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How to recover permanently deleted notes on iPhone

Elena Spencer Updated on Apr 15, 2022 4:55 PM

I permanently deleted some notes and they aren't in the Recently Deleted folder anymore. I pressed Edit, then Delete All > Delete Notes in the folder instead of tapping Move to undo that and return the notes to original place. I checked on icloud.com but they aren't there either. How can I recover them?

You accidentally deleted notes, you mean permanently deleted from 'Recently Deleted' section. Before diving into the process of how to recover notes on iPhone after being permanently deleted, let's look at how to define the word 'permanently'. When you delete a note in recently deleted folder within Notes app, it's gone. Plus, according to Apple policy, the deleted folder only keeps files for 30 days after which notes will be permanently deleted. All your important information, years of contents of the notes along with photos and any attachment will be permanently removed.

Keep in mind that there is difference between a recently deleted note and a permanently deleted note. A recently deleted can be recovered easily via the stock Recently Deleted folder, while a permanently deleted note is gone for good and the action cannot be undone.

This is exactly true if you store your notes with Gmail, Yahoo or other email services and delete notes from the Trash folder by accident.

How to permanently delete a note or notes on iPhone?

Every now and then, you delete a note in the normal notes list, and then go to the Recently Deleted folder to delete it. It's very possible that you find several Recently Deleted folders, and this is because you're using different services to sync and save the notes. Go Straight to the solutions if you've done this.

    • Open Recently Deleted folder in Note's Folders list.
    • Tap Edit on the upper-right hand corner.
  • Select a note, or multiple notes you want to remove permanently.
  • Tap Delete on the bottom right corner.
  • Tap Delete Note, or Delete Notes to confirm the deletion.

The selected note(s) should be permanently deleted from your device, right away.

Notes deleted from Recently Deleted folder under iCloud account are also completely and permanently deleted from icloud.com as well as any other device sharing the same Apple ID. This is why some users complained that when deleting notes on an old iPhone and they suddenly got disappeared on the new phone. Even worse, notes synced with iCloud are not part of an iCloud backup or an iTunes backup, and therefore, restoring a backup will cause more severe data loss. But it's possible that you haven't enabled iCloud Notes sync on iPhone yet; don't lose hope.

How to recover a permanently deleted note on iPhone?

As mentioned above, Apple won't let you retrieve a note that was deleted from the deleted folder in Notes on iPhone—an iPhone backup or a reliable data recovery program is often required. Here're the possible ways that you can follow.

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1. Turn on Notes in iCloud Settings if you ever turned it off

This is another scenario where it seems like the notes are permanently deleted from iPhone.

If you've enabled iCloud Notes for synchronization over the server, and you disabled the option followed by tapping Delete from My iPhone, then all notes are not showing up in Notes on iPhone. Screenshot like this:

Despite this, they're still in iCloud server. You can log into icloud.com using web browser, click Notes, and check if they're there. If so, enable it again and return notes to the device.

  • Go to Settings > [your name] > iCloud.
  • Turn on Notes.
  • Wait a few seconds, the notes synced with iCloud should download automatically to your phone's Notes app.

2. Restore Notes from iCloud backup

You must have read that unless you have a backup made before those notes were deleted, there's no way to restore them. Any notes listed under "On My iPhone" section are stored locally on the device, and the stuff can be backed up to iCloud whenever you apply a backup.

However, it's worth mentioning that the notes being synced with iCloud are not included in the iCloud backup, nor iTunes backup. You will see a section for iCloud in your Notes app if you enabled Notes in your iCloud account.

  • In Settings, tap General > Reset > Erase All Content and Settings.
  • This will wipe clean your iPhone, prompting you to set up as a new device, restore from iCloud backup or restore from iTunes backup.
  • Choose Restore from iCloud backup.
  • Sign in with your Apple ID, and select a backup containing the notes that were permanently deleted before.
  • Make sure your device is connected to Wi-Fi network and let it go through the process of restoring the information.
  • Once it's finished, your iPhone reboots and downloads the all data from iCloud backup. Your old notes should reappear in the Notes app.

