One of the nice things about Apple Notes is your ability to lock notes. With the tap of a button or swipe of a finger you’re able to secure a note to ensure someone wouldn’t be able to see your more private notes such as the secret list of things you’re getting for your beloved on their birthday or your family’s secret chili recipe.
But every once in a while you may come across a note that does not let you lock it, and you can’t figure out why. If you’ve ensured you have note locking enabled in the Settings and have setup a password then here are a few things to check.
Starting in iOS 15, Apple allowed you to tag certain items, like Reminders and Notes, with hashtags (#). This way you could more easily search for items without having to necessarily remember the right words. So you can tag all the recipes in your Notes with things like #Vegetarian, #Chocolate, etc. to organize them and make them more searchable.
This comes at the cost of locking those notes. Locking a note makes it completely unsearchable except for the title, which defeats the purpose of adding a hashtag intended to make a note more searchable. If you can’t lock a note, check to see if it has any hashtags in it and delete said hashtags. Unless your note has another offending item that prevents it from being locked (see below), then you should now have the option to lock the note.
Apple Notes lets you share notes among other Notes users. Once you share a note, it will appear with a little person icon next to the title in list view or in the Notes title bar when that note is opened. As of iOS 15 if you are sharing a note with someone that note can’t be locked. Theoretically Apple could allow users to set passwords beforehand and share them other people, but at the moment that’s not the way it’s set up.
Video and Audio
The Notes app will let you do more than just basic text. It lets you add rich text, pictures, and even other forms of media. But if you want to lock a note that has anything more than text, pictures, or drawings then you’re locked out (or unlocked out I guess. You just can’t lock your note). Notes with video or audio attachments inside of them can’t be locked. An unfortunate limitation to be sure, so don’t keep your incriminating audio and video inside the Apple Notes app if you need it more secured.
PDF’s and other attachments
OK, this admittedly ties in with the last segment, but it’s worth noting on its own. Document attachments like PDF’s, Word docs, etc. also can’t be locked in Apple Notes. Only text, drawings, and pictures.
If you’re experiencing issues with note locking, check out these things first. Otherwise you might try re-syncing your notes by signing out of and back into your Apple account as well as rebooting your device.