How To Scan To Apple Notes (With A ScanSnap Or Any Scanner)

How To Scan To Apple Notes (With A ScanSnap Or Any Scanner)

Apple’s Notes (aka Notes.app) is an application that received a big overhaul in OS X El Capitan. Since its release, I’ve received variations on this question: “How do you scan to Apple Notes (with the ScanSnap or otherwise?)”

“No problem”, I thought to myself. I figured all I’d need to do was add Notes.app to the Applications tab of ScanSnap Manager, hit scan, and be good to go.

Yeah, not so much.

That approach did absolutely nothing, so it was back to the drawing board.

I did manage to get scanning to Apple Notes working, but it was a bit more complex than I had expected and took some AppleScript tomfoolery.

The easiest way to scan to Notes.app

Honestly, the easiest way to scan to Notes is to scan to a folder on your Mac and then drag the PDF(s) manually to a note.

If you want the least complex way, that’s the way to go. If you want something more automated though, read on. We are about to get geeky.

Create AppleScript To Scan To Apple Notes

To seamlessly scan to Notes.app, we are going to create a folder on the Mac (in this example I called it “Notes”, but you’ll probably want to be more descriptive).

We are then going to create an AppleScript that automatically creates a note in Notes.app for any file that is saved there. This is called a Folder Action. Let’s get started.

Here is the AppleScript. Copy this to your clipboard, or download the file below.

On your Mac, go to Applications > Utilities and start Script Editor.

Scan Apple Notes Mac Script Editor
Scan Apple Notes Mac Script Editor

Hit the New Document button in the window that pops up.

Scan Apple Notes New Document
Scan Apple Notes New Document

Next, paste the clipboard contents into the Script Editor window. Hit the little hammer icon to make sure there aren’t any errors.

Go File > Save. In the Save box, navigate to the /Library/Scripts/Folder Action Scripts folder and save it there.

If copying and pasting doesn’t work for you, you can click here to download the script. Unzip the file and copy the .scpt file to /Library/Scripts/Folder Action Scripts.

If you’re not sure how to get there, go to a Finder window, choose Go > Go to Folder… and paste the path in.

Awesome. You’ve got the script ready to run. Now we just need to attach it to our folder.

(By the way, this script owes a huge debt of gratitude to Larry Salibra for his Evernote to Apple Notes script. I never would have been able to do this without his work.)

Set Up The Folder Action

Create a folder if you don’t already have it. Mine is called Notes. Anything we scan/save here will be imported to Apple Notes, so you won’t use it for anything else.

First, right-click on the folder and then second, choose Services and third, choose Folder Actions Setup….

Scan To Apple Notes - Services Menu
Scan To Apple Notes – Services Menu

If you are prompted, choose the script that you saved to the Folder Actions Script folder and hit Attach. If you aren’t automatically prompted, hit the + button on the right side and then choose it.

Scan To Apple Notes - Choose Script
Scan To Apple Notes – Choose Script

Check Enable Folder Actions and hit Yes if prompted. You can now close the window.

Scan To Apple Notes - Enable Folder Action
Scan To Apple Notes – Enable Folder Action

Test Out The Folder Action

You should now be good to go! Drag a PDF into your Notes (or whatever you called it) folder. It should pause a bit and if you go to Notes.app, your new note should be there with its PDF attachment.

Set Up ScanSnap Profile

You can use this Folder Action for any scanner, or use it to manually save files. However, since I get asked how to use the ScanSnap, you can manually scan to your Notes folder, or you can set up a ScanSnap Manager profile to automatically scan there.

Choose None (Scan To File) on the Application tab and your Notes folder on the Save tab.

Scan To Apple Notes - ScanSnap Profile
Scan To Apple Notes – ScanSnap Profile

If you aren’t sure how to create a ScanSnap Profile, check out the ScanSnap Manager help or you may find my Unofficial ScanSnap Setup Guide helpful.

Now when you scan to your Notes folder, the file should get imported to Notes.app.

How Does It Work For You?

