure to have the Admin password because you will be prompted for it when trying to update your Mac

3. Next, open System Preferences on your Mac. It is the Gear icon at the bottom of the screen

4. When the System Preferences menu opens, select Software Update

5. Click on Update Now or Upgrade Now. If you see both, select Upgrade Now because it will have the latest cumulative updates anyway

6. After downloading, select Continue to install the updates

7. If you are prompted to agree to terms, click Agree

8. Then confirm Agree again when prompted

9. You will then be asked where you want to install the update. Your Mac disk is selected by default, so just click on Continue

10. If you are prompted to enter password, enter the Admin password and then click Unlock

11. When updates installation starts, your Mac will restart. The screen may also go black. This is okay.

12. Just like on an iPhone, a loading bar may appear while your Mac restarts several times

13. When update installation is complete, you will be returned to the login screen where you can enter your login details and start using your Mac again

We have detailed these update instructions because installing latest updates on Mac and iOS is the only way to guarantee that you have full access to all the features available on Notes. Even Apple recommends this before getting started with the app.

Now that that’s out of the way, let’s have a look at how to highlight in Notes on your iPhone, iPad, or Mac OS.

How to Highlight in Notes

Highlighting In A Scanned Document in Notes on iPad and iPhone

1. Open Notes and open the scanned document that you want to highlight in

2. Click the Share button at the top right of the screen. Clicking the Share button unlocks the file action tools

3. When you click Share, you should see Airdrop, Mail, Messages, and so on. Underneath these options, you should see Copy, Markup, Print, and so on. Click on Markup to open the highlighter buttons

4. Next, zoom in to the area where you want to highlight

5. Then, tap on the type of highlighter that you want to use and select the colour and brightness of the highlighter

6. Finally, run your finger over the text you want to highlight to highlight it

You can also use an Apple Pencil to perform these steps but only on an iPad.

Highlighting In A Typed Text in Notes on iPad and iPhone

If you try to use the same method for highlighting scanned documents to highlight typed text, you will find that you are unable to perform any actions directly on the text.

You may be able to highlight on the empty spaces but your highlighter blanks out over the typed text.

The reason for this is that typed text in Notes are separated in a text field by a border, from the rest of the field where you can apply highlighter or markup.

This is done because if your Notes are synced on iCloud, actions such as highlighting that you performed on the text on one device, cannot be replicated on a different device.

Because of this, if you want to specify important text in a typed note, you can only do things like making it bold, italics, or underlying it, since they are the only available options by default.

Alternative for Highlighting Typed Text in Notes on iPhone

As at the time of writing this article, there is no way to highlight typed text in Notes on an iPhone. That is, using the highlight function to color over the text.

This feature is simply not available on the Notes app on iPhone. The only options are to change the font style or color, so they look different to the rest of the text.

An alternative is to use a third-party application to create your notes. You can go to your App Store and search for other Notes applications. We recommend that you check that the application that you want to download supports text highlighting and syncing across your devices. One of such is the well-known Evernote.

Highlighting Typed Text in Notes on iPad

On iPad, you can use an Apple Pencil to draw over text in Notes to highlight them. This feature is not available on an iPhone because iPhone display does not support Apple Pencil.

Before you begin using Apple Pencil in Notes, you need to ensure that the Apple Pencil model you are using works with your iPad, and that your Apple Pencil is charged.

Here is the Apple Pencil compatibility list:

Apple Pencil Generation 1

  • iPad mini (5th generation)
  • iPad (6th generation and later)
  • iPad Air (3rd generation)
  • iPad Pro 12.9-inch (1st and 2nd generation)
  • iPad Pro 10.5-inch
  • iPad Pro 9.7-inch

Apple Pencil Generation 2

  • iPad mini (6th generation)
  • iPad Air (4th generation and later)
  • iPad Pro 12.9-inch (3rd generation and later)
  • iPad Pro 11-inch (1st generation and later)
  • iPad Pro 10.5-inch
  • iPad Pro 9.7-inch

Next, you need to connect or pair the Apple Pencil with your iPad using the steps below:

For Apple Pencil Generation 2, simply attach the Apple Pencil to the magnetic connector on the side of your iPad. This is usually on the upper side where the volume buttons are located

For Apple Pencil Generation 1:

1. Remove the cap of the Apple Pencil and plug it into the Lightning Connector on your iPad (charging port)

2. You will see Pair on your iPad screen. Tap on it

The pairing between your Apple Pencil and your iPad will remain in place until you restart the iPad, turn on Airplane Mode, or pair the Apple Pencil with another iPad. Then you would need to pair them again.

Now to Highlight Text in Notes on Your iPad:

1. Open the text in Notes that you want to highlight

2. Use the Apple Pencil to shade round the text you want to highlight

3. You can also shade over the text, but you need to make sure that you are using a pencil color that is not too dark that it completely covers the text

Note: If you try to pair Apple Pencil and it is not working, try the troubleshooting steps below:

1. First, make sure that Bluetooth is turned on, on your iPad

2. For Apple Pencil Gen 2, make sure that the pencil is centred on the magnetic connector on the right side of the iPad

3. Restart the iPad and retry

4. If a restart still does not work, open Bluetooth settings and check if you will see the Apple Pencil. If you do, tap and then select to forget it

5. Then, retry the pairing process

Highlighting in Notes on Mac

The method for highlighting in Notes on Mac is pretty straightforward. To highlight text in Notes on Mac, you can either change the font color to something dark and conspicuous or use the Highlight feature.

To change the font color:

1. Select the text that you want to change

2. Control-click the selection

3. Click on Font, then click on Show Fonts

4. Then click on Colour to change the color of the selection so it’s different from the rest of the text

To use the highlight feature:

1. Select the text that you want to highlight

2. Click Command + Shift + H to highlight the text

3. You can also do this by selecting the text and then clicking on the Format button at the top menu bar

4. Then click on Text to reveal the submenu, and select Highlight

Brady Klinger-Meyers is an experienced tech writer and marketer who currently writes for Techzillo as well as other popular sites like MakeUseOf. At Techzillo, he focuses on consumer technology in general with his interest being Android OS. Read our Editorial Guidlines and Fact Checking process.


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