This free app preinstalled on your iPhone can be your one stop shop for note taking, signing documents, scanning and collaboration.

People have varying methods when it comes to quickly capturing thoughts, images or checklists. Some journal, others use Post-its, but you can do it all (and more efficiently) with the iOS Notes app. If you are someone who simply must take handwritten notes, use the app with an Apple Pencil on iPad to scratch that itch. It’s part scrapbook, part datebook and can help you stay physically and mentally organized.

Here are some of the most useful features you may not be using.

1. Add to Control Center

In order to use Notes as often and easily as you would like, first add it to your Control Center. Add Notes and Quick Notes as well for the best experience. Control Center appears when you swipe from the upper right corner of the phone screen.

Decide which shortcuts appear on your home screen through Settings>Control Center. When viewing a website you’d like to revisit, swipe down for Control Center, tap Quick Notes and Add Link to easily save for later. You can also simply ask Siri to “Start a new note.”

2. Scan documents

Notes has a built-in scanner. Click + then the camera icon to scan any document and add it as a PDF to your note. From there, you can crop or add a filter. The most useful feature, though, happens after you click Share. At that point, you can use Mark Up to add annotations or your signature to any document and send it wherever it needs to go.

3. Scan any text to make it editable

Notes can take any text you find in a magazine or a book, for instance, and convert it into a note. Click + then the camera icon to Scan Text. The camera ignores images and scans only the text. At that point, you can manipulate the text just as if you had typed it all out yourself.

4. Share your note

You can share any note with other iOS users for collaboration. Share checklists, tables, images and more with others using iCloud. Know that everyone must be signed in with their Apple ID and have Notes turned on in iCloud settings for it to work.

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Make sure the note you want to share is contained in the iCloud folder on Notes. Then tap the share icon and choose Collaborate from the drop down menu. Then share the note via Messages, Mail or other apps. Once they accept, other people can also add or remove text from the note. At any time, you can tap the name of a person to change their permissions or remove their access all together. You can remove everyone’s access at once by choosing the “stop sharing” option.

5. Pin important notes

Just like in Messages, it’s easy to pin high priority notes to the top of the screen for easy access. Swipe right on the note to pin.

6. Search across all mediums

The search feature in Notes is able to recognize typed, handwritten or scanned text. So it will be able to find the thought you typed in, the joke you scrawled with your Apple Pencil or the recipe you scanned in from a magazine. 

Digital note taking has come a long way. Notes is a good, free option and Apple consistently adds new features, making it better all the time.

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