Import from Apple Notes to Obsidian

I migrated around 2,000 notes from Apple Notes into Obsidian. The rough method is to export out of Apple Notes to HTML files, then HTML to Markdown via Pandoc or if you are not as technical the Bear method works nicely. This is focused on the Bear method which is more user friendly if you’re not as familiar with using command line tools.

Step 1: Export to HTML entries

Option A: Export via Write App’s exporter

→ Download Notes Exporter

Option B: Export via Bear App’s automator script

→ Original Bear Instructions
→ Download Automator Workflow

Mac: use our Automator Workflow

We built an Automator Workflow for macOS that can export all your Apple Notes as HTML files. This will include most note contents, but not all. See the breakdown below:

  • Text, lists, and photos should be included
  • Note : only macOS 10.15 Catalina supports photo export. On earlier macOS versions, Apple Notes will not export photos
  • Task lists convert into bulleted lists
  • Rich media links will convert to plain text links
  • Non-photo attachments like PDFs or other files are not supported and will be excluded from export to HTML files. They will remain safely in Apple Notes

How to use this Automator Workflow

  • Download our AppleScript
  • Double-click it to open Automator
  • Press the Play button
  • Choose or create a new folder to store your exported Apple Notes
  • In Bear, click File > Import Notes
  • In the dialog that opens, find the folder containing your exported notes
  • Select the folder containing the exported files
  • (Optional) Adjust any import features such as whether to keep the original creation date, and whether to use the first line or file name for note titles
  • Click Import Notes

Step 2: Convert HTML to Markdown with Bear

After you import notes with Bear, you can export them back out in a clean format that works well with Obsidian.

  • Select all notes (CMD+A)
  • File > Export Notes
  • Export as Markdown

Now you should have a folder full of .md files that you can import into Obsidian.

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Thank you.

I believe one could also use Exporter as it exports Apple Notes directly to Markdown files.

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exporter doesn’t seem to work for me, unfortunately. The app crashes every time around ~30 / 2500 notes exported

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Thanks for sharing!

Curious as to if you put any of your 2.5k notes in Apple Notes under any structure or not?

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Hi, @kepano wanted to ask you how do you convert the HTML files to markdown?
This could also be useful for Meta Post - Migration Workflows and also the topic of google keep export to obsidian

So In the last week, I’ve tried different solutions and the easiest one I’ve found is:

  1. Create a Virtual Machine
  2. Create an Apple ID and download Bear
  3. Use google takeout to obtain HTML files of keep
  4. USe bear free feature of import/export to transform HTML in MD
  5. Still don’t understand why it’s been so difficult to find easy way for this
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Guess you never tried Pandoc???
IMOO there is no simpler tool to do conversions from almost any type of document to any other type of document.
No need for a complicated setup and another App like you describe.

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I tried to learn it but with no success, I didn’t find an article or a video that could explain it for my non-developer mind.

Can’t really believe that my friend :frowning:


Is what you get when you Google “pandoc html to markdown”
You don’t have to have a developer mind for that…

why should I lie about this man :rofl:
Also, I needed to convert was the google takeout export so multiple files (624 notes) and typing each name in the prompt seems laborious (that’s what I mean when i say I don’t have a non-developer mind, idk how to make it automatic for a folder of files)

I have similar issue with Exporter. I have more than a thousand notes and when exported, it stops at around 250 notes (more or less) only.

As an alternative to the automator script here is my short applescript to do the same.
It saves embedded images in the same directory but still require manual tweaks afterwards to fix the links. Be also aware, there are backslashes dusting imported markdown files. They came from unmatched <\ul> HTML from notes.

It is possible to keep notes’ attachments the same way as embedded images and automate folder structure creation. This code is far from perfect but works on Big Sur OS.

Just copy-paste the collapsed code for starters. I hope that will save you some time. Cheers.

It requires pandoc tool too.

applescript code
set i to 1
set exportFolder to "/Users/<your_user>/notes_export/" # change this to your home folder location.
set pandocExecutableLocation to "/usr/local/bin/pandoc"  # brew install pandoc

tell application "Notes"
	repeat with aFolder in folders
		repeat with aNote in notes in aFolder
			set output to (body of aNote) as Unicode text
			set filePrefix to exportFolder & name of aFolder & "-"
			set targetHTMLFile to (filePrefix & i & ".html")
			set targetMDFile to (filePrefix & i & ".md")
			set myFile to open for access targetHTMLFile with write permission
			set eof of myFile to 0
			write output to myFile starting at eof
			close access myFile
			try
				do shell script pandocExecutableLocation & " --extract-media=" & exportFolder & " --to markdown --from html-native_divs-native_spans-auto_identifiers -o " & quoted form of targetMDFile & " " & quoted form of targetHTMLFile & "&& rm " & quoted form of targetHTMLFile
			end try
			set i to i + 1
		end repeat
	end repeat
end tell

Is this for Google keep notes to obsidian?

If, like me, you have the opposite scenario with Apple Notes (migrating 1 very-large note into Obsidian instead of numerous small ones), the solution is different :

  • Create a new file in TextEdit on Mac or Notepad on Windows, in the menubar make sure the format selected is Plain Text not Rich Text
  • go back to where the notes originally are, select all, copy, paste into TextEdit or Notepad
  • then select all in there, copy, switch to Obsidian, New Note, paste without formatting (Paste and Match Style under ‘Edit’ - or Command + Option + Shift + v then select “unformatted text”. In windows, it’s Ctrl + Alt + Shift v then select "unformatted text”).

This is important because for some reason, when pasting from a non-standard multimedia featured-notes tool, markdown editors seem to parse unknown code as extra carriage-returns (blank enter-spaces), which creates a problem if you plan to do text analytics or formatting-retention is otherwise essential.

I have a folder full of .md files. How do I import them into Obsidian?!?
New to Obsidian and still learning, so this may be somehow obvious.

I tried bear’s script and was not happy with the results. It does not export images and only worked on 257/329 notes. It also did not report the failures.

I also tried the notes app exporter. This worked on 312/329 but similarly does not export images and dumps to txt files.

Neither bear or notes app preserves the directory structure. Bear does seem to add a tag at the end of the note indicating which project it was under in apple notes.

I found this app on the app store and it performed the best, but did not work for images. I like that it is on the app store vs write app’s being a download from their website. It exports directly to markdown and it only failed on 3 of my notes, which it reported and had an html version dumped. It also preserved my projects in the export directory structure. However, while it claims to support images, it created empty “attachments” directories with no images.

Just wanted to add this update in case it is useful to others since the two suggestions did not work best for me. Please let me know if you know of an option that works well with images.

Just paste the folder with all markdown into your obsidian vault directory

Today (2021-11-19) I used Version 3 of Exporter, written by Chintan Ghate. It’s much better than the AppleScript (Bear) process to extract Notes because it creates directories (folders) to mimic the structure of the Notes I created in Apple Notes. It also seems to nicely convert them to MarkDown (.md).

Buying the paid version enables me to select one or more segments inside the Notes structure, rather than the entire DB.

Exporter processed 710 notes in the time it took me to write this.
Richard.

Sorry, I must be really dense. This is my first time using Obsidian. I have exported the notes with Exporter 3, but where is the option in Obsidian to import them??

You don’t need to import anything because Obsidian just works with local files. It simply needs to have the folder with the files accessible as, or within, a vault.

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