Quick Script to Migrate from SimpleNotes

Moving hundreds or thousands of notes from SimpleNotes (to Apple Notes in my case)? This script aught to help clean up a few things for a better structure after importing.

  • Converts tags in *.txt files to #tag format for easier searching. Preserves original modified timestamp.
  • Updates the modified timestamps to a UTC offset (if specified)
  • Moves each note file into a subfolder based on its first tag (if specified)

This will only modify txt files, and should be run against an extracted export of notes from SimpleNote, so it should be fairly safe. But keep the archive and/or backups just in case. Use as follows:

chmod +x convert-tags.php
./convert-tags.php --path ./notes --timezone "-0500" --usefolders

Then import the notes folder through Notes.app.

#!/usr/bin/env php
 * This script helps migrate from SimpleNotes to Apple Notes 
 * (and potentially others) in a few ways:
 * 1) Converts tags in exported SimpleNotes *.txt files
 * to #tag format for easier searching. Preserves original modified timestamp.
 * 2) Updates the modified timestamps to a UTC offset (if specified)
 * 3) Moves each note file into a subfolder based on its first tag (if specified)
 * Arguments: (in this order)
 * --path - Location of the exported txt files
 * --timezone - an offset value (eg: -0500) from UTC to correct timestamps
 * --usefolders - moves notes into a subfolder based on their first tag

$tags_pattern = '/Tags:\n\s\s(.+)$/';
$updated_files = 0;
$updated_timestamps = 0;
$moved_files = 0;
$errors = 0;
$skipped_files = 0;

$options = getopt(null, ['path:', 'timezone:', 'usefolders:']);

if (!isset($options['path']) || is_dir($options['path']) !== true) {
    throw new Exception('--path argument is missing or invalid.');

$base = trim($options['path'], '/') . '/';

if ( isset($options['timezone']) ) {
    if ( preg_match('/[-+]\d\d:?\d\d/', $options['timezone']) === 1 ) {
        // Calculate interval in seconds for the supplied timezone offset 
        $dtz_utc = new DateTimeZone('UTC');
        $dtz_offset = new DateTimeZone($options['timezone']);
        $dt_utc = new DateTime('now', $dtz_utc);
        $utc_offset_seconds = $dtz_offset->getOffset($dt_utc);

        $di_offset = DateInterval::createFromDateString( abs($utc_offset_seconds) . ' seconds');

        if ($utc_offset_seconds < 0) {
            $di_offset->invert = 1;

        echo "Modified timestamps will be adjusted by {$utc_offset_seconds} seconds.\n";
    } else {
        throw new Exception('Timezone format should be -0500.');
} else {
    echo "Not adjusting timezone of modified timestamps.\n";
    $di_offset = null;

$use_folders = in_array('--usefolders', $argv);

if ($use_folders) {
    echo "Moving notes into subfolders\n";
} else {
    echo "Leaving notes in $base\n";

if ($handle = opendir($base)) {
    echo "Updating *.txt in $base\n";
    echo "---\n";

    while (false !== ($entry = readdir($handle))):

        // Skip non-txt files
        if (preg_match('/^.*\.txt$/', $entry) !== 1) {
            echo "Skipping '$entry'\n";

        if ($contents = file_get_contents($base . $entry) ):
            $tags = [];

            // Find the tags string, replace with new format, and stash tags for later use
            $new_contents = preg_replace_callback($tags_pattern, function ($matches) use (&$tags) {
                $tags = explode(', ', $matches[1]);
                return '#' . implode(' #', $tags);
            }, $contents);

            $original_mod_time = filemtime($base.$entry);

            if ($contents !== $new_contents) {
                if (file_put_contents($base . $entry, $new_contents) !== false) {
                    echo "Updated '$entry'\n";
            // Resetting modified timestamp back to original 
            $date = new DateTime( '@'.$original_mod_time );
            // Correct modified timestamp's timezone
            if ($di_offset) {
            // Set the timestamp
            if ( touch($base.$entry, $date->getTimestamp()) ) {

            // If specified, move the note into a folder based on the first tag
            if ($use_folders && count($tags)) {
                $folder = $base . $tags[0] . '/';

                if (!is_dir($folder)) {
                    mkdir ($folder);

                if ( rename($base.$entry, $folder.$entry) ) {
                    echo "Moved '$entry' to '" . $folder . $entry . "'\n";
                } else {
                    echo "*** Could not move '$entry' to '" . $folder . $entry . "'\n";


echo "---\n";
echo "Skipped $skipped_files files/folders.\n";
echo "Updated $updated_files files.\n";
if ($use_folders) {
    echo "Moved $moved_files files.\n";
if ($di_offset) {
    echo "Modified and reset timestamps on $updated_timestamps files.\n";
} else {
    echo "Reset timestamps on $updated_timestamps files.\n";
if ($errors) {
    echo "** Encountered $errors errors.\n";

iOS Shortcuts for Firefly III

Update: I’ve posted new versions of these shortcuts for iOS13 and Firefly III 4.8: www.jessedyck.me/2019/12/updated-firefly-iii-shortcuts-for-ios-13/

I built a couple of iOS shortcuts for Firefly III (a self-hosted personal finance web app) to let me add transactions on the go. I’ve shared some more details and iCloud links to the shortcuts below.

The first Shortcut is more or less a function that returns a list of accounts. That list is used in the second shortcut to submit the new transaction to Firefly. I wanted to keep the process as quick as possible, so that shortcut requests the least information possible to submit the transaction.

I’ve only just recently switched to using Firefly III; prior to that I had been using Mint for about 8 years. I’ve been increasingly uncomfortable with giving up that much data – and my bank credentials – for a number of years, so I’d been on the lookout for a replacement for quite a while. I’ve probably tried them all, but for one reason or another I couldn’t find an app that fit my requirements.

Firefly is a bit of a change in workflow over Mint, but I’ve found that it’s encouraging me to take a more active role in managing my finances. In part because it doesn’t recommend auto-importing transactions. All-in-all though, it’s working quite well so far.

There are a few places where I’d do things differently in Firefly, but part of the appeal (for me at least) is that it’s built on PHP (Laravel, to be specific) so I could feasibly contribute to it, or at least modify my own fork. It also has a nice REST API and great documentation to go with it, which of course is what these shortcuts are using.

I knew I wanted the ability to add transactions on the go, but logging into the web app is a bit too much friction while waiting in line for a $2 coffee. And let’s face it, if the transaction isn’t added immediately I’ll probably forget about it. So that’s what I’ve solved with these shortcuts.

Shortcut Requirements

  • Your Firefly III instance must be accessible over the internet (I would not do this without using HTTPS)
  • The API supports using a Personal Access Token rather than OAuth, which must be created in Firefly > Options > Profile
  • The Firefly URL and token must be added to both shortcuts

Shortcut can’t find an account?

If no accounts are returned, it’s most likely that the Personal Access Token was denied; either the token was incorrect or, as is common after a Firefly update, the Personal Access Token was essentially deactivated. I often have to delete and recreate it after updates.

Shortcut Downloads

I’ve shared these via iCloud Drive. Load up this post and download the links on an iOS device. Plug your Personal Access Token and the URL to your Firefly III instance into both shortcuts, then test out the Accounts shortcut. It should return a list the asset accounts in Firefly III, along with the current balances.

If you’re not on an iOS device, here’s the what the two shortcuts look like—warning, they’re long:

Screenshot of an iOS shortcut to display a listing of accounts and balances from Firefly III
Accounts shortcut

Screenshot of a Firefly III shortcut that adds a new transactions to a selected account.
New transaction shortcut