This should work well, but you will everything added to the device after the backup was made will be gone. To prevent this from happening, you can use iPhone Data Recover utility (see more information below) to scan your iCloud backup to make sure the deleted notes are there, and then restore them without replacing existing stuff.

  • Launch the software, and on its main window, click "Recover from iCloud Backup File."
  • Log into iCloud, and on the next window, select iCloud Backup.
  • Choose from a list of available iCloud backup, and click Download.
  • The tool will scan your backup to find all notes there.
  • Locate your deleted notes, and select them.
  • Click Recover button.

Restoring Permanently Deleted Notes from iCloud

3. Restore Notes from iTunes backup

Finder or iTunes backs up notes automatically each time you connect iPhone to computer and trigger a sync. The way of retrieving permanently deleted notes from Notes is to:

  • Attach iPhone with your computer.
  • Launch iTunes if it doesn't open automatically. If you're on a Mac with macOS 10.15 or later, open Finder.
  • In the top left corner of iTunes window, click on iPhone icon. In Finder, choose your device's name from the left column.
  • Click Restore Backup.
  • Choose a backup and then press Restore.

Your device will restore data from iTunes backup, and your notes will be as they were at the time of the backup.

4. Recover permanently deleted iPhone notes (without backup)

If the restoring from iPhone backup options won't let you get back important notes then the next option is to try a third-party app to find out if those deleted notes are in the device's memory.

Admittedly, there are plenty of data recovery tools to choose from the internet. Chances are that, though, you still won't end up with a best option showing high success rate in recovery. That's where iPhone Data Recovery comes in handy.

In almost every case the software can restore lost or deleted data, as its powerful scanning module finds all the existing and deleted files from the internal memory, as long as the data haven't been overwritten— no program can retrieve overwritten data. As soon as you realize you did by mistake permanently delete an important note on iPhone, you need to grab the program to scan your device as quickly as possible. It knows where the deleted notes go on iPhone and where to find them.

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The app features a simple user interface and utilizes a color-coded system where users can see the deleted data it found immediately. Whether you need to recover a note that isn't backed up to iCloud, or you retrieve notes once they are permanently deleted after 30 days from 'Recently deleted' section, this program is an amazing place to be and would do you a favor.

Step 1. Download the software and install it on your PC or Mac.

Connect iPhone to the computer with USB, and once it's detected, click Start Scan button.

Step 2. The application should start scanning your whole iPhone. It will give you an "Elapsed time" status bar. Don't use your device and disconnect it during the process.

Once it finishes scanning, it presents you a comprehensive overview window where you can check all of data on your phone.

Step 3. On the left panel, click the category labeled "Notes". This will display notes in your Notes app, including those being permanently deleted.

Browse through the notes and select the ones you'd like to get back. Click Recover button.

Step 4. At this point, a dialog window opens and prompts you to specify an output directory to save the recovered files.

After completing all the above steps, you can click Recover button to let the tool do its thing.

After the process is completed, the output folder opens automatically and you'll see an HTML file with all your selected notes recovered. Double click the file to open it on your web browser. The notes will be sorted into Title, Location, Folder, Date and Notes content.

Video Guide: How to Get Permanently Deleted Notes back on iPhone

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I restore an older iCloud backup on another phone to restore my older notes?

This depends how old you iCloud backup is. iCloud only keep 3 most recent backups. If one of those backups have been created before notes went missing, you could retrieve them. If your notes were deleted that long ago, they are completely gone.

How Do I retrieve Notes that was permanently deleted from an iCloud Backup? Restoring from a recent backup, the notes come back but then disappeared.

When restoring from iCloud backup, your device will re-sync with iCloud and you'll be right back where you were before you did the restore.

You need to turn off Wi-Fi connection the moment your iPhone restarts followed by clicking Restore from iCloud backup, to stop it from syncing.

Good Luck!

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