Move a Note to Outlining App

Last month I needed to make an outline so I started with Notes on my iPhone formating it as a numbered list. Eventually, it became too long to work on it on my iPhone, so I used iCloud to synch it to my Mac running Big Sur. I kept working on it in macOS Notes and now it’s huge. When I export it as a PDF, it’s over 100 pages long.

I need to get this content out of Notes and into a real outline processor or at least a word processor with outlining capability like Word.

My content’s formatting is fairly simple using only:

  1. Single numbered list
  2. Italics for some entire points
  3. Default font with no changes in size

The only export feature supported by Notes is to PDF. Supposedly, Word can import a PDF, but when I try to open a PDF exported from my note in Word 16.16 (Office 2016), all I see is gibberish; apparently there’s some sort of encoding mismatch. I posted this problem on Apple Discussions here.

So far, the best export that I’ve come up with is:

  1. Open the note on my iPhone running iOS 15.1.1
  2. Share the note to iOS mail
  3. Tap on Cancel
  4. Save the email draft, which for me puts it into Gmail drafts
  5. Open Gmail in my (Chrome) browser
  6. Open the note draft
  7. Select all the email body text and copy it
  8. Paste into Word ver 16.16 (Office 2016)

The resulting Word document is pretty good. Viewed in Print Layout view, the indenting of each point is a little deeper than I’d like—maybe I can fix it by playing with paragraph tabs—but otherwise the fidelity is excellent, with nesting and italics transferred perfectly into a 70-page document. But, if I change to Outline view, I lose all the nesting and all the content is at the same (top) level so I guess that Word didn’t assign a different outline paragraph style based on the level of indenting. And, all the points are numbered, not alternating between numbers and letters according to nesting depth as a Harvard Outline format.

Unfortunately, this version of Microsoft Word for Mac has been “retired” and I can’t access the help files any more; Word help insists that I upgrade.

Does anyone have any other ideas on transferring a Note consisting of a huge numbered list into another macOS application for outline processing?

Thank you for reading this

Here’s a simple solution:

Select all the text and copy it to the clipboard
Open a new, blank document in your favorite word processor.
Paste the clipboard contents into that document.


You might try Howard Oakley’s (Eclectic Light Co) Tool I have used it for editable text recovery from PDF format files on several occasions. And, it is freeware.