Hook Linking with Apple Notes

About Hook version 1.5 (and following) with Apple Notes

Information about Hook 1.5 with Apple notes can be found here: Apple Notes App and Hook – Hook.

The rest of this document was written in 2019 for versions before Hook 1.5. It may also be helpful for those who want to work around the limitations of Apple Notes that make it difficult to link to Apple Notes.


This page describes limitations of Hook linking with Apple Notes. In sum, there are issues with Apple Notes’ AppleScript that limit what you can do with Apple Notes.

Versions of macOS

  1. macOS 10.12: Hook does not support Apple Notes in macOS 10.12.
  2. macOS 10.15 (Catalina): Due to bugs in macOS 10.15 (Catalina) Apple Notes, Hook does not work well with Apple Notes under macOS 10.15 Catalina. See this page for details.
  3. macOS 10.13 and 10.14. Hook works best with versions 10.13 and 10.14.

iCloud Apple Notes: Things you need to know

Whether you use Hook or not, if you turn off iCloud for Apple Notes and turn it back on, all of the ID’s of your Apple notes on this machine will change. This is due to a problem with Apple’s Note’s AppleScript. Hook constructs note links based on those IDs. This means that turning off /on iCloud for Apple Notes would break links to/from Apple Notes. You can avoid this problem by not turning off Apple Notes, or not using iCloud for Notes at all. See work-arounds below.

Because an ID is meant to identify a note, and Apple advertises iCloud as enabling users to edit the same note across devices, the ID should be the same. Therefore, we have logged a pair of bug with Apple regarding this.

(Historically, Apple Notes used “mobile me”, and then successive versions of its iCloud service. There is currently a way in recent macOS versions to manually obtain iCloud addresses for Apple Notes; but it is very convoluted and cannot be automated. We have also requested of Apple that this be automated. It should be trivial for Apple to do this. Clearly, Apple Notes software itself already knows the address of each note.)


Here are some work arounds to Apple Notes issues.

  • Use hook://search links. In sum, Hook can generate unique ID’s that you can paste in Apple Notes or elsewhere. With the ID in the buffer, using Hook’s Copy a Search Link from Clipboard command, you can create a Hook search link that will find this note. This trick works with other apps too, so long as they are indexed by Spotlight.
  • Use local Apple Notes (not synced via iCloud). But be aware that if you later move them into iCloud, their ID’s will change as will links to and from them.
  • If you use iCloud Notes, do not turn it off. But if you (accidentally or intentionally) turn off Apple Notes iCloud syncing, you may be able to recover the old notes via your backups, and the links to/from them should work fine.
  • Use other apps for taking Notes. See next section.

Bottom line

For linking to notes that are synced across devices, it is best to use Hook with note-taking software that is less problematic than Apple Notes. Please consult our What Mac Apps Work with Hook? page.