What’s new in Apple Notes for iOS 18: collapsible sections, highlights, and more

iOS 18 is a major release for iPhone, with brand new apps like Passwords and Image Playground, as well as some significant updates to existing apps like Messages, Photos, and Settings.

One of my most used apps, Notes, is also getting a lot of powerful new features in iOS 18, including live audio transcription, highlights, and more.

Here’s what’s new.

Collapse note sections for a cleaner, more organized look

iOS 18 Notes Collapsible Sections

If you use Notes often, you know that sometimes a note can become unruly if you add too much content to it. Personally, I have a lot of notes that require frequent scrolling to see their full contents.

Now on iOS, iPadOS 18, and macOS Sequoia, Notes will automatically detect where a header or subheader is and collapse the content under that header.

On iPadOS and macOS, hovering near the left edge of a header or subheader displays a new down-pointing arrow, which you can click to collapse that section—immediately hiding all of its contents until you click the arrow again to reveal it. On iOS, you must first tap the appropriate heading to display the pop-up arrow.

Select text colors

You can also find the most interesting information in the Notes app on iPad 18

Apple Notes adds new, advanced text formatting options every year. This year’s addition is the most important.

In iOS 18, when you select text in a note, you can now highlight it in one of five colors:

  • Purple
  • Pink
  • Orange
  • Mint
  • Blue

Not only does it apply this highlighting, but it also changes the color of the text itself to achieve a two-color approach.

Live audio transcriptions for everyone

Apple Notes audio transcriptions

In the run-up to WWDC, one of the features of AI was the ability to obtain transcriptions of live recordings into voice notes or notes. It turns out that audio transcriptions are a new feature that doesn’t require the new Apple Intelligence capabilities coming later this year. It will be available sooner and with fewer device restrictions.

This means that the next time you’re in a meeting or class after the release of iOS 18, the Notes app will be able to record audio for you and share the live transcript of what you’re saying.

Smart script for digitally enhanced handwriting

Smart script in Apple Notes

My handwriting is not very good. And in an age where using keyboards and touchscreens has become much more common than writing by hand, I suppose I’m not the only one who has trouble writing by hand.

Smart Script is a new Apple Pencil feature in Notes that lets you write ink in your notes using a consistent, beautifully designed script that probably looks much nicer than your natural handwriting.

With Smart Script, you can enjoy the benefits of handwritten notes without the potential legibility issues that some people’s handwriting can cause. Interestingly, this feature works even when pasting handwritten text.

Math notes and automatic equations

Math notes in iOS 18

Finally, the Notes app also takes advantage of the main feature of the new iPad calculator: math notes.

Here’s my colleague Fernando Silva describing this feature:

It takes any math equation you write and you can solve it instantly. What’s more, you can modify the equations and the answer changes in real time. Another amazing feature is that you can also save the equation of the graph and it will display it for you. The possibilities here seem quite endless.

An interesting detail is that you don’t have to use Apple Pencil to take advantage of the automatic calculations, as any equations you type on your iPhone, iPad or Mac will also be solved automatically.


Apple Notes has become one of Apple’s most powerful and versatile apps on its platforms. These handful of updates for iOS, iPadOS 18, and macOS Sequoia seem designed to make an already great app even better.

What are your favorite Notes updates in iOS 18? Let us know in the comments.

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