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When an iPhone / iPad note gets deleted: What to do

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This is a post for writers like me who use Notes app in the Apple iPhone and iPad for creating content. I want to share my experience of what do when disaster strikes while you are using this app; when your podgy fingers delete the note by accident. This nightmare happened to me only today and I am so thankful I was able to prevent major disaster; of my precious Note being destroyed once and for all.

When this sort of thing happens, it’s reassuring to remember that losing a master-copy of a manuscript is a blunder which has befallen even the greats. I read J.G. Ballard (High Rise, Crash, Empire of the Sun and more) dropped an entire novel in a canal; a work by the Sage of Shepperton gone to a watery grave. And then there’s that scene in classic British T.V comedy Blackadder, when Baldrick throws upon the fire the one and only copy possessed by England’s most distinguished man of letters, Dr Samuel Johnson, of his ground-breaking new dictionary.

As far I am aware, there is no way to recover an Apple Note when it has been deleted. Please correct me if I’m wrong. So the stakes are high. Also, if your Apple devices are synced, then what is deleted on one device shall be deleted on the others. This really has the potential to become a car crash which keeps getting worse; as your mistake on one device multiplies on all the others and your Note is wiped.

When this happens, there are only seconds to act to save your Note in jeopardy, as the syncing process is mercilessly quick. Rapid action is required to prevent your work from being permanently erased forever and ever, Amen. What happened in my case was that I deleted by mistake a Note while working on it in the iPhone. I spent a second staring open mouthed at the screen at what I’d just done. Then my survival instinct kicked in: ‘I must save this work not just for my own sake, but for the sake of millions of readers and for literary posterity!’ Yes, indeedy.

So, what you must do at once to save your work is: CUT THE INTERNET CONNECTION to your device. Like, straight away, without any delay. In my case this meant switching off the Wifi by swiping up from the bottom of the screen. I guess in the case of devices using cellular networks, it’s necessary to go to Settings > Mobile Data, to cut the connection. Whatever the route, just do so pronto.

What cutting the internet connection does is to prevent your horrible error from spreading to the Notes app on your other Apple devices. In my case it meant my mistake remained confined to just the iPhone and the contagion was unable to spread. My relief was truly unbound when I checked my other device and found my Note still present. I still felt relieved hours later.

Of course, this fix is only a fix if you possess more than one Apple device. I understand it may be possible to recover deleted notes using the iCloud, but not everyone (ie: moi) is savvy enough to have synced to the cloud, or even to know the cloud is a thing. I guess the best tip of all is: DO NOT USE THE NOTES APP FOR WORK YOU CARE ABOUT. That’s the lesson I’m choosing to take from this drama.

P.S: The Note I deleted by mistake was a 6,500 word thing which comprises my ongoing effort at writing some kinda story. I do have hopes for my half-formed baby: 1) that it will trigger a million pound bidding war between prestigious publishing houses for the rights, 2) make me so rich I can retire, 3) capture the essence of being human in an inhumane world which contains all the conditions for becoming even less human-friendly than ever before, (4, and most importantly) that I may say of it: ‘that’s a piece of me.’

What I’ve written here is only my experience and there are almost certainly other, better ways to deal with the crisis of deleting a precious Note.