Use the Notes App to Have Secret Conversations on Your iPhone

Every time you send and receive text messages on your iPhone, you leave a trail, which is usually not a problem. You want most messages to be saved and recorded, so you can look at them when needed, but sometimes you need your conversations to be a little more… private.

That’s one reason why apps are loved Snapchat and Signal very popular. However, you don’t need to download a third-party app to have more secret conversations on your iPhone. Instead, you can use a built-in Apple app to send temporary, hidden messages to your friends and family — and it’s been around since iOS 10.

The Notes app lets you collaborate with others on notes, whether they’re grocery store lists or collections of dad jokes. Anyone who is part of a collaborative note can edit it in real time – and this is what you can use to have secret conversations. You can have an incredibly long, personal conversation — without any lasting proof that it exists.

To learn how to turn a note into a hidden conversation in iOS, here’s what you need to know. And while you’re at it, check out the hidden trackpad that lives on your iOS keyboard and this 10 hidden iOS 16 features you should know about.

First, create a note in the Notes app

On your iPhone, launch the Notes app and tap the Writing button at the bottom right to create a new note. Next, type anything in the note to save it, or else it will be automatically deleted when you exit the note. You can also go to an existing note, but it is better to start a new one.

First, create a new note or go to an existing one.

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Adjust the options in your note section to add collaborators

Once your note is done and ready to go, you can start the process of adding someone as a collaborator, which means they can read and edit anything in the note. To start, tap the In addition button in the upper right, and then press Share Notes.

Now tap Sharing Options and ensure the Can make changes the option is selected under Permission. You also need to turn it off Anyone can add people if you want to be the only person who can add partners to your note. Return to the last page when you have finished configuring these settings.

Notes app on iPhone

Second, manage what your colleagues can do.

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Add the friends you want to join and share the link

Next, choose a method to share the note: You can send it via text message, email, social media and more. If you swipe through the feature options, you can also choose Copy the Linkwhich copies the note link to your clipboard and allows you to paste it wherever you want.

For this example, I will choose the Copy the Link note sharing option.

At the top of the Copy Link page, enter the email address or phone number of the person you want to access the note. You can also tap the input icon to search for your contacts. Adding a contact to the note is required — if you share the link without adding a contact, the other person won’t be able to see or edit the note, despite the link.

Finally, hit Copy Link to copy the note link to your clipboard and share it with your collaborator.

Notes app on iPhone

Next, add your collaborator(s).

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Send secret messages using Notes

The other person, on the receiving end, must now open the link in the note and accept the invitation. If they accept, they will be redirected to the Notes app and the collaborative note you just created.

To communicate, just type something in the note, which the other person can see in real time, without you having to hit send. They will also receive a notification whenever the note changes.

Each person in the note has a corresponding color that appears (just briefly) so everyone knows who typed what. You can also swipe right from the middle of the note to see the name of who wrote the message, as well as a timestamp of when the message was written and any corresponding colors.

Notes app on iPhone

Now you can secretly communicate with your friends or family.

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You can also tap the Share Notes button (with the check mark icon), go to Manage Shared Notes and then turn on Highlight All Changes. That way, all messages will remain permanently highlighted in their corresponding color, making it easier to read the conversation.

And if you want to keep your communication to a minimum, remove your message or the other person’s message to remove it from the note. That way your conversation is more like Snapchat, with ephemeral or short-lived messages that outsiders won’t see when they check your notes. You can do this with any text in the notes, as well as photos, videos, links, drawings or any other attachments you add to the note.

Permanently delete your secret chat

Not all secret conversations can go on forever, and so now is the time to end them.

If you are the owner of the note, and you want to keep the note private for everyone but prevent them from editing it, you can easily do so. At the top right, tap the See Participants button and then hit Manage Shared Notes. To remove a participant, you can swipe left on their name and then hit Take or you can tap their name and then tap Get Access.

Notes app on iPhone

To end the notes conversation, remove any partners or stop sharing the note.

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Additionally, you can tap the Stop Sharing option, which not only removes participants from the note, but also removes the note from all their devices.

If you are not the owner of the note, you can delete the note from the Notes application.

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