Notes.app’s AppleScript support isn’t the greatest, so scanning to it is a work-in-progress. Leave a comment and let us know how it works for you, and if you have a better way let us know as well.

About the Author

Brooks Duncan helps individuals and small businesses go paperless. He's been an accountant, a software developer, a manager in a very large corporation, and has run DocumentSnap since 2008. You can find Brooks on Twitter at @documentsnap or @brooksduncan. Thanks for stopping by.

Leave a Reply 28 comments

FB - June 29, 2019 Reply

Thank you for sharing your blog, In your blog, I learn how can I scan in apple notes. In your blog, I collect some information and it’s really helped me. Keep up the good work and keep sharing.

Gary - October 11, 2017 Reply

Hi All – with the latest High Sierra and Notes updates, you can now scan documents directly from Scansnap to Notes App! I’m so glad this is now working without having to do a crazy script. Anyway, just go to your profile management, add Notes as an application, and save. When you scan to your Apple Notes app, it will show up as a pdf. Good luck!

    Jeff - October 12, 2017 Reply

    Just beware
    My Apple notes library is about 14gb. Apple notes are virtually useless and will not function on any device. I am in the process of converting to Keep It but having to have a script written as there is currently no export function.

Jeremy - June 17, 2017 Reply

This seems like a great script to use. Before I setup, I was wondering about 2 modifications and if they are possible (I am a beginner at AppleScript).

1.) Can the script add a Finder tag to the file (such as “Scan”) automatically?
2.) Is there a way to add an OCR subroutine before sending to Notes?

Scott - December 19, 2016 Reply

Brooks – really appreciate you sharing this process!
I have one bug – sometimes (and i can’t consistently repeat the issue) a PDF is added to the notes but with zero size.
If i manually add the PDF via drag.drop or the share button from finder, the full PDF is attached.
I wonder if there is a timing issue, where the script creates the note and attachment before the attachment has the chance to save??
I’m no coder, i’m afraid, but would welcome guidance on how i could put a ‘wait’ instruction in the script to test it out
Anyone else have this?
thanks

    scott ivell - December 19, 2016 Reply

    btw, creating a Print Workflow with Automator allows you to ‘print to PDF” from any source on the Mac – if you save the PDF into the ‘Notes’ folder, then you can clip web pages etc. You can also drag.drop emails from Mail straight into Apple Notes!!

Ross - August 17, 2016 Reply

Fantastic. Works so well. One more step from Evernote to Notes achieved.

Tom - July 26, 2016 Reply

This works fine unless I try to specify an account to keep the notes in. If I do that then I end up with a note titled with the filename and no attachment.

tell account “john@doe.com” to make new note at folder “Notes” with properties {name:theFilename, body:noteBody}

Chuck Teague - June 15, 2016 Reply

I just followed your instructions on setting up a my ScanSnap x100i to send scanned documents to Apple Notes – AWESOME. Thank you for the information.

Brooks Duncan
Brooks Duncan - April 15, 2016 Reply

Hi everyone, thanks so much to Christopher Lyon Anderson’s comment. I have updated it with his fix and it seems to work for me. Re-create/download the script and give it a try if you were having issues before.

Christopher Lyon Anderson - April 8, 2016 Reply

To those having problems you need to change the line 15 from:

set importFolderPosix to homeFolderPosix & “/Library/Containers/com.apple.Notes.HTMLConverter/Data/scan_import/” as string

to:

set importFolderPosix to homeFolderPosix & “/Library/Containers/com.apple.Notes/Data/scan_import/” as string

The reason it fails is indeed a sandboxing issue. The container needs to be com.apple.Notes not com.apple.Notes.HTMLConverter.

Works great. Thanks for spending the time to make it.

    Mark - April 11, 2016 Reply

    Hey Christopher. Thanks! I made the adjustment per your message and everything works great.

    thanks all for your help.

    cheers,

    Mark

    Mark - April 11, 2016 Reply

    Well… maybe I spoke to soon…. It doesn’t grab both sides of the page in the scan.. only the first page… SnapScan is grabbing it.. but not the script.

    Mark

      Brooks Duncan
      Brooks Duncan - April 15, 2016 Reply

      Mark, what do you mean? You have a 2 page PDF and it’s only creating a note with 1 page? Are you sure you’re scanning to PDF?

        Mark - April 17, 2016 Reply

        Yes Brooks, it is set to save the file as PDF. I can see the two pages in the preview pages before I hit save.. and it when it sweeps from the folder into Apple Notes.. only one of the pages comes out… Im sure its something simple.. i just don’t what that is..

    Frank - June 28, 2016 Reply

    Chris/Brooks.

    Cool utility.

    any idea this will not pick up multiple pages when sweeping from the file directory to Apple Notes? I have a problem similar to Mark’s. It scans and sweeps one page very nicely, no issues. When I try multiple pages, it only captures the first page as a PDF.

    I’ve debugged the snapscan profile – its not the issue. i.e. If I leverage another directory to save the file (not the Notes dir), I can see the multiple pages in the PDF no problem.

    It seems to lose the other pages on the sweep from the Notes directory to Apple Notes. Stumped.

    Any suggestions?

    thanks,
    Frank

Brooks Duncan
Brooks Duncan - March 27, 2016 Reply

Hi everyone who is having the no-PDF issue. Do your file or folder names have spaces or any non-alpha characters in them? Just trying to narrow down what the issue could be.

    Mark - March 27, 2016 Reply

    Hi Brooks.. no. I’ve tried twice. I’ve named my first try folder “Notes”, as you did, and on my second try, thinking I may have messed something up, named my folder “AppleNotes”. It sweeps the file away right away, and drops it into the “Notes App” with just the file name. No body, not the file contents itself.

    I use El Capitan, and am on the current version, 10.11.4. Prior I’ve been on the previous point releases of El Capitan.

    I’ve been able to replicate the problem on my two other Macs as well.

    Not sure what it is.

    Samantha - March 27, 2016 Reply

    No – file name is just numbers, text and an underscore. I’m using El Capitan 10.11.4. I also tried naming the folder something else, then when it didn’t work I just used “Notes”.

Samantha - March 26, 2016 Reply

I appreciate the thought that has gone into this. I am having the same issue as other commenters though – the PDF (or I’ve tried JPG as well) doesn’t go into the Apple Note – only the title.

ahmed rahim - March 23, 2016 Reply

Im getting the same issue as Mark– The actual PDF does not appear in the Notes app, just the title.

    Mark - March 23, 2016 Reply

    I think it is an El Capitan issue… although, I am not a programmer, so I don’t know how to fix the issue… glad it’s not just me!!

    Be nice to have this working with El Capitan as well.

    Mark

Tom - February 18, 2016 Reply

Gosh, that’s great!
One more little thing to make life a bit easier.
Thanks.
Tom

Mike Harahan - February 15, 2016 Reply

Brooks…
Works like a charm. I am slowly trying to move away from Evernote because of its proprietary nature. This is a great contribution to that cause.
Also, great explanation of how one goes about building a folder action script.
All in all, very valuable.
Thank you!

Jan Willem - February 13, 2016 Reply

I just use the Scannable app from Evernote. As soon as you have scanned your document you choose the option “Send” and then the option “Share”. Choose “Apple Notes” and your done 🙂

    FRED IS DEAD - July 23, 2019 Reply

    I also do this – Scannable works very well for capturing pages of text, receipts, business cards, hand written notes – and I also send the pdf to my ScanThis folder where Hazel OCR’s it for later text searching within the document. Thanks Evernote for a great side app. And thanks Katie Floyd for the PDFPen script inside Hazel to automate this process.

Mark - February 9, 2016 Reply

Brooks,

I tried this today.. the script moves the files just fine to the Notes app. (thanks for that).. however, when it gets to the notes app.. it just has the name of the PDF.. not the PDF itself. I tried it with multiple PDF files, and by scanning directly from SnapScan both with and without a snapscan profile

Not sure why I am not getting the actual PDF within the Notes app.?

Jeff - January 27, 2016 Reply

Thank you !! Works great. I appreciate your time and efforts on this.